For over a Decade, the same unit of Northland Plaza in Minerva Park Ohio has had a haunted attraction within its walls. It started in 2009 with Scare-a-Torium, went on to be bought by 13 th Floor Entertainment Group in 2016 or 2017 and was bought by Nick Francis in 2020 after a hiatus of ownership since closing Cleveland's The Fear Experience quite a while ago.
This new ownership and branding is in the shape of Fear Columbus. Fear Columbus came out of the gates in 2021 as a leading all-indoor haunted attraction in Ohio. The team's skills of DMX programming and projection mapping, CGI, Materials Distressing, Costuming and Makeup Development came in handy quickly when building a haunt from the ground up to become an instant contender within the year of establishment.
The initial themes are Occult and Apocalypse in the houses: The Summoning and Aftermath.
This year is The Summoning: Animal Instinct and Aftermath: The Final Stand. The Summoning will continue next year and Aftermath is in its final year.
As you drive up, you can't miss the ridiculously huge blocked off section of the parking lot for queue lines, media remotes, security and bathrooms. The Lines are for General Admission, Fast Pass and Immediate Access. Price tiers are dynamic based on night and function like this:
GA is $19.99 - $29.99
Fast Pass is adding $10 to that
Immediate Access is adding $20 to GA
There are two queue lines. An outdoor for all time periods then, an indoor for all of Immediate, one time period of Fast Pass and a certain number of GA I was not able to determine. Inside, there is an exciting DMX Light and Video show as you're waiting to go on to the next section. Through the front door of the facade, you're let into a photo booth of sorts where you're set up with your potential end-haunt souvenir picture together.
The real house: The Summoning begins just shortly after passing through the curtain on the other side of the booth. First thing you'll probably notice is the music not being a typical horror soundscape. The music calmly wafting within the walls is a mix of mid-20 th Century genres like Jazz, Swing and Ballad. The walls themselves looked dressed to appear like you're walking the halls of Mansion decorated for sometime between the 20's and 40's.
Slightly deeper into the adventure, you start to encounter actors. Many of the scares are powered by Boo Boxes. These tools are great for constant, repetitive and powerful scares. The thrash of the actors and violent flashing of the strobe lights cause for a hostile and unnerving encounter. This house is full of interesting and amazing occult imagery and is one of the best houses in that theme I have seen. The few animatronics are crazy and the Cult Scenes are, too.
The second house being Aftermath is a rendition of the Apocalypse in all considerable human environments. They have you enter the streetscape through a very well built diner with a smashed window that allows you to see way down the line to later parts of the path. Among the coolest parts of the streetscape is a simulated police helicopter flying overhead. You encounter some Boo Box actors but much more roaming actors than the previous house.
The whole place looks like a completely built out city that was then looted and ransacked. The stores still have some odds and ends on the shelf, the medical quarters has medicine and tools strewn about. It looks the most like Fallout of any haunted house I've been to. You do get some experience of the residential apocalypse but, that takes a distant second to other environments in society as the traditional house was already explored in The Summoning.
In all parts of the attraction, Lighting and Sound are truly Hollywood. The lighting is distinct and mostly consists of precision spots in The Summoning. The streetscape in Aftermath is lit to look like Moonlight shining down. In The Summoning too, there is a prominence of strobe lights. These Strobe Lights are some of the most disorienting patterns I've ever seen. Sound wise, the speakers are high end and their output is thoroughly enveloping. The effects played by the Boo Boxes are highly disruptive and dissonant to top off the assault.
My tip for buying tickets is General Admission is a rip-off for the amount of time you'll spend in line, buy one of the VIP tickets. The show is definitely worth the extra $10 on most nights and $20 on the busiest nights. On its own, I would say a three hour drive is max, up to six hours for a combination with Carnage and Dead Acres/Haunted Hoochie.