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Family Health Tip: Halloween Safety for Your Ghouls and Goblins

Family Health TipThis blog post first appeared on Kids HealthLine, courtesy of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

Make this Halloween one to remember for fun and creativity—not a trip to the emergency department. Simple precautions can make for a fun and safe Halloween. Halloween presents a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to have fun together—and more than any other holiday, it requires extra attention to safety concerns.

  1. Pumpkin-carving: Younger children can draw faces that an adult cuts out. The safest candle option is a votive — or up your jack-o-lantern’s safety quotient by using a glow stick or battery-powered light.
  2. Costume Tips:
    • When choosing which superhero or cartoon character for your child to be, consider visibility and ease of movement for each costume.
    • Costumes that are bright or reflective help keep kids safer in fading light. Parents can add reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags or costumes to ensure motorists can see children crossing roadways or driveways. Glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets are also great options to help visibility.
    • Hats and shoes should fit properly to minimize the risk of tripping or obscured vision.
    • Makeup approved for use on faces can be a good alternative to masks that limit trick-or-treaters’ ability to see.
    • Swords, wands, and other costume props should be flexible, short,and soft to prevent injuries.
  3. Trick-or-Treating Tips:
    • Always accompany small children while trick-or-treating.
    • Parents should establish a safe trick-or-treating route and time to return home with older children–who should still go out in a group.
    • Teach your child to walk on sidewalks or at the edge of roadways facing traffic.
    • Flashlights and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets can help your children find their way and be seen by drivers.
    • Children should know never to enter a home for a treat. They should also avoid cutting across lawns or alleys and stick to sidewalks and designated places to cross the street.
  4. Candy: Wait until you get home to examine and eat candy. A responsible adult should weed out choking hazards, items in open packages, homemade items or anything suspicious.
  5. Handing out candy: Parents who plan to hand out candy should prepare yards and front porches by removing garden hoses, lawn ornaments and tools children might trip over in the dark. All outdoor lights should have working bulbs, and sidewalks should be swept of wet leaves or other slipping hazards. This way, no one gets hurt – and everybody has fun!

Creepy Carnival-Inspired Halloween Treats

Even though the Indiana State Fair has come and gone, you can still enjoy all of your favorite carnival foods this fall! As a part of the Creepy Carnival Haunted House, The Children’s Museum Guild Witches have shared ways to transform that typical carnival food into a creepy at-home creation.

Mummy Hot DogsMummy or severed finger hot dogs
Have a crowd of hungry goblins to feed?  Kids will love
these fun but simple ways to turn a classic hot dog into something creepy—like mummies! All you need to do is wrap Pillsbury crescent rolls around hot dogs, apply mustard to make eyes, bake accordingly to packaging instructions, and voila—your hot dogs are now mummies! If you’re looking for a way to really scare the kids, you can also transform a hot dog into a severed finger. To do this, you'll need a knife and a teardrop or oval cutter to make the fingernail [recipe]. For vegetarians, you can create something similar! Instead of using hotdogs, create mummies or severed fingers by replacing them with pretzel sticks and melted chocolate [recipe]. Hopefully you’ll still want to bite into these scary snacks when they’re complete! 

Creepy pumpkin carmel applesCreepy pumpkin caramel apples
Ever notice that apples are a similar shape to pumpkins? You can turn a simple fall treat into a frightening pumpkin by adding some decoration. After the caramel has cooled on the apples, melt any chocolate you prefer to use for the eyes and face.  Stick on gummy worms or other candy for an extra creepy pumpkin look [recipe]. This recipe can be a fun activity for kids to do in anticipation for Halloween and our haunted house.


Witches Popcorn Witches Popcorn
These days, we witches are always snacking on popcorn while keeping busy planning the Creepy Carnival. Yes, witches love popcorn too! To make this favorite snack scary, we like to use green food coloring, lots of butter and sometimes candy corn. However, there are many different ways to make this treat your own [recipe]. If you want to hand out Witches Corn at a Halloween party, you can also fill up a plastic glove with the popcorn and use candy corn as fingernails. Hopefully our favorite snack won’t turn you into a witch! Hehehe. 

Spider web cotton candySpider web cotton candy
Love that light and fluffy sweet taste known as cotton candy? If you have a cotton candy maker, then it’s easy! If you don’t, no worries! You can find a recipe to make this favorite carnival treat without a machine here. The cotton candy should already look naturally webby, but you can also add food coloring or plastic spiders to give it a spookier feel. This simple treat allows a lot of room for creativity and fun. 



Bloody Ears

Bloody Ears
Elephant ears are mouthwatering, sugary and everything to enjoy in life. A bloody ear might not look so appetizing, but it’s just as delicious! The only difference is these ears are stuffed with jelly using puff pastry to give it that bloody look. This recipe can be found on the Rachael Ray Show here. We witches like to eat these bloody ears for breakfast. It’s one of our favorites! 




To check out some of our other Creepy Carnival recipe ideas, visit our Pinterest page. After you’re done in the kitchen, don’t forget to get your tickets to the Creepy Carnival Haunted House!


Photo Attribution: 

  1. Mummy hot dog picture from 
  2. Creepy pumpkin caramel apples picture from 
  3. Witches Popcorn picture from
  4. Spider web cotton candy picture from
  5. Bloody Ears picture from 

Inspired by the Museum: Creepy Carnival Pumpkin Painting

BashThis post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador, Samantha Cotten. 
Follow Samantha's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @samanthacotten

Halloween is quickly becoming the Cotten family's favorite holiday. Last year at this time, we were anxiously awaiting our daughter's arrival (she missed being a pumpkin baby by just a few hours!) This year, we're honoring her first birthday with a month full of fa-BOO-lously spooky activities. Because what one-year-old doesn't love The Children's Museum Guild's Haunted House, Creepy Carnival?

Last weekend we dressed in our best "classic monster" garb, and headed to the Black Hat Bash to kick off our celebration. The museum did not disappoint in their festiveness—even the dinosaurs outside were in costume! Our little ghost loved checking out the other kids' get-ups, and even had a chance to haunt the Playscape in between bites of Blondie's Cookies. Our favorite part of the evening was getting a sneak preview of the Haunted House, which was delightfully creepy even with the lights on! It was the perfect amount of scary and friendly for our toddler (and for this easily-frightened mom and dad!)

Creepy Carnival was enough to inspire us to dress our own home up for the holiday. Every family headed by Frankenstein needs a little Halloween decor, right? We headed to our local pumpkin stand, picked out our favorites and got a little messy to create our own Creepy Carnival mascot—Barker Bones! Now we're the most festive house on the cul-de-sac. ;)

Dot pumpking painting

  1. Use painter's tape to cover your pumpkin (where you want your design to show).
  2. Draw your design directly on the painter's tape. I free-handed this Barker Bones, but you can use the museum's awesome Haunted House-Inspired templates!
  3. Use a razor blade to trace around your design, and remove the excess tape.
  4. Pour out the non-toxic finger paints, and let your little Picasso get to work!
  5. Once your little one has sufficiently covered themselves (and maybe the pumpkin) in paint, peel back the tape to reveal your masterpiece.
  6. If you plan to put your pumpkins outside, I recommend spraying the painted side with a clear acrylic sealant - just to make it waterproof!

Dot painted pumpkins



Your Guide to the Friendly Feasts with the Witches

FeastWitches1The Friendly Feasts with the Witches are a Haunted House tradition! Learn what you can expect from these special events from the guy who knows best—Scott Rudicel of Ruditoonz. 
October is almost here, and the Haunted House at the Children’s Museum is ready to rock! I've had the honor the last six years to host the “Friendly Feasts.” These events are a breakfast, lunch or dinner with a gaggle of friendly witches that are hosted by me, Ruditoonz. They are geared toward the younger crowd (ages 0–10 or so), last about 90 minutes total, and consist of a feast, singing and dancing, and a special 20-minute Ruditoonz Halloween-themed concert in Lilly Theater. 


For the feasts themselves, I love running around and meeting the kids, telling jokes and making them laugh while they eat. Fazoli’s provides worms with ground werewolf (spaghetti with meat sauce), breadsticks (mummy fingers) and salads (with lettuce grown by the witches themselves).  The breakfast is usually scrambled brains (eggs) and werewolf sausage and bacon with coffee (bat juice). Mmmmmmmmm. Getting hungry yet?
All the while, Halloween music is playing overhead. As I do with Ruditoonz, I choose this music carefully for not only the kids, but the moms and dads, too. We have “Witch Doctor” followed by Alice Cooper “Welcome to my Nightmare”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and of course, the “Monster Mash.” Frances the friendly witch is usually around to help teach the kids her best witchy dance moves.  We have a lot of fun!
Just ahead of the crowd, I run down to the theater and plug in for the concert. Each year, I mix up the songs I play to keep it fresh for both the returning guests and me. Also, every year I write a new song using the year’s theme as the title. Last year I wrote “Time Warp,” to mark the 50th anniversary of the Guild’s haunted house at the museum! I wrote a great song, kitschy like the Rocky Horror “Time Warp” yet entirely original and rocking, name checking both past haunted house themes and rooms in the current haunted house. Watch below or have a listen now—it rocks!
Following my show, everyone gets to go through the Haunted House with the lights on. They say this is less scary for the youngsters, but as someone who has gone through the houses many times both with lights on and off, I actually prefer lights on! You can see the incredible attention put in to every detail in all the rooms!
Cheers to the Haunted House! I’m honored to be a part of it!
See all of the Friendly Feasts dates and reserve your tickets here!

Haunted House-Inspired Pumpkin Carving Templates

Skull Sample Pumpkin Template Jack-o-lantern carving

Your family may spend hours picking the perfect pumpkin in the patch—but then what? How do you transform this average-looking vegetable into something spook-tacular? Will it be a ghost, a frightening face, or possibly a favorite cartoon character? There are so many ways to make your pumpkin the scariest on the block, and now we’ve made it easier for you to choose with these Children’s Museum Haunted House-inspired pumpkin carving templates!

The Children’s Museum Guild witches have created four templates that will make your jack-o-lanterns fa-BOO-lous! All you have to do is print our design templates, tape the design to the pumpkin, and cut on the indicated lines. It’s that easy!  Give the witch template a try, because of course, witches are frightfully awesome! Or you can don your pumpkin with our friend, Barker Bones, who is the ringmaster of this year’s haunted house, Creepy Carnival!



Ghoulish Ghost > DOWNLOAD

Smile Template

Spooky Smile > DOWNLOAD

Fa-BOO-lous Witch > DOWNLOAD

Creepy Carnival's Barker Bones > DOWNLOAD

After you carve that perfect pumpkin, don’t forget to visit ringmaster Barker Bones in person at The Children’s Museum Guild’s 51st annual Haunted House! Buy tickets and learn about all of our Creepy Carnival events at


The Children’s Museum Guild Witch Tips: Ten Creepy Make-up Techniques

Want to be a scaly monster, creepy clown, zany zombie, or spooky skeleton this Halloween? The Children’s Museum Guild Witches are here to help with some scary make-up tips! Use these 10 fun and simple creepy techniques and be the coolest monster trick-or-treating this Halloween. You’ll be just as frightening as the ghouls in our spooky Haunted House!

  1. Ten Creepy Make-up Techniques Blacken out your eyes using black makeup.  
  2. Off center your mouth using black eyeliner and make up.  Simply draw an exaggerated mouth in any shape you desire with the black eyeliner and fill in with cream Halloween make-up from your local party store.
  3. Create scales. Put fishnet stockings over your head, use a sponge and cream Halloween paint or make-up and dab over your face, carefully take off, it will look like scales on your face.
  4. Create scars. Do you have glue and toilet paper? Put a little glue on your face, arms, neck, hands, etc.  and use toilet paper to make Scars, or zombie skin. Cover with whichever color of paint you prefer.  You can add “blood” in the deeper parts to enhance the look.
  5. Darken sunken areas of your face using black make-up,  including under the cheek bones, eyes and around the nose.
  6. Use fake blood on your neck along with tip number 4 (above) if you want to make it look like your throat has been slit.
  7. Make a bruise using dark blue and red cream make-up from your local party store. Take a sponge and dab in an area till it looks like a bruise then add a little green and yellow around the edges for an authentic look.
  8. Scary clown. Paint big scary mouth larger than yours (using black on lips) and draw in scary black eyebrows, and draw around eyes.
  9. Paint “extra” eyes all over your face or just in the center of your forehead.
  10. Give yourself a zombie look by painting your face white and putting maroon cream make-up around your eyes.

For more spooky fun from our Guild Witches, visit The Children’s Museum’s Creepy Carnival Haunted House this Halloween season, from Wednesdays to Sundays October 11-31. Come if you dare…

The Children’s Museum Guild Witch Tips: Haunt Up Your House

Halloween porchThe Children's Museum Guild Witches—known for designing our spook-tacular Haunted House—are sharing their expert spooky decorating tips!  This Halloween, make your home look just as fa-BOO-lous as a real haunted house! 

  1. Floating Witch hats. In your entryway, hang witch hats with fishing line or invisible thread from the ceiling so they seem to be floating.  Put a witches broom or two in the corner.
  2. Make your own ghost.  Blow up a balloon.  Use a plastic cup or other container to hold the balloon.  Cover the balloon in cheesecloth and cut to desired length.  Spray with starch.  Let dry and pop the balloon.  Glue on googly eyes or use felt to make eyes and mouth to glue on.  Use invisible thread to hang.
  3. Candy Centerpiece.  Use two clear vases.  One must be shorter and able to fit inside the bigger vase, but only allows 1 to 1-1/2 inches between the two.  This space is where you will layer different types of Halloween candy.  You can start with jelly beans on the bottom, then Peeps, candy corn, or any other Halloween sweets you like.  Finish by adding flowers to the center inside vase.
  4. Vampire Fangs Place Card Holder.  Get a pair of vampire fangs.  Cut an appropriate size piece of card stock to fit between the upper and lower teeth.  Use this for place cards at the dinner table or to let guests know what food items are on the buffet.
  5. Decorate mirrors in your entryway, guest bath mirror and kids bath mirror with Halloween window or gel clings. 
  6. Halloween art. Find online and print one of the many free Halloween Subway Art signs.  Get a frame from the dollar store.  Paint it black or orange.  Frame your sign and place it on your table. 
  7. Buy spider webbing.  Place it in the corners of a window and stretch it out to the desired thickness of your web and secure it.  Decorate with spiders and other creepy crawly things.
  8. Make a Halloween Tree.  Get a spooky looking sturdy branch from your yard.  Keep it natural or paint it black.  Secure it in whatever type of container you like so the branch will not move.  You can use rocks, dirt, florist stones, etc.  Hang Halloween ornaments and display on a tabletop.
  9. Glowing Eyes.  Take an empty cardboard toilet paper tube and cut a creepy looking eye shape into it.  Do this with several tubes and cut many different looking eye shapes into them. Insert a glow stick in each one.  Put these outside in the bushes to make them creepy.
  10. Change your outdoor light bulbs to orange or purple to give your home a creepy look.

Make sure to get your tickets and come to see the witches’ spooky décor at The Children’s Museum’s Creepy Carnival Haunted House this Halloween season, Wednesdays to Sundays October 11-31. Come if you dare…

Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping.

Haunted Houses for Kids & Teens—Friendly, Frightening, or Extreme?

Note: This blog was originally posted in 2012 and is now updated for the 2014 Haunted House season!

It's that time of year again! The Children's Museum Guild, a group of amazing women, have volunteered THOUSANDS of hours to making this year's Haunted House Fa-BOO-lous for you and your family. This is the museum's largest annual fundraiser and goes to help fund initiatives for families and the community throughout the year.

One thing that makes our Haunted House unique is that we offer a variety of scare levels for you and your family, including IPL's Lights On Hours (for kids who scare easily), Defender Direct's Frightening Hours (for kids who dare to be scared), and Williams Comfort Air's XTREME SCREAM Fridays and Saturdays (recommended for super brave visitors).

Every year parents ask us which we recommend for their family. This is a difficult question! Although each child is different and there is no right or wrong answer, we do have some tips for you. Here are some details to help you in your decision. And don't miss this handy infographic that will help you choose your scare level!

Lights-On ($7)

  • Includes fun, upbeat music with all lights turned up.
  • Friendly-faced greeters are in each room of the house passing out treats to visitors similar to trick-or-treating.
  • Children can play seek-and-find with pictures of the annual Haunted House mascot— Witchkins this year—as they move through the rooms of the house to help play up the fun of each room.
  • Each room also features a Halloween-related fun fact to ask your child such as "how many bones are in the human body?" (A: 206!)


Frightening ($7)

  • Includes spooky music and minimal lighting.
  • Haunters hide throughout the house to jump out and scare unsuspecting visitors.
  • Although visual effects are used to maximize the scare experience, the frightening-factor of the Haunted House focuses more on the "startle" rather than gore.
  • Many visitors will scream with surprise or fear as they move throughout the House.



  • Friday and Saturday nights only from 9–11 p.m. and recommended for teens and adults.
  • Takes fright to the next level through an extreme mind/body fright experience.
  • Incorporates all five senses resulting in sensory overload as you go on a harrowing thrill ride through the Carnival where you'll encounter such hideous sights that once seen, cannot be unseen!
  • Unlike the “startle scare” of frightening hours, Xtreme Scream is a choreographed “show” that uses extreme props, costumes and make-up to bring the story to life.
  • A safe sign will be given to visitors in the event they are unable to make it through the experience.


If you're better with visuals, check out this 2012 episode of This Week's WOW to see how the haunters prepare for Frightening Hours. It's a great way to show little ones that the witches are really just playing dress up.

If you are still questioning which version of the Haunted House to bring your child to, consider how they handle scary books, movies and TV shows. If they are often afraid of spooky things outside of Halloween, they might prefer a lights-on experience for at least another year. Buy your tickets now!


What's Waiting Inside the Creepy Carnival Haunted House?

Midway MayhenLooking for some spook-tacular fun for your little ones this Halloween? Look no further! Step right up to the Creepy Carnival, the Children’s Museum Guild’s 51st Annual Haunted House! Lucky for you, the Guild Witches have shared some insider info about the design of this year's Haunted House! So what will be waiting for you behind the gates? Read on... if you dare!


Barker's Ballyhoo: Come one, come all! Our very own Barker Bones invites you to step right up! The enticing façade of Creepy Carnival includes an array of banners, colors, and a background complete with the shadows of a moving Ferris wheel! 

Not-So-Fun House: Metal parts clanging, loud sounds that keep banging; this fun house is not to be missed!  Spiders and mirrors inside, watch your step as you walk under the slide!

Midway Mayhem: Games and contests that can’t be beat, prizes and carnies fill the street. 

Scare-ousel: Up and down you go, and round-and-round. Animals, goblins, even our friend Martimus can be found!

MissFortune: Do you dare test your fate and have your fortune read? Miss Fortune will leave you scratching your head! 

Spine-Chilling Sideshow: We have some of the most unusual sights! Far-fetched, or spooky, these characters are Halloween delights! 

Carnie Controls: Enter only if you dare, Carnie Carl can be quite a bear. Don’t touch the wires or buttons UNLESS you want to get a terrible jolt from his carni-mess!

Lemon Snake Ups

Polar Vortex: Spinning around and around in a wintry blizzard, a passenger on this ride could lose a gizzard!  The passenger next to you could be real or fake—be careful picking which spot you will take!

Eerie Eats: Freaky, fried food is what you will find here. While you are snacking, rodents will appear! Food becomes trash and then trash becomes food—the eats around here might just change your mood!

Big Top

Tent of Terror: The show in this you do not want to miss! There are performers and animals—some roar and some hiss! This is our carnival’s main attraction—come one come all—be part of the action!

Barker’s Back Lot: This is where the “broken stuff” goes…. Old ride parts, old banners, old carnie toes. Be careful while leaving—someone made a mistake. The biggest cage was left open and what lived there ESCAPED!!!

... plus even more surprises!

Get your tickets now and stop by Wednesdays–Sundays from Oct. 11–31 for scary good fun! From creepy carnies and scary spiders to freaky fortunes and midway mayhem, this Haunted House will have you squealing through the night with fright and delight. Prepare to be scared! 


Choose Your Haunted House Experience!

Choose your scare experience in The Children’s Museum Guild’s 51st Annual Haunted House, Creepy Carnival, opening October 11!

  • Learn more about the difference between Lights-On, Frightening, and XTREME SCREAM hours in this blog post.
  • Dates and times for all experiences can be found on the museum's website.
  • Buy your tickets.

HH Experiences

10 Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home

BHBcostumeHalloween is a great time of year to put your DIY skills to the test! Get inspiration from the experts—The Children’s Museum Guild Witches—with these 10 tips for costumes you can make at home! Then don your spooky gear for the third annual Black Hat Bash on October 10, where you can show off your DIY skills in the crazy Creepy Carnival costume contest! 

1. Ugly, Black Spider: A simple black hoodie can easily turn into a spider with buttons and yellow felt for eyes and stuff black pantyhose for legs
2.  Smartie Pants: Glue smarties candy to sweat pants.
3. Bag of Trash:  Fill a trash bag with paper, poke legs and arms through the bag, draw a twist tie on poster board, cut it out and staple it around the top of the bag to look like it goes around the neck. Take care to make sure it cannot tighten around the neck for safety reasons. 
4. Crazy Scientist:  Buy a white lab coat (available at your local uniform store) and put spider, or any kind of embellishment, on the cut with glue.  Add a pocket protector with worms coming out and some crazy hair from your local party store.
5. Corn dog: Wrap burlap around your body, cut a hole for your face.  Take the inside tube of a wrapping paper role to use for the stick.  Staple it so that it sticks out over your head.
6. Tub of Popcorn: Take two tri-fold presentation boards and tape them with red duct tape to make a square.  You will also use this duct tape to make the stripes on the outside of the tub. Take two PVC pipes, cut to the lengths of the 2 sides, and tape them along the right and left hand sides of the boards.  Take and old t shirt and glue it to the inside top of the square--this will allow you to "wear the tub".  Create popped popcorn with pieces of cotton batting that have been spray painted yellow and hot glued to top of t shirt.
7. Grease Pink Ladies: Pink cardigan sweater or zip up sweat shirt, black pants/leggings, black t shirt.  You can pair this with a colorful wig and scarf.
8. Gnome: To make the hat, roll a piece of red velvet or felt into a triangular shaped hat.  Spray paint your hair white.  For the outfit, you will need brown pants, a vest and white shirt
9. Puppies in a Box: Turn a box upside down and cut out leg holes.  Return box upright and fill the box half way with waded up newspapers as filler.  Place various puppy stuffed animals are the top.  Can hang the box over the shoulder with suspenders
10. Bumble Bee: All black clothing.  Use yellow duct tape to make the stripes on the back.  Take a dark colored head band and black pipe cleaners to make antennas.
SAFETY FIRST!  Always be mindful of potential choking hazards and that costume elements don’t constrict the range of motion. Please make sure all costumes have a clear field of vision so your trick-or-treater stays safe and incorporate bright colors or glow in the dark paint to make them more visible after the sun goes down.

Join us for The Black Hat Bash, Creepy Carnival

BHBlogoNote: This blog was originally posted in 2013 and is now updated for the 2014 Haunted House season!
The Black Hat Bash is back, bigger and “creepier” than ever! Come on down with family and friends to a Creepy Carnival event at The Children's Museum Guild's third annual Black Hat Bash
The Black Hat Bash is a special one-night event that celebrates the oldest continually operating haunted house in the nation!  It's not only the biggest and best family Halloween party in town—it's also the public’s first look at this year's Haunted House, Creepy Carnival. So if your family is counting down the days to the Haunted House, this is the party for you and you can experience Creepy Carnival a day early! It's an all-ages affair that promises to be frightfully fun!
This year’s bash is Friday night, October 10th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and is complete with food stations from local restaurants, spellbinding spirits, and beautifully batty beverages. Peru Circus performers will make an appearance to show off their juggling skills and other carnival-themed acts. You'll experience Halloween hilarity throughout the museum, dancing to spooky tunes spinned by a devilish DJ, taking part in a crazy costume contest, and playing in DreamAuthentics "Dreadful" arcade with ghostly games and activities. And, don't forget that every attendee receives a ticket to the Haunted House, which can be used during the event or during any Haunted House hours, Oct. 11-31. 


Want to hear the best part? Proceeds from the Black Hat Bash are part of the larger Haunted House fundraising effort led by The Children’s Museum Guild each year. The Guild has raised more than $9.5 million since it began in 1964, supporting museum initiatives such as the Foster Family program, Access Pass, and Neighborhood programs.

This is one night at the museum that you don’t want to miss! Get your costumes ready and start counting down the days to this un-BOO-lievable kickoff to the 51st Haunted House. You'll want to purchase tickets in advance as Black Hat Bash is likely to sellout quickly. Advance tickets are $5 off, and you can reserve a VIP table for 8 of your family and friends. See all of the ticket options and reserve yours online or by calling 317-334-4000. Buy your tickets now! We'll see you there!

What Makes XTREME SCREAM Extreme?

This year’s Haunted House has not one, not two, but three scare levels to choose from! But what makes Xtreme Scream so extreme? The Children's Museum Guild's witches tell us what to expect...

Xtreme Scream Haunted House

Do you consider yourself a thrill seeker?  Are you the type of person that likes to take things to the extreme?  If you answered “yes” then this year’s Haunted House has an experience you won’t want to miss…XTREME SCREAM!  Xtreme Scream late night Fridays and Saturdays take guests on a harrowing thrill ride through the Carnival where they will encounter such hideous sights that once seen, cannot be unseen! The Xtreme Scream haunt provides visitors with an extreme psychological experience, taking terror to the next level.

Williams Comfort Air's XTREME SCREAM is geared to ages 15 and older and will have you running to your mommy for comfort! This Haunt incorporates all five senses resulting in sensory overload for patrons. Unlike the “startle scare” of frightening hours, Xtreme Scream is a choreographed “show” that manipulates visitors and takes them on a thrill ride of terror.  Visitors should be aware that extreme props, costumes and make-up will be used to bring the story to life. A “safe sign” will be given to visitors in the event they are unable to make it through the experience.
Mark your calendars for Fridays and Saturdays (Oct. 17, 18, 24, and 25) as we go to the XTREME to give you the scariest haunt experience in town. This late-night event is from 9 – 11 p.m... or when the last survivor makes it out alive! Tickets are $12 at the box office or online. Remember, this experience is recommended for teens and adults, and only the bravest of visitors!  Come if you dare….

Marathon-Friendly Costumes for the Black Hat Dash

The Children’s Museum Guild has used their witchy powers to create a new event for your family and friends to enjoy as a part of this year’s Creepy Carnival Haunted House! For those families who are looking for opportunities to stay active, our new Black Hat Dash 2k/5k is just for you! On Oct. 11 at 9 a.m., you can not only run off all that candy that you’ve been snacking on―but also, dress up! What better way is there to run than in a fun costume? Running in a costume might be tricky, so we’ve brainstormed a few DIY Creepy Carnival costume ideas that you can actually run in comfortably. 


The "not-so-scary" clown for femalesThe “not-so-scary” clown for girls. This costume features a homemade tutu with primary colors to give it that circus feel. Tutus are popular, easy to make, and even easier to run in—so a clown costume incorporating a tutu is the way to go! You can find a complete DIY tutu tutorial here. For the top, wear a white shirt using either three petti flowers to represent buttons or colorful suspender bands. To keep your legs warm in the cold October weather, add knee-high rainbow socks. Finally, don’t forget to paint your nose red and add some colorful bows in your hair to complete the look. 



The Ring MasterThe Ring Master. This costume can be altered in many different ways. You can wear black or red pants and top it off with either a red or striped blazer over a white shirt. Make sure to wear an old and lightweight blazer so you don’t overheat while running! To add to the ring master look, make sure to incorporate a bow tie or small top hat that will stay on your head. Remember whips as props won’t be allowed at the race, but this costume is simple and can easily be put together the day before the dash. 




The StrongmanThe Strongman. Want to run a race while looking tough doing it? Then the strongman costume is for you! For this simple look, wear black pants, a black striped shirt and black suspender bands, if you please. You can also choose to wear red instead of black, or add leotards. The choice is yours! To add some toughness to the costume, paint yourself a curly mustache and wear a top hat. This costume is comfortable to run in and makes you look intimidating. You can also create your own bar weight by using black Styrofoam balls and a black rod. However, save this prop for our Haunted House since you won’t be able to run with it. 


The simple Popcorn or BalloonsThe simple Popcorn or Balloons. This costume may be simple, but it's definitely creative! You can dress up as your favorite carnival food by wearing red striped pants and a red striped shirt. If you don’t have red striped clothes, you can create your own by adding red duct tape to your white clothing. Then, super glue popcorn to a white winter hat and voila ―you’re a bag of popcorn! You can choose to be balloons instead by keeping the striped clothes but tying a few small balloons to a headband instead. 




To check out some of our other fa-BOO-lous costume ideas, visit our Pinterest page. Remember that masks and props that represent weapons will not be allowed at the race, but creativity is encouraged! Sign up for the Black Hat Dash run today! 

NOTE: If you plan on participating in the Black Hat Dash 5K/2K Run & Walk, remember that toy guns are not allowed, as well as dogs, bikes, and scooters. Strollers are permitted. 

Picture attribution:
Clown costume from 
Ring master costume from 
Strongman costume from 
Balloon costume from 

Hollywood Haunts—Taking Off the Mask

Ned Chris blog mashupHalloween may be over, but did you know you can still experience Hollywood Haunts through November 24? There are so many awesomely spooktacular artifacts to show you, we didn’t want to put them away just yet! In this post, Director of Collections Chris Carron explains why these artifacts aren’t so scary after all. But don’t miss the annotations from Creative Director Ned Shaw—he won’t let Chris get away with revealing the mystery behind Hollywood Haunts!
When the Children’s Museum Guild started planning for its fiftieth haunted house, museum staff decided to plan a special exhibit in honor of the anniversary.  But instead of creating more dark environments with characters to startle you, we chose to present a fun and lighthearted peek behind the scenes at some of our favorite spooky movies.(1) Hollywood Haunts is filled with the actual costumes and props that were used on-screen during the filming of famous TV shows and action films. Visitors can learn how movie designers use props to tell stories, and even gain inspiration to design their own silly monsters. 
From a safe vantage point on the other side of the glass,(2) we see that the costumes and props are imaginative but make-believe, so we don’t really need to be terrified.(3) Take the mischievous hitchhiking ghosts from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. They were shipped to the Museum in a large crate as a loan from a collector in California.(4)
The iconic monkey head from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom may seem gory, but it’s really just a plastic prop that is a part of The Children’s Museum’s collection. The bright red brains inside the skull were actually “cooked up” by our Collections Preparator, Nick Schanz!(5) (Believe it or not, Nick details his process in this blog post!)
George the Spider from Sammy Terry’s Nightmare Theater TV show and specials hangs from the ceiling on a thin piece of fishing line.(6) (See George in action in this video from his visit to the museum.) The invading aliens from Mars Attacks! are revealed to be puppets,(7) and the moody scenery from The Nightmare Before Christmas was cut with a jigsaw from plywood. 
Full-sized reproductions of Alien and Predator might be too menacing for some, so they’re secured behind shades, out of the sight of small children’s eyes.(8) So come see Hollywood Haunts during regular museum hours and learn how the magic is made. Don’t be frightened—be inspired!(9)
(1)  That is, if you find skulls and mummies fun and lighthearted, like Chris does!
(2)  Sure…the visitors just think they’re safe…
(3)  We don’t need to be terrified…we WANT to be terrified!
(4)  They wanted to hitchhike, but they probably wouldn't have gotten very far. 
(5) I bet that wasn’t in his job description!
(6) And he writes all of his own dialog!
(7) Perhaps…or maybe they are REAL aliens, waiting for us to get our guards down, and then WHAM!
(8) So you know that’s the FIRST place your little daredevils will go!
(9) Okay, and just a leetle bit frightened!
Addams Family Hollywood Haunts Haunted Mansion ghosts
Mummy Hollywood Haunts Sammy Terry Hollywood Haunts


Saturday Science: Erupting Pumpkin

Erupting Pumpkin Saturday Science The Children's Museum of IndianapolisHalloween is over, and now you're left with a two-day-old jack-o-lantern on your porch. Why not turn it into a science experiment?? Today's Saturday Science, courtesy of the blog "Growing a Jeweled Rose," just gushes with fun!


  • Carved pumpkin
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring


  1. Fill your pumpkins with a bit baking soda (about 4 tablespoons per pumpkin.)
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Add vinegar...and the eruptions begin!


What appears to be one reaction is actually two, happening in quick succession. This reaction is an example of a multi-step reaction. The acetic acid (that's what makes vinegar sour) reacts with sodium bicarbonate (a compound that's in baking soda) to form carbonic acid.
Carbonic acid is unstable, and it immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide and water. The bubbles you see from the reaction come from the carbon dioxide escaping the solution that is left. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, so it flows almost like water when it overflows the container. It's a gas that you exhale (though in small amounts), because it's a product of the reactions that keep your body going.
What's left is a dilute solution of sodium acetate in water.
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

How to Sculpt Fake Monkey Brains à la Indiana Jones

Monkey Brains 1

In this post, Nick Schanz, the museum's Collections Preparator, tells us how he recreated fake monkey brains that were true to Hollywood! Just another day at the office...
Sometimes we use artifacts that not only need a way to be displayed safely in a case, but also an added detail that helps tell the story of the artifact being used. We recently installed Hollywood Haunts with artifacts on display from scary and not so scary movies that we all like to watch around Halloween. One artifact you can see on display in Hollywood Haunts is the monkey head prop used in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Do you remember the scene when Indy goes to meet the Maharaja at his palace and they proceed to have a dinner of baby snakes, beetles, eyeball soup and for dessert—chilled monkey brains? (Gross!) Originally for this scene real food was used to imitate the monkey brains. Because this would be on display, we definitely couldn’t use food. So instead we used modeling paper clay that is archival. This means that it's acid free and won't react in any way with the artifact that might be harmful. An extra barrier of plastic is used so we can get the correct size needed to fit the skull properly.
After the monkey brains were sculpted, we allowed them to air dry for several days. Next we primed the brains with a base coat so we could paint the brains with acrylic paints.
After we applied several coats of paint, the final step was to apply a final coat of gloss medium to make them look like they were in the movie.
The final display of the monkey brains is now able to be seen in Hollywood Haunts, which runs through November 24! 
Monkey Brains 1 Monkey Brains 3 Monkey Brains Indiana Jones Temple of Doom



DIY Halloween T-Shirt Haute Couture

DIY Halloween Children's Museum Guild T-SHirt

Because the witches of The Children’s Museum Guild celebrate Halloween all year long, in 2008 guild witch Sarah Adams came up with an idea to make hip, trendy Halloween shirts that Guild fashionistas could wear all year. These custom-made, Halloween appliqué t-shirts have become a Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House wardrobe staple and now Sarah is going to share her secrets to making this adorable addition to your wardrobe.

Start with the basic Halloween symbols like a pumpkin, ghost, bat or skull and crossbones. Images can be found on-line, in kids coloring books or, if you are super crafty, draw something yourself. Look for what’s trending—like vampires or zombies—to be “in the now." For the guild witches, this could mean getting some inspiration from the current year's Haunted House theme!
You'll need a T-shirt. A basic cotton, crew neck t-shirt works great. Sarah finds great t-shirts at Target. Next you need appliqué paper with a sticky back, available at your local craft store. While at the craft store, buy black, orange, white, green, or purple fabric in a variety of textures and designs and pick up some embroidery floss. Lastly, you need a sewing machine.
  1. Make an appliqué design. For a unique look with more visual interest, make layers to the appliqué using different fabrics to give it more edge.
  2. Trace appliqué onto appliqué paper and cut out.
  3. Remove the backing and iron traced appliqué onto the shirt—this will hold the design in place as you sew.
  4. Sew on the appliqué using a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch.
  5. Add detail stitching with embroidery floss.
  6. Done!
Quotes also make fun appliqués. Sarah has used “witchy woman,” “good witch” (front) “bad witch” (back), and other quotes that show off personality!
Sarah’s Advice: “Keep it trendy and funky and you will always be in style!”

50 Years Of Fear at The Children's Museum Guild's Haunted House

Established in 1964, The Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House is the museum's largest annual fundraiser. Since its inception, the Haunted House has raised more than $8.5 million. The Haunted House is conceived, planned, built, operated, and presented by The Children’s Museum Guild, and is visited by more than 58,000 people each year. This infographic shares highlights from the past "50 Years of Fear." Learn even more on the Haunted House History site

Haunted House 50 Years Infographic Children's Museum Indianapolis

“It’s time for… Sammy Terry!”

Sammy TerryBy: Cathy Hamaker, Exhibit Developer

If you grew up in the Indianapolis area in the 1970’s, like I did, then Sammy Terry needs no introduction.  This ghoulish character was the regular host of WTTV’s Friday night monster movies for decades; he would rise from his dungeon coffin each week, introduce the films, and engage in entertaining banter that often referenced local news, politics, and sports.  While Sammy’s regular appearances on Channel 4 ended in the late 1980’s, he is still a beloved icon for generations of Hoosier horror fans!

Sammy was originally played by Robert Carter, a veteran of WTTV’s various talk shows.  He developed the Sammy character himself in 1962, when the station purchased a package of classic monster films to show on Friday nights and needed someone to do the live “intros” and “outros.” Sammy Terry (a pun on “cemetery”—get it?) was a caped ghoul who slept in a coffin and lived in a dungeon, chatting with his friends George (a rubber spider,) Skully (a disembodied skull,) and other characters who appeared over the decades.  While Robert Carter passed away in the summer of 2013, his son Mark has carried on the legacy of Sammy—he’s been playing the character in public appearances and TV specials since 2010.

So you can imagine that we here at The Children’s Museum were pretty thrilled at the opportunity to work with Mark Carter for our new Halloween experience, “Hollywood Haunts,” open at the museum from Oct. 5–Nov. 24.  Mark has generously loaned us a number of original Sammy Terry props and set pieces, including Sammy’s coffin (!) and George the Spider (!!!)  If you’re a longtime fan, this is something you won’t want to miss—and if you’re new to town, it’s a great way to get to know a legend of Hoosier television history.  But Sammy’s not the only thing to see in Hollywood Haunts—this little exhibit is jam-packed with real movie props and costumes from films like The Addams Family, The Mummy, and Corpse Bride.  Stop by and see it—and have, as Sammy would say, “Pleasant Nightmares!”