Now in its second season, Austin’s newest haunted attraction, Bat City Scaregrounds, is back to scare the pants off Central Texas! Despite its young age, there is a lot of experience behind the Bat City Scaregrounds. The crew that created and run Bat City Scaregrounds have been running Nightmare on 19th Street in Lubbock for the past 15 years, and also run Horror Web which produces horror culture programs, short films and events. And, a few of them play in the horror punk band the Immortalz.
Visiting Bat City isn’t like going to other haunted attractions. When you pass through the gates to enter the expansive park you are greeted by Scarah, Damsel of the Doomed on her bone throne, or one of many other creatures. Once through the gates you are free to wander the expansive park — for free. Yes, free.
Unlike other haunted attractions you can wander around and take in the exhibits, shop with the many vendors on the midway, grab a bite to eat, watch some sideshow acts and bands perform, and get spooked by the roaming monsters. It’s only when you want to experience one of the haunted houses that you’ll have to pay admission.
On my most recent trip to Bat City Scaregrounds I spent over an hour with my group taking in the exhibits, watching the Gay Satan Sideshow from Hell and the Immortalz, shopping with the Curia Arcanum, Ally Bee, Nova’s Curios, and Zombie Peepshow before we even made it over to the first haunt! There is that much to do for free.
I can’t say I am a haunt aficionado, but I have been to a few haunts here in Texas and in the Northeast. A lot of haunts lean into the gross-out and jump scares. Bat City Scaregrounds is scary, a little bit campy and a lot of fun, reflecting the sensibilities of its creators. They easily have some of the most detailed and innovative sets and scares, too. The set design is the kind of quality you would find in a large budget horror or sci-fi feature film. The attention to detail in the character makeup, the set design and storytelling are outstanding.
Storytelling? Yes, storytelling.
The first house is called Orlock’s Castle. The team behind Bat City Scaregrounds produced a Horror Web comic telling the origin of Orlock the Defiler and Scarah, Damsel of the Doomed, and they also produced several short films based around these characters. If you are not familiar with Orlock’s story, he is a space vampire that came to conquer the earth. Without spoiling it for you, this house brings you into Orlock’s world. It’s a clever mashup of science fiction and horror. The second house, Ancient Evil, takes you on a trip through time where you experience horrors throughout history, and finally Clownocalypse 3D is a trippy clown rave guaranteed to mess with your senses.
Between seasons a lot of time is spent making significant updates and changes to the details inside each house keeping the experience fresh for your next visit. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside the haunts, not that photos would do them justice. You’ll just have to go experience it all for yourself.
Bat City Scaregrounds can be found at South Turnersville Road, about 2 miles east of I35 on the southern edge of the Austin city limits.
Bat City Scaregrounds
141010 South Turnersville Rd. Austin 78610
📷: S.A. Sebastian Gnolfo – Website