KAUKAUNA – A favorite Fox Valley haunt is at long last going bigger for 2023.
Kaukauna’s Realm of Darkness haunted house recently closed for the season after its fifth and final year along W. Wisconsin Avenue. For 2023, they’ll move into a space nearly triple its current size, taking up half of the soon-to-be-retired Starlite Club along County JJ just outside the city.
While we’ve all turned our sights to Thanksgiving and Christmas, owners say it’ll take every spare moment from now through summer to create the Halloween happening they’ve long envisioned.
It’s the next step in the progression for owners Ben Hurst and Dalton Polomis.
Each did haunted yards as youngsters. They combined forces on a haunted woods in middle school. As adults, they’ve steadily become more sophisticated in their Halloween productions, and with the move, they’ll address the only big critique they’ve gotten.
Realm of Darkness has always gotten high marks for scares, special effects and entertainment. It’s just been a bit small for some thrill seekers.
“It’s tough,” Polomis said. “We used up every square inch in the building, then we started to venture outside. From there, we used up every square inch of outdoor space we had. We’re really fortunate to be getting the additional space.”
They were looking to move for some time, though it took some surprises around a few corners before landing a new home.
Realm of Darkness had been preparing to move to a new location this year and the build was under way. Some unforeseen difficulties led them to abandon those plans.
The Starlite Club will give them the room to create a production like they’ve never had before – but the clock is already ticking.
Building a great haunt is a yearlong project. This one will also entail tear-down of the current space, along with planning, moving, organizing – then finally construction.
“It’s going to be hell for the next year,” Polomis acknowledged.
While it’s a bit intimidating, growth only happens through challenges.
Polomis said he and Hurst feel they’re a long way from hitting their peak. Every year has been better with the last, and now they finally have the space to let their imaginations run.
“When we see the haunt from five years ago, we cringe a little,” he said. “I’m wondering if we’ll cringe five years from now. It shows the progress that we’ve made.”