Heart of Darkness: behind the scenes

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

The Heart of Darkness is the number one haunted house in the state of Iowa, according to fearfinder.com. With 13 differently themed areas, the attraction winds through farm country outside of Waterloo, bringing a Halloween tradition to life every year.

“This is our 14th year,” said Kevin Schults, the “dark mastermind” behind Heart of Darkness. “Every year we have to provide a bigger, better, badder show. You’ve got to be competitive.”

According to Schults, the Heart of Dankness is his passion. Schults is a plumber and carpenter by trade, but looks forward to October every year. This year, the Heart of Darkness features three new areas: spiritual realm, coven and boggy creek swamp.

“Boggy creek is this huge thing,” Schults said. “Coven is witch, witch, witch, witch, and no one does witches anymore. I wanted to bring back some classic Halloween. Spiritual realms is a mausoleum area, with lots of projectors and special effects, that bring non-reality to reality.”

According to Schults, the Heart of Darkness is nearly a year-round operation. It is torn down in November, the crew takes December off and then begins planning in January.

“As soon as snow breaks and ices breaks, we are out here,” Schults said. “We were here at the beginning of April this year.”

Schults said that coming up on October, the crew was working 10 to 14 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Literally these guys come out and dedicate 20 to 30 hours a week out here,” said Josh Sears, a crew member who works on the Heart of Darkness.

“I had a dream, way back when I was a kid, and I wanted to do something big,” Schults said. “I love Halloween and haunted houses, and I am very blessed, honestly, by God, to have such fantastic people come on to be a part of this.”

This weekend is UNI weekend, according to Schults, and students can get $2 off by showing their UNI ID at the ticket booth.

“This place would not happen without all the other people,” Schults said. “I’m just one guy.”