Egyptian Theatre’s Amenti House: Top 5 things to know


The clown room at the Egyptian Theatre’s Amenti Haunted House, 135 N. Second St.

By Emma Harvey

While you’re being chased by zombies and traveling down dark quarters in the Egyptian Theatre Amenti Haunted House, 135 N. Second St., keep these helpful tips in mind.


Visitors don’t just see and hear the horror around them: They smell it.

“There are a couple different rooms that you go through that smell a different way to fit the area that you’re going through,” said Alex Nerad, Egyptian Theatre executive director. “You may go through a clown scene that smells like cotton candy, or you may go through a house scene that smells really musty.”

The scent aspect of the rooms was first incorporated three years ago, but it continues to have a considerable effect on visitors.

It’s “a fairly new thing for us, and it’s certainly I think something that really adds a lot to a room,” Nerad said. “Most people may not necessarily notice it, but it adds to the whole atmosphere of the room kind of subconsciously.”

Nerad said the smells come from scented cups purchased from a manufacturer.


The haunted house includes more than 20 scenes of terror which occur throughout the theater.

The rooms in the haunted house span six levels. From the lobby to the stage and mezzanine, every part of the theater is used.

“We have a couple of rooms, we moved around a couple of things that have been in a certain spot for a number of years, and we’ve also added some new startles and surprises that we’ve never had before,” Nerad said.

One of five Egyptian theatres in the United States

DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre is one of only five theaters still standing which were originally decorated in the classic Egyptian style, and the only one east of the Rocky Mountains, according to The Egyptian aura of the theater plays a part in the haunted house.

“Amenti is the Egyptian goddess who guards the gates to the underworld,” Nerad said.

A trip into this haunted house becomes a trip into the Egyptian underworld and features Egyptian-themed scenes and a variety of underworld nightmares.

Long-term planning, short-term construction

The planning for this haunted tour begins in January and continues until October, when construction begins.

This construction must be completed in only 13 days due to the Egyptian Theatre’s event schedule.

To accomplish this, Egyptian Theatre employees rely on local volunteers who help with the building and striking of the set. Many volunteers are also actors who perform in the haunted house.

Visitors from all over

The haunted house has increased in size and popularity.

“It has continued to grow every single year,” Nerad said. “We started with two nights. Now we’re up to nine, and so it has just escalated.”

The haunted house is usually visited by more than 3,000 people each year, Nerad said. People of all ages gather from across the Midwest for the event.

“We have people who drive here from Chicago, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa,” Nerad said.