DELLS BUCKET LIST #25 - Visiting Wally World Arcade, Krazy Mirror Maze, Shootin' Gallery, Haunted Mansion & Torture Museum

Over the years I’ve visited many Dells area attractions, but recently I had the opportunity to visit five of them, all in one afternoon. This whirlwind experience came courtesy of Wally Nekyha and his wife Terry, owners of the downtown attractions – The Haunted Mansion, Torture Museum, Shootin’ Gallery, Krazy Mirror Maze, and Wally World Arcade.

Fifteen years ago Wally bought what was then called Tommy Bartlett’s Gyrotron on the corner of Broadway and Oak Street and renamed it Wally World Arcade, filling it with coin-operated amusements from his nearly forty-year-old Chicago party rental company. Besides having the only antique carousel in the Wisconsin Dells and a large variety of classic games, they kept one of the old Gyrotrons for those wanting to experience an aeronautic ride where you’re strapped into the middle of rings that spin independently inside one another.

Having already gone through that dizzying experience before, I decided to skip it this go-around and instead had Wally bring me over to one of his newer attractions, the Krazy Mirror Maze. Born out of the necessity when needing to fill the space after a gift shop tenant left, Wally told me he got the inspiration for it from an old black & white Charlie Chaplin movie.

The Krazy Mirror Maze is only approximately 1200 square feet large, but being there are close to 200 floor-to-ceiling mirrors filling up the space, it seems much larger. While the concept is an old one, Wally put a new-school spin on things by offering guests the chance to go through the maze twice, the second time while wearing 3D glasses.

I thought the first go-around was disorientating enough as I tried to figure out which direction to move while seeing my reflection everywhere, but once you put on the 3D glasses, things got considerably more difficult. You literally had to feel your way through the course or risk possibly slamming into a mirror. Wally told me for those frequent instances, he buys ice packs to give out to the unfortunate ones that think they can quickly run through the maze.

After successfully navigating the Krazy Mirror Maze, I made my way down the street to the Haunted Mansion. Wally told me that when he bought the downtown mainstay five or six years ago, it was in need of refurbishing and updating, so every year he puts in something new. Not having visited the place since I was a teenager, I was anxious to see some of the improvements.

When I arrived, I met longtime summer employee Don Zamzow, who retired from a telephone company seventeen years ago after nearly forty years of service. I took the opportunity to ask Don who was usually more afraid to enter, kids or adults. He told me sometimes kids will march in bravely, and other times they’ll just start screaming, but lately it’s the adults that are surprisingly afraid to enter. This is due to a relatively new term called Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. “They just won’t go in. They’re terrified!”

Not having that fear myself, I ventured into the dark hallways filled with the sounds of loud screaming, sirens blaring, and evil laughter intermixed between songs like "The Monster Mash" and the theme song from "The Adams Family". Various horror movie set type displays are throughout, as well as newer effect like a vortex tunnel and laser light show. Thankfully my only real fear, having something reach out and grab me, didn’t happen. Wally later told me that fear is the first thing people are paranoid about, but he tells them: “Nothing will touch you. They’re all dead!”

After surviving my trip through the Haunted Mansion, I went around the corner to another creepy attraction, the Torture Museum, which Wally purchased four years ago. The museum is filled with pain inducing devices like a guillotine, a Chinese Death Cage, an iron gag, and many other ghastly mechanisms. With over forty exhibits, you get a good history lesson of implements of suffering from around the globe, which I amusingly learned inspires many of the visiting parents to playfully threaten their kids with. Summer employee Tim Cleland told me: “Probably about ninety percent of the families that come out of here tell their children, you better eat your vegetables, because I got plans for you now!”

Having had enough creepiness for the day, I finished my tour of Wally’s attractions with The Shootin’ Gallery, a fun Haunted Manor themed electronic shooting gallery where you shoot targets to win tickets that can be traded in for prizes.

Before I left, I had to ask Wally which of his attractions is his favorite. He told me laughingly: “The one that makes the most money!” While he wouldn’t disclose which one that was, he did wrap things up by saying what his favorite thing is about owning Dells attractions: “My favorite is the joy of owning a well-oiled machine. You got everything clicking; it’s Saturday in the Dells; people are here, and you collect the money!”

For more pictures of my visit to these attractions visit the Dells Bucket List Facebook Page here