Thanks to the Elgin Area CVB in Illinois – they sent us 2 tickets to attend Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street this past weekend and BOY was it a cool experience! I’ll share with you in this post everything you need to know from parking to gate entrance, kid/family appeal or horror, all of it! As a first timer I found the map of the event very helpful but I had a hard time finding much more details so that I knew what to expect. This post will help you out with all of that!
What is Nightmare on Chicago Street?
It is a post zombie apocalypse event which encompasses a several block radius in Elgin, Illinois where only the undead are allowed entry! Basically the area is set up as if the zombie apocalypse has happened with some KILLER special effects and props (seriously – mad kudos to those involved in creating set pieces because they are insane) A lot of people (not everyone) dress up in just about everything you can imagine (although zombies win my vote!). The entire experience is pretty awesome and makes for a fun night out!
I LOVE Halloween (zombies are OK too!) but I am NOT into horror at all. So usually I stray away from truly spooky scary haunted houses in October and leave it to those who aren’t a chicken like me. Nightmare on Chicago Street, however, sounded really awesome and after scouring the internet (and not finding tons other than the website itself) I decided to give it a go with my 10 year old son! They have built an awesome story line and film series around this event which really wraps it all up into an experience.
Be forewarned – although I’ll absolutely be bringing my kids again next year the festival is set up for ages 17+. I don’t recommend it for anyone under the 8-10ish range and definitely not for any child who tends to be spooked easily. There ARE some pretty grotesque things!
What Can You Do at Nightmare on Chicago Street?
*Take Photos w/Props – There are insane props that make for some killer photo opps.
*Take selfies w/others in costume – the costumes we saw were absolutely incredible. Everything from a dab of face paint to complete head to toe movie-like cosplay. It was pretty amazing.
*Go through the haunted “house”– This is certainly the scariest part of the entire festival so if you shy away from zombies following you and getting up in your personal space in the dark a bit – this is not for you! It IS free and both my 10 year old and I went through it. I think we were both a little nervous but it was just edgy enough for us that we enjoyed it and really had to marvel at the extensive set up. It was a WELL done job!
*Food vendors – lots of beer, lots of food, lots of fun!
*Weird vendors – Visit the “Bizarre Bazaar” for some truly odd things to buy. It was neat to walk through and if you like freakish weird stuff – this is the place for you!
*Shop local businesses – There were a lot of local businesses open during the event (which must have been madness for them!) so it’s a great time to not only see what Elgin has to offer but support local companies.
*Dance the night away! There were 3 stages set up with lights, fog, and AWESOME music! Plenty of people were dancing in the streets and congregated around the stages.
*Meet & Greet with Svengooglie. We didn’t make it in to meet him but lines didn’t look bad at all!
*Enter the Costume Contest!
*Watch the Cirq d’ Freak Show.
*Admire the Grafitti Artists! There were some ridiculously talented artists leaving their mark on an entire street long of a plywood wall open to the artists. It was really amazing!
How SCARY is Nightmare on Chicago Street? Is it Kid friendly?
This event is absolutely geared for 17+ and they are very clear on that. However, they DO allow any age in with a guardian/parent. I decided for our first experience to take only my 10 year old son (my oldest child) since he is not spooked easily and has an interest in zombies & scarier things. And I already told you I’m a little skittish on truly scary things.
In my experience nothing, and no one, chases you down the streets. There are no chainsaws coming to get you or anything like that. (unless you enter the haunted house which is clearly a gory horror fest) However that doesn’t mean someone attending the event might not try to spook you or pop out at you for a scare. We only had it happen once and it wasn’t a big deal. If you’re skittish about blood, guts and all around Halloween gore – I wouldn’t recommend it. Again this is an event more for adults.
With that all being said my 10 year old and I loved it and we’ll be going back as a family with both my boys next year (and getting a sitter for my toddler!). With the exception of the haunted house we didn’t find anything scary at all. You can look on social media for #ElginNOCS to see pics from the event which can help you see even more! Also check their Facebook and Twitter account too.
Other Things to Know about Nightmare on Chicago Street:
*CHECK THE WEBSITE! I felt like, although there was a lot of buzz on social media about the event, I was still a little lost as a first timer to the event and found a lot of information on their website helpful! It may sound obvious but most people I talked to didn’t know about the shuttle. I found FREE BUS SHUTTLE information (which was a LIFESAVER!), METRA details, printable MAPS, hotel promo deals, and MORE!
*Go in Costume – or Don’t! But NO weapons allowed – even pretend cosplay weapons! I was happy and comfortable with the amount of police force in attendance – you couldn’t pass a street corner without seeing someone there to help and direct.
*The ENTIRE area is 100% IN! The setup was AWESOME – I literally felt like I was on a movie set. Every business is decorated, there’s fake sticky blood everywhere, the props and experiences are insane – this is really an amazing experience!
*Lines are LONG! If you read anything online about the event chances are you’ll see a lot of complaints about lines! For me, I knew thousands of people attend this event so I was expecting it to be packed, and it was. When we first arrived we joined a large sea of people in some sort of a line. No one really seemed to know what line we were in but it was moving towards the event so I stayed put. It only took me about 20 minutes or so to move almost 2 blocks through line so I can’t complain. Some reviewers stated they were there for hours but I’m not sure how that’s even possible! We figured it out easily and entered the event without issue. I DO recommend pre-buying tickets though! Food lines were surprisingly not bad at all although I avoided the bathroom lines at all costs!
*Crowds increase as the night goes on! If you want to beat the swell of the crowd start early. We were 2 hours late and I noticed by the time we left we could barely move around because there were so many people. It was fine because there were only 2 of us but I can imagine when the 4 of us go next year we’ll need a good buddy system.
*Give kids an emergency plan. After arriving I quickly realized that the event was a BUSY place and if my son and I got separated I wouldn’t be able to find him again. The entire event is fenced in though so there’s no “accidentally” leaving the festival. I wrote my phone number on his hand and brochure with instructions that if he was separated from me to immediately find a police office on any corner and show them my phone number and say he was lost.