Carl’s Playhouse – Dark Hour Haunted House (Event Report)


I’ve written about Dark Hour Haunted House in Plano, Texas, several times.  Since it’s open year-round with eight unique shows throughout the year, there’s a lot to write about.

Through last October, each year’s Halloween show featured a second maze, the incredible Terra Del Monstrum, a low-tech love letter to the black and white world of classic monsters.  That ended when last year’s Halloween show came to a close, which made me sad.  Also, it begged questions.  Why did it leave?  What would replace it?

The answer came shortly after: Carl’s Playhouse.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dark Hour, Carl works there.  Or so he claims.  Clad in overalls sporting someone else’s name and some very questionable stains, Carl is usually one of the first people to greet you when you arrive.  He, um, “entertains” the people coming and going from the haunt, as well as those waiting in line inside.

Carl is a very unique individual. Well, outside of the death row of your favorite maximum security prison.  He’s, well, maybe I better just show you.


Carl’s favorite color is Amber alert.  He’s an inventor; his favorite invention is the amnesia foam mattress.  The neighbor’s kids drive him crazy, keeping him awake all day and night; and if they don’t knock it off, he’s tempted to let them out of his basement.

Someone, somehow, managed to let Carl open a “fun, family” joint in the unused space of Dark Hour.  Carl’s Playhouse features Carl, of course, but also his new team of pals: Willie Bear (He’s seen some stuff), Harry Bear (he’s done some stuff), Cuddles The Clown, Sally Spider, and my favorite, Touchy-Pete.  The latter are all animatronic robot types, but Carl has human accomplic…uh…employees as well, all to make your visit one of happy funtime joy.

As a low-tech add-on haunt to Dark Hour, Carl’s Playhouse is a heck of a good time.  But what makes Carl’s innovative is that it’s episodic.  To my knowledge, there’s never been another episodic haunt that runs through the year.

Starting out, it was just Carl’s Playhouse, full of toilet humor, rotted food, perverted clowns, a Hall of Cleavers, and a candy man who is far too interested in me licking his lollipop.  Then, things changed.  The feds caught on to the mayhem of Carl’s frequently malfunctioning killer robots.  Before they could show up, he needed our help to destroy some evidence and, yes, his browser cache.  You had the choice to do it or not, with a big red button next to his computer at the end of the maze.  Right next to his large box of tissue and industrial pump bottle of lotion.


The feds arrived and cut the power, as they tend to do.  This caused even more malfunctions with the robots and left us with a show in the dark. Each group of four victims got a single flashlight to guide them as federal officers in SWAT gear tried to get a handle on the chaos inside the playhouse.

All this mayhem led to an even more severe problem in the next show: The place caught on fire.  Now, through smoke, you had to make your way through the burning restaurant and back rooms, meeting firemen along the way and fire-damaged henchmen of Carl’s while the man himself tried to assure you everything was fine.

During the last show, May’s “Spring Fever” zombie show, a sign appeared over the door to Carl’s.


Another note left behind stated that Cuddles the Clown was looking for work as he was tired of cuddling himself.

Is this the end of Carl and his playhouse?  Did the feds finally nab him and lock him away?

We’ll just have to see in a couple of weeks when the “Summer Spirits” show debuts on June 16th and 17th. Click here to check out Dark Hour’s site for more information and tickets. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it!




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