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Over the past 20 years, haunted houses have grown from small “mom & pop” events on Halloween weekend to massive, full-fledged destination scream parks that open in mid-September and run through early November. “Today, haunts are comparable to Hollywood productions, as they have become elaborate and immersive to create an authentic experience for visitors,” says Haunted Attraction Association ( www.hauntedattractionassociation.com ) President Patrick Konopelski.
According to the National Retail Federation, 20.3% of Americans plan on visiting a haunted attraction this fall. Research further shows that many thrill-seekers carefully plan vacations and weekend getaways specifically around visiting America’s Top Haunted Attractions. In each of the following destinations around the U.S., there is spooky fun for this fall!
The City of Brotherly Love is well known for its history, arts and culture, but every fall Philadelphia becomes a Halloween Hot Spot. Among the must-see attractions is Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary (www.easternstate.org/halloween) — a massive haunted house featuring six attractions inside a real abandoned prison.
Also, some of the top hayrides are only a short drive from the city including Shocktoberfest in Reading, PA, Field of Screams in Lancaster, PA and Frightland in Middletown, DE.
While you are in town, refuel at Eulogy Belgian Tavern, where locals come for the largest beer selection in town. You will want to make a reservation for the “coffin room “ — a small room in the back of the second floor where three coffins double as tables.
Apparently, one haunt-filled city is not enough for Pennsylvania. Across the state, Pittsburgh boasts a large number of major haunts. To name two top haunts, Pittsburgh is home to The ScareHouse (www.scarehouse.com) and Hundred Acres Manor (www.hundredacresmanor.com). Dr. Margee Kerr, Phd. and staff sociologist at The ScareHouse, studied the science of fear extensively, so this haunt truly understands how to spook you out. In the six haunted attractions at Hundred Acres Manor, become immersed in the dilapidated Acres family estate and experience the terrifying world of the lost souls.
Feeling hungry after a spooky day of haunts? Classic sandwich institution Primanti Brothers has a pop-up shop located on-site at The ScareHouse. The shop is famous for its sandwiches topped with fries, so you can definitely eat your fears away.
More Haunts in Pennsylvania:
Field of Screams, Lancaster, www.fieldofscreams.com
Fright Factory, Philadelphia www.frightfactory.tv/
Fright Farm, Smithfield, http://www.richfarms.com/fright-farm
Ghoul Mansion, Sharon, www.ghoulmansion.com
Hotel of Horror, Saylorsburg, www.hotelofhorror.com
Huston’s Haunted Hallow, Somerset, www.hauntedhallow.net
Reaper’s Revenge, Scott Township, www.reapersrevenge.com
Shocktoberfest, Reading, www.shocktoberfest.com
Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayrides, Newtown, www.sleepyhollowhayrides.com
Often associated with its historic witch hunts during the 1600s, New England is full of Halloween fright. Begin your terror trip at Nightmare New England (www.nightmarenewengland.com) in Litchfield, New Hampshire. The history of the notorious Bishop family is the story behind The Bishop Legacy attraction. A reclusive family known to be devoted to dark rituals, the Bishops were blamed when members of the Litchfield community started to go missing. Today, many of the remains of the missing are still unaccounted for. Can you survive this haunted attraction?
If you make it out in one piece, Salem, Massachusetts, which gave its name to the witch trials back in 1692 to 1693, is the next place to be. According to local officials, each year more than 250,000 people head to Salem in October. Salem Haunted Happenings (www.hauntedhappenings.org) include a Grand Parade, the Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, costume balls, ghost tours, chilling theatrical presentations and more.
Round out your trip by exploring historic Boston, Massachusetts. Step through the shadows and discover the chilling and ghastly tales of murder and revenge with a walking tour of Boston led by Haunted Boston. The tour takes you through the historic and haunted streets of Boston in search of the countless ghosts rumored to haunt the city.
More Haunts in New England:
Trail of Terror, Wallingford, CT www.trailofterror.com
Barrett’s Haunted Mansion, Abington, MA www.bhmansion.com
Witch’s Woods,Westford, MA www.witchswoods.com
Fright Kingdom, Nashua, NH www.frightkingdom.com
Ghoullog, Jackson, NH www.cranmore.com
Haunted Overload, Lee, NH www.hauntedoverload.com
There is a clear winner when it comes to the sheer number of haunts in one state: in Michigan, there are more than 60 attractions throughout the Southeast Michigan down to Northern Ohio.
Top haunt Erebus Haunted Attraction
( www.hauntedpontiac.com ) in Pontiac, Michigan is not a haunt to miss with its one-of-a-kind “Slice of Time” feature, new for the 2013 season. Thanks to the careful positioning of 45 cameras in a single room, leave the haunt with a “Matrix”-style 180 degree image of yourself, in all your glory, screaming your head off.
If you are looking to celebrate fall with a timeless tradition, no one can resist the apple cider and cinnamon spice donuts at nearby Franklin Cider Mill.
Can “America’s Dairyland” provide us with a haunted twist? The answer is yes. Considered by many to be the number one must-see haunted house in America, Wisconsin FearGrounds ( www.wisconsinfeargrounds.com) is located in Waukesha, just outside of Milwaukee. Visitors can experience three times the terror by entering Morgan Manor, Carnevil: A Freak Show of Terror and Unstable — its three haunted houses, all in one location.
Afterwards, visitors can enjoy a drink back at Milwaukee’s Shaker’s Cigar Bar before daring to sign up for a ghost tour of the establishment. Over the years, many staff members and customers have been scared away from Shaker’s by their spiritual encounters. There could be a ghost or two awaiting your arrival — don’t say you were not warned.
The Dent Schoolhouse ( www.frightsite.com ) is more than just the name of a haunted attraction — it really was a school, that is, before it became Cincinnati’s most feared building. During the 1940s and 50s, several students went missing. Soon after each disappearance, strange smells emanated from janitor Charlie McFee’s office. When rumors spread of his involvement, a mob of angry families stormed the building, and what they found was shocking: remains of the bodies stuffed between walls and hanging from the rafters. The school then closed, but it is said that the spirits of the children remain. McFee was never found.
If you’re looking to brighten your spirits after this creepy haunt, October is National Chili Month, and there’s no better place to celebrate than at the famed Skyline Chili, with locations throughout the state. Try one of their Coneys: a specially made hot dog covered in their secret-recipe chili, topped with cheese. Talk about a pick-me-up!
More Haunts in the Midwest:
Fear Fest, Flint, MI, www.fearfest.net
Night Terrors, Ypsilanti, MI www.hauntedhousemichigan.com
Niles Haunted House Scream Park, Cassopolis, MI www.haunted.org
The Boneyard, Jackson, MI
The Dark Side Haunt, Ixonia, WI www.thedarksidehaunt.com
Deadly House of Horrors, Columbus, OH
Factory of Terror, Canton, OH www.factoryofterror.net
Ghostly Manor, Sandusky, OH www.ghostlymanor.com
Land of Illusion, Middletown, OH www.thelandofillusion.com
Spooky Ranch/Hauntville, Columbia Station, OH www.spookyranch.com
St. Rita Haunted House, Evendale, OH
Terror Town, Maumee, OH, www.terrortown.net
To find Haunted Houses, Haunted Hayrides, Scream Parks, Mega-Haunts, Halloween Festivals, Haunted Outdoor Trails, Corn Mazes, and Amusement Park Halloween Events go to http://hauntedattractionassociation.com/haunt-finder/