We are entering the premier weekend for haunted house tours. In the past couple of decades, the haunted tour has grown into a multimillion-dollar business, with attractions in every city and small town. Some are worth traveling for, as you'll see in this list. It is not an exhaustive list, but may give you an idea of what's available to scare the living daylights out of you this Halloween. Be aware that many of the attraction websites have auto play sound. Happy haunting!
1. The Darkness
Photograph from The Darkness at Facebook.
The Darkness in St. Louis, Missouri, has evolved over twenty years into a megaplex of haunted attractions. In addition to The Darkness, you can tour Terror Visions 3D, Creepyworld, and The Haunting of Lemp Brewery. The attractions are gathered together under the name Scarefest. The Darkness is an indoor self-guided maze that takes about a half hour to get through -unless you run away scared!
2. The Asylum
Photograph from The Asylum at Facebook.
The Asylum in Denver, Colorado, is one of four related haunted attractions. Its sister haunts are 13th Floor, Undead Haunted House, and Primitive Fear: the Apocalypse, all in Denver. The Asylum is a tour down into "Gordon Cottingham's Hospital for the Mentally Insane." Inside, you'll find "spiders, rats, snakes, and the endless screams of the tortured souls.”
3. The Haunted Prison Experience
Photograph from The Haunted Prison Experience at Facebook.
The Haunted Prison Experience takes place at the defunct Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. The prison opened in 1896 to house young offenders. Over its 94-year history, the institution held 154,000 incarcerated men, many who died there, sometimes by murder, sometimes by suicide. The prison was closed in 1990, and later became the setting for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. You can see for yourself how spooky the empty facility is, only populated by the spirits that roam the halls -both actors and real spirits.
4. 13th Floor
13th Floor is open in Phoenix, Arizona. In many buildings, the management skips labeling the 13th floor and floors go from 12 to 14, due to the superstition about the number 13 being unlucky. The legend is that these buildings actually do have a 13th floor, but it inaccessible because the souls of the dead live there. And that's the theme of this haunted attraction in Phoenix. A second attraction, Zombieland, has been added, so that the tour now encompasses 60,000 square feet of space.
5. House of Shock
The House of Shock in New Orleans, Louisiana, has been scaring folks for 21 years. More than just a haunted house, it has a bar and restaurant, a place to sit and watch the ghouls go by, a concert stage, and a complete outdoor Halloween festival! This is all very handy for friends and family members to scared to tour the House of Shock. The video shows the stage show presented before the tour begins.
6. Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills in Louisville, Kentucky, is open for haunted house tours. This is not an attraction from an entertainment company, but an actual hospital with a haunted history. Waverly Hills Sanatorium has been a tuberculosis hospital, a nursing home, a failed religious monument, and a paranormal investigation site. Now the Waverly Hills Historical Society invites you to relive the misery of the past by touring the entire first floor of the haunted hospital.
7. Haunted Overload
Photograph from Haunted Overload at Facebook.
The Haunted Overload at Demeritt Hill Farm in Lee, New Hampshire, is a combination indoor-outdoor tour with props that loom monstrously tall over the visitors. There are scary shows scheduled at night with actors (rain or shine), non-scary shows with lights but no actors, and casual tours during the day in which you can take your time strolling through. They recommend that you buy show tickets in advance. If you arrive without a ticket, the show may be sold out, and even if not it's an extra $5! The attraction is all-new for 2013 -see a video of the construction that began last summer.
8. The Dungeon of Horrors
Photograph by Flickr user Sideonecincy.
The Dungeon of Horrors is the name of the special Halloween haunted tours of the West Virginia State Penitentiary. The prison held inmates from 1866 until it was closed in 1995. The facility was famous for overcrowding, poor conditions, and inmate abuse. It was the site of many executions, both by hanging and by electric chair, plus numerous murders. In addition to the Halloween tours, you can also book a Ghost Adventures Tour, in which your group can stay from midnight until 6AM -if you dare.
9. 7 Floors of Hell
Photograph from 7 Floors of Hell at Facebook.
7 Floors of Hell in Cleveland, Ohio, was named after an urban legend: a tale of a haunted house attraction that no one survived to exit! Rodney Geffert heard the story and made the attraction real, although his visitors do survive to visit another day. The "7 Floors" are seven different attractions: Blackout, The Cemetery, insane Asylum, The Crypt, Psycho Circus in 3D, The Butcher Shop, and The House of Nightmares. You can buy tickets to your choice of three haunted houses, or a general ticket to visit all seven.
10. Terror Behind the Walls
Photograph from the Collection of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America. Open 142 years, the prison was a place of madness, torture, and suicide, as well as murder and the despair of prisoners who served time until they died of natural causes. Every Halloween, you can take the Terror Behind the Walls tour, which has the spookiness of the historic prison plus the added scariness of actors and special effects. There are six attractions inside, from state-of-the-art 3D illusions to the experience of solitary confinement in the dungeon.
11. USS Nightmare
Photograph from USS Nightmare at Facebook.
USS Nightmare in Newport, Kentucky (just across the river from Cincinnati) promises to scare the ship out of you! It's a haunted steamboat on the Ohio River. The 20-minute tour takes you through two levels of an old river dredge with lights and actors. The tour focuses on historic ghosts who once inhabited the boat.
12. Field of Screams
The Field of Screams in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a haunted hayride that takes you to several haunted houses, but the hayride itself is terrifying, with ghouls and goblins inhabiting the haunted cornfields.
What haunted attractions would you recommend?