Full of things that go bump in the night and bone-chilling stories of vengeful ghosts, October is the month to embark on a fright-filled adventure to one of the nation’s truly terrifying haunted hot spots. Explore these 10 fear-inspiring attractions in the U.S. for a nightmare that will only last one night.
1. Fright Factory
A 25,000-square-foot haunted house, Fright Factory in Philadelphia is a study in bloodied corpses and disembodied heads—not intended for the faint at heart. Featured as one of the Travel Channel’s scariest Halloween attractions, the massive haunted house leads visitors into the depths of a 100-plus-year-old factory. The four-setting maze is intended to startle and scare visitors with mental and physical terrors, including a chilling insane asylum and a lab filled with genetically twisted experiments gone wrong. (frightfactory.tv)
2. Bates Motel, Haunted Hayride and Cornmaze
Glen Mills, Penn.
With a triple threat of terrifying thrills, the grim Arasapha Farm sets the scene for an evening of horror. Guests who check in to the Bates Motel—famed for its realism and Hollywood-inspired acting—will experience heart-stopping moments of panic as they realize the levitating spirits and moving pictures aren’t a trick of the light. Outside, visitors can take a careful walk through a winding cornfield, where evil hides around every corner of the Western-style ghost town. The signature event of the three is the Haunted Hayride, a 25-minute heart-pounding attraction that uses every tool in its arsenal—professional make-up, a 100-foot-long drive-through an insane asylum, giant monsters, digital effects and pyrotechnics—to scare the living daylights out of passengers. (thebatesmotel.com)
3. Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted House
Ulster Park, New York
The Headless Horseman is the topic of chilling folklore, but in rural New York, legend comes to life at this terrifying playground of Halloween attractions. Hop aboard a one-mile hayride as a cryptic fortune teller foresees the future; for those prepared to scream senseless, embark upon the labyrinth of a corn maze or one of the six haunted houses where everything from chainsaws to dark clowns are thrown at visitors brave enough to visit the 45-acre property. (headlesshorseman.com)
This Georgia haunted house spins an original tale of eternal darkness in its main attraction, The Dead Ones. The Dead Ones, ancient powers whose arrival is marked by chilling cold and howling animals, are raised on the ancient Georgia burial ground every October in time for Halloween. Visitors will be treated to elaborate sets and stunts that feature actors bungee jumping and sliding as they’re disguised as grotesque figures and skeletons. (fearworld.com)
5. The Darkness
St. Louis, Mo.
In years past, The Darkness has used live reptiles—including cobras, scorpions, pythons and piranhas—to bring a frightening realism to one of Missouri’s best haunted houses.
While one year visitors may see snakes, the next they might experience flying zombies in 3-D and other blood-curdling special effects. The Darkness is completely renovated each year to deliver a brand new experience time and time again. (scarefest.com)
6. Pennhurst Asylum
Spring City, Penn.
Fake ghost stories have no place here at the historic Pennhurst Asylum, once a state school for the mentally and physically disabled. The school fell into ruin after being forced to shut down, and in years since has experienced unexplained movement, documented audible recordings and temperature changes. The current combine fact with fiction—and fear—in attractions like the Dungeon of Lost Souls, a labyrinth of human experiments and old cells haunted by illusion (and great actors); and the Tunnel of Terror that twists underneath the grounds. (pennhurstasylum.com)
A “screampark” for the brave at heart, Frightworld boasts an array of haunted houses revamped each year for the most terrifying impact. Tour the Eerie State Asylum, where the morgue is crawling with escaped patients and demented doctors; or, face your deepest fears in the Phobiaz haunted house, where visitors come face to face with terrors they only imagined in nightmares. (hauntedbuffalo.com)
8. U.S.S. Nightmare
As the U.S.S. Nightmare legend has it, a massacre took place on board the ship (nicknamed Death Dredge) when the captain and his crew got swept away in the murderous current. Myth entwines with reality at this popular attraction, where the ghosts of the crew lie in wait thanks to special effects and lighting designed to create eerie illusions around every corner of the authentic steamboat’s narrow corridors. (ussnightmare.com)
9. The 13th Gate, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, La.
Thirteen indoor and outdoor areas await visitors, each with its own terrifying twists. Crawl through a crematory oven to your own death or, for the less sadistic, take a walk across a dilapidated bridge overlooking a pit of live snakes. A 40,000-square-foot haunted house, the 13th Gate is a playground for adults to experience an interactive Halloween. (midnightproduction.com/13thegatestory.htm)
A trail through a graveyard leads to Verdun Manor, 8,000 square feet of lifelike rubber animatronics and gore. The manor’s lore dates back to the 1901 legend of Baron Michael Verdun, a werewolf, and his vampire wife Lady Cassandra, who conducted mysterious experiments on humans that resulted in grotesque creatures turned loose on the grounds. These beastly creatures haunt the grounds today, according to local lore, lurking around tight corners. For those who want to skip the nightmares within Verdun Manor, Thrillvania offers a number of other attractions, including Sam Hain’s Trail of Torment, the darkened Thorn Hall and Granny Lupus’ Séance Theatre. (hauntedhousepark.com)
Whether it takes a chilling whisper in your ear or an action-packed maze of pure terror to make your hair stand on end, a visit to any of these destinations this Halloween is sure to get any thrill-seeking traveler’s heart beating fast.
(Also read: The Different Halloween Celebrations Around The World.)