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Get your Halloween Scare On!

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I have a friend who just loves Haunted Houses. He could be talking about them in March, but jumping up and down like it is a few weeks before Halloween and they are getting ready to open for the season. 

I myself have grown out of that “love to be scared to death” phase as I have gotten older, but I’m coming across more and more adults (and I mean, way into adulthood) who just love them. And maybe one of the reasons why the popularity of Haunted Houses has grown so much in the past 25 years is that there’s just something about celebrating the macabre in all of us. 

And, believe it or not, there is actually a Haunted Attraction Association, the Official Association of the Haunted House Industry, and an entire extended Haunt Season that runs from September through November (Who knew?).

According to the association, “Gone are the days of black walls, masks and plastic knives. Each year haunted attraction owners and operators spend millions of dollars on state-of-the-art special effects and audio animatronic creatures, Hollywood-quality makeup and masks, costumes, lighting gear, sound equipment and more. Owners and operators are also influenced by video games and invest year-round in research, consulting experts and psychologists on how to create the best immersive, interactive experience.”

That means that this is real, spooky business!

So, whether you are a kid that still dresses for Halloween, or a Boomer that just can’t let it go (and why should you anyway?), here are a few fear-provoking places where you can really get your scare on – Boo!

Located in Cold Spring Harbor in Long Island, New York the Long Island Fear Fest is not for the faint of heart. The journey begins with a dark walk along the path to The Old Bethpage Village Restoration to embark upon what they call “the very demented world of Mr. Slim Chance II and his Carnival of the damned.” The chills and thrills here include a Chamber of Horrors Haunted House, Monster Maze, Monster Midway, Haunted Hayride (reportedly the largest and scariest hayride on Long Island) and a Carnevil. www.longislandfearfest.com 

Well, I guess you know that the goal is by the name at Heartstoppers Haunted House in Sacramento, California.Thrills and chills here include “The Ghást Estate,” an 1857 rehabilitation house for “some of the West’s most dangerous and unstable criminals,” where the doctors who performed sinister experiments on them may have gone crazy as well; The Deadlands, where victims—now zombies—of a ruthless killer have risen from the dead to exact their revenge; a haunted trail called HangTown traversing filthy waterways, creaky bridges and murky woods where, as they say, you should afraid of the dark, among other scary attractions. www.scaredyou.com 

Down in Atlanta, Georgiathere’s the Netherworld Haunted Attraction, described as “a supernatural mermaid’s siren song – entrancing the observer into a lull and leading them to their potential doom…” As this the submerged city rises to the surface, it reveals a bevy of night frights running the gamut from a 21-foot tall Tree Beast to The Slime Crawler, Massive Bloody Crawling Eye, The Formorian Hordes, The Beast From the Abyss and other repulsive monsters and special effects. www.fearworld.com

The Niles Haunted House Scream Park in Niles, Michigan, billed as “the scariest, creepiest, most blood-curdling attractions this side of the Continental Divide,” features multiple main haunted house routes with more than 100 possible paths through it; the property also encompassing a full Scream Park with six different attractions on 44 acres of “haunting fun.” The Dark Terror-Tory Haunted Hayride, Midway of the Macabre, See What We Trapped, Ghostly Gallows, I Told You I was Sick and The Field of Screams complete with an outdoor dark maze, are among their annual fright festival features. www.haunted.org 

In America’s Heartland in Kansas City, Missouri you’ll find the sister attractions – The Beast Haunted House and the Edge of Hell Haunted House. The precautions are pretty clear: Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult; if children under 10 have frequent nightmares they’re not ready; and the attraction is sure to bring up every abandonment issue one could ever have! 

Reportedly America’s largest haunted house, The Beast Haunted House is said to have pioneered the “open format” design, where fright fans are not subject to standing in line, rather wander through the various petrifying scenes as part of the action. In addition to other unnerving highlights, there’s a ¼-acre Werewolf Forest where you roam about in complete darkness while werewolves scour the forest for you, and the exit is a speedy, straight down, four-story slide.

If that’s not enough, the Edge of Hell Haunted House is a converted five story warehouse featuring a lunging vampire, giant anaconda eyes, a cast of 45 live performers and the newest state-of-the-art technology. Like the Beast, it has been deemed too scary for the claustrophobic among us, crybabies or those afflicted with Ophidiophobia – the abnormal fearof snakes. And oh yeah, don’t forget about the five-story descending spiral slide that lands you into the arms of the Devil himself. www.kcbeast.com

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The ScareHouse has been ranked as one of “America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions” by the Travel Channel, and as one of America’s best haunted houses by USA Today, Forbes, and Haunted Attraction magazine. Here, they boast three haunts for the price of one: Pittsburgh Zombies, The Forsaken and—check this out—Creepo’s Christmas in 3-D – “He knows if you’ve been bad or good … but he’s going to kill you anyway.” (Dang!) Fright nights here are created using a bevy of special effects and original concepts, macabre characters and Hollywood-quality sets. www.scarehouse.com

There’s a lot to shriek about at the AZ Scream Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, billed as the most modern and unparalleled themed house. In addition to the Monster Midway visitors “enjoy” the Castle of Darkness, The Psychic Corner featuring Palm & Tarot Card Reading, the 3-D Fear Factory, Goldminers Revenge and of course, The Last Ride, among other very scary stuff. www.azscreampark.com

And last but not least, celebrating Halloween just wouldn’t be complete without a scare or two at the House of Shock in New Orleans, Louisiana. In true Bayou style, attendees here get a full on Halloween Festival encompassing a multi-media stage show complete with live actors, stunts and pyrotechnics, live entertainment, food, a second line starting on the levee and leading up to the entrance of The House of Shock and, as they say, plenty of areas to just hang out and watch the freaks scare the mess out of your friends, family and total strangers. But unfortunately, this will be their last year scaring the pants off folks in the Crescent City. www.houseofshock.com

Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin

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