With Halloween just days away, one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is by visiting a haunted house. As you’ve probably noticed over the years, not all haunted houses are created equal. Some haunted houses are quaint low-budget attractions put on by local youth groups, while others employ professional actors who specialize in creating nightmares that haunt us for weeks to come.
Let’s explore the latter of these these two entertainment experiences, as we learn a little more about America’s scariest haunted houses.
Since 1997, Netherworld has thrilled and terrified visitors inside a cutting-edge, multi-attraction venue. Netherworld’s movie-quality special effects and unique themes have earned the haunted house national attention from CNN and the Wall Street Journal. This year’s themes include “The Dead Ones”, featuring twisted skeletal aberrations, and “Boogeyman,” featuring the legendary creature from childhood story tales.
House of Torment is Austin’s multi-level 20,000 square foot haunted house, and it’s been named “one of America’s scariest attractions” by The Travel Channel. The haunted house is located at the Highland Mall and is well-known for its horrifying scenarios and towering animatronic monsters. This year’s themes revolve around the “Blackthorne District,” an abandoned insane asylum, and “Ancients Emerge,” a realm of nightmarish tombs. A third theme, “Slaughterhouse: The Harvest,” was added to expose visitors to the aftermath of contagious serum weapon testing.
San Diego’s Haunted Hotel is part haunted house and part theatrical experience. Located downtown in the Gaslamp District, this is the longest running haunted attraction in San Diego and has been featured on The Travel Channel. Once you step into the hotel, you’ll be faced with a “Walking Dead” dungeon, a posse of killer clowns on a subway car, and become trapped in a horrifying cellar. The special effects in this haunted house are so real that you’ll be startled by the tiniest sounds for days.
The Gates of Hell prides itself on being the only R-rated haunted house in the state of Nevada. If you’d like to be the subject of a sadistic experiment in sensory overload, then this is the haunted house for you. Ranked #1 in the Western U.S., Gates of Hell wants to get your heart pounding, make you claustrophobic, and make you face the reality of your own violent death in the underworld.
Haunted houses have been popular for decades, but as you can see, the business of horror is still thriving. Regardless of which part of the country you’re celebrating Halloween in this year, chances are, there’s a haunted house nearby. In case you’ve forgotten since last year, we’ll leave you with a few tips for going through a haunted house and safely making it through to the other side.
Haunted House Tips
- Don’t bother acting tough – the whole point is to be scared
- Listen to the rules and follow them – there’s no fun in getting kicked out
- Don’t try to scare the actors back – that’s their job
- Don’t touch the props – set designers put a lot of hard work into these
- Only go through once – the elements of surprise diminish when you know what’s coming
- Don’t take photos or videos – this makes the experience less authentic for everyone
*Photo credit: felixorwari via DeviantART; Shane Gorski via Flickr