A Guide to Haunted Attractions
As the seasons change and the nights grow longer, an ominous presence blows in with the crisp fall air. Halloween is now upon us and, as it has become the second largest commercial holiday in the United States, there is an abundant number of activities to go with it. Of course donning a costume for a party or trick or treating comes to mind, but there are plenty of other options for your Halloween scares.
Among those options are an estimated 4,000 plus haunted attractions within the U.S. While haunted houses are one of the first attractions that comes to mind for most people, they’re merely one type of haunted attraction available during the Halloween season. The types of different scare-inducing entertainment have grown substantially over the years. Here is a list of some of the many different options and what frights they have to offer you this Halloween.
In This Post:
Traditional Haunted Houses
Haunted houses are the most iconic type of haunted attraction and the most prevalent and popular. Typically found indoors in an actual house, mansion or warehouse, haunted houses have set the standard for haunting entertainment. Experiences will vary dramatically between different haunted houses, but all with the main concept of a fun scare for all who enter.
Animatronics have been a common resource for some haunted houses, along with their human counterparts (typically played by local actors). Other lighting and audio scares are interspersed throughout the haunted house, sometimes including mazes and other obstacles.
More intense haunted houses can include startle-scares with sudden loud noises and actors popping out of unexpected places to startle guests.
With the concept of haunted houses dating back 100 years, there have been an innumerable amount of takes on what a haunted house should involve – but a fun scare for guests has always been at the center.
Examples of Haunted Houses:
For the outdoor enthusiast, the haunted hayride is an ideal choice for your haunted adventure. A spooky take on the traditional hayride, this option incorporates the joy of an outdoor hayride with the scares and thrills of a haunted attraction.
Some hayrides even include stops along the way that showcase spooky scenes that can incorporate actor interactions with guests along with haunting audio and other scare-tactics.
Examples of Haunted Hayrides:
Another option for those looking for their scares in an outdoor environment are haunted trails or forests. Typically held in parks or woods, these attractions will usually be a dedicated point of entry and a separate endpoint.
Some haunted trails or forests will include a guide that will escort you along the trail while others will let you go at it on your own. Along the way, you’ll encounter plenty of stops with different haunted scenes or attractions.
While there are plenty of options for this type of haunted attraction, weather can be a factor. Before going, check the forecast for rain, snow, and other inclement weather.
Examples of Haunted Trails/Forests:
Haunted Theme Parks
Similar to how normal park trails or hayrides adapt to the seasonal festivities, many amusement parks will do the same. The result are a wonderfully spooky attraction known as haunted theme parks.
In this haunted activity, the regular amusement park is transformed into a scare-tastic version of itself. Many buildings will be converted into haunted houses and paths will turn into haunted trails. The workers at the park will often wear scary costumes and interact with the guests as they travel through the park.
Examples Haunted Theme Parks:
Dark Rides are a form of haunted attractions that are typically associated with carnivals and other traveling attractions.
Dark rides typically take the form of indoor amusement rides where riders in cars (typically on tracks) travel through often dark paths of scary visuals, audio and other special effects. Lighting effects often accompany these rides to help set the tone.
While dark rides do not have to be totally dark, many are crafted to be thematically scary and create a dark atmosphere with strobe lights and other disorienting and terror-inducing effects.
Examples of Dark Rides:
- Mine of Lost Souls at Canobie Lake Park – Salem, NH
- Fire In the Hole at Silver Dollar City – Branson, MO
Another fun attraction is to visit a dark or pitch black maze. Aptly named, this haunted attraction consists of unlit rooms that you have to direct yourself through.
Some of these mazes will include obstacles, actors and audio elements to confuse and distort your perception as you try to find the right path. Strobe lighting and fog machines are frequent occurrences in these types of mazes since they do a good job of disorienting guests.
Examples of Dark Mazes:
Cornfield mazes are a symbol of the fall season, which makes them a perfect option for Halloween fun.
These mazes can vary from family friendly, spook-free corn mazes to terrifying, fright-inducing challenges. The attractions use cornstalks to form paths for people to navigate through, including plenty of dead ends, twists and turns. Sometimes the corn maze will be in a familiar shape or it can just a labyrinth style.
Haunted corn mazes will also frequently include actors and other scary elements like music, special effects, and props.
Examples of Cornfield Mazes:
Extreme Haunted Houses
An evolution of haunted houses, these extreme attractions can vary dramatically.
Sometimes, they’re more extreme in the sense that there will be ultra-violent and realistic depictions of gruesome and morbid horrors, but there are also other extreme haunted houses that are on the furthest end of extreme that you can legally go.
Many of these types of haunts allow for physical interaction between the actors and the guests and most of them have age restrictions of 18+ and make you sign a waiver before entering. These attractions are not family-friendly by any means and you should do your research before signing up to attend one of these attractions.
Examples of Extreme Haunted Houses:
While different in their own way, all of these attractions have a common thread of scaring guests in a safe environment. While options vary widely on what kind of haunted fun you can experience, ranging from the child-appropriate, spook-free hayrides to the scream-inducing extreme haunted houses. And as the demand and variety increases, so will the number and variety of haunted attractions that deliver thrills and chills that are sought after each year. When the weather grows colder, the scares get bolder.