By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Adrenaline pumping? Heart racing? If Halloween is your favorite time of year, you can count on an awesome, freakin’ scary nights in any of these places, considered by dedicated websites as being among the ghastliest and ghostliest experiences in the nation.
Church Street and Bridge St.
Spring City, PA 19475
Claiming to be legitimately haunted, the former mental hospital was a very real place housing more than 10,000 people between 1908 and 1987. In its dilapidated state, there’s not much required in terms of set design. “These walls speak,” owner Richard Chekejian told the Ghost Adventurers, calling it the scariest attraction on earth. Using high tech animatronics, digital sound, and highly trained actors, inhumane horrors are brought to life with little imagination needed. Located under an hour from Philadelphia, the tour is self guided with the aid of a flashlight, and it’s ramped up for Halloween. Not recommended for children.
Come dressed up for Halloween night. Pandemic, Into Oblivion, and Realms of Terror are three spine tingling experiences in South Florida's creepiest place. The suspense is created through ultra-realistic set designs, state-of-the-art special effects, 80 trained actors skilled at scare techniques, and a professional makeup and costume team. Co-owner Billy Groeneveld says, “We want to bring our customers right to the edge of reality which makes them question what they just saw…fear is driven by all the senses and we aim to hit every one of them.” The October schedule is limited to 15 dates only.
This one is consistently voted in the top 13 for haunted houses with one of America’s most terrifying Halloween experiences. The show changes every year, retaining the more popular scenes. Too scary to handle? The security staff must let a number of visitors get out every night, as they’re too frightened to continue, the website indicates. Before entering the house, you can start in Necroplis 13, a haunted New Orleans-style cemetery of 400 dark and crumbling crypts along a half-mile of terror to explore on your way to the exit. The vast majority of 5,000 visitor reviews on Facebook say thumbs up to five stars.
6624 Dawson Blvd.
Is it scary? Yes! Considered one of America’s top haunted houses for the past 20 years, visitors are “thrilled and terrified”by an intense fear experience. Walls move and floors close in as you move through tight, confusing spaces on a self-guided walk. Created by talented, professional actors, custom sets and Hollywood-quality 3-D special effects, it all comes together in Primal Scream for the 2017 Halloween season through the first weekend in November. Be among the last, as the longtime attraction, a victim of success, permanently closes before moving to a grander new location in Stone Mountain.
Winchester Mystery House
San Jose, CA 95128
At Halloween inside the 160-room Gothic haunted mansion, “It’s just you, flickering candlelight, and your imagination,” say the folks at the historic landmark designed and built by Sarah Winchester, the wealthy but troubled Winchester Rifle heiress. As you make your way through the bewildering maze of unusual rooms and doors leading to nowhere, see whether you feel the creepiness others have noted as “activity.” The spooky season’s special Candlelight Tour is offered on 20 select October nights only. If you’re feeling too shaky to drive home, check out the attraction package offered by the nearby Valencia Hotel in Santana Row.