Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2015
Looking for the monsters, zombies and other creepy creatures that go bump at night? Check out our coveted list, Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2015, to see the horrifying haunted houses, mind-blowing corn mazes and more! And find out which previous contenders have made our list again. Our panel of advisors gave their blood, sweat and tears, to help create this list of adrenaline-pumping destinations – not for the faint of heart.
13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Located in downtown Baton Rouge, 13th Gate has been used as a film location for photo shoots and movies, such as The Reaping, because of its realistic and detailed rooms. This creepy attraction keeps haunted revelers frightened by revamping its 13 different themes each year. New haunts this year include Possession, an old cabin infested with demonic entities; Scary Tales, a new feature that pays homage to the famous Grimm Fairy Tales, but it has a 13th Gate twist; and Necropolis, a haunted cemetery that opens with an updated Voodoo fire show and with a few new surprises throughout the 40,000-square-foot, New Orleans-style graveyard. “Prepare to experience one of the most detailed haunted houses in America,” says Larry Kirchner, owner and publisher of Hauntworld.com and HauntWorld Magazine. “This haunted house is so realistic that you will scream for mercy. It will give you one of the best Halloween experiences in the industry.”
The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm (Knoxville, TN)
The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm is a less scary, kid-friendly attraction for families who live near Knoxville, TN. Children will enjoy the new Fairy Tale Trail, where kids follow 12 storybook pages as their guide through the kid’s corn maze. Get lost in the corn pit! This huge box, packed with thousands of corn kernels, allows kids and adults to roll around and bury themselves in the farm’s most popular attraction, and this year, the owners have doubled the size of this fun play area. A 9-acre designed corn maze, a giant slide, pedal carts and a bouncing pillow are a few other fun things to see and do when visiting Oakes Farm. And after 15 years, this Halloween may mark the last time locals and tourists will be able to take the creepy journey at night through 4-acres of corn and woods also known as the Trail of Doom. “Eastern Tennessee is never more beautiful than at this time of year, and the crackle of corn under your feet is normally a delightful sound,” says Daniel Schwartz, executive producer of Travel Channel’s TV show Ghost Adventures. “However, after several hours in the corn maze, if you happen to find yourself lost -- you may find the sound more creepy than comforting.” Experiencing Oakes Farm is still a must!
The Darkness (St. Louis)
The Darkness is one of the oldest running haunted houses in St. Louis. This haunted attraction has been updated with new features, including a haunted library filled with evil spirits. The owners have also created the new Scream Zone -- equipped with a mega-scream movie wall and roaming zombies, monsters and demons -- to keep the crowd waiting outside preoccupied. And inside, it’s 2 floors of special effects and more! The 3D Haunted House Terror Visions has floating floors, moving walls and creepy clowns lurking around every dark corner. It’s definitely not for trick-or-treaters who can handle unexpected thrills. “The Darkness is considered America’s most detailed and technologically-advanced haunted house in America with over 200 animations, 75 CGI effects, hundreds of zombies, monsters, man-eating puppets and animated effects that grab and bite customers,” says Larry Kirchner. Be prepared to get spooked!
Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls (Philadelphia)
It made our list, Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2013, and we decided to add it again this year. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls has become a premier Halloween attraction in the US. Once the home to imprisoned bank robber Willie Sutton and mob boss Al Capone, this penitentiary utilizes its already spooky surroundings to create 6 different scare zones. Quarantine 4D and Breakout are 2 groundbreaking attractions this year. In Quarantine 4D, visitors must face their fears after learning of an infectious outbreak, whose symptoms include hallucinations, blurry vision and other mind-altering effects. “I’m excited about Breakout, which is a prison break area where inmates – and visitors – attempt to gain their freedom, using barrels, ropes, tunnels and ladders,” says Aaron Sagers, geek culture and paranormal culture expert. “ESP is also a great Halloween attraction because of its notorious reputation for ghosts and other unusual paranormal activity, which adds another level of creepiness.”
Fear Factory (Salt Lake City, UT)
Located on 2.5 acres or a full-city block in Salt Lake City, UT, the Fear Factory features a post-apocalyptic setting with underground tunnels, towers, mazes and “2 of the largest indoor slides in North America,” according to the owners. For extreme thrills, we suggest the controlled free fall from the factory’s tower or ride the Last Ride zip line to witness the terror from above. Fear Factory, formerly a cement factory built in the late 1800s, is also a popular spot for paranormal investigators because the ghosts of several former workers -- who were electrocuted, dismembered, beheaded and burned --are rumored to still haunt the factory today. “People should check out the Fear Factory because this site is one of the rare locations in the US where the history is even more terrifying than that depicted in the haunted house,” says Daniel Schwartz.
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park (San Diego)
Set in the middle of San Diego is Balboa Park, an idyllic escape from life in the city, but when the sun goes down the monsters emerge on the mile-long Haunted Trail. As you step into the darkness you’ll need to escape the vampires hiding in the shadows before getting a lesson on fear in the Haunted Ghoul Bus. Beware of creepy characters and horror movie legends such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees. “But, there’s more than just monsters that will spook you, the psychological terrors to make you want to flee the darkness,” says Arthur Hsu, producer of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions. This attraction changes every season; so regular patrons won’t be quick enough to anticipate the unexpected creatures ready to pounce from deepest, darkest corners of this scary attraction. Visitors can also experience the Experiment, a horrifying maze with more than 3,500 square feet of freak-infested terror. We recommend wearing good running shoes.
Hundred Acres Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)
Hundred Acres Manor offers 6 haunted houses in one location and has been terrifying the victims for over a decade. “With nearly 200 actors you never know when the next scare is going to jump out at you,” says Arthur Hsu. The Vodou Bayou is the new attraction this year. Visitors can take a tour through the Deep South, where the spirits of the bayou beckon, the stitchers want your body, the priestess wants your soul. Dead Lift, Damnation, Torture Bank, The Maze and the Brine Slaughterhouse are the other scary highlights of this bone-chilling haunt. But, there’s a glimmer of light in the darkness, this is a charity scary attraction that donates to Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Animal Friends.
Lord Chaz Ghost & Vampire Tours (New Orleans, LA)
“I like my Halloween scares dished out with a serving of history and a helping of theater,” says Aaron Sagers. “Add in a dash of jazz spirit, and you have the spooky gumbo of Lord Chaz’ Ghost & Vampire Tour in New Orleans.” Lord Chaz – actor, author, musician, street performer and … vampire? – provides guided tours of the French Quarter year round, but his tours are best experienced in October. Clad in a black duster with a top hat and razor-sharp nails, Chaz is an imposing figure, but not a terrifying one. The Ghost & Vampire Tour starts at Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall on Bourbon Street. On this walking tour, Lord Chaz guides haunted history aficionados through the streets and talks about the infamous murders, suicides and tragedies that have inspired well-renowned authors such as Anne Rice. Factual, but filled with panache and humor, the Lord Chaz NOLA experience will inform and frighten you.
Netherworld received our stamp of approval and made our Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions last year, and again this year. It has 2 new features, including the Toxic Foam Room, where patrons step into this one-of-a-kind decontamination chamber after exiting Vault 13. Getting soaked with fresh bubbles down a long hall may not be scary, but it’s popular among regular customers. And step onto the new Elevator of Death. Up to 20 people can ride the elevator down to Vault 13, but be prepared for the flickering lights and bumpy descent. It’s a favorite of fans and haunted house experts. “Netherworld is one of Hauntworld’s scariest haunted houses because they spend a long time developing one-of-a-kind costumes, masks, animation and set design that can only be experienced in Atlanta,” Larry Kirchner.
Robert Kurtzman’s Mad FX Lab (Crestline, OH)
You may know makeup-effects master Robert Kurtzman’s work – co founder of KNB and owner of Robert Kurtzman's Creature Corps. Kurtzman is known for his work in blockbuster movies such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Army of Darkness, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and John Carpenter's Vampires. Every year, fans converge on the Mad FX Lab in Crestline, OH, to walk through the alien lab, Freddy’s Tunnel, the home of Leatherface and the Butcher’s Room. “Robert Kurtzman and his associates apply their creative skills and imagination to this unique haunt, bringing Hollywood-caliber frights to the locals of this small town,” says Aaron Sagers. Expect the element of surprise as evil clowns, werewolves, zombies and other creatures run free in this attraction’s amazing alternate realities, including the cemetery, the Carnevil and the Cabin in the Woods.
See our panel of advisors' picks for Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2013, amazing pumpkin carvings, creepy vampire destinations and more!
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See our scary picks for Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2014.