Tag Archives: halloween

6 Intensely Thrilling Haunted Houses

Aside from candy corn, Jack-o’-lanterns, black cats, and ghosts, there’s nothing that screams Halloween more than a haunted house. During the month of October, thousands of small-scale haunted houses crop up around the States, many at local festivals, churches, or schools. However, for those brave souls, there are some truly terrifying worlds out there to explore. Check out our list below for some of the most impressive (and horrifying) haunted houses to see this Halloween!

That is, of course, if you dare.

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1. Escape the Great Room at Headless Horseman

Spanning 65 acres of farmland in Ulster Park, NY, the Headless Horseman complex of terrors is a favorite amongst haunted-house-enthusiasts looking for an all outdoor experience. With naturally landscaped forbidden forests, eerie ponds, and darkly expansive cornfields, visitors are never quite sure what’s lurking in the shadows. Plus, they’ve got ten separate attractions, including a dizzying corn maze, a spooky hayride, 7 haunted houses, and the newly curated experience “The Great Room Escape,” in which visitors have to figure out how to escape a room of bolted doors and locked windows.

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2. Check Into the Pennhurst Asylum

Housed in an abandoned asylum in Spring City, PA, the Pennhurst Asylum is a wildly popular Halloween attraction. Fitted with high-tech animatronics, digital sound, artifacts recovered from the original asylum, and a bevy of realistic actors, a walk-through this dilapidated hospital is no joke. For those bold (or crazy) enough to make it through the narrow hallways of the hospital, the asylum offers two more haunted experiences in the Dungeon of Lost Souls or the Tunnel of Terror.

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3. Explore the Dent Schoolhouse

Touted as Cincinnati’s scariest schoolhouse, the Dent Schoolhouse is the perfect haunted pick for those interested not only in shocks and thrills, but also in a compelling story. As legend goes, the very real schoolhouse opened in 1894 and was celebrated for decades as a top-notch school. That is, at least until 1942, when several students mysteriously disappeared. To find out what happened to those kiddoes, grab a group of friends and spend an evening exploring the spooky nooks and crannies of Dent. 

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4. Get Lost on the 13th Floor

Based around the mythology of the oft-missing thirteenth floor, Denver’s largest haunted house, 13th Floor, brings together spooks and thrills for an experience visitors aren’t soon to forget. New attractions for this year include Hallow House, a skin-tingling walk-through featuring manic clowns, Undead: What Lies Beneath, an exploration through an abandoned research facility complete with empty labs and shattered test tubes, and Feral Moon, which winds participants through a large and creepy cemetery.

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5. Join the Cult of The Summoning

Based out of the Scarehouse in Pittsburgh, The Summoning is about as thrilling as any haunted house walkthrough could be. The experience takes you all the way back to 1932, to a time where secrets, mysteries, and betrayal were rife in the 100-year-old house where The Summoning is set. Visitors will find themselves twisting through darkened hallways, all while the chants of ancient ritual pulse in the background. The question is, are those who visit this house the initiates of some new order or are they instead, the sacrifices?   

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6. Commune with Freaks at the House of Shock

With live music and a full service bar, this New Orleans horror staple is the perfect pick for the those looking for something rollicking. Occupying over 25,000 square feet, the House of Shock boasts an impressive array of skin-tingling attractions for its 2015 line-up: Bordello of Freaks, Laff in the Dark, and the traditional House of Shock haunted house. No matter the attraction, the special effects at House of Shock are infamously realistic and will leave the fearless quaking in their boots and reaching for a strong cocktail.


Halloween Celebrations from Around the Globe

In America, Halloween is truly an all-ages celebration. For kids, the day means trick-or-treating, costume parades, and an excuse to indulge in candy. For adults, the day/night entails house parties and bar crawls, costume contests, and an excuse to indulge in candy (among other things)! Throw in a haunted house or a Jack-O-Lantern carving party and Halloween has become a holiday with reliable traditions. Itching to try something new? Consider celebrating Halloween abroad this year! The following destinations have their own distinct versions of America’s spookiest celebration.

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1. Mexico

Perhaps the most famous Halloween celebration outside the U.S. occurs in Mexico, where November 1 is known as the Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Many countries throughout Latin America celebrate the day, but Mexico is where the tradition of honoring the dead with lively festivals originated. With roots in both indigenous Aztec rituals as well as the Catholicism brought to the region by the Spanish, the day celebrates the lives of those who have left us with food, drink, parties and activities that the deceased enjoyed when alive. Celebrators of the Dia de Los Muertos reason that the deceased would prefer this to the more expected mourning and sadness accompanying loss. Skeletons (calaveras) and skulls (calacas) are a recurring motif, appearing in many forms ranging from sweets to masks and dolls. These are not the somber black and white skulls accompanying American Halloween celebrations: The calacas and calaveras are colorful and are shown dressed in their best clothing and enjoying life. Visitors staying in Mexico City should check out the affordable and family-friendly Hotel Sybharis or the luxurious and modern Hilton Mexico City Reforma.

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2. Ireland

Many historians suggest the origins of Halloween took root in Ireland, namely in the ancient Irish festival of the dead, known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). Celtic lore divides the year into halves, associated with dark and light, and Samhain marks the beginning of the dark half at sunset on November 1st. (The light half begins at sunset on May 1st, the festival of Bealtaine.) Ancient traditions included communal feasts that included the dearly departed as guests; windows and doors were left unlatched, and the food set aside for them had to be untouched by mortals, as it would condemn that person to a hungry spirit in the afterlife. Nowadays, bonfires are lit in rural areas across Ireland, and children dress in costumes. County Meath hosts a yearly Samhain festival and is conveniently 40 minutes north of Dublin. Travelers should check out the budget-friendly Croke Park Hotel or the luxurious Merrion Hotel, which boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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3. The United Kingdom

Our neighbors across the pond have their own Halloween-like ritual, but it occurs a few days later, on November 5. Though Guy Fawkes Day shares some traditions with the American Halloween and Irish Samhain, its origins are entirely unique. The day and night’s festivities are designed to commemorate the notorious Englishman Guy Fawkes, a Catholic who was executed on November 5, 1606 after being convicted of attempting to blow up Parliament and oust the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day occurred moments after his execution, with celebratory “bone fires” set up to burn effigies and “bones” of the Catholic pope. Two centuries later, the effigies burned became those of Fawkes. Children in some parts of the country walked the streets carrying effigies and asking “for a penny for the guy” and imploring everyone to “remember, remember the Fifth of November.” Nowadays, thanks to graphic novels like V for Vendetta and its accompanying film, Fawkes has transformed from traitor into revolutionary, with masks of his face being worn at protests such as Occupy Wall Street. London is well worth visiting to experience the bonfires and celebrations, and travelers should consider the quaint Colonnade Hotel, a refurbished Victorian townhouse in central London, or the glamorous Strand Palace, located in the Covent Garden neighborhood.

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4. The Philippines

Those wishing to journey to a more tropical location should check out All Saints and All Souls Day in the Philippines on November 1st. Filipino traditions include visiting the tombs of deceased family members in order to clean and repair them, and offering prayers, flowers, and candles. Many also hold reunions at the graves themselves, where they play games and music, sing karaoke, and feast. The day is meant to remember deceased loved ones, reflect on their influence, and continue to seek guidance from them. First-time visitors to the island should try staying in Manila, which boasts numerous five star yet affordable lodgings such as the Manila Hotel and the New World Manila Bay Hotel.