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Local Haunts Reviews & Recommendations

Allison

aka Elegia
Staff member
Moderator
Apr 18, 2018
512


With the Halloween season already upon us, that also means...haunt season is here! Well, it’s kinda here. It’s here in a modified way.

So, I’d love to hear all about the local haunts in your area that will be operating this season that you’re looking forward to attending! And, if you’re not attending, which haunts you’d like to visit in the future.

Please use this thread to post reviews of your local haunts or any other Halloween festivities, or recommendations to any other members in your area.
 

TheCodeMan95

Member
Jul 24, 2018
730
Howdy! We always set up a schedule to go to local haunts every year.

Luckily enough, we're within driving distance of a LOT of top-rated haunts in the country.

So far, we've done Shocktoberfest (Sinking Spring, PA) and Field of Screams (Mountville, PA).

Shocktoberfest definitely did a better job of social distancing and Covid protocols in general.
 
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Allison

aka Elegia
Staff member
Moderator
Apr 18, 2018
512
Howdy! We always set up a schedule to go to local haunts every year.

Luckily enough, we're within driving distance of a LOT of top-rated haunts in the country.

So far, we've done Shocktoberfest (Sinking Spring, PA) and Field of Screams (Mountville, PA).

Shocktoberfest definitely did a better job of social distancing and Covid protocols in general.
If you’re close enough to it and haven’t been yet, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Night of Terror in Mullica Hill, NJ. That was the more popular one when I was growing up, the others that I vaguely remember hearing about were Fright Factory and Terror Behind the Walls but I don’t think I know anyone that’s actually visited them (I’ve only done the daytime tour of Eastern State Penitentiary) and I also don’t know if they’re open this year-but I believe the Night of Terror is.
 

TheCodeMan95

Member
Jul 24, 2018
730
If you’re close enough to it and haven’t been yet, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Night of Terror in Mullica Hill, NJ. That was the more popular one when I was growing up, the others that I vaguely remember hearing about were Fright Factory and Terror Behind the Walls but I don’t think I know anyone that’s actually visited them (I’ve only done the daytime tour of Eastern State Penitentiary) and I also don’t know if they’re open this year-but I believe the Night of Terror is.
I've been to Night of Terror, but it was way back in 2013. I've been to Eastern State Penitentiary twice as well! The last time was 2015 though. Haven't done Fright Factory! Are you from the area?

We always try to hit up Shocktoberfest, Bates Motel, Pennhurst, Frightland, and 301 Devil's Playground.

We're actually about a 10 minute drive from Field of Screams - my fiancée used to act there.
 
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Allison

aka Elegia
Staff member
Moderator
Apr 18, 2018
512
I've been to Night of Terror, but it was way back in 2013. I've been to Eastern State Penitentiary twice as well! The last time was 2015 though. Haven't done Fright Factory! Are you from the area?

We always try to hit up Shocktoberfest, Bates Motel, Pennhurst, Frightland, and 301 Devil's Playground.

We're actually about a 10 minute drive from Field of Screams - my fiancée used to act there.
How was Night of Terror? I’d really like to go when I’m back home, I am from the area, but I only started going to HHN when I moved down here so I’d like to explore some other ones as well.

I feel like I’ve also heard of Bates Motel, but not the others, so I’m taking notes for whenever I can safely get back home again during the Halloween season!
 
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TheCodeMan95

Member
Jul 24, 2018
730
How was Night of Terror? I’d really like to go when I’m back home, I am from the area, but I only started going to HHN when I moved down here so I’d like to explore some other ones as well.

I feel like I’ve also heard of Bates Motel, but not the others, so I’m taking notes for whenever I can safely get back home again during the Halloween season!
Night of Terror was pretty fun. It's low on my list but if you're in the area I'd check it out!

Bates Motel is fantastic, it's my no 1 in the area!
 
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FaceBagman

Newcomer
Nov 3, 2019
99
So this is normally my week off from work for an HHN vacation, but here we are in 2020 and the world had other plans. I try to hit up a few central/western/upstate NY haunts every year before vacation; I've managed to see 3 so far this month, hoping to check out a couple more this coming week.

1. Frightmare Farms in the Fulton/Palermo area, just south of Oswego, has been a pit-stop the past 2 years and they've always been such awesome people to my friends & I! The remote-ish location gives FF a great "upstate" flavor, not technically the expansive wilderness of an Adirondack park, but still enough of that crisp, woodsy trail setting that we all love up in that region. We previewed Frightmare during their Summer Scream event a little over a month back and I have to give a lot of props to their COVID contingency plans. Pulling into their parking lot, their attendants would advise any patrons to stay in their vehicles until their scheduled walkthrough was ready. Then, the owner of the park greeted us at the queue and answered all of our questions and then some while the previous group was wrapping up the preview house. A few minutes after they exited at the other end of the house, we were cleared to enter and everything felt super sanitary/safe.

Their main event a couple of weeks ago was a little busier in the park, but lines were still distanced and something I appreciated was that the roaming actors constantly enforced the distancing guidelines in-character! Super cool. The standout highlight for me was the "Winter Harvest" twist on their standard Estate House. The effects were fun and there was so much detail in each room/corridor. The hayride was new for this year and while I enjoyed the experience, we definitely noticed that we rode it during what was probably a shift-change, since some boo-holes/doorways weren't used during the course of the voyage. It happens, and I'd love to try it again if they bring it back next year!

Frightmare Farms's website: Frightmare Farms Haunted Scream Park

2. I also got the chance to experience an inaugural year for a haunt within Howe Caverns. Tucked between Herkimer & Albany, Howe is a fairly popular tourist destination for New York families, but they haven't done anything for Halloween quite to this scale before. I really respect the effort they've begun to take with this; I think it was still maybe a little overpriced for what you get, but I see a lot of potential once capacity & other restrictions are eventually a thing of the past and I really hope they stick with it. Having not been back here since I was very young, the trip was great just for a little nostalgia and a chance to see the beautiful limestone caves again. The haunt definitely played to the strengths of the unique setting, with plenty of near-pitch black sections of the walkthrough and effects to enhance the feel of how deep you were descending.

One of the few issues was with distancing. The walkthrough starts with a standard on-foot portion but features a small boat ride halfway through, followed by another on-foot trek partly through the same way you come from. This means that during our first third of the experience, we often ran into other groups returning from the boat ride, meaning we had no choice but to cross paths with them, sometimes in fairly narrow spaces. I did my best to keep my distance as often as possible. Otherwise, the on-foot portions were great! Definitely will benefit from more actors in the future, as I previously mentioned. The boat ride was somewhat disappointing, featuring only a few props and 1 giant budget-devoted animatronic at the end before the boat turns around. However, this was likely just another case of bad shift-change timing, as we did actually see actors starting to wade out past us as our boat returned. That could be an amazing experience with enough scares from within the cavern's waters!

The final third of Howe was easily the standout favorite for me. Where the returning path split to a new area, there was a really engaging and fun actor who chatted with us for a bit in-character before sending us deeper into his realm. Then, we walked through a very narrow and claustrophobic portion of the caverns, themed around a devious leprechaun(s?) who were luring us further in as it promised us gold. Not sure if this was 1 scareactor or multiples playing the leprechaun, all appearances were super similar looking with great costuming and makeup (skewing more towards a female demonic elvish/impish take on the mythical creature that worked great) and I still can't tell if it was one actress peeking out behind corridors and then taking backdoor routes to other popout points or multiple talents well-hidden in the crevaces of that passage. All-in-all, that area was the clear winner of the walkthrough for me. Great staff again and a cool little gift shop/cafe with outdoor seating to satiate us after the long trip!

Howe Caverns's website: Howe Scary

3. This past weekend, we knocked one off my haunt bucket list and took the train down to Poughkeepsie station for Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunts in Ulster Park. Staying in Kingston on the Hudson River during fall is a great experience to begin with, and in gorgeous weather too! Endless shout-outs to HH for how helpful they were. The event featured a drive-through instead of a hayride this year, which then takes guests into the park where the haunted houses await them. However, having made the trip by train, we didn't have a vehicle and I messaged the park's facebook page to find out if we could still enjoy the houses at least. They were more then happy to accommodate us and even on a sold out night, offered to let our uber driver take us through if we were willing to pay for his admission. We offered, and our driver sadly declined, but they still let him take a bypass route & drop us off right at the park gates! I heard great things about the drive-through and am bummed I can't review it, but I will say that the park itself is definitely a must-see in New York. I think the houses suffered a bit this year from staffing/capacity limitations, but the entire walkthrough is so long and every room in each themed house is intimately detailed, gory, and gruesome. The few scareactors that were present go all-out and hit their marks impressively. I usually see everything coming from actors/boo-points, but I give a ton of credit that Headless Horseman made up for the vacant boo-holes by hitting us with some scares that were not telegraphed at all and definitely impressed me. Makeup & costuming is a big highlight here too. Here and at Frightmares, I saw some absolutely stunning costume designs. I do caution that if you're looking for max COVID safety right now, entry into houses were pulsed but queue lines were still packed in and decently long.

Sidenote: First ever time I had my greatest haunted house anxiety happen to me and I embarrassed myself in the mirror room by accidentally starting to go the wrong way out the staff passage. The tall actor was messing with us and held his arm across a walkway and I thought he wanted us to walk under it lmao. I tell folks all the time that my own stupidity & social anxieties are my only true fears in haunts. >.<

Additional shout-outs to all the awesome people we met in the Ulster Park/Kingston region. We had an absolutely incredible uber driver on the return trip from the park back to the hotel who tipped us off on Kennedy Fried Chicken, which was a delicious spot for lunch before we left the next day. And she helped us out big-time by taking us back to the train station off-the-clock a day later, so ridiculously kind and helpful. Plus the people at Uptown Coffee were awesome too.

Headless Horseman website: Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in New York

Hoping to get a few more in on Friday! Maybe Field of Screams NY (on Route 49), Fright Nights or CMC in Syracuse, or Trail of Terror near Fulton? Depends on if we really get snow/rain on Friday like the forecast is predicting right now. O.o
 

Allison

aka Elegia
Staff member
Moderator
Apr 18, 2018
512
So this is normally my week off from work for an HHN vacation, but here we are in 2020 and the world had other plans. I try to hit up a few central/western/upstate NY haunts every year before vacation; I've managed to see 3 so far this month, hoping to check out a couple more this coming week.

1. Frightmare Farms in the Fulton/Palermo area, just south of Oswego, has been a pit-stop the past 2 years and they've always been such awesome people to my friends & I! The remote-ish location gives FF a great "upstate" flavor, not technically the expansive wilderness of an Adirondack park, but still enough of that crisp, woodsy trail setting that we all love up in that region. We previewed Frightmare during their Summer Scream event a little over a month back and I have to give a lot of props to their COVID contingency plans. Pulling into their parking lot, their attendants would advise any patrons to stay in their vehicles until their scheduled walkthrough was ready. Then, the owner of the park greeted us at the queue and answered all of our questions and then some while the previous group was wrapping up the preview house. A few minutes after they exited at the other end of the house, we were cleared to enter and everything felt super sanitary/safe.

Their main event a couple of weeks ago was a little busier in the park, but lines were still distanced and something I appreciated was that the roaming actors constantly enforced the distancing guidelines in-character! Super cool. The standout highlight for me was the "Winter Harvest" twist on their standard Estate House. The effects were fun and there was so much detail in each room/corridor. The hayride was new for this year and while I enjoyed the experience, we definitely noticed that we rode it during what was probably a shift-change, since some boo-holes/doorways weren't used during the course of the voyage. It happens, and I'd love to try it again if they bring it back next year!

Frightmare Farms's website: Frightmare Farms Haunted Scream Park

2. I also got the chance to experience an inaugural year for a haunt within Howe Caverns. Tucked between Herkimer & Albany, Howe is a fairly popular tourist destination for New York families, but they haven't done anything for Halloween quite to this scale before. I really respect the effort they've begun to take with this; I think it was still maybe a little overpriced for what you get, but I see a lot of potential once capacity & other restrictions are eventually a thing of the past and I really hope they stick with it. Having not been back here since I was very young, the trip was great just for a little nostalgia and a chance to see the beautiful limestone caves again. The haunt definitely played to the strengths of the unique setting, with plenty of near-pitch black sections of the walkthrough and effects to enhance the feel of how deep you were descending.

One of the few issues was with distancing. The walkthrough starts with a standard on-foot portion but features a small boat ride halfway through, followed by another on-foot trek partly through the same way you come from. This means that during our first third of the experience, we often ran into other groups returning from the boat ride, meaning we had no choice but to cross paths with them, sometimes in fairly narrow spaces. I did my best to keep my distance as often as possible. Otherwise, the on-foot portions were great! Definitely will benefit from more actors in the future, as I previously mentioned. The boat ride was somewhat disappointing, featuring only a few props and 1 giant budget-devoted animatronic at the end before the boat turns around. However, this was likely just another case of bad shift-change timing, as we did actually see actors starting to wade out past us as our boat returned. That could be an amazing experience with enough scares from within the cavern's waters!

The final third of Howe was easily the standout favorite for me. Where the returning path split to a new area, there was a really engaging and fun actor who chatted with us for a bit in-character before sending us deeper into his realm. Then, we walked through a very narrow and claustrophobic portion of the caverns, themed around a devious leprechaun(s?) who were luring us further in as it promised us gold. Not sure if this was 1 scareactor or multiples playing the leprechaun, all appearances were super similar looking with great costuming and makeup (skewing more towards a female demonic elvish/impish take on the mythical creature that worked great) and I still can't tell if it was one actress peeking out behind corridors and then taking backdoor routes to other popout points or multiple talents well-hidden in the crevaces of that passage. All-in-all, that area was the clear winner of the walkthrough for me. Great staff again and a cool little gift shop/cafe with outdoor seating to satiate us after the long trip!

Howe Caverns's website: Howe Scary

3. This past weekend, we knocked one off my haunt bucket list and took the train down to Poughkeepsie station for Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunts in Ulster Park. Staying in Kingston on the Hudson River during fall is a great experience to begin with, and in gorgeous weather too! Endless shout-outs to HH for how helpful they were. The event featured a drive-through instead of a hayride this year, which then takes guests into the park where the haunted houses await them. However, having made the trip by train, we didn't have a vehicle and I messaged the park's facebook page to find out if we could still enjoy the houses at least. They were more then happy to accommodate us and even on a sold out night, offered to let our uber driver take us through if we were willing to pay for his admission. We offered, and our driver sadly declined, but they still let him take a bypass route & drop us off right at the park gates! I heard great things about the drive-through and am bummed I can't review it, but I will say that the park itself is definitely a must-see in New York. I think the houses suffered a bit this year from staffing/capacity limitations, but the entire walkthrough is so long and every room in each themed house is intimately detailed, gory, and gruesome. The few scareactors that were present go all-out and hit their marks impressively. I usually see everything coming from actors/boo-points, but I give a ton of credit that Headless Horseman made up for the vacant boo-holes by hitting us with some scares that were not telegraphed at all and definitely impressed me. Makeup & costuming is a big highlight here too. Here and at Frightmares, I saw some absolutely stunning costume designs. I do caution that if you're looking for max COVID safety right now, entry into houses were pulsed but queue lines were still packed in and decently long.

Sidenote: First ever time I had my greatest haunted house anxiety happen to me and I embarrassed myself in the mirror room by accidentally starting to go the wrong way out the staff passage. The tall actor was messing with us and held his arm across a walkway and I thought he wanted us to walk under it lmao. I tell folks all the time that my own stupidity & social anxieties are my only true fears in haunts. >.<

Additional shout-outs to all the awesome people we met in the Ulster Park/Kingston region. We had an absolutely incredible uber driver on the return trip from the park back to the hotel who tipped us off on Kennedy Fried Chicken, which was a delicious spot for lunch before we left the next day. And she helped us out big-time by taking us back to the train station off-the-clock a day later, so ridiculously kind and helpful. Plus the people at Uptown Coffee were awesome too.

Headless Horseman website: Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in New York

Hoping to get a few more in on Friday! Maybe Field of Screams NY (on Route 49), Fright Nights or CMC in Syracuse, or Trail of Terror near Fulton? Depends on if we really get snow/rain on Friday like the forecast is predicting right now. O.o
All of these sound like so much fun! I’m especially intrigued with the Howe one-a haunt in caverns sounds like it could be a really amazing experience.

As for the temperatures every single day down here makes me truly miss a cold weather Halloween season so. dang. much.
 

FaceBagman

Newcomer
Nov 3, 2019
99
All of these sound like so much fun! I’m especially intrigued with the Howe one-a haunt in caverns sounds like it could be a really amazing experience.

As for the temperatures every single day down here makes me truly miss a cold weather Halloween season so. dang. much.
It was! I hope they can build on it for years to come, New York state is vastly underutilized for haunts; the New England area just doesn't seem to have as tight of a creator community as the south & west/SoCal haunters do, which is a shame.

They definitely splurged on some of the pricier animatronics I've seen in catalogs before, I got a snapshot in front of the wings :)




Also got a chance to set up a little backyard walkway leading up to my new place's porch for trick 'r treaters this year. I really enjoyed doing that, nothing complex but I just love having the space to do it.

 

JawsVictim

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
1,260
Well, I’m late to seeing this thread, but I hit a bunch of SoCal home haunts and yard displays the last two weekends. Amongst my favorites...

The Dark Realm in Santa Clarita - HHN level facade themed to a medieval castle. It was a brief outdoor maze with show scenes featuring actors and animatronic dragons. Ended up getting two really good jump scares.

Pirate’s Cave in Orange County - An elaborate yard show with projections, special effects, and live actors. I wasn’t expecting air blasts or the actors’ props, so again, got a few jump scares.

Rotten Apple presents Haunted Manor in Burbank - Another elaborate yard show where they build a kind of dollhouse version of the Haunted Mansion in their yard with four rooms. This had actors playing Leota and The Bride and featured a fun surprise at the end.

Rotten Hill Cemetery in Burbank - If a Chuck E Cheese show took place in a cemetery, this would be it. The display looped two shows with lots of corny pun jokes and banter. Loved every second of it.

Spooky Hollows in Van Nuys - Another elaborate yard show with a creepy original story. Also featured the best pepper’s ghost I’ve seen outside of an amusement park.

Highly recommend watching these on YouTube or checking out Westcoaster’s reviews of them. The level of detail and design work that went into these home haunts was unlike anything I’d ever seen outside of amusement parks.
 
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mbreen603

Newcomer
Apr 23, 2017
19
Hello everyone! I want to share with you all a project I've been working on since the first week of September. With the cancellation of HHN, I decided to build and design a haunted trail in my backyard with COVID-19 safety in mind. There were 12 different types of scares ranging from pneumatic props, performers behind plexiglass, ziplines, and puppeteers!

I did this all to raise money for the local Pinellas Youth Symphony, an organization that brings young musicians together to perform extraordinary pieces of original music (Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, John Williams, etc.). Over $1000 was raised!

This was definitely the most ambitious project I've ever worked on. Working operations, training performers, constructing all of the props, painting the decor, mixing the music for all of the scares and atmosphere, etc. The most fun two months I've had this entire year!

I hosted a virtual walkthrough which can be found at this link here: Wicked Woods at Highlands Lot 13 on Facebook Watch