Hosted by Hauntworld Magazine, a trade journal for those running haunted houses, it lists creepy attractions in every state in the U.S. and many in Canada too. Most listings just have promotional material from the businesses themselves, while some have garnered numerous reviews and comments, making it as sort of TripAdvisor for scary attractions.
In my old stomping grounds of Tucson, Arizona, there’s Nightfall, which earned nine out of ten skulls. For even bigger scares, check out their Most Extreme and Shocking list. The number one place goes to the Erebus 4 Story Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, Michigan. HauntWorld says “Erebus is by far the most unique haunted house in America because they have monsters, animations, and props that touch the customers some even swallow customers whole. Erebus is a multi-story haunted house with special fx you’ll see no where in the World but at Erebus near Detroit Michigan.”
If you want to get scared on vacation, the international section will help you out. If haunted houses aren’t your thing, the site also lists hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, ghost tours, and zombie events.
There are thousands of haunted house attractions that open up in cities around the country each year around this time but there’s only one place where you can see the world’s longest snake in captivity, nearly get your leg chomped off by a live alligator and slide five stories from heaven to purgatory to hell. Kansas City’s “The Edge of Hell” claims to be the country’s oldest commercial haunted attraction and some think that it, and its sister attraction, “The Beast,” are the scariest haunted houses in the nation.
When I saw a photo of Medusa, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest snake in captivity, I had to find out more about her and the other attractions at this place. I spoke to Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, whose family owns “The Edge of Hell,” about Medua, Clamp the Alligator and why people still love haunted houses.
How old is Medusa?
She’s 8. We got her as a baby; she was tiny. She weighs over 350 pounds. It takes 15-18 people to get her out and hold her.
Why would you want to do that?
She likes to go for walks in the park sometimes. Only in the summer when it’s very warm. And we get her out for media events. She has a lifestyle cage where she lives in the offseason and she’s in “The Edge of Hell” show during the season.
A lifestyle cage?
(Laughs) She has her own slide. “The Edge of Hell” has a five-story slide where you go from heaven to hell. She has her own slide where she goes down to swim. She loves swimming and she likes to climb trees at the park.
You bring a 25-foot-long snake and let her slither around in public parks? Is that legal?
It’s not a public park; it’s a private area.
What kind of snake is she?
She’s a reticulated python.
Did you have any idea how big she’d get?
No. In captivity, snakes don’t usually eat regularly. But she wants to eat all the time. She’s very hungry. She loves to eat.
How big is she?
Twenty-five feet, two inches.
What does she eat?
She still eats rabbits, but they’re really small for her so she might have to eat 7 or 8 of them at a time. She’s graduated up to eating hogs, goats, deer. She really likes raccoons too.
Hogs, goats and deer? You drag an entire dead deer or hog into her cage for to eat?
No. Constrictors have to kill it themselves, otherwise they won’t eat it. We buy her organic hogs and organic food.
So you put the live animal inside the cage and just let her go at it? That sounds grisly, do you watch this unfold?
The trainer stays in there to make sure she doesn’t choke.
What’s he going to do, give her the Heimlich maneuver?
That’s what we always joke. I don’t know what he would do. Our trainer was made unconscious by a snake before. He passed out before he even knew he was in trouble. His wife saved him.
So does Medusa eat an entire hog or deer in one sitting?
Constrictors swallow hole, so she can’t eat half and save the rest for later. They don’t bite that way. She has to eat it all in one sitting and the lump moves down through her body.
How large an animal can she swallow?
She usually eats 50-75 pounds at a sitting. She needs at least a 50-pound meal about once a month, sometimes more.
And does she snack in between?
No. She just has the one big meal.
Where does she come from?
She comes from the Sulawesi Islands in Indonesia. The trainer bought her on the Internet, but you can’t do that any more.
She doesn’t just slither around the haunted house free does she?
I don’t know, you’ll have to come to the show (laughs). No, she has her own cage at “The Edge of Hell” and we’re open two months out of the year. Her cage is probably 20-by-20, but we’ll have to expand it next year because she’s getting too big for it.
How did she get big enough to make it into Guinness?
A combination of her eating habits and genes. Also, she’s very happy and just loves to eat.
Tell me about “The Edge of Hell.”
“The Edge of Hell” is the oldest commercial haunted attraction in the U.S. It opened in 1975 and this is our 38th season. It’s a family business. Before we did “The Edge of Hell,” we did one called “The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe.” It got rave reviews and the next year we purchased the building and opened “The Edge of Hell.”
Is Medusa one of the things people like to see the most?
She’s something people look for. We study the psychology of fear. Every person scares differently and has their own adrenaline reaction to things. “The Edge of Hell” is a five-story warehouse building. The premise is that if you live on the edge, you’ll encounter these sorts of demons – rats, snakes, the hounds of hell, vampires. You get a glimpse of heaven, but unfortunately you made too many bad choices and you go to purgatory down the five-story slide and end up in hell. People gaze at her; she’s a beautiful beast. Mesmerizing.
Does she scare the crap out of people?
She does just by capturing their gaze.
Has she bitten anyone?
Oh no. I was bitten by a black snake when I was young but I still don’t have the snake phobia that others do. Sometimes she isn’t in a good mood when we get her out though. She gets nervous and has to go to the bathroom when people are taking pictures of her. But she’s very loving toward her trainer, Larry Elgar.
Is this something everyone likes to do at Halloween time, visit a haunted house?
“The Beast” is patterned around time travel. You go into a Southern Louisiana mansion; you enter into a swamp where we have a live alligator. His name is Clamp. You look at this live alligator and proceed into the swamp and an animatronic alligator snaps at your leg. And then you go down a shoot slide to Jack Ripper’s London, and you’re in a pub.
And the werewolf forest is a quarter acre in size and over 10,000 square feet. In the old days, people looked over rails into attractions; we pioneered the open theme where you are inside the attractions. In “The Beast,” it’s all about the phobia of being lost. There are people who are in the werewolf forest for 45 minutes and can’t find their way out.
Tell me about Clamp.
He’s growing like a weed. We’ve had him since he was tiny. Now he’s 8 feet long. He’s very fond of chicken.
You throw him live chickens or give him breasts?
He likes all chicken parts. We don’t feed him anything live.
And how often does he eat?
He prefers to be fed regularly – every week. But Larry doesn’t worry about him choking on anything like he does Medusa. That’s his love.
And what does he do in the offseason?
He has a lifestyle cage as well but he’s a real bear about being transported. We have to wrap his mouth but he likes to swat around a lot. He’s funny like that.
[Photos courtesy of “The Edge of Hell” and Kevin Scott Ramos, Guinness Book of World Records]
Kicking off Halloween season, haunted houses around the United States are opening their doors to brave travelers who come to experience spooky, scary things that go bump in the night. Between now and October 31, a variety of events around the country make for a great weekend diversion or road trip. Centrally located St. Louis is an easy drive from most mid-west states and offers Scare Fest, a trilogy of terror with three haunted attractions known as some of the best across the nation.
The Darkness is a two-story haunted house in downtown St Louis. Now in its 19th year of screams and scares, The Darkness has flying and flesh-eating zombies, Hollywood-quality sets and animated zombie effects and more. Included is admission to their Monster Museum and TerrorVisions 3-D, one of America’s first 3-D haunted houses featuring freaky crazed clowns in a 3-D environment where the walls appear to be moving, floors are floating and everything is right in the face of visitors.
The Haunting of Lemp Brewery takes visitors several stories below ground into real caves and caverns, just a block away from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. In an interactive pre-show, sprits and ghosts of brewery founder William Lemp come back from the underworld to warn visitors of demons that haunt the caves under the brewery.
The Screampark in Fenton has the longest maze of scare inducing “hauntings” in the country that last more than one hour and feature more live actors than any other haunted house. New this year are Twisted Torture 3D, Demons Dominion, Grisly’s Gore Zone, the Zombie Town theme for the haunted hayride and the world’s largest Famous Faces Pumpkin Display.
Find zombies, ghosts, haunted houses or more at HauntWorld, a site that has listings for the United States and Canada as well as international attractions in the UK and other parts of the world.
Planning a creepy getaway this Halloween? Don’t rely on rumors when hunting for a hotel with the most paranomal activity. According a poll of more than 800 on TripAdvisor, 17% of travelers say that they have had a supernatural or ghostly encounter while staying at a hotel. Just in time for Halloween, the site has released their list of the country’s most “haunted hotels,” ranked by the number of times “ghost,” “haunted” or “supernatural” appeared in reviews.
“Paranormal experiences may not be guaranteed at these ‘haunted’ properties, but their rich histories and colorful pasts offer travelers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip back in time,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.
So go ahead – “boo”k away this fall. Just don’t blame anyone if things go bump in the night.
Constructed in 1886, this mountaintop spa resort boasts a number of spirits, including Michael, an Irish stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel, and even a cat, named Morris. Daily ghost tours ($18 for adults; $7 for under-12s) offer a behind-the-scenes peek at the property, and access to otherwise off-limits sights including the basement and morgue. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “I found it to be the spookiest of all the ‘haunted’ hotels I have stayed at… I was surprised to find many orbs in the photos we took.”
Since making her maiden voyage in 1936, this historic steamship has served as a luxury ocean liner, troopship and in more recent years, a stationary hotel. Some 55 ghosts are rumored to linger on-board, including Jackie, a young girl who can be found taking a dip in the swimming pool. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “I want to believe that everything that we experienced was real. We did record some orbs flying around our room while we slept. (We set up our video recorder on night vision).”
3. Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado– Average Nightly Rate: $142 – $291
This property, which first opened its doors in 1909, is known for its inspirational role in the Stephen King classic, “The Shining”. Regular ghost hunts ($7 – $50 for adults) take travelers to some of the property’s most haunted hotspots, including the concert hall, in search of paranormal experiences. One TripAdvisor traveler wrote, “Had a lot of activity from the playful spirits there. The closet door opened and closed several times, the TV turned itself off and on, the covers were pulled off of us in the night and there was audible whispering in the room.”
Completed in 1902, this property was the product of a booming mining town, and built to accommodate visiting investors and dignitaries. Today, guests can rub shoulders with three resident ghosts: Julia Lowell, a lady of the night; a dapper gentleman wearing a cape and a top hat, and a mischievous young boy. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “If you want to try finding a ghost ask for an ‘active’ room! We had an active room and let’s just say I couldn’t quite explain all that I saw and heard!”
Designated as a National Historic Building by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, this property has served many different uses since being built in 1851, including serving as a hospital for Civil War soldiers. Since reopening as a hotel in 1999, many guests have reported ghostly sightings. One TripAdvisor traveler stated, “…Heard someone running in the room above me. Upon telling the staff we were told the entire floor above us was empty. So if you’re looking for a ghostly experience, definitely consider this hotel.”
This historic property, comprising seven different buildings dating back to the 1770s, boasts a rich history. Among other uses, the Inn has formerly served as a theater and a boarding house for sailors – and today, travelers can choose from 80 unique guestrooms and partake in free ghost tours on Friday and Saturday evenings. “If you are searching for character, charm, great service and ghost history this is the place to stay,” suggested one TripAdvisor traveler.
This hotel, situated next to the Alamo, was built in 1859 on the site of Texas‘ first brewery. Photos of prominent former guests, from Babe Ruth to President Theodore Roosevelt, line the walls – and Roosevelt’s spirit is rumored to have since been seen sipping on a drink at the hotel bar, in which he recruited cowboys for the Rough Riders. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “…Felt cold spots in several places in and around the hotel and got plenty of goose bumps during our stay, but I never once felt afraid.”
8. Bullock Hotel, Deadwood, South Dakota– Average Nightly Rate: $100
This historic hotel was founded in the 1890s by Deadwood‘s first Sheriff, Seth Bullock, and today, visitors to the town can pay their respects to the former lawman and other notable Wild West figures, including Calamity Jane, at the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery. Hotel guests may be in for a much closer encounter with Bullock, whose spirit has supposedly roamed the property since his passing in 1919. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, “Heard tell of the ghost tour, but didn’t need to go on it as we could feel Seth Bullock‘s presence in the hotel already!”
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this property is said to have been built on the site of a former school house that was destroyed in a fire, in which many perished. Resident ghosts are rumored to include former pupils, as well as an elderly bearded man dressed in 1800’s attire. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “…My husband and daughter said they heard children laughing and playing in the next room and the ceiling fan came on all by itself. There was no next room, it was a brick wall outside!”
Sun, sand and spirits are the order of the day at this beachfront getaway, built in 1888. The property has seen a stream of famed visitors over the years, from Charlie Chaplin, to Humphrey Bogart – but it is a former guest by the name of Kate Morgan who has continued to make her presence felt, since taking her life at the resort in 1892. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “I brought my K2 Meter (it’s believed the meter can pick up the ‘magnetic fields’ of spirits). I actually got some ‘hits’ on it while we were having breakfast in our room.”
Just based on the fact that you are required to go in solo is scary enough. Some things to expect as you make your way through this dark house of horrors include sexual and violent situations, physical contact, fog, complete darkness, crawling, water, and more. You must be 18 to enter and tickets are $30-$55.
This haunted attraction is comprised of horror-themed rooms, dark hallways, and terrifying labyrinths and takes about 20-25 minutes to complete. According to Time Out New York, some things you will encounter include creatures, serial killers, twisted sideshow acts, and gruesome scenarios, like a blood drenched slaughter house with hanging pig carcasses. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult and tickets are $28.50-$50.
Nightmare: Fairy Tales Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St. (between Rivington and Delancey)
The focus of this haunted attraction is taking the most gruesome scenarios from original children’s fairy tales (not the the one’s that evolved into bedtime stories for kids, but the one’s that were first created to keep children from acting out). Make your way through a dark, scary forest in this interactive experience as you become one of the characters in the story and live out a real life nightmare. While Nightmare: Fairy Tales is definitely scary, it is more disturbing and creepy than your usual haunted house. Children under 10 will not be admitted and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets range from $30-$100.
Trapped in Purgatory 2 Locations: Wizard of Gore is located at 2449 Veterans Rd. W., Staten Island. Hotel 666 is located at 5050 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island
You can choose the storyline behind your terrifying experience with this haunted attraction. Hotel 666 is based on a woman and her daughter who once stayed at a haunted hotel, never to be seen again, while Wizard of Gore will send you through a disturbing corn maze. Small children should go before 6PM when visitors are allowed to enter without the actors around. After 6PM, general admission is $18, or $30 if you want to do both attractions.
Experience the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Prepare to scream while you are chased around this haunted house by the undead who seem hungry for some flesh. No children under 10 will be admitted, and children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. General admission is $15, while students will pay $10. For $30, you can buy a VIP ticket and jump to the front of the line.