What makes a great haunted house? Gothic architecture? Unexpected things that go bump in the night? Chain saws? Thunder and lightening? Screams, shrieks and wails that pierce through fog? Dripping red goo that looks a lot like blood? Cockroaches on walls and mice that scurry across the floor? A hand that comes out of a box to grab you when you pass? How about a severed head surrounded by garnish served up on a platter?
From California to Pennsylvania and states in between, there are 12 haunted hot spots that have been picked by the staff at Digital City as being the best of the haunted house bounty in the United States. From their descriptions, it seems as if these attractions have most of the above and more–much more.
Interestingly, only one of the picks–the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose is an actual house. The rest range from a movie set to prisons. One, the Haunted School House and Lab in Akron, Ohio, is in a former elementary school.
No matter the venue, each haunted attraction is guaranteed to make you shriek. There’s a reason why.
What seems to be the common denominator among them is the amount of time and professional power it takes to create thrills and chills. For example, 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the number one pick for two years in a row by Haunted Magazine, is created by a bevy of professional carpenters, technicians and scenery artists–many who have worked in Hollywood. It takes them months to redo this attraction so that each year is different. Before the opening, 100 professional actors know exactly what to do to scare the daylights out of anyone brave enough to make his or her way through the 13 indoor and outdoor sections.
For more worth heading to haunted jaunts, check out Tom’s post on five haunted attractions in the world. The ghost tours of old Orlando, Florida caught my attention in particular. I love real places with real stories behind them.
There are other prisons that offer haunted tours–some of them year round.
One of the ones I have a hankering to go to this year since I missed it last year is the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. I’ve only been there during the day and only on the outside. Even that creeped me out. The warden shot himself in the head in his office at this place. Oh, wait a minute. That scene happened in the movie The Shawshank Redemption which was filmed at this prison Still, the place is supposed to be haunted and I’ve heard rave reviews about the reformatory’s haunted tours.