You might have figured out that I go to a lot of haunted houses. 4000 miles of them every year to be exact.
I was tired of the BS online where scare actors from this haunt or that haunt would post fake reviews in order to sway customers incorrectly to their event.
I am the equalizer. I cannot be bought because my money comes from outside of this industry. I will not review someone who tries to bully me into lying to you.
Here is my early 2015 list of what haunted attractions I feel are a cut above the rest. These are the places that I recommend to friends when I want to be sure they will have a foolproof great night out.
NOTE: These are listed in no particular order. I can’t choose a favorite or rate one over another. They all bring it. Being on this list is like winning the Olympics of haunted attractions. Also I haven’t yet gone to all of these this year yet because even though I helm (Re)Generation Who, I do not own a TARDIS. Shows can change year to year.
1. Field of Screams – Lancaster, PA: FoS always delivers a brutal, high energy evening of 2 haunted houses, 1 hay ride, and 1 outdoor walkthrough. The midway (which is free to enter) is full of food and entertainment and second to none.
2. Pennhurst Haunted Asylum – Spring City, PA: Pennhurst has a modest start in 2010 but has grown to be one of the most brutal haunted attractions in the world. They always deliver. Hard.
3. Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares – Saylorsburg, PA: These guys are ART. Brutal, deranged art. When you go through this one you’ll notice something different than everyone else and that includes scareactors who are given the freedom to create complex backstories to their characters. You won’t find Boring Chainsaw Man #6 here. That guy will have a name and unique elements about him. These guys are always on point. The also have a museum of macabre historical mortuary equipment on site.
4. Reaper’s Revenge – Scranton, PA: We are currently working on this review right now, but we were absolutely blown away by them. They have literally the best hayride I have ever seen. Each attraction is staged elegantly and the actors are beyond fabulous. Never before has a single haunt been a contender for BOTH our Brutality AND Innovation Award at the same time. WOW. I did not expect that. This is the kind of haunted attraction that someone in my line of work hopes to find but rarely does.
5. Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride – Glen Mills, PA: Bates Motel practically defined the standard that the bar is set at in haunts. Each attraction is tight. From the staging, to the scares, to the funny elements in each where they, mess with you. And yes, they can touch you. You’ll experience a haunted hayride, a corn maze, and the Bates Motel itself.
6. Halls of Horror – Palmerton, PA: Halls of Horror has the kind of brash IDGAF that I appreciate. Don’t go here if you are sensitive and don’t bring kids. They are on the batshit crazy side and they don’t care who they offend. And THAT is why I love them so much. This year we will try Blood Experience where we will literally get covered in blood as we go through.
7. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream – Williamsburg, VA and Tampa, FL: Busch Gardens Williamsburg is more on the “something for the whole family” side, but that’s not a bad thing. This year they jacked up the intensity of their event with 3 new haunted houses that are aimed at haunt fans like myself. We were impressed. The review is currently being written. The best part is that you can bring the non-haunt fan of your family and they will be perfectly happy taking the shows and immersive dining experiences external from the haunted house. Everyone wins. The Tampa location is normally more intense and aimed at teen+. We always enjoy it.
8. House in the Hollow – Bucks County, PA: These guys did somethign no one else did. They build a high tech haunted house that changes it’s path per night and integrates you into it. I have never in my life been so impressed with the craftsmanship of an attraction like I was here. Anything from flying ghost effects to moving passages – I can only compare it to a more scary Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which is was clearly inspired by. (Aren’t we all?)
9. Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia, PA: A haunted house inside a historical prison. If that weren’t enough, it’s near a ton of great restaurants and you can tour the prison during the day. Always solid.
It looks like Pennsylvania is leading the pack. It must be something in the water. Read my full Haunted Attraction Review page for more reviews of haunts on the east coast. If I haven’t reviewed yours and you feel you deserve to be listed with these big dogs you can invite me to review your attraction by sending me an email from the top nav bar. You’ll get an honest and fair review that helps you and the fans from me, an acclaimed Marketing VP who runs her own events and knows her shit.