No Halloween passes without the rush of people hoping to get scared, spooked, freaked and thrilled by ghosts, goblins, vampires and whatever else they can find.
"There's nothing like being in a haunted house because there's no movie that can give you the same kind of feeling that a haunted house can," HauntWorld magazine Editor-in-Chief Larry Kirchner told ABC News. "You're not watching a screen, you're in the screen, you're the star."
Each year, HauntWorld magazine searches state to state, city by city to find the best haunted attractions in the country.
"Even though a typical haunted house today is at least 1,000 times better than what they were 10 years ago, there's still a gigantic gap between a handful of haunted houses and the rest of the country," Kirchner said. "Whenever one of these haunted houses does something that the next haunted house down the road could not do, that really makes a difference."
One major factor that sets the best haunted -- and paid -- attractions apart from the rest is the attention to detail, Kirchner said. Many of the attractions on HauntWorld's Top 13 haunted houses list have the ability to create sets that look straight out of a Hollywood movie and some have even been used in films.
"These concepts are huge," Kirchner said. "The amount of money that is put into them is astronomical and it really separates from what a typical haunted house would be."
A lot of the haunted attractions caught HauntWorld's eye were because of the overall experience they give people. Not only are visitors spooked inside the attraction but there are actors scaring people waiting in line and websites with spectacular marketing that sets the stage for the eeriness of the attraction.
Click through to see HauntWorld's picks for the Top 8 best haunted attractions.
One thing that HauntWorld.com looks for when ranking haunted attractions is creativeness. And with 13 indoor and outdoor themed attractions, 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, La., goes above and beyond.
"We go outside of the norm," owner Dwayne Sanburn said. "We have the traditional things like a cellar and clowns but then we take it way out a lot further."
Sanburn has 182 employees in the cast and crew at 13th Gate, which has been running for 11 years. He also has a year-round staff that tears down parts of the attraction after Halloween each year and rebuilds it with something brand new.
This year, 13th Gate has an ice cave with a frozen wooly mammoth, haunted insane asylum, a dragon, zombies and vampires, live roaches and a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes. They also have a makeshift cemetery that can only be entered by going down into an open grave and maneuvering underground tunnels.
"If you are afraid of something, we have it here somewhere for you," Sanburn said.
Sanburn's favorite attraction this year is the cave system that has 35 tons worth of concrete, is completely hand carved and took nine months to make.
Many of the staff at 13th Gate has worked in the film industry and the attraction has even been used for film and television sets before.
Sanburn said most people come out of the 30- to 45-minute attraction either screaming or laughing and for him, that's the biggest payoff.
Netherworld, located in Atlanta, has two pitch-black, walk through attractions filled with repulsive monsters, special effects and live actors. Be prepared for the Banshee attraction where the wail of the beast means death to whoever hears it. Enter into Netherworld's dark basement for the Hive attraction, which is guaranteed to give you more crawling, skittering, bloody insect nightmares than you can imagine.
This intense, cutting-edge, multi-story and multi-attraction haunted event has thrilled and terrified visitors for 16 years. Each year the attraction is created by film industry professionals and Netherworld's detailed scenes were even used in the 2009 film "Zombieland."
The Headless Horseman attraction in Ulster Park, N.Y., has a variety of spooky attractions, including six professionally created haunted houses, a labyrinth-style corn maze and a mile-long hayride. All 45 acres of the Headless Horseman attraction are laced with scary monsters and creepy clowns, including Butcher Joe, The Bogeyman, and Prisoner X.
This year's theme is "The Cult of the Horseman" and other attractions include The Lunar Motel, Glutton's Slaughter House, The Root Cellar, Dark Harvest Corn Maze, Nightshade Greenhouse, The Feeding, Dahlia Blood's Manor and, new for 2012, Dr. Dark's Black Spider Sideshow.
Illusionist Ryan Dutcher and his creative team also perform each night using a unique mix of magic, special effects and theatrics sets.
|Cutting Edge Haunted House|
The Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth-Dallas was named the longest haunted house in the world by Guinness World Records. The attraction is set inside a 100-year-old abandoned meatpacking plant and the machinery is used in the attraction. Mannequins are brought through the meatpacking process until they're chopped into butchered corpses. The entire attraction takes 55 minutes to complete.
To bring the fear of the Cutting Edge Haunted House to life, the attraction employs 10 year-round employees. During the month of October, they have anywhere from six to eight makeup artists plus apprentices and two to three people in the costume department. There are anywhere from 75 to 100 cast members that do the scaring.
And while the lines can be long for this spectacular spook fest, don't fear. There is a DJ playing outrageous sound tracks, a monster hearse motoring about providing photo opportunities, a full brass band of zombies and members of Cutting Edge's eerie undead precision drum-line keeping the crowds entertained and giving them a taste of what's in store for them inside the haunted attraction.
|House of Torment|
House of Torment, located in Austin, Texas, has been scaring people for 10 years and this year they have three separate houses all in one place. The Howling attraction brings visitors to the origins of the Mayan prophecy that some say predicted the world will end Dec. 21, 2012. Once you enter and pass down the La Corona Hieroglyphic Stairway, be prepared to face the dark wolves who rule the Lost Temple of Tortuguero with their maddening howls.
In the Awakening attraction, visitors will attempt to fend off the attacking fiends and come face-to-face with horrors of the old. In The Slaughterhouse, witness the chainsaw mayhem and avoid the steel death trap massacre while you try to make it beyond the gauntlet of slaughter. When walking through each haunted house, keep your eyes peeled for gory monsters including Captain Scoria, Hacker Jack and John Doe.
Erebus is a four-story haunted attraction in Pontiac, Mich., that has been giving visitors a thrill since 2000. Erebus means the darkness beneath the Earth that the dead must pass to reach Hades and that's exactly what this haunted house represents. This attraction will give you fear so intense that some call it painful. It provides some unique scares including bottomless pits, crushing walls and giant monsters.
The Asylum haunted attraction in Denver, Colo., is more than 15,000 square feet of terrifying fun that was completely redesigned for the 2012 Halloween season. The attraction provides up-close and in-your-face spooks inside the Gordon Cottingham's Hospital for the mentally insane. Deep inside, visitors will find a damp and musty place infested with rats, spiders, snakes and the endless screams of tortured souls.
And if that's not enough incentive for you, the Asylum has also been featured on the Travel Channel's show "America's Scariest Halloween Attractions."
The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati doesn't mess around when it comes to scaring people. The attraction's website has a fake newspaper that shares the history of the schoolhouse and the children who went missing from there. "The old school house is now said to be haunted with the roaming spirits of the children that were "taken care of" by the Janitor," the website said.
The haunted attraction at Dent Schoolhouse takes place in an actual old schoolhouse that the company promises is actually haunted. The attraction also has an intense military-themed maze called Detention Hall. There are 40 to 55 actors scaring and haunting visitors who dare to enter.