Happy Fall everyone! October is halfway through and whenever this month comes, it serves as a reminder to me that we are in the last quarter of the year and holidays and celebrations are about to fall upon us. (No pun intended.) Anyway, from this point on, it’s guaranteed that we’ll see Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (for those who celebrate it), and then New Year’s Day. Houses are strewn with decoration and just one look through any neighborhood will immediately signal what time of the year and what holiday is approaching.
As I drive through my neighborhood, it’s evident that Halloween is just around the corner. Ghostly inflatables, carved Jack-O’Lanterns, Halloween lights, and assorted cut-outs can be seen in the different houses. Sometimes, I’ll pull over or drive slowly (provided there’s no traffic near me) just to take in all the cool décor at this time of year. One particular inflatable that stands out in my mind is that of a ghostly rider riding a horse – both of whom have equally glowing eyes. SPOOKY!
In keeping with this, the mood during this time of year is one of being spooked or scared. Haunted hayrides, haunted houses, pumpkin picking all signify that Fall and Halloween are, indeed upon us. I personally LOVE a good scare, but I find that as I get ‘more mature’ (read: SLIGHTLY older), it takes a lot for me to get really scared. In any event, I am always on the lookout for a new haunted jaunt (whew! What a crazy semi-alliteration!) I’ve gone to plenty a haunted house, and I can speak with authority on what truly scared me. I’d like to share my experiences with you.
BAYVILLE SCREAM PARK
The first few times I went here (no, not in the same year) this place DID get to me. There are a few sections such as a corn maze, the killer clowns area and the like. I’m not scared of clowns like some people I know, but this part of the attraction really didn’t do much for me except play around with my sight. Everything in this room is painted in neon colors and the clowns are certainly not pleasant ones. After speeding through this part of the scream park (since I paid for it), my eyes were bugging out! The haunted mansion has a pre-attraction show while you wait in line. Most of the ‘clientele’ are teenagers, so make sure you go with patience as they can be a rowdy crowd while waiting in line! One year, I even witnessed a drunk teenager vomiting – how gross! The haunted mansion DOES make you jump now and again – ESPECIALLY when the actors come out of nowhere and follow you. Some areas reek of the plastic props and some sections are stuff and smoky. The other times I went, the scare wasn’t quite there anymore – could it be that I almost knew what to expect at every turn of a corner? Possibly. This is why I don’t think I should repeat haunted houses.
DARKSIDE HAUNTED HOUSE
The first time I went to this one, I was BEYOND scared! I went with a friend of mine who was even more scared than me! Trust me, that is NOT a good combination when going through a haunted house. This friend of mine and I breezed right through the attraction mainly because I was being dragged through it! Some of the scary stuff was a blur! Haha. I think what should’ve taken a bit longer, took us all of 15 minutes to go through! PLUS my friend accidentally grabbed an actor who scared us who was on her knees and came out of nowhere. Some of the actors dressed as Michael Myers from the Halloween movies, even followed me down the trail leading to the main attraction. Naturally, I wasn’t going to show him that I was scared, so I did what any super scared person would do – I put up a front. He wouldn’t let up so I got increasingly scared. Clearly my front didn’t work! For a brief moment, I thought to myself – WHAT IF HE WASN’T AN ACTOR??? I got scared he wasn’t leaving me alone, I turned around and just short of hitting him, I stood firm. I think I caught him off guard because he kind of just stared at me (plastic knife in hand) and then left me alone. I went again (yes, I broke the cardinal rule of NO REPEATS), with a different friend and we went through it much slower. To be honest, I was scared this time too – a little less than the first time, but still scared nonetheless!
F & W SCHMITT FARMS HAUNTED MANSION & NIGHTTIME HAUNTED MAZE
The reason I decided to try this is because I wanted to see how a farm could put on such a production. The first time was scarier than I expected, but the second time was just slightly scary. Impressive, nonetheless for a farm. Lines are always long.
Although this was quite a trek, I landed here ‘by accident’ one year. A friend of mine and I went to another attraction in Sleepy Hollow. There was only a really light drizzle (mist, if you will) and although a lot of people showed up (some from out of state), the event organizers cancelled it. Many out-of-staters were extremely angry because some booked hotel rooms and rooms at nearby bed-and-breakfasts. Can you blame them for being beyond angry? My friend and I were determined to not let our evening go to waste, so we went to work immediately, Googled a few places, and eventually chose Casola farms. What an expedition! It wasn’t exactly close by – we went from Upstate NY to (what felt like the deepest recesses of New Jersey) Marlboro! Well worth the trip – it was one of the scariest haunted attractions I ever went to! Too bad it’s quite a trek for me!
STATEN ISLAND (at a farm)
Forgive me for forgetting the name of this one, since it has been quite a number of years since I went to this one. I couldn’t even find information on it! I went with a group of friends, and from the moment we got there, we designated one of the ladies in our group as the ‘leader’. If there is anything you’ll find out about me, it’s this: although I love a good scare, I neither like to be in the front or back of the group. Unfortunately, I think this is somehow sensed, and guess where I always am….DING DING DING DING! You guessed it – the front OR back. This time around I was determined to be neither, so I appointed her to be the leader. Due to the fact that she was screaming and scared the whole time (our ironic ‘fearless’ leader), the ghosts, ghouls, and zombies had it in for our group the whole time! There was an area that made you go through this tunnel that spins around you and plays around with your equilibrium. TRIPPY! I’m guessing this attraction is gone since there’s no info on it anymore.
This has to be, one of THE ABSOLUTE best there is out there. I went with a friend of mine two years ago, and although it was trek, we made a day trip of it. We went early in the day because we wanted to take the tour of the grounds and penitentiary – it was an actually penitentiary at one point in time! Although it was day time, the weather played a role and the dampness added to the eeriness of the place. You almost felt the hairs on the back of your neck stand, because you couldn’t help but feel like the ghosts of the former prisoners following you. One of the most infamous inmates of this place was Al Capone. His cell clearly was the most upgraded and plush of ALL the cells – surprise surprise. He had quite a luxurious cell and they had it set up in such a way that it looked like he just left it recently. The other cells had rubble and broken down furniture. Once the sun set and the moon came out, the other fun began. We went through the haunted attraction and having the day time knowledge we gathered made the haunting even scarier. Going through here with that mindset…I’ve never been so scared in my life!
This one I WOULD repeat – it’s worth it and from the e-mails I get (yes, I am on the list), they make it scarier and scarier with each passing year. The area doesn’t have THAT much, except for some nice places to eat. It might be worth it, though, to book a room, since it was a bit of trek (coming from NY, anyway). We ate at the Firehouse across the street – yes, it was a converted old firehouse and the drinks and food were GREAT! We had some drinks at a bar across the street and what a fun atmosphere! Looking at the penitentiary from across the street put everything into perspective – it actually looked slightly smaller than what I thought it would be.
FRIGHT FEST IN SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE
My first ever experience with this was in high school My best friend at the time and I were walking through one of the pathways and a zombie started following us. I thought he would leave us alone, but then he actually started chasing us! I thought that when we got near other people, he would stop chasing us, but he just kept going! I was so scared I just kept running – almost outside of the park!
Back in the day, when Six Flags had the haunted hayride, I was SO scared, I vowed never to go to Fright Fest again (clearly, sticking to that plan didn’t work!) There was a “monster” that looked like he came out of the bushes LOOKING like the bushes and I think I jumped the highest and screamed the loudest – surefire entertainment for all!
My next visit wasn’t as scary but I was still scared. The next few trips saw the attractions changed quite a bit. The change took some getting used to, but I was scared! The next years after were kind of scary but not as much. When we went to Great Adventure last month, Laticia and I decided not to go through the haunted attractions, but Fright Fest was still rampant through the park. We just love watching people get chased by zombies. Laticia decided to have some fun with some of the zombies and it was one of the most hilarious things I ever saw! We were on our way to El Toro (see my article on rollercoasters) and we saw a few zombies. Now mind you, they only come out at night (obviously). She decided to say “Hello” to one of them, almost taunting them and ASKING them to chase her! Haha….she didn’t expect it would turn out this way, and the zombies decided to have some fun with her….and boy did they ever! I even joked with Laticia that the one zombie in a long trench coat with a shovel and cowboy hat had a crush on her since he wouldn’t let up and just kept following her! Never saw her jump that high and walk that fast – as I leisurely strolled to the next ride while chuckling.
From our experiences, if there is a piece of advice I can impart, it’s: DON’T TAUNT THE ZOMBIES AND DON’T SHOW THAT YOU’RE SCARED!
This one was in NYC and the line for it wrapped around the building. They had some contortionists, street performers, and ghouls caring people in line. We had to go up some stairs and there was some waiting once we were inside. Some of it truly was scary, but I felt it went quick and some of it was a bit lackluster for me. Perhaps, a lot of these attractions pale in comparison because I went to the Easter State Penitentiary.
HEADLESS HORSEMAN HAYRIDES AND HAUNTED HOUSES
One of THE absolute BEST attractions out there! For some it may seem a bit costly, but trust me, it is WELL worth the money. For me it was a bit of a trek, but it was SO awesome! There was a part where they literally “corralled us” in a pen – we waited for a while because the attraction is so popular. We felt like cattle being herded…but once we were able to board our tractor, we instantly knew why the wait and the price are what they are. While we waited in the “pen”, there were some employees who would provide entertainment by dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The ride was probably the longest haunted hayride I’ve ever been on – there were sections, each with their own unique stories and ghouls and goblins. Special effects throughout – like flames and flashes and other assorted goodies were probably the best I’ve ever seen. The only things that was uncomfortable was that I had to sit in the middle of the flatbed of the tractor – kneeling was uncomfortable, sitting was uncomfortable but I still had fun. If you get a spot on the edges of the ride, your legs can dangle and you would be more comfortable but unfortunately, you also get more spooked. If you EVER get a chance, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check this one out!
There’s allegedly one in NYC that is pretty extreme – you can only walk through it alone (one at a time) and some of the stuff you’ll see can be quite extreme or explicit. It’s costly, and I don’t think I’m quite prepared for that…I ALMOST thought I was last year!!!!
So there you have it – I’ve been to a few other little ones, but if I keep writing, you won’t be able to head out the door to check out these attractions or one near you. Some tips:
- It’s just a fun thing to do, but if you’re faint of heart, then please DON’T do it. Make sure you are in good physical condition.
- Also, depending on the weather, make sure you bundle up appropriately.
- Make sure you do your homework – times, prices, if the event is rain or shine, allowance for traffic….nothing is worse than trying to enjoy getting scared, but unfortunately getting snagged on minutiae.
- Make sure you know what the organizer’s contingency plan is in the event it rains – will you get a refund? Will they honor it on another day (if it’s close enough to you)?
If you’ve gone to any haunted attraction worth checking out, please drop me a line! My goal is to do one every year (hopefully a different one or one that is worth repeating). Would love to hear your thoughts! Happy haunting!