Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp hoodie weather, the crunch of the leaves, spooky Halloween stories, carved pumpkins, all things apple (crisp, cider, pie), spicy scents, and the thrill of it. Most of all, I love that you can move around and be outside without sweating bullets. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, then to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions!
My fiancé and I started a tradition of going around to different haunted houses hayrides each weekend in October. This will be our fourth year. Not only is it a crazy good time, but between the scares, belly laughs, and trekking through cornfields and woods, it’s also a pretty awesome way to burn a few calories. And afterwards, you can enjoy a few fall snack to put those calories (and then some) back on. Uhhh…triple win?!
I’m really not sure what’s going on in the state of Pennsylvania, but they have some kickass haunts. They are perfectly creepy, gory, and even funny. But beware, because if you are traveling from New York or another state that has strict rules about practically everything, you will be in for a shock. Some of the haunts in PA don’t have any metal detectors or security checks, and actors are allowed to touch you. (Touch you in the sense that they can poke, prod, run fingers through hair, and in some cases, put you in a cage or jump up on a wagon and drag you off.) Call me crazy, but I think these things add to the suspense, fear, and entertainment.
- Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (this is serious stuff!). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, you could see about hotels or other things you could do in the area and make a weekend trip out of it.
- Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. (Keep this in mind for next year.) Lines are short and you can get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading (see below).
- Dress in Layers – Fall weather is unpredictable. Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (think deer ticks). I usually opt for jeans, boots, a long sleeve shirt, and a fleece jacket. One time last year we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Just check the weather before you go.
- Wear Proper Footwear – This shouldn’t have to be said, but still – don’t wear flip-flops, sandals, or heels because…duh. Wear something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always a good choice.
- Splurge for the VIP Pass – When it comes to haunted attractions (and amusement parks), I really believe in going all-out. You might spend $25 or more per person for a VIP ticket, but that will allow you to skip the lines and go first. Why is this a big deal? Believe it or not, you could be waiting in line for hours before you even get to go through one attraction. That just sucks the fun right out of everything. Do yourself a favor – get this pass and you can do the royalty wave to everyone else as you board your wagon first.
My Top Attractions
#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Location: Glen Mills, PA
- $40 – Friday/Saturday (Base) Combo
- General admission to all three events
- $75 – Friday/Saturday VIP Combo
- Front of the line privileges to all three events
- $100 – Friday/Saturday Super VIP Combo
- Front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt
Theme: The Walking Dead Meets Prehistoric Times
Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)
Review: There were zombies, there were dinosaurs. There were also spiders, snakes, and clowns. A scare for everyone. It was just okay. We went on a weekend in September – there weren’t any lines so we were able to get by on just the base ticket. There were only three attractions – hayride, corn maze, and haunted house. The theme was a bit odd, but the special effects were pretty great. I love Psycho and A&E’s Bates Motel series, but there was little connection to both. I think the majority of my disappointment stems from just wanting more.
Bottom Line: If you’re in the area, I would recommend checking it out for a fun evening. But if you have to drive over an hour, I would say skip it.
#3 – Headless Horseman
My Rating: 4 Stars
Location: Ulster Park, NY
- It’s cheaper to buy tickets online, but plan ahead because tickets are non-refundable due to weather. You can, however, use them for another night.
- $43.90 + tax – Online Ticket
- $46.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
- $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)
Theme: The Horseman’s Span
Duration: 2.5-3 hours (depending on wait times)
Review: There are 10 attractions (including a hayride, corn maze, and several haunted houses) and a little “village” of gift shops and cafes, which makes for a full evening of fun. All guests must go through a bag check / metal detector after purchasing tickets. Keep this in mind because that line gets long fast and all ticket holders are considered equal until you pass through the gates. The hayride theme changes slightly every year, but the other attractions are pretty much “fixed.” So once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. But you can have favorite parts, which makes it pretty cool. I like that this place is local (for me) and it’s been a tradition of mine since I was about 8 years old.
Bottom Line: If you live in or near the Hudson Valley, make it a point to visit at least once. It really is a lot of fun.
#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Location: Spring City, PA
- $16-21 – Individual Attraction Tickets
- $42 – Combo Pass
- General admission to 3 haunted attractions
- $47 – Super Combo Pass
- General admission to 4 haunted attractions
- $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass
- Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions
- Note: online tickets have varying service charges
Theme: Insane Asylum
Duration: Approx. 2 hours
Review: This place is really cool because it is actually an asylum turned haunted house. The original buildings have been repurposed to create a haunted insane asylum, catacombs, and more. There isn’t a hayride, but you won’t be disappointed by the 3 main attractions: Pennhurst Asylum, Dungeon of Lost Souls, and Tunnel Terror. There are creepy clowns and walking dead, but the real terror here is the idea of the insane asylum and the horrible things that were probably done there. That and the fact that you spend a lot of time walking in near darkness and through strobe lights. The 4th attraction, Ghost Hunt, is just okay. You get to walk through one of the asylum buildings that has been preserved to see if you can spot any ghosts. Spoiler Alert: there aren’t any. And once you see it, there’s really no need to visit the attraction again. While you are waiting on the lines you may or may not be terrorized by the cast members. Luckily, the VIP pass will help you avoid this. Again, do the royalty wave as you enter.
Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go. I’m sure this one will be on your list for years to come.
#1 Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction
My Rating: 5 Stars
Location: Scranton, PA
Cost – CASH ONLY (ATM on site)
- $35– General Admission
- $60 – VIP Package
- $3 – Parking
- Note: online tickets have a $2.75 service charge
Theme: All Things Creepy
Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)
Review: I’ll admit that the cash only rule is a little annoying and silly. It’s 2016 – who carries cash anymore? But don’t let that minute detail deter you! There are 4 attractions including a hayride, a “Lost Carnival” themed walk in the woods, a pitch black maze, and “Bio-Nuclear Attack” themed outdoor haunt. There are zombies, hillbillies, spiders, government officials (super scary), and the Grim Reaper and Michael Myers make appearances out in the woods. There’s also something really cool that happens during the hayride, but you’ll have to just take my word for it because saying too much would just ruin it. The Lost Carnival was really fun – creepy fun. The pitch black maze is exactly how it sounds – it’s pretty terrifying. The combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my number one choice. We were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again.
Bottom Line: Make the trip. I don’t care if you’re in California, Florida, or Toronto. It’s worth it.
I hope you go and have a great time this fall. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂