By August 1st, I’ve already had enough of summer. Hot days and sticky, uncomfortable nights are not for me; thank baby Jesus for central air. Right about now I’m stopping to smell all the fall scented candles and am dreaming of hoodies, boots, apple crisp, jack-o lanterns, and crunchy leaf piles. I’m so ready.
If you haven’t already guessed, autumn is my favorite season. Most of all, I love that you can walk from the front door to the car without breaking into a sweat. It’s one of the best times to get outside and get moving. And what better way to do that, than to check out some of the NY area’s best haunted attractions.
My husband and I started a tradition of visiting different haunted houses/hayrides each weekend from late September through the end of October. This will be our SEVENTH 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 some calories and squeeze in a few (thousand) extra steps. Plus, it definitely makes up for the must-have apple crisp and cider doughnuts at the end!
In my experience, Pennsylvania is the perfect place to go for haunts – they are creepy, gory, and even downright funny. Yes, FUNNY! But fraidy cats beware: actors are allowed to 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.
- Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in early/mid-September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (I don’t mess around). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, check out some local hotels and make a weekend getaway out of it.
- Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. Lines are short, some places have opening night discounts, and you can mostly get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading to avoid lines.
- Dress in Layers – Weather has been so unpredictable lately. Thanks, Global Warming! Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? Or the blizzard we got just before Thanksgiving last year? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (think ticks). A few years ago we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Another year I worked up a sweat in a t-shirt. 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. Choose something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always good options.
- 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. If you’re going to an attraction close to Halloween, do yourself a favor and get this pass.
#6 – The Barn of Terror
My Rating: 1.5 Stars
Location: Lake Katrine, NY
- On-Site Ticket – $37 per person
- Online Ticket – $33 per person (same price for Military, EMS, Firemen, Police on-site w/ valid ID)
Theme: Creepy Farm Family
Duration: About 60 minutes
Review: I kept waiting for something to happen and it just didn’t. First you walk through an 8-room barn and silo, then you take a bus down to a corn maze. The barn was dark and the costumes were pretty cheap and mostly looked the same – bloody hockey mask and black robe. The corn maze was so boring I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Truly disappointing that the space is there, but the creativity isn’t. After 17 years in business, you would think there would be more excitement.
Bottom Line: I put this on the list because I don’t want you to waste your time. Regardless of the stellar reviews on Facebook, this “haunt” is not worth your time or money. The only reason it gets 1.5 stars is that I got quite a few steps in thanks to the corn maze.
#5 – Headless Horseman
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
Location: Ulster Park, NY
Cost: Prices slightly cheaper online.
- Opening Night Special 9/21 (Online) – 29.95 + 3.95 + tax
- Opening Night Special 9.21 (On-site) – 38.95 + tax
- Regular Online Ticket – $45.90 + tax
- Regular On-site Ticket – 49.95 + tax
- $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)
- See website for second night special and premium night prices
Theme: Sleepy Hollow & All Things Haunted
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. 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.” Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Last year we went on opening night back in September and were disappointed that the company didn’t take advantage of their 25th year in business to do something special for the guests. It was like any other year with the ridiculously long lines and predictable haunts.
Bottom Line: If you live in or around the Hudson Valley, it’s worth it at least once. Otherwise, meh.
My Rating: 3 Stars
Location: Glen Mills, PA
Cost: Prices reduced from last year.
- General Admission Combo – $40 (gets you into all three events)
- VIP Combo – $75 (front of the line privileges to all three events)
- Super VIP Combo – $100 (front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt)
- Visit site for Thursday/Sunday options, individual haunt prices, and more.
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 cool. 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 or two, I’d say skip it.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Location: Monroe, NY
Cost: CASH ONLY. Prices cheaper on-site; slight increase over last year.
- Opening Weekend Discount 9/27-28 – $29.95
- Online General Admission – $48.31
- Online VIP Admission – $74.59
- Discount Alert – $5 off General Admission and $10 off VIP Admission for any Thursday or Sunday nights (just fill out the form online)
- Visit website for additional pricing options.
Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)
Review: There were clowns. Lots of clowns. There were also spiders and very dark places. A scare for everyone, really. After I got over the frustration of finding the place, parking, and waiting in line, it was fun. We went on opening night so it was cheaper and there were fewer people. There are six haunted houses that are seriously awesome. One group is admitted at a time, which causes a really long wait in line, but a better experience once you’re actually inside. The makeup and special effects were so good that it was hard to tell real person from prop. I love that they incorporated the 2017/2019 releases of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! The content is freshened up each year – especially when new scary movies hit theaters. This has become an annual trip!
Bottom Line: Don’t wait – add this to your list.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Location: Spring City, PA
Cost: Online tickets have varying service charges.
- Individual Attraction Tickets – $18
- Combo Pass – $35-44 (general admission to 3 haunted attractions)
- Super Combo Pass – $49 (general admission to 4 haunted attractions)
- VIP Pass – $78 (front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions)
Theme: Insane Asylum
Duration: Approx. 2 hours
Review: This place is really cool because it used to be a real asylum. The original buildings have been re-purposed 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, The Morgue, and Containment Tunnels. The Mayflower After Dark is a self-guided tour of an original campus building. 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. 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. We can’t wait to visit again this year!
Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go! This one will be on your list for years to come.
My Rating: 5 STARS!
Location: Scranton, PA
Cost: CASH ONLY – ATM on-site; Online tickets have a $2.75 service charge
- Opening Weekend Discount 9/20-21– $29
- General Admission – $35-45
- VIP Package – $70
- VIP Upgrade – $25 (on-site ONLY)
- Parking – $3
- Discount Alert – $5 off Friday General Admission and $10 off Sunday General Admission (just fill out the form online)
Theme: All Things Creepy
Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)
Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, Lost Carnival dark forest walk-through, Pitch Black indoor walk-through, and Sector 13 mutant maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (scariest of all). The Grim Reaper and Michael Myers even 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 combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my (our) number one choice. The first time we did this, we were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again. Two years ago we went on our wedding night and now we’ve made it a tradition to return each anniversary!
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 to one or more attractions and have a great time! And I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂
Happy (Almost) Fall!