It’s never too early to start preparing for Halloween. With more people seeking out thrills and chills every October, attractions are taking their haunts to the extreme. Millions of Americans pay to be scared every year, because there’s nothing better on a first date than explaining why you needed to bring a change of underwear.
Some attractions often receive backlash for their extreme measures, but for those adrenaline, horror-seeking junkies out there, there might be no such thing as “too extreme.” If you’re looking for a new and possibly life-altering Halloween-haunt experience, you might want to plan ahead and check out one of these terrifying attractions. After all, there’s no time like the present to plan ahead for those sure-fire heart attacks these places will give you.
10. Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres
In Pataskala, Ohio, a ground-breaking haunt that long ago introduced some of the first haunted hayrides measures in for their extreme, deadly tactics in scaring guests. Known for their scantily-dressed female zombies and obsessive use of chainsaws, Haunted Hoochie’s actors will manhandle patrons, including touching them with (chainless) chainsaws. Inside this haunt, guests will witness realistic skits that illustrate pain and death on a whole new level.
Perhaps the most terrifying skit includes a man simulating suicide through shooting himself in the head, complete with realistic brain splatter against a tile wall. With 50,000 loyal patrons every year, many swear that a live demon birth skit, realistic props and makeup, and Haunted Hoochie’s use of gore and blood are what keeps them coming back every year. The actors are in-your-face through every step of the way, making it difficult for claustrophobic guests to endure the haunt in its entirety.
9. Cutting Edge
Located in Fort Worth, Texas, Cutting Edge was the 2009 winner of the Guinness Book of World Record’s largest haunted house. As the world’s longest walk-through haunt, this attraction is set in a 100 year old meat-packing building that utilizes real equipment for props. Guests watch as bodies are hoisted up on old meat packing machines before being processed through conveyor belts. Cutting Edge boasts an hour long event that starts the moment they arrive.
Inside, patrons experience a multitude of rooms including a Saw themed room where the only source of light comes from a glow stick. Guests must find the correct exit on their own and are given little help as they feel around in the dark, opening doors that lead to vampires, clowns, and graveyards. This walk-through takes place in dimly lit or even pitch black rooms and corridors, and guests emerge from the haunt dripping wet as heavy use of water in each scene is common.
8. The Dent Schoolhouse
Voted Cincinnati’s most terrifying haunt, The Dent Schoolhouse takes place in a real abandoned school that opened in 1894. Between 1942 and 1952, over a dozen students mysteriously went missing from Dent Schoolhouse. A horrible scent from the basement triggered suspicion, but the school’s janitor, Charlie McFree, claimed the smell was merely leaky pipes. After seven additional students went missing years later, it was discovered that Charlie murdered the children and kept their bodies in the basement. Unfortunately, Charlie the janitor was never captured by police and legend has it that he still lingers in the halls of this old school turned haunt.
The chilling backstory for this haunt creates a terrifying locale and the creators don’t overlook this important information. The event tells the story of Charlie, utilizing undead children eerily positioned throughout the haunt and even Charlie himself, who seems to love chasing patrons with chainsaws. Use of loud music and aggressive actors makes for a terrifying and disorienting experience.
7. The 13th Gate
Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The 13th Gate focuses on the Bayou voodoo legends and creepy graves that the area is known for. Take a journey through 13 gates of hell, each more terrifying than the last. From a claustrophobic tunnel, to a crematory, to a slaughterhouse, there’s something for every thrill seeker at this extreme haunt. With over 50,000 guests attending each year, The 13th Gate sets itself apart from other haunts by using artistic realism in each of its props. This haunt is worked on all year by special effects artists and a crew dedicated to thrills and chills. These artists assure that sensory overload enhances guest experiences.
The ordeal is set in a building resembling an old industrial basement utilizing freight elevators that appear to have an endless shaft. Perhaps the most terrifying gates are the Voodoo Bayou, where guests must make their way through a real swamp and footbridges with witches and hanged men, and the Crematory, where patrons must crawl through an oven simulation complete with extreme heat, smoke, and a crispy body. This haunt has an incredible range of scares and is unlike any other attraction.
6. Alone: An Existential Haunting
This Los Angeles based haunt is set in a location that isn’t disclosed to participants until the day before their experience. Typically, guests are met in an alleyway by cult-like actors, giving them the sense that they’re being kidnapped. Patrons must sign a waiver before even entering the attraction. As a warmup, guests perform yoga before a bag is placed over their heads and they’re dragged off through a series of strange, psychologically terrifying rooms.
This experience is entirely customized; actors use guest’s names and personalize each step of the way based on their patrons fears and interests. Guests report being touched, having “intimate” encounters with strange actors, and several tricks that leave them believing the ordeal is over before being shuffled back into hell. This haunt is designed to induce a complete meltdown for each of its brave patrons.
5. ScareHouse: The Basement
ScareHouse is another adults-only haunt that is unlike any other. With over 120 staff members working together to create Hollywood-level props that translate into extreme thrills and a sociologist specializing in fear working hand-in-hand with the creators, ScareHouse makes sure that guests leave with a new outlook on life. Using psychological tactics, ScareHouse forces guests to face their fears in the basement of an Elks Lodge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Patrons endure psychological tests dedicated to bringing many common fears to life. These tests include surviving extremely claustrophobic environments while being restrained, the use of needles, actors portrayed as gruesome doctors, and electric shocks. Many who attend ScareHouse report questioning their religious beliefs by the haunt’s end. One unique trait at this haunt is that ScareHouse prides itself on not sexualizing patrons or using women in a demeaning manner, instead utilizing their female actors as some of the strongest characters.
4. The Cult/The Ghoullog
Located on a mountaintop in North Conway, New Hampshire, the location alone of this extreme haunt is nearly enough to induce panic. Patrons must be 18 or older to enter and are immediately warned of the terrifying experiences they’re about to endure. Once patrons enter – alone – they’re forced through a series of rooms involving faux medical procedures. Guests have reported the use of live cockroaches placed inside their pants and on their faces. With bags shoved over their heads and huge, sound-blocking ear muffs, guests follow a string through pitch-black corridors until they reach their destinations.
There’s a room that includes medical equipment and liquids, one of which appears to be urine and must be consumed by the guest. While enduring this haunt alone, guests cannot see or hear a thing as they’re often encompassed in pitch-darkness and regularly grabbed by actors. This haunt also features puzzles that patrons are forced to figure out before advancing to the next room. For example, they must search through a dark room for a key that opens the door to the adjacent room, but fortunately there’s a safe word to get out of this haunt if it’s too much for you to handle.
3. Freakling Brothers Gates of Hell: Victim Experience
Freakling Brothers boasts two different attractions: essentially one for your run-of-the-mill thrill seeker, and one for those looking for something extra. Deemed the “Victim Experience,” this haunt takes guests through different levels of what it might be like to die under a number of scenarios. In Las Vegas, Nevada, this particular attraction caught a lot of attention from locals that accuse the haunt of performing illegal acts on guests. After signing a waiver, anyone over 18 that agrees to the extreme, rigorous nature of this haunt is subjected to a series of horrifying tests.
Only five guests are allowed into the Victim Experience each night. These guests endure criminal sexual simulations, emotional torture, and even water boarding. The use of a stun gun has also been reported inside of this haunt. Actors are allowed to undress, roughly handle, humiliate, gag, and suffocate guests. It’s no standard haunted attraction; this one is for patrons looking for an extreme, life-altering experience. Uh, yeah, go ahead and count us out.
2. Blackout Haunted House
With two locations, one in downtown Los Angeles and the other in New York, Blackout requires patrons to sign waivers and be 18 or older, which is logical considering what the staff is about to put you through. The waiver warns that you will be touched, possibly sexually harassed, and aren’t allowed to touch the actors or the walls. Guests are required to enter the attraction alone. During the first part of this haunt, guests rely entirely on an actor as they run, full speed, through a completely dark hallway.
Once inside, the real fun begins. Some of the actors are completely nude, and patrons are also often stripped down and entirely exposed. We’re not sure if this is more of a pornographic show or a nightmare come to life, since that all depends on your definition of fear. For $45 a person, this seems like a well-worth-it adventure. One good thing? There’s a safe word in case things get too intense. Many forfeit their admission price after just minutes inside of this extreme haunt.
1. McKamey Manor
Topping the list is a house-haunt located in San Diego, California. Run by an ex-Navy Seal named Russ McKamey, this extreme haunt requires patrons to pass a psychological test before entering. Guests must sign a waiver, be over 21, be in at least minimally decent health, and be hand-chosen by Russ himself before entering. With a waitlist of over 24,000 people and only several shows per week, it’s nearly impossible to be granted entry into this life-altering adventure. One terrifying aspect of McKamey Manor is the lack of a safe word. That means once you enter the Manor, you must stick it out until the end (unless Russ sees you are physically unfit to continue).
Tours can last anywhere from two hours to over nine hours and guests are put through a series of physical, mental, and emotional tests ranging from being force-fed by “Mother,” being held underwater, duct taped, and submerging themselves into pits of real snakes, eels, or other creepy-crawlies. “Mother’s” dishes include rotten eggs, dead baby chicks, and bugs. Russ films the entirety of each ordeal and bets are taken on which guest will last longest. In 2014, not a single guest made it through an entire full-tour of the haunt, many having been forced to leave after suffering shock, hypothermia, or simply from passing out.
Within seconds of entering, guests forget the real world and are pushed to their breaking points. They’re handled roughly and emerge from the haunt with plenty of bruises, cuts, and sometimes even a shaved head. Russ plans to change the haunt to ensure that more patrons will survive the duration, though he still does his best to keep people away, warning that this haunt is like nothing else. One thing that many find appealing is the sworn secrecy of this haunt. Guests don’t talk about what happened to them inside, and while Russ posts videos and photographs of the experience on his website, no one but those who go through the ordeal know exactly what happens inside the manor.