With Halloween upon us, haunted houses across the country are opening their doors to kids and teens looking for truly frightening fun. Here's our roundup of the best and scariest houses, all offering lots of shock, gore and special effects to scare and entertain kids of all ages, even the bravest of teens.
If you're concerned if your child is old enough or might be too scared, visit the website of the haunted house you're considering, to get a sense of the level of fright being offered. Also take note of any warnings or age recommendations. And of course, keep in mind your child's own sensitivities. If your child likes scary movies and video games, he or she is more apt to be fine in a haunted house. If not, perhaps reconsider. Some of the houses simply do not allow very young children or have a separate house for the younger set or those who are easily scared. (Be sure to check out our 10 Kid-Friendly Haunted Houses and Haunts for Little Ones.)
Scream World in Texas
Screamworld, in Houston, right off the bat tells parents it is too intense and not recommended for children under 12 without a parent. It also says that young children may not be admitted. But for those who can enter, it is a screamfest. There are five exhibits: the outdoor Maze of Maniacs; the Edge of Darkness; Skull Cave (formerly the Haunted Hotel); Jake's Slaughterhouse; and the outdoor Zombie Graveyard. Screamworld is running Friday and Saturdays in late September, and then Thursdays through Sundays through October, with extra openings Monday, October 28 through Halloween, and a last Friday and Saturday opening November 1 and 2. For more information, visit their Web site, Scream World.
Netherworld in Georgia
Netherworld in Norcross, a suburb of Atlanta, has been called the No. 1 Hometown Haunted House by Hauntworld and includes two haunts -- The Dead Ones and the Boogeyman. Netherworld has a 6 and older policy and features live performers, great special effects and incredible robotics. It's open Friday and Saturday nights the last two weekends in September, and then seven days a week until November 3. Hours of operation are: Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday nights in October from 7 p.m. until midnight; and Halloween and the first weekend of November from 7 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Netherworld.
Blood Manor in New York
Blood Manor brings a Reign of Terror to lower Manhattan as this fright house offers several new experiences. (To be announced.) The attraction doesn't recommend children under 14 visit. Prices range from $30 to $50 per ticket and there are student discounts on certain nights. Blood Manor opens October 4 and is open Thursday from 7:30 p.m. until midnight; Friday and Saturday from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; October 30, November 1 and 2 from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Halloween from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Blood Manor.
Scare House in Pennsylvania
Scare House is Pittsburgh's ultimate haunted house and is not recommended for children under 13. Scare House featured attractions are The Forsaken, Pittsburgh Zombies and, new in 2012, Creepo's Christmas in 3D, as well as a new attraction: The Basement. In this area, only two people can enter at a time and they warn you will be touched and restrained... all in the dark! The haunted house begins operating September 27 with Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight, then begins operating Sunday and Thursday nights from October 6 through 27, as well as Halloween from 7 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Scarehouse.
Erebus Haunted House in Michigan
Erebus Haunted House in Pontiac, Mich., is one of the world's largest walk-through haunted houses. The four-story frightfest takes one through Erebus, which is the path to Hell. The attraction begins operating the last three weekends in September, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and then operates Wednesday through Sunday, remaining open nightly the week of Halloween through November 2. Sunday nights close at 11 p.m., and Monday through Thursday nights operate 7 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Erebus.
13th Floor Haunted House in Arizona, Colorado and Texas
13th Floor Haunted House takes the premise that even though many elevators do not have a 13th floor, there really is one! The 13th floor is where scary things happen and they do at this attraction with three locations: Phoenix, Denver and San Antonio. Unlike many of the other haunted houses, the 13th floor also features live animals and reptiles. The attraction suggests that if you wouldn't bring your child to a PG-13 rated movie, they shouldn't go to the 13th Floor, so caution is advised. The 13th Floor is open the September 21, 22, 28, 29 and 30, and then runs daily between October 4 through Hallowwen, with extra nights offered November 2, 3, 9 and 10. Most weekends operate 7 p.m. to midnight, with the exception of November and September 21 and 22. Those dates, as well as Sundays and weekdays operate 7 to 11 p.m. Visit their Web sites for more information: 13th Floor Haunted House, Phoenix; 13th Floor Haunted House, Denver; 13th Floor Haunted House San Antonio.
Pirates of Emerson in California
Pirates of Emerson features eight haunted attractions: Scareaton, Fractured Fairytales, Arachno, Dark Realm, Pirates of Emerson, Mental Maze, Bumpkin Patch and the Corn Walk. Children of all ages are welcome but the Pleasanton, Calif., site warns about bringing "impressionable children." The attractions beings operating Friday and Saturdays nights on October 4, with the addition of Thursdays and Sundays beginning September 10. Hours are from 7:05 to 10 or 11 p.m. The Pirates of Emerson is located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds at the corner of Bernal and Valley Avenues. When it comes to bringing kids, they remind visitors the experience is "extremely frightening." For more information, visit their Web site, Pirates of Emerson.
The Dent Schoolhouse in Ohio
The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati is one of the most detailed haunted houses and gets its "haunted house" name honestly. The Dent Schoolhouse was actually a school that opened in 1894 and had a murderous janitor, Charlie, who was never caught and brought to justice. Is it he who haunts the halls of the school to this day? Among the rooms are Charlie's workshop, bedroom, boiler room and even the janitor's student holding cell. In addition, there is Detention Hall, which is an intense clown-themed maze. There is no age limit, however a Lights On Tour is available on October 24 for younger kids. The attraction opens September 14, operating Friday through Sunday through September and the first weekend in November, and then Thursday through Sunday in October, as well as Halloween. The November dates will be "Lights Out," where visitors will walk the attractions completely in the dark. Hours begin at 7:30 p.m. through 10 p.m. and midnight on weekends. For more information, visit their Web site, The Dent Haunted Schoolhouse.
Scream Portland in Oregon
Scream at the Beach has relocated and become Scream Portland, which now scares all at its new home at the Portland International Raceway with really scary attractions, such as the Black Forest, Nevermore Castle Ghost Hunt, Twisted Circus, Haunted Gold Mine, Voodoo Drum Circle and the Laser Maze Challenge. Visitors can also enjoy a Character Meet and Greet, live music at the Monster Stage, and Creepy Crawly Exhibits, Pony Rides and Petting Zoo. The attraction opens October 5 and operates some Wednesday through Sunday nights, from 7 to 10 or 11 p.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Scream Portland.
Terror Behind the Walls in Pennsylvania
This haunted house is housed in a real, abandoned prison, Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, claimed to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The 22-year-old frightfest walks visitors through the grounds, cellblocks and common areas of the prison, which is eerie enough at night with its aging castle-like exterior. The attraction opens September 20 for weekends and then adds additional dates through November 9, always closed on Mondays. Kids under 7 are not permitted at the attraction, and kids 7 to 12 should visit on Family nights, offered every Sunday until 9 p.m. with a little less fright. (Kids are half price if you get there before 7 p.m.) Openings begin at 7 p.m., with a few Saturdays starting as early as 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit their Web site, Terror Behind the Walls.
This haunted house is housed in a real, abandoned prison, Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, claimed to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The 21-year-old frightfest walks visitors through the grounds, cellblocks and common areas of the prison, which is eerie enough at night with its aging castle-like exterior. The attraction opens September 21 for weekends and then adds additional dates through November 3, always closed on Mondays. Kids under 7 are not permitted at the attraction, and kids 7 to 12 should visit on Family nights, offered every Sunday until 9 p.m. with a little less fright. For more information, visit their Web site, Terror Behind the Walls.
For more family vacation ideas, check out:
10 Kid-Friendly Haunted Houses and Haunts for Little Ones
4 Haunted Hotels Worth a Visit