Running a haunted house used to be one of the worst ways to scare up an income, but a lot has changed in the last decade.
"Ten years ago, very few people gave up a job with health insurance in order to run a haunted house year-round," Larry Kirchner, editor HauntWorld, a website dedicated to the haunted attraction industry, told The Huffington Post.
Sneak A Peek At America's Best Haunted Houses (Story Continues Below)
13th Gate Asylum 1
The 13th Gate Haunted House in Baton Rouge, La., is considered the No. 1 haunted house in the country because of attractions like a burning crematory oven, dark underground caverns, and a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes.
Netherworld in Atlanta, Ga., wants patrons to feel the horrors of a Halloween gone mad as the sunken city rises and Banshees fill the skies. In addition, an invasion of giant bugs is supposed to scare the wits out of customers.
The Headless Horseman haunted house in Ulster Park, N.Y., is known for haunted attractions like the Lunar Motel, Glutton’s Slaughter House and the Root Cellar; monsters like Butcher Joe, The Bogeyman and Dr. Blight; as well as a magic, stilt walkers and stunt performers.
The Cutting Edge
Cutting Edge Haunted House in Dallas, Tx., is the longest haunted house in the world and is located inside a hauntingly old meat packing plant, the perfect setting for a gruesome haunting. Featuring live sets, animations, and hundreds of live actors inside and outside the building, the scariest part may be all the real meat packing plant equipment left behind from when the planet closed years ago.
House Of Torment
The House Of Torment in Austin, Tx., House of Torment is widely considered to be one of the most innovative haunted houses in the country. It is known for bringing a boundry-breaking, heart-stopping, thrilling adventure to customers with aerial stunts, award winning sets, mind boggling illusions, and a horde of meticulously detailed monsters.
Michigan is the haunted attraction capital of the world with more than 70 haunts in a 50 mile radius. Erebus in Pontiac, MI., prides itself as one of the most unique haunts in the country by building almost all of the props in-house.
The Asylum in Denver, Co., is set in Gordon Cottingham’s Hospital for the criminally insane. It’s a damp and musty place infested with unimaginable nightmares and coupled with the endless screams of tortured souls.
The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati, OH, is a haunted attraction that takes place inside an actual historical schoolhouse with a haunting history. Shut down in the 1950's after a murdering Janitor worked and resided in the basement all the while children were missing. Today, movie quality sets and Hollywood animations, combined with this real legend, makes The Dent Schoolhouse a haunted house attraction not to miss!
The Darkness in St. Louis, Mo., has been rated the best haunted house in the entire world by many. The house features four attractions inside two floors of fear., including an outdoor themed haunted adventure full of ancient curses, a graveyard and a mortuary house and a 3D house of haunted clowns.
The Beast in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the longest running haunted houses in America. Five stories tall, the Beast is known for incredible set design, and its 25 foot long Python, and live gators.
For more than 20 years, er 20 years, the Bates Motel Haunted Hayride has been making Philadelphia scream. Showcasing amazing props, digital FX, terrifying actors, professional makeup, pyrotechnics and multiple attractions in one location including a massive corn maze, an infamous hayride and a horrific haunted house, the Bates Motel has been featured on multiple television shows and ranked as high as the best haunted house in the nation by multiple media outlets.
13th Floor Haunted House
The 13th Floor Haunted House provides a gut wrenching ride to untold nightmares. A franchise with locations in San Antonio, Denver and Phoenix, each attraction offers a massive haunted event, one as big as 40,000 square feet and another as high as three floors up.
Nightmare On The Bayou
Located next to Houston’s oldest graveyard, Nightmare on the Bayou combines Hollywood-quality props, professional animatronics and dozens of the most well-trained crazed actors in the industry. The location also has its share of real ghosts and sightings are frequent from both customers and employees alike.
Kirchner, who has been following the professional haunted house industry since 1996, said that what once was a seasonal business now has year-round potential.
"When I started out, basically haunted houses in a given area were competing with local businesses," he said. "Now, thanks to YouTube and Travel Channel, the competition to be the best has gone national."
HauntWorld has compiled a list of what it proclaims to be the 13 best haunted houses in the country. Kirchner thinks the people behind the houses could find work in other fields if the haunted house business dries up.
"The people who run these houses could easily be working in Hollywood doing movies," he said. "That's the type of dedication this takes."