WEIRD NEWS
10/20/2013 08:55 am ET

America's Best Haunted Houses (PHOTOS)

www.13thgate.com

Americans love a good scare as long as it doesn't involve the debt ceiling.

That may be why the Halloween industry has gone from a $1 billion a year industry in 1996 to a $10 billion one, according to HauntWorld.com, a trade magazine covering the boo biz.

HauntWorld editor Larry Kirchner says the owners of haunted attractions have learned that what used to be a seasonal activity can now be run successfully all year-round.

"When I started out, basically haunted houses in a given area were competing with local businesses," he told the Huffington Post last year. "Now, thanks to YouTube and Travel Channel, the competition to be the best has gone national."

Kirchner has kept up with the trend by publishing a list of America's top 13 haunted attractions.

"[The public wants] live, in-your-face scares combined with high tech scares for the utmost in lifelike scares," Kirchner wrote in a press release announcing the list. "They want what a roller coaster can’t deliver no matter how high or fast they’re built."

RELATED ON HUFFPOST:

  • 13 Nightmare on the Bayou (Houston, Tex.)
    www.nightmareonthebayou.com
    The Nightmare On The Bayou is haunted in two ways. Besides having its share of costumed creeps, the attraction's owners claim there are real ghosts on the premises thanks to its proximity to a real graveyard.
  • 12 Spookywoods (Greensboro, NC)
    http://www.spookywoods.com
    Any haunted attraction can be scary at night, but Spookywoods in Greensboro, N.C. is unique in that it offers daytime attractions as well, including dinosaur digs, corn mazes and spooky tram rides.
  • 11 Dent School House (Cincinnati, Ohio)
    www.frightsite.com
    Cincinnati's Dent School House was used as a school from the 1890s to the 1950s. Legend has it that a janitor named Charlie McFree killed a bunch of kids and put the bodies in the basement, but it has never been verified.
  • 10 Erebus (Pontiac, Mich.)
    www.hauntedpontiac.com
    Some haunted attractions use the human touch to spook customers, but Erebus in Pontiac, Mich., gets the scares via an over-the-top collection of interactive monster props, and mechanical special effects.
  • 9 House of Torment (Austin, Tex.)
    www.thehouseoftorment.com
    One of the most unique things about the House of Torment in Austin, Tex., is the Control Room where the operators can trigger the effects to respond to each customer, creating personalized terror for everyone.
  • 8 The Darkness (St. Louis, Mo.)
    www.scarefest.com
    Now in its 20th year of fear, The Darkness in St. Louis may be the most well-known haunted house in the world. It is considered a pioneer in the haunted attraction industry for its use of 3D special effects.
  • 7 Field of Screams (Lancaster, Pa.)
    www.fieldofscreams.com
    Along with three haunted houses, the Field of Screams also boasts a haunted hayride in creepy corn fields where terrifying creatures live.
  • 6 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, La.)
    www.13thgate.com
    The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge prides itself on state-of-the-art special effects as well as top-notch actors in Hollywood-caliber makeup. Oh, and the Voodoo Fire Show on weekends.
  • 5 Netherworld (Atlanta, Ga.)
    www.fearworld.com
    Most haunted houses make you buy a ticket before the scares start, but Netherworld in Atlanta, Ga., is notorious for starting the terror in the parking lot.
  • 4 Cutting Edge Haunted House / Thrillvania (Ft. Worth, Tex.)
    www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com
    The Cutting Edge Haunted House in Dallas, Tx., is the longest haunted house in the world. It is located inside a hauntingly old meat packing plant, and features 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.
  • 3 Headless Horseman (Ulster, N.Y.)
    www.headlesshorseman.com
    The highlight of the Headless Horseman haunted attraction in Ulster, N.Y., may be the headless man actually on horseback. However, there are also detailed sets, over the top theatrical costumes, a variety of haunted houses and corn mazes.
  • 2 Bates Motel (Philadelphia)
    www.thebatesmotel.com
    For more than 20 years, Bates Motel 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.
  • 1 13th Floor Haunted House / The Asylum Haunted House (Denver)
    www.getscared.com
    Buildings rarely have a 13th floor and this Denver haunted house aims to explain why. Its companion haunted attraction, The Asylum, is described as a damp and musty place infested with spiders, rats, snakes, and the endless screams of the tortured souls.”

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