(Lonnie Timmons III)
Here's our annual rundown of Northeast Ohio's premier haunted attractions. This year we profile: Akron Haunted School House and Laboratory, Bloodview Haunted House, Carnival of Horros at Blossom Music Center, Factory of Terror, The Fear Experience, Haunted Theatre Tours at Workshop Players, Hauntville, Hiram House Camp Pumpkin Fest and Haunted Hay Maze, Hudson Haunted House, Lake Eerie Fearfest, Light Up the Living Dead at Mapleside Farms, Nightmare in the Wilderness, 7 Floors of Hell and SpookyRanch at the Rockin-R Ranch.
Halloween is a far different holiday from the one celebrated when I grew up. In the 1970s, there were a lot of makeshift costumes and heavy implementation of Mom's underutilized make-up. And the pillowcase from your bed (mine was the classic 1977 Star Wars design that Pottery Barn just reissued) was your loot bag.
It was a simpler time — not the multi-billion-dollar industry Halloween has morphed into over the years.
Today, Halloween regalia is big business, one breathing down the neck of Christmas, Easter and Independence Day as a profitable treasure chest.
Proof? Walk into any big box store in August, and witness "back-to-ghoul" scaring off "back-to-school."
Naturally, the haunted houses of yesteryear were set up around were similarly lo-tech shindigs. Like the movies from the era, the scare wasn't horror and gore; everything was wrapped up in the drama and suspense of what was implied. Black lights, sound effects, corn-syrup blood with food coloring was a bonus.
Local stops like Bloodview in Broadview Heights, Hauntville in Elyria, Akron's Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory, Hudson's Haunted House and others have upped the ante time and again — all in an effort to change with the crazed theatrics, Hollywood inspirations and video game nods of the times.
Today, there are active haunted events to go along with your houses. Animatronic beasts, paintball, zombies, demon clowns, lasers and live-action chainsaws (sans chains) are just the beginning of what you're likely to find.
And there are haunted mazes, forests, hayrides and alien landings if a schoolhouse feels too "routine" to you.
Here's our rundown of the premier Northeast Ohio haunted attractions: Bloodview. Hauntville. Nightmare in the Wilderness. Hudson Haunted House. Carnival of Horrors.... and much, much more. Expect the (un)expected. Keep watching... and not just here. But over your shoulder, too... Boo!
Chakerian is a freelance writer in Bay Village
The Picks (alphabetical in order):
Address: 1300 Triplett Blvd., Akron
Hours: Opens Friday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m., with hours Thursdays and Sundays from 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 p.m. Schedule maintained on website.
Tickets: They charge $13 for a "single haunt" on Thursdays and Sundays; $17 on Fridays and Saturdays. A combo ticket is priced at $22 on Thursdays and Sundays; $26 on Fridays and Saturdays. Discount coupons are available on their website. Credit cards are accepted. VIP passes available online.
Directions: Available from all points at hshlab.com.
The 411: The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory is an institution — literally and figuratively. In that literal sense, they've been scaring Northeast Ohio natives for more than 30 years, and regularly make best-of lists (like this one) because of their seven floors of scare. They employ plenty of actors, make-up artists and theatre majors from the area to build up the bloodcurdling fear. It's never for the faint of heart and too intense for kids under 7, so don't bring them. Bonus: indoor waiting area (where parents are encouraged to hang out), plenty of concessions and several of Akron's finest on-site.
Address: 1010 Towpath Trail, Broadview Heights
Hours: Opened Friday, Sept. 12. Runs until November 1. Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m. to midnight; Sundays 8 – 10 p.m.
Tickets: Unlimited all-night pass is $20.
Directions: Available from all points at bloodview.net/directions.
The 411: The "interactive haunted experience" has been scaring 'em silly for more than three decades. The Broadview Heights Lions and famed "Legion of Terror" improv horror troupe collaboration has long offered several attractions for one low price. This year, they're offering weekly themes, which encourages repeat customers who can't get enough of the garish guts, gore and fright! Themes range from "Escape the Asylum," "Nuclear Apocalypse," and "Sinister Sideshow," to weekend features on classic monsters, witches and zombies. At the end of the run, "All Hell Breaks Loose" (translation: a free-for-all of all the aforementioned themes.
Address: 1145 W. Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls
Hours: Opens Friday, Oct. 3 beginning 7:30 p.m. and runs on weekends until midnight (10 p.m. on Sundays) through Saturday, Nov. 1.
Tickets: Full Admission to all four attractions is $18 (with discount coupon). A "Speed Pass" for an extra fee puts you at the front of the line (a la Disneyland) for each section. No waiting! Discount coupons are available at participating retailer outlets (listed on the website).
Directions: Available from all points at carnivalofhorrors.com/directions.
The 411: Blossom Music Center rocks during the summer. But once the air chills, the concert venue transforms into a multi-faceted Carnival of Horrors. The decade-long Halloween tradition offers "The 3-D Freakshow in Terrorvision" (complete with a vortex tunnel), "The Fun House," "Insane Asylum Cage Maze" (which winds through a haunted psych ward) and a "Blair Witch"-like "Wicked Woods" comprise the Carnival. All this for one recession-buster price tag? Yep. That's why the Carnival gets all the props.
Address: 4125 N. Mahoning Dr., Canton
Hours: Opens starting Friday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. Comprehensive schedule of hours/days at fotohio.com/dates-hours.
Tickets: Limited time online special for advance tickets: $20. Regular admission: $26 at the door.
The 411: The Canton attraction is so epically long (55,000 square feet, roughly ¾ of a mile). It has held "The Longest Walk-Through Horror House" in the famed Guinness Book of World Records for two years. This lengthy, abandoned factory space offers a multitude of attractions — ranging from the "Portal to Insanity" (a fairly intense mirror maze) to an "Industrial Nightmare" and the mansion-based concept. The "Massacre in Mahoning" takes some inspiration from Stephen King's "The Shining." Think maximum scare per square inch for your dollar.
Address: 10701 Brookpark Rd., Parma
Hours: Opening Friday Sept. 19, starting at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours from 7 p.m. – midnight; Sundays from 7 – 10 p.m. Through Saturday, Nov. 1.
Tickets: Three different buying options: General Admission ($22), the "Fast Pass" for $32, and "Immediate Access" (read: jump the entire line to get in) for $42.
Directions: Available from all points at thefearexperience.com.
The 411: The Fear Experience is constantly packed. It regularly makes lists like this one for good reason. Last year, they made a huge investment in upgrades. This year, the Fear folks are back offering four haunted houses to roam (including a haunted county fair/circus and a zombie-infested estate). They are bringing back that freaky-deaky haunted coffin ride from last year: it's an interactive motion simulator/ride with special effects done INSIDE a real coffin! Night vision cameras mounted inside give your friends a voyeur's eye view of your freak-out inside... scary? Definitely. But not for claustrophobes!
Address: 44820 Middle Ridge Rd., Amherst
Hours: Saturday, Sept. 27, with "Investigations" launched at 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Tickets: $15 in advance (recommended, likely to sell out).
Directions: Available at workshopplayers.com.
The 411: You want something completely different to do this Halloween season? Check this: How about a supernatural "Amherst Guided Spirit Investigation" with The Amherst Workshop Players Theatre? It's described as a "ghost hunt," where attendees roam a haunted location with the paranormal team ORBS (Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits). They've worked on hundreds of cases and have been featured on television shows produced for Animal Planet, History Channel and Biography. All proceeds from the three events go to the restoration of the theatre.
Address: 1579 W. River Rd., Elyria
Hours: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; 7 p.m. - midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 7-midnight. on Friday, Oct. 31 (Halloween) and Saturday, Nov. 1.
Tickets: $24 ($4 off coupon available online on their website).
Directions: From all points at hauntville.net.
The 411: Hauntville boasts a lot of scare for your scratch, with five unique haunts to choose from — ranging from a haunted prison to a butcher's barn to a haunted Victorian mansion to a full-blown 3-D zombie paintball hunt. Yes, if you love that video game franchise, "The House of the Dead," you're gonna dig that section immensely. Oh, and there are some really creepy clowns. "Wicked Clowns in 4-D," to be precise. We're not going to divulge a whole lot else here, other than to say "smell-o-vision."
Address: 33775 Hiram Trail, Chagrin Falls
Hours: Sunday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets: Free for kids 12 and under. Adults $5. All-day wristbands, $20. Free parking and shuttle bus service to camp. Details at the Hiram House Camp website.
Directions: Map and directions at hiramhousecamp.org.
The 411: File this under "something completely different and extra-family-friendly." Hiram House Camp is one of the oldest camps in the nation, and the oldest in the Buckeye State. They throw a wicked-cool Pumpkin Festival every year, which draws thousands of families. This year, they're offering a Haunted Hay Maze and more to the beautiful, 170+-acre experience. OK, so it's not really a "haunt" in the true sense of the word, but look, foliage, games, food, and arts-and-crafts are great fun for any age.
Address: 2250 Barlow Rd. Hudson
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays 7:30 p.m. to Midnight, Sundays 7:30 – 10 p.m. Sunday matinees for little kids from noon – 4 p.m. Sept. 26-Nov. 1.
Tickets: General admission $12. $5 for those 48" under. Group rates available for parties of 20 or more.
Directions: Available from all points at hudsonjaycees.org/www/New_Site/Directions.html
The 411: Hudson is one of the area haunted scene's Elderstatesghouls. What has made them a master terrorizer over the years? They work as much with suspense as they do with shock and awe. Sometimes, what's implied is even scarier than what you see in other goopy gorefests elsewhere. The local Jaycees run the house, which is filled with creepy cretins, monsters, mazes and more. Don't misunderstand the description: Hudson is scary business and has been freaking people out for generations.
>Lake Eerie Fearfest featuring Ghostly Manor:
Address: 3319 Milan Rd. (aka US Rt. 250), Sandusky
Hours: Opening Friday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays 7:30 – 11:30 p.m.; Sundays 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Ghostly Manor only: $15. Multi-Fright Haunt Pass: $25. Thrill Pass: $35. Fast Pass: Add $10.
Directions: Available at lakeeeriefearfest.com/directions
The 411: There's a reason The Lake Eerie Fearfest has been featured on cable TV's Travel Channel: It's got something for everyone, and in every age group. Their award-winning Ghostly Manor (which brought Eerie to the small-screen) is the crown jewel in a compound that also features "Darkmare," "Caged," "Quarantine," "The Eerie Chateau," some cool 3-D blacklight mini-golf, movies and more. Yeah, it's a tad outside of the Northeast Ohio footprint, but if you're headed up to Cedar Point for "Halloweekends," you owe it to yourself to make this a stop on either side of the trip.
Address: 294 Pearl Rd., Brunswick
Hours: Starting Friday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. Runs from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; Sundays 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Through Saturday Nov. 1. In case of SELLOUT, closing will be extended to accommodate crowds.
Tickets: Start at $22 for "Zombie Paintball Experience." Additions for paint rounds available.
Directions: Available at lightupthelivingdead.com/contact.
The 411: Here's another one for that long-running video game franchise "House of the Dead" we mentioned. Join the "ZRF" (Zombie Resistance Force) and hunt down the undead in a haunted paintball adventure! Think action and adrenaline, "World War Z"-style (minus Brad Pitt). The storyline (set up on the website) is actually pretty sweet and well-thought out. Bonus points: if you're not into "lighting up the dead" in these zombie hunts, there's plenty of pumpkins, apples, a hayride and sweet treats to be had. You are at Mapleside Farms, after all.
Address: 7665 Lafayette Rd., Lodi
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays 7:30 p.m. to Midnight, Sept. 26 – Nov. 1
Tickets: Price: $17 for adults; $12 for children under ten ($12/$8 for repeat visits) Children under 5 are free. Cash only.
Directions: Available from all points at nightmareinthewilderness.net/directions.html
The 411: Start with a wild hayride out into the middle of nowhere, followed by a 45-minute hike on the cleverly nicknamed "Psycho Path" (filled with creepers, demons, monsters and the crazed) where the chase-and-scare is long. Is it any wonder that this event has doubled in size over the last several years and draws from outside the state? This outdoor extravaganza is more than merely haunted; it's a rollicking good time, like being trapped in a good horror-suspense film. At the end of this Medina County treasure, the Apple Cabin hooks you up with the requisite fall treats and (our personal favorite) "retro candy."
Address: 19191 Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights
Hours: Starts Friday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. – midnight. Through Saturday, Nov. 1.
Tickets: General admission: $25. Speed passes for a few dollars more. Group rates available.
Directions: Available at 7floorsofhell.com/directions.htm.
The 411: Named one of the scariest haunted attractions in the country, the multi-award-winning "7 Floors of Hell" spreads fear and fright across several different spaces, and organizers there are careful not to repeat themselves with a wide variety of scares. It's a different ball (house?) of wax every year and this time out, it's a "World of Nightmares" which boasts 10 (count them) haunted houses to cruise through, along with what they're dubbing a "Monster Midway."
Address: 19066 E. River Rd., (SR 252), Columbia Station
Hours: Open starting Friday, September 26 through Saturday, Nov. 1. Fridays and Saturdays 7 - 11:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Sundays 7 - 9:30 p.m.
Tickets:"The Extreme Package" gains one access to all five of the scary attractions for $20; varying prices for other combinations thereto. Buying tickets in advance through the website gives you the line-jumper experience. Group rates are also available.
Directions: Available from all points at spookyranch.com/directions
The 411: Hauntworld.com ranked the Spooky Ranch at the Rockin-R-Ranch as one of the best haunts of 2012. Like many of their contemporaries, they have five different attractions/zones, including a Haunted Barn, Hayride and Funhouse — and for the littles who might not be into the scares, the organizers offer up a good ol' fashioned "Old West Pumpkin Fest" during the day. "Bloody Mary's Haunted Revenge" and the ever-popular "Crazy Clowns in 3-D" are among the highlights this year.
Chakerian is a freelance writer in Bay Village
Source : https://www.cleveland.com/haunted/2014/09/halloween_haunted_house_guide.html