• Sarah E. Mason

The Scare Zone: Best Haunted Houses & Halloween Attractions 2019

Salem, Massachusetts

It's that time again! The best time, if you're anything like me and love Halloween and the entire Fall season. With so much information out there we decided to vet some of the ones that consistently make the top lists to see if they are as good as they say they are. We visited 20 of top rated Haunted Houses in America and narrowed the list down based on 10 specific criteria:

  1. Creativity and Atmosphere

  2. Production Design

  3. Immersive & Technology

  4. Organization

  5. Performances

  6. Wait time & Jump the Line

  7. Additional Offerings & Food/Beverage

  8. Overall Experience & VIP Packages

  9. Price and Value

  10. Scare Meter - How scary is it really?

  11. Honorable mention criteria: Cool back story! Who are the owners, what's the history of the attraction.

Here they are!

Haunted Overload, Lee, NH

Haunted Overload is simply one of the most creative and unique haunted attractions in America. Located on the DeMeritt Hill Farm on Route 155 in Lee NH, it has been consistently voted one of the top haunted attractions in the country and in 2014 won the grand prize on America’s Great Halloween Fright Fight on ABC. The show has twice been voted one of the top 13 haunted attractions in the country. Focusing on quality over quantity, Haunted Overload is all about giving attendees the ultimate Halloween experience at an affordable price. Nowhere else can you see huge monsters looming over the crowd, some as tall as 34 feet. The authentic farm location provides the perfect backdrop for the hundreds of lighted pumpkins and movie quality sets. Most of the one of a kind props are designed and created by founder Eric Lowther.

The haunt is changed and expanded each year to give the patron something new and exciting to experience. The night time haunt, while artistically done is extremely scary and parental discretion is advised for younger or sensitive children. We are also open many days during daylight hours with no actors for the whole family to enjoy the stunning detail of the haunt at their own pace. Check the schedule page for dates and times of the daylight walkthroughs.

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? No but...

They do not have Jump the Line or VIP passes but they are incredibly well organized and the waiting process is streamlined and painless. Also, they offer several different options for those who do not what the big scares but do want the cool spooky atmosphere of New England at Halloweentime.


Field of Screams, Mountville, PA

Boasting four world-class Haunted Experiences including; Horrifying Haunted Hayride, Den of Darkness and Frightmare Asylum haunted house, and the Nocturnal Wasteland, haunted woods attraction, Field of Screams is one of the most atmospheric haunts in America. More than 100,000 people each season flock to the farm in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Brothers Jim and Gene Schopf started the attraction in 1992 as a Haunted Hayride through the back fields of their family farm. The entire family, mom, dad, wives and kids all work on the attraction for the season. In addition to the four scare zones an entertainment area offers live music, games and giveaways and 5 minute escape rooms.

Extreme Blackout Night, is the highlight of Field of Screams. The lighting scaled back and the intensity level cranked up to 11 for a terrifying end ot the season. It’s not recommended for those under the age of 18. Since it’s usually a sell-out, buying tickets in advance is suggested.

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? Yes Jump the Line.

The Scream Pass covers all 4 attractions. For an additional $10 you can by a VIP Upgrade to jump the line.


Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses - Ulster Park, N.Y.

Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses in its 26th season, is a theatrical, scripted experiential attraction. Located in the heart of the haunted Hudson Valley region of New York State The setting is an eighteenth-century historic manor that was originally a horse exchange tavern circa 1793. The themes and haunts are different every year and include the main theatrical hayride and corn maze, 8 additional haunted attractions, 5 eateries, 4 gift shops, and year round Headless Horseman Escape Rooms.

It encompasses 65 acres of orchards, gentle rolling hills, woodlands, ponds, barns, and outbuildings featuring unusual monsters, amazing illusions, stunning special FX, unique and original costumes, makeup, animations and frightening detail created by their sister company American Made Monster Studios. What makes Headless Horseman so great is the committed cast and theatrical nature of the experience. You feel like you are part of the narrative which makes it all the more frightening.

In addition to the 10 attractions, Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses also offers the following:

  • Eateries - Croaked Crow Cafe, Deadly Donuts, Witch Hazels, Coffee Cauldron, and Evil Eatery

  • Gift shops - Scareware, Fear Gear, Magic Moon Gift Shop, and Photo Shop

  • Headless Horseman Escape Rooms (Headlesshorsemanescaperooms.com)

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? Yes jump the line.

For an additional $25 you can buy a Scream Pass allowing you to jump the line which is a huge advantage on very busy nights.

Children's Day dates for 2019 are scheduled for 11:30am to 3:00pm on October 12th and 26th, with respective rain dates of October 13th and 27th.


Queen Mary Dark Harbor, Long Beach, CA

Regarded as one of the most haunted places on Earth, the Queen Mary’s haunted history makes for the perfect atmosphere for its annual Dark Harbor haunted attractions. Dark Harbor boasts six blood-curdling mazes, multiple stages and one-of-a-kind haunt experiences to explore.

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? Yes several VIP experiences.

The Ultimate Scream Experience starts at $209 and includes General Admission to Dark Harbor, RIP Lounge Passport (includes access to the R.I.P Lounge with all-you-can-eat taco bar & two (2) drink tickets, a guided group tour through Dark Harbor and all its mazes and Evil Express Pass to jump the lines.

There will be a limited VIP offering on Oct. 11, 18, 25, and 31, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. The event’s opening ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Attendees will mingle with monsters for photo ops, go beyond the regular guest experience and sit in on a Q&A session with the producer of Dark Harbor on the event’s mazes, monsters, and ghost stories. After the VIP cocktail hour, a private escort will lead guests to an exclusive patio area to watch a behind-the-scenes viewing of the haunt’s opening ceremony. Guests will then get Evil Express passes to all six mazes.

For $160 you can purchase a Combo Pass to see Master Magician and Apparitionist Aiden Sinclair presents: Illusions of the Passed; Legends of the Queen Mary, A Theatrical Séance! After the show you will receive expedited access to The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor on the same night with a private escort and direct entry into the R.I.P. Lounge, bypassing the admission line.


NETHERWORLD, Stone Mountain, Georgia

Since 1997 NETHERWORLD Haunted House has been rated as one of the Top Haunted Houses in the Nation. Situated on almost 10 acres with over 70,000 square feet, NETHERWORLD is one of most incredible haunted attractions you will ever experience. Created by film and television professionals, NETHERWORLD is also notable for its custom movie quality special effects, amazing actors, unique themes, and extremely detailed sets. In addition to the haunts, the complex has three escape rooms, a museum of monsters and movie props, meeting spaces, a gift shop and lots and lots of free parking.

The animotronics stand out. The fast pass really works it's about a 5 minute wait.

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? Yes, jump the line and time reserved tickets.

SpeedPasses are limited quantity, premium priced tickets with the shortest waiting time, in many cases allowing immediate access to their maze the NIGHT OF THE GORGON. Enter at the front of the building and after exiting the first haunt, you will make your way through the midway to the SpeedPass line for our second haunt, COLD BLOODED. Your purchase of a SpeedPass includes admission to both attractions AND accelerated entry.


13th Gate, Baton Rouge, LA

The 13th Gate is a 40,000 square foot haunted house in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From crawling though a crematory oven and an old hearse to being lost in dark underground tunnels or even finding yourself standing on a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes, the extreme ultra-realism of this attraction will scare the wits out of you. Run by the owner of the adjacent CarnEvil Escape Rooms, the 13th Gate's set design, effects and make up combined with all-in actors make you feel like you have been unwittingly transported into the plot of a scary movie. The attraction features a real snake-infested Louisiana Swamp, nightly voodoo shows, claustrophobic cellars, hidden subterranean passages and a prehistoric ice cave. 13th Gate ain't for sissies, it is truly terrifying. Anyone pregnant, with a heart condition, or easily scared should skip it. If you can handle it, this is one of the ultimate haunts in the US and our pick for #1.

VIP Experience or Jump the Line? Yes - Jump the Line

13th Gate offers several different VIP options. VIP for $55 gives you immediate access to the 13th Gate Haunted House and allows you to skip all of the outside lines. The Ultimate VIP which gives you the immediate access plus 3 CarnEvil escape games of your choice. There's also options for escape games and VR alone as well as non VIP combo ticket and escape rooms.


Favorite Spooky Attraction: Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery, Salem, MA

With continuous yearly additions, this unique cinematic wax museum is like no other attraction. Boasting over 60 life-sized professionally made characters by over 35 Hollywood effects artists, Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery and Haunted house tops our list of favorite Halloween Attractions. Owner/Curator James Lurgio gave The Harold & Maudecast a personalized tour of his fabulous gallery (LISTEN). The gallery recently moved its location to the center of all the Haunted Happening festivites to 217 Essex Street. You'll see one of a kind creations of both classic and modern horror figures and get to meet some special guests like Tony Moran, the original face of Michael Myers in the 1978 film. They also have a small but scary annual Haunted House during Salem's Haunted Happenings.

The Nightmare Gallery is truly one of the COOLEST museums in the world--a must see for horror and sci-fi fans and it is the best value for your buck ANYWHERE.


Stay tuned to our Blog & The Harold & Maudecast throughout this Halloween season for more Haunted fun!

#halloween #hauntedhouses #hauntedattractions #tophauntedhouses2019