The jack-o-lanterns are coming out, rubber masks are stocking store shelves, and even the most timid among us are looking for a bit of that frightful Halloween spirit. When it comes to giving attendees an experience they won’t forget, what could be better than embracing the season? Halloween Productions President Larry Kirchner, a renowned haunted house designer and founder of Haunt World, has released his list for this year’s scariest haunted houses. From New York to Utah, each is only a short trip from some of the country’s best meeting venues.
Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses, Ulster Park, New York
Nestled in upstate New York, Ulster Park might seem like a nice little town. But with the Headless Horseman’s seven haunted houses, corn maze, escape rooms, and a full 65 acres to roam, it’s more than enough to scare even the most jaded attendee. Fewer than 20 miles to the south is none other than the Victorian castle resort of Mohonk Mountain House. Surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest, the retreat includes 14 meeting rooms that total 10,000 sq. ft. of event space.
Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses
Field of Screams, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
With multiple attractions, including an asylum and a whole haunted forest called Nocturnal Wasteland, Lancaster has plenty to offer with Field of Screams. The experience is marking 26 years of scaring people in eastern Pennsylvania. Lancaster also delivers where it counts in event spaces. The Lancaster County Convention Center, in the heart of downtown, has 299 rooms and 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Field of Screams
The Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinnati, Ohio
What’s scarier than a haunted house? According to The Dent Schoolhouse, it’s a haunted house built inside a potentially haunted school. With almost 300 jack-o-lanterns and an array of 1950s-era Halloween decorations, nostalgia is the name of the scare. Meanwhile, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza has an old school glamor of its own. And it comes with 40,000 sq. ft. of event space and 591 rooms.
The Dent Schoolhouse
13th Gate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
For those looking for a more Southern Gothic flavor, 13th Gate is renowned for its realism and includes a trek through actual Louisiana swampland and a house of voodoo. Back safe in civilization, Baton Rouge also features Baton Rouge Capital Center. Overlooking the Mississippi River, the historic hotel has 291 guest rooms, and 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Meanwhile, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza has an old school glamor of its own. And it comes with 40,000 sq. ft. of event space and 591 rooms.
Netherworld, Atlanta, Georgia
Another frightful Southern experience is Netherworld, where attractions span mummies to an alien virus. There is even a museum of monsters and movie props. In nearby downtown, you’ll find luxurious, 444-room The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, with 17,000 sq. ft. of event space. There is also skyline-defining The Westin Peachtree Plaza and its 80,000 sq. ft. of event space. At 73 floors, it ranks among the tallest hotels in the Western Hemisphere.
Nightmare on 13th, Salt Lake City, Utah
For nearly 30 years, Nightmare on 13th has been scaring Salt Lake City, and this year they are taking a page out of Lovecraftian horror to do it. With its Cthulhu-inspired central attraction, Nightmare on 13th is a bit different from the usual Halloween fare. Likewise, Salt Palace Convention Center is in a league of its own, as well. A renovated, modern facility, it delivers more than 500,000 sq. ft. of event space in the center of Salt Lake City.
Nightmare on 13th
Haunted Schoolhouse & Laboratory, Akron, Ohio
From spooky librarians to mutated scientists, Haunted Schoolhouse & Laboratory runs the gamut for deep-seated fears. This year introduces Beer Before Fear, an attraction meant to steady your nerves. Akron features John S. Knight Center, a convention center with 28,000 sq. ft. of event space and a rooftop patio. The Center also has an in-house culinary team.
Haunted Schoolhouse & Laboratory
Bennett’s Curse, Baltimore, Maryland
Though boasting four different haunted houses, Bennett’s Curse also pushes to give visitors something more. The unique offerings range from laser-tag to in-haunted-house scavenger hunts. At the same time, Baltimore provides hotels including The Grand Baltimore, a luxury hotel and meeting venue built in 1866. Beautifully restored, it includes 45,000 sq. ft. of event space.
Haunted Overload, Lee, New Hampshire
Set in a fitfully spooky New England forest, Haunted Overload is entirely outdoors and packs in everything from Victorian-style abandoned buildings to a horrifying circus. Just a half-hour’s drive to the coast brings guests to Portsmouth, where Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel features classical, exposed brick architecture. It offers 193 guest rooms and 13,788 sq. ft. of event space.
Erebus, Pontiac, Michigan
Time travel and a bit of insanity headline the show as Erebus introduces guests to the morally dubious experiments of a scientist who is overjoyed to have found a source of ready and willing guinea pigs wandering through his lab. At four stories, Erebus was the longest walk-through attraction in the world when it opened in 2000. Elsewhere in Pontiac, attendees will find venues such as Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac, with 11 event rooms and 21,567 sq. ft. of space.
Hell’s Gate, Lockport, Illinois
The adventure begins by shuttling guests into the woods. From there, a cemetery, a mansion, and even dragon-infested caves await. But if you can make it to the end and find the key to seal Hell’s gate, your ticket is free. Lockport sits an hour outside of Chicago, where there is no shortage of top-notch venues. 360 Chicago, for instance, offers roughly 10,000 sq. ft. of space and delivers awe-inspiring views from 94th floor of John Hancock Center.
The Darkness, St. Louis, Missouri
Celebrating its 25th year, The Darkness prides itself not only on being a great walk-through experience, but also having the newest technology to heighten the terror, including more than 200 animations and digital effects. Also downtown is America’s Center Convention Complex. Four meeting venues in one, the center has more than 500,000 sq. ft. of event space in 80 meeting rooms.
Bayville Scream Park, Bayville, New York
A full-featured amusement park with restaurants, bars, mini-golf and six different haunted houses, you may need more than one day to experience all the chills and thrills. On the northern shore of Long Island, Bayville is a quick trip from New York City, and is also within easy reach of locations and venues all around the region. Keeping it local could mean hosting a meeting at rustic, yet opulent Larkfield Manor. Situated in the town of East Northport, it includes 15,000 sq. ft. of event space between four meeting rooms.