Even though I keep a paper journal for this stuff, I still like to have a list here on my blog for easy access in case I forget just how much I absolutely hated a certain haunt or which one had the hot Michael Myers. You know how it is. I realize this is way late, but you know…I do what I can, OK?!
- Freddy’s Haunts in Aliquippa: I’ve had a lot of fun at this one in the past, but my last several trips out there have basically ended with one loud Sad Tuba. This past go-around, my friend Jess and I got stuck going through with a horrible group of middle school-aged girls (there were at least 15 of them and they were total fuckerbrats). We went on a Saturday night and it was absolutely dead, no pun intended. Even the chainsaw guy was apathetic and no one bothered to scare me and Jess at all because the few volunteers who actually showed up that night were too busy fucking with the teenagers. It was a total let-down and I’m officially writing Freddy’s off for the rest of forever. That’s $12 I can spend somewhere else. When I was telling Henry about how annoying those teenaged girls were, I realized, mid-sentence, that “Holy shit, I just walked through a haunted house with 15 mini-Erins.”
- Haunted Hills Hayride in N. Versailles: This one is so fucking hit-or-miss. I went last year and it was ridiculously fun. This year, we went on a night where it had been raining, so the trail was closed and only some of the hayride “exhibits” were in play. Laura, Janna, Chooch and I went back a week later to cash in our trail raincheck and it was just downright lousy. Just like the hayride, there were a bunch of stations along the trail that we just walked right on past because no one was there. And then some Yinzer bitch in the group with us started a fight over FLIP FLOPS with our equally-as-Yinzerish guide and it was just a real white trash display of awkwardness. So awful, and then Laura was all, “THIS IS THE WORST EVER THANKS FOR BRINGING US HERE, ERIN.” No, thank YOU, Haunted Hills Hayride, for making me look like an asshole in front of my friends!
- Hundred Acres Manor: Granted, this is one of the haunts that every Pittsburgh publication collectively jizzes on themselves over, but it’s mostly worth it. They do load up on a lot of the cop-out animatronics that I hate so much, and there is also a lot of dead space, but it is mostly super entertaining and LONG. You get your money’s worth for sure in this one. The first part (it’s split up into several themes) has always been my favorite. The actors in that section are incredibly made-up and take their characters to the extreme, and the décor is like fucking eye candy for weirdos like me. (They have a doll room, you guys. And I want to live in it.) This one gets super crowded so I always always always go on a Sunday, and I have even gone on Wednesday nights after work in the past. This one could easily suck if you end up going through on a busy night with a group of 20.
- Castle Blood: Still one of the most intelligent and entertaining haunted houses ever. It’s like a show and a haunted house for the price of one! We always have so much fun here, and I credit it as the haunt that immersed Chooch into the whole Halloween scene. I love that some place I’ve been going to since I was 16 has become a family tradition.
- Terror Town: Total waste of that prime for-real-haunted real estate. This joint was so fantastic in its inaugural year (2011) but then they quit caring about the theatrics I guess and resorted to lots of dead space and a few mediocre volunteers. Maybe I just went on an off-night….two years in a row. And then one of their “actors” posted a shitty, classless comment on a mutual friend’s Facebook status about how “volunteering” and that pretty much drove the nail into the coffin for me. I wipe my hands of thee, Terror Town. At least now I’ll have more room in my schedule now for an out-of-town haunted house.
- Rich’s Fright Farm: OMG OMG OMG I hadn’t been here since I was in high school and it was on a seriously awkward date so I have blocked this place out of my mind since 1996. But since I had some weeknights off in October, Janna and I decided to check this one out on a Wednesday night. I know for a fact that Rich’s get PACKED on the weekends, so we really made a wise choice because the line was super short and we were on the hayride within 30 minutes or so, after Janna spent 10 of those minutes attempting to take a group photo of the two couples in front of us. (Not like, from behind a bush or anything. They asked her to take their picture.) Long story short, this was the most expensive haunt I went to this year but it was entirely worth it. I screamed so loud a few times that I HURT MY BACK. I think that means I’m officially old. It took about an hour to do the hayride (which was on a wagon-thingie that didn’t have any sides so our legs were dangling and I was so scared that Janna was going to roll me over a cliff for all of the horrible blog posts I’ve written about her), and then all of the walk-thrus, which included maybe the most frustrating maze ever where I lost my fake-boyfriend du jour. Oh and we got to go down a huge tunnel slide which deposited us right smack in a courtyard of dead Victorian women waltzing with each other. This was definitely in my top 5 of the season and now I’m really excited to go back next year, only I won’t wear boots that are meant to be slippers.
- Scaremare: Shit you guys, this one hit really close to my heart because it was so fucking OLD SCHOOL. Chooch, Henry and I went through with a group of 4 people and they were extremely pleasant as far as strangers in a haunted house go. Some of the actors were kind of (hilariously) off their game, but to me that’s all part of the experience! I love laughing in a haunted house. And we were ALL in a very WTF state from the get-go. There were even several moments where I found myself wondering for real if I was going to get hurt, and there was one part where we all had to crawl through a padded pitch-dark tunnel. It had a loose “Depression-era gangster” theme and was even housed in an old bank building, so I really enjoyed that aspect of it too, plus the fact that our 1920’s-dressed guide was totally cute. The very last part was a pitch-black maze that everyone was supposed to walk through alone (Henry literally cut in front of everyone while we hemmed and hawed and proceeded to disappear through the doorway, thanks for the support Henry). The guide let Chooch and me go together, probably because he didn’t want to be responsible for psychologically damaging a 7-year-old. We were the last in line, so it gave me a chance to totally schmooze him by telling him how much I enjoyed Scaremare. I HOPE HE DREAMT OF ME THAT NIGHT. Anyway, after Chooch and I emerged from the darkness, we walked into a small room with blinding white light and an angel, and that’s when it dawned on me that this was a fucking religious haunted house. Everyone else from our group was in there too, and the angel told us to choose either the lightness or darkness, and literally every single one of us went out the “darkness” door. She seemed really disappointed. I liked this one so much that I actually kind of wanted to go back, but there were still too many others that I needed to visit.
- Sewickley United Methodist Haunted Basement: Chooch’s review pretty much covered it all, but I still wanted to give them a shout-out. It’s so much fun! Total pandemonium and there was definitely a man dressed as a dead Vanna White in one of the rooms, and a babydoll hanging from a tree. I also got Silly String’d in the mouth, since my mouth is ALWAYS OPEN! Even Henry showed some sign of life by LAUGHING. We tried to get Janna to go with us but she was all, “Blah blah blah I just got a new kitten and can’t leave him alone!” Lame Janna’s lame.
- Cheeseman’s Fright Farm: I thought this one was just so/so. I’ve had a lot of fun there in the past, but the actually walk-through seemed kind of rushed and lackluster. Chooch and Laura really liked it though. The scariest part for me was when I was the ONLY ONE who walked through the stupid birth canal thing and I slipped when I was halfway through and almost fell and would have happened then!!? WHO KNOWS?! I had a mild panic attack because I hate those things so much but they’re even worse when no one else is in there with you helping to push through. I wouldn’t mind axing this one from my list.
- Ghost Lake: OMG this night was so much fun. So it was me, Chooch, Henry and Janna; luckily we got our tickets through a local BOGO site because they were $25, which was actually worth it considering it took us about 3 hours of my non-stop screaming to get through all of the attractions. Our local amusement park, Kennywood, converts to a haunted attraction every fall, but I would gladly eschew that one and drive two hours to the half-defunct Conneaut Lake Park. There were 13 different haunted attractions!! And they were mostly all set-up in abandoned houses around the premises, and the actors were allowed to touch us! IT WAS SO EROTIC. I thought the park employees did a bang-up job keeping the lines moving at a good pace and the whole thing was pretty organized. You had to go through each attraction in order, so there wasn’t too much mass confusion going on. Again, Chooch’s review was pretty spot-on, but I just wanted to add that my favorite part was trying to close Janna inside one of those stupid inflatable birthing tunnel things that I hate so much. (Is there even an official term for those bullshit props?) And when she tripped when we were walking to the next attraction and I mocked her, as usual, and then proceeded to twist my ankle. One of the attractions had FOAM IN IT YOU GUYS! So that was novel. The only one I thought was lame was the Vampire’s Lair, which one of my friends pointed out was spelled “Liar” on the ticket and I didn’t even notice at the time so that’s a good sign that we were having lots of fun. We skipped out on the 13th attraction, whcih was actually just a ride on Conneaut’s rickety-as-fuck wooden coaster. Good thing too because apparently several people sustained facial injuries on it that night. Anyway, I can’t wait to go back again next year oh my goddddddd. Even stone-faced Henry was like, “That was fun.”
- Grimm Manor: You know how we’re members of the Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts Club? (THAT NEVER GETS OLD!!) Well, our fearless DAFE prez, Rick Davis, has a home haunt in Vienna, Ohio. It’s only an hour or so away, so we decided to pair that one up with Ghoul Mansion in Sharon, PA. Rick turned his entire front yard into a cemetery, complete with movable figures straight out of dark rides! It was so vintage-y and wonderful that we lingered alongside the fence for a few minutes just admiring it all. The haunt itself was free, short and sweet. Very entertaining, though! It impresses me so much when people literally turn their home into a haunt. (I mean, look at Castle Blood!)
- Ghoul Mansion: Chooch and I already wrote about this here and here. This was only my second time visiting GM, but it was in my Top 5 for the season, seriously. They’re such assholes, but in the best possible scare-actor way.
- Demon House: I don’t know why I thought this would be a fine haunted house to take Chooch to. It’s fucking scary! Especially the upstairs of the house—I kept looking over at Chooch, expecting him to be in tears, but he held it together way better than I did. I just kept nervously laughing because I didn’t want him to start mimicking my own fear. There was one part where some asshole guy told us we had to play hide and seek and then yelled for us to run and if I had grown up with an alcoholic dad, that PROBABLY would have given me terrible flashbacks of repressed memories. Anyway, we ran straight into a hallway that had all those old, heavy clothes hanging in it—I couldn’t breathe in there and all these bloody people were screaming at us to run and I wanted to cry especially because JANNA was in front and she was literally moseying along like we weren’t potentially about to get slaughtered. Thanks, Janna. The last part of the house was a day-glo Alice in Wonderland theme and I really loved it but it wasn’t scary. Then we hung out for a little bit afterward and watched some of “Ghostbusters” on the movie screen outside while Chooch and Janna drank their hot beverages like elderly people and Chooch almost left behind his stupid stuffed dog, which miraculously made it through the entire haunted house under Chooch’s jacket, and then the dumbass sets it down on a picnic table afterward and walks away. Then I missed a turn on the way home and we ended up on some un-lit backroad with a truck tailgating us and Chooch almost started to cry. The end.
- Cavern of the Dead: Henry and I were going to go to the Trundle Manor halloween party on this night, but I was feeling grumpy and VERY anti-social, also totally lazy in regards to putting together a costume. So instead we decided to go to dinner and a haunted house, but since it was November 2, our options were limited. Then I saw that Cavern of the Dead in Wampum, PA was still open and I thought Henry was going to be all, “THAT IS TOO FAR AWAY AND ALSO TOO EXPENSIVE. YOU AREN’T WORTH THAT.” But instead he was like, “Whatever you want to do” which I’ve learned over the years is his canned response when he’s losing all will to live. Since it was kind of far away though, I decided that we should just go to Sheetz and get sandwiches to go, so Henry started driving down all of these scary, dark roads and god forbid I had the nerve to ask him a question and this is how that panned out: Me: “WHERE ARE WE?!”
Henry: “DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. JUST SIT IN THE CAR & SHUT UP.” Thank god he actually was just taking me to Sheetz though and then he pouted because he apparently wanted to go to a real restaurant but didn’t say anything so he ended up not eating dinner that night, boo hoo. Anyway, Cavern of the Dead was amazing. I even accidentally found something online that said if I liked their Facebook page, I could get a FREE ticket for that night, so it only cost us $20 instead of food for the week! And there was only one other couple there, so we waited in approximately zero lines. Cavern of the Dead is literally in a mine, and it was really wet and muddy in there from all the rain we’d been getting, thank god I was wearing my WHITE TOMS. Anyway, I feel like this one wouldn’t have been scary at all if it had been a busy night, but since we were alone, I screamed like a bitch through the whole thing. Then a zombie made me hug him. We got to ride on some kind of mine bus thing that took us even further into the mine AND THEN SHUT THE LIGHTS OFF OMG even Henry was whimpering. Blah blah blah, there was a really frustrating hallway of doors that were all dead ends and some girl kept singing, “No, over here! You’re going the wrong way!” and Henry was all, “I hope she wasn’t 13 because I bumped into her boobs a lot of times.” Then Henry asked me to marry him on the way home and I said sure.
And that sums up the 2013 Haunted House Experience. Ciao for now.