Imagine walking down a wooded path in the cool crisp autumn air while enjoying seasonal treats like pumpkin pie, hot pumpkin donuts, and apple cider. Now imagine the path is lined with the most incredible display of carved pumpkins you’ve ever seen. This exists.
It’s called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and it is a truly glorious display of pumpkin carving complete with its own original soundtrack. This family friendly event is appropriate for all ages and is spooky without being scary. The twinkling pumpkin art ranges from Frankenstein and spooky faces to large scale dinosaurs. The pumpkin carvings are gorgeous and you can eat pumpkin pie while you admire them. It just doesn’t get better than that.
Everyone should see The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at least once. It is an incredible autumn celebration worthy of becoming an annual family tradition.
October 3 – November 1
Adults: $20.00 – $25.00 | Children 3 – 17: $16.00 – $20.00 | Children Under 3: Free
Long Island’s Gateway Playhouse produces one of the best haunted houses in the country. With a new theme every year, it is always fresh, exciting and innovative.
For the 2013 season, they combined dark fairy tales and creepy circus themes to create “The Grimling Family Travelling Circus.” The unusual combination was their finest and most detailed haunt yet.
The amount of sensory detail is astounding. The journey is covered with uneven and moving walkways, electric sparks, pungent smells, and spectacular visuals. The superb costumes and makeup help the talented actors create an environment straight out of your worst nightmare.
Gateway also succeeds in creating the party environment that so many haunts are trying to achieve. There is an outdoor bar and food trucks to enjoy while you wait to enter the haunt. Their brilliant ticketing system limits wait time, so patrons can enjoy food, drink, and roaming characters and entertainers.
Gateway Playhouse has once again created a brilliantly theatrical haunt. It is visually stunning and scary as hell. Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse is a MUST SEE. You will not be disappointed. Their 2014 season begins September 26th! We can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this year.
What is Nyctophobia? Nyctophobia began as a haunted house and has grown into its own unique brand of immersive promenade theater. Every year it is completely different. We had the pleasure of visiting Nyctophobia in 2011 for its brick and mortar haunted house beginnings. (Read our review of Nyctophobia 2011.)
When we returned in 2012 for their invite-only event, we were thrilled to discover that Nyctophobia had become a story driven immersive theater experience. You had to enter alone and play an active part in the story. This required problem solving and following directions as a rookie investigator of a company called LI Ghosts, that was looking into the disappearance of a young girl. After an initial job interview, you were blindfolded and transported to an actual motel where a detective explained the case and directed you to the crime scene. Different motel rooms were used to create flashbacks and show you what had happened to the missing girl and a mysterious entity encountered in the restroom forcefully gave instructions on how to avoid a similar fate. A highlight was trying to steal a key from around then neck of a sleeping man. When he awoke, he chased you into the parking lot where the detective screamed for you to jump into a van to be whisked back to safety. There’s nothing like running for your life amongst complete strangers.
For 2013, Nyctophobia became a 4 person team experience. Each team drove to a starting location and then with the aide of clues and a map made their way to four nearby locations. Each location provided a piece of the story and your team had to put the clues together to figure out what happened. The various locations included a ghost photographer by the side of the road, a car abandoned near train tracks, a campsite in the woods, and a corpse dumped near a lake. A highlight was running through the woods trying not to attract the attention of blind zombie-like monsters. We encountered a little confusion trying to finding locations and debating clues with teammates, but overall we had a great time.
Nyctophobia continues to be one of the most unique haunted attractions in New York. Creator, Eric Striffler isn’t afraid to take risks and the ever-changing format is exciting and full of imagination. The interactive element combined with the fact that the actors can touch you makes for an unnerving and spine chilling experience. We can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2014.
Nightmare Haunted House celebrates its 10th year in New York City with Nightmare: KILLERS 2, a continuation of Tim Haskell and Steve Kopelman’s smash hit serial killer haunted house. Killers 2 features a new cast of real and fictional mass murderers. The new lineup is joined by a few holdovers from last season. If you’re feeling brave, volunteer to be marked with a bloody “X” and be touched and manhandled by the cast of psychopaths. New for 2013, is the Dos Equis – sponsored Killer Stage Acts. Every hour a new performer takes the stage to entertain those waiting in line. During our visit, we watched a masked woman play creepy horror movie underscoring on the violin.
Is It Scary?
According to the Official Website: “Yes. This isn’t a theme park ride. The whole purpose is to scare you. We have worked long and hard to create the most horrifying experience possible. Get ready for your adrenaline fix.”
Our run in with Harrison Graham was particularly shocking. Make sure to read up on him before you go. We also enjoyed getting hit on by coked up psychopath Patrick Bateman. His twisted compliments are to die for. Other highlights include an opening warning from a parent, a room with three doors and a brain splattering surprise.
The detailed sets and costumes are appropriately disturbing and a creepy soundtrack of original music by Chris Thomas completes each scene perfectly.
What Could Be Better
We loved encountering Patrick Bateman and his blood splattered business cards, so the next day I tried calling the phone number printed on the card. I was hoping that it would lead to a voicemail message of Patrick Bateman yelling over chainsaw background noise. I was disappointed when a generic operator announced “your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system…”
We loved last year’s Lizzie Borden ending and wish that Killers 2 had a bigger final scare to chase you out of the haunt.
Killers 2 offers a second dose of real-life horror that is just as deadly as the first.
Nightmare: Killers 2 Runs
September 27 – November 2
Timed Ticketing: $30.00 Online | $35.00 At The Door
VIP (Front of the line access): $50.00 Online | $60.00 At The Door
$20 Student Rush Tickets Available 1 Hour Prior to Listed Start Times.
Service Men and Women Night (Military, Policeman, Firefighter, EMT, ect.): Thurs., October 10th – Flash your Badge to get $10 Off All Night Long.
50% Off Timed Ticketing & VIP Tickets – Click Here!
Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 10 will be admitted.
I attended a preview of BLACKOUT: elements on Saturday, September 7. Blackout Haunted House has developed a cult following for its extreme brand of immersive horror theater. Creators Josh Randall and Kristjan Thorgeirsson are infamous for obliterating the traditional rules and limitations of haunted attractions and bending the genre to encompass darker, more extreme, scare tactics.
This was the seventh Blackout event that I have attended. Having previously been faux-water-boarded and abducted in a van, I had no idea what to expect. Blackout Haunted House is many things, but it is never predictable.
BLACKOUT: elements takes its inspiration from the four basic elements (earth, water, air, fire) and includes indoor exterior environments, unusual tasks and encounters with both odd and incredibly frightening, characters. The scares are still physical and psychological, but the experience feels less like an abduction and more like a journey through a ‘Narnia’ or ‘Wonderland’-like fantasy world gone terribly, terribly wrong.
The interactive set requires climbing, crawling and feeling your way through paths obscured by fog or darkness. Forked paths require a choice be made and create the illusion of being in control of your fate. With multiple courses and tormentors, no two experiences are the same. The experience is a barrage of horror and phobia scenarios capable of triggering a wide range of emotions. The illusion of having control over how you explore the haunt makes the experience intensely personal and absolutely exhilarating.
It’s safe to say that you will experience nothing else like BLACKOUT: elements this Halloween season. You will want to buy tickets now, while you still can.
BLACKOUT: elements Runs
NEW YORK CITY | September 7 – Nov 10
LOS ANGELES | October 4 – November 10
CHICAGO | December 2013
Preview Performances: $45.00 | General Admission:$65.00
“No one under 18 permitted and you must walk through alone.”
Have you ever watched a marathon of ‘Ghost Hunters’ or ‘Ghost Adventures’ and wondered what it would be like to venture into an abandoned historic building filled with the tortured souls of the deceased?
Well, now you can. Pennhurst Paranormal Association is offering both Private and Public Investigations of the Mayflower Building, one of the oldest buildings on the Pennhurst State School campus. When it was built in 1908, the school was known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. It was designed to separate developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals from traditional society.
Unfortunately, there were no guidelines for admittance; in addition to diagnosed patients, the School was also home to the criminally insane, unwed pregnant teens, wards of the state and disobedient children. The expansive 1,400-acre estate wasn’t intended to be a dumping ground for anyone deemed undesirable to society, and within two years of opening there were reports of overcrowding and understaffing. Despite the grandiose exterior, children spent years in cribs, conditions were unsanitary and unsafe, physical and sexual abuse ran rampant and many patients died within its walls.
It’s 9pm, as we slowly make our way down a bumpy, unpaved road. Thanks to the full moon we can see Pennhurst Asylum looming in the distance. I can’t help but wonder what the hell we’re getting ourselves into and if it’s a good idea to spend the night in such a terrifying place. As we pull up, we’re greeted by Mara, a member of Pennhurst Paranomal Association…who also happens to be a medium. We sign a waiver and go over the rules for the night: No Provoking, No Séance or Ouiji Boards and No Alcohol. That’s it? Then Mara takes us on a tour of the building. She points out particularly active rooms and tells us about what she’s experienced at Pennhurst — whispers, footsteps, objects being thrown and people being pushed down stairs. You don’t need to hear her spooky stories to know that something is looming within the walls of the Mayflower building. When you look past the peeling paint and graffiti, remnants of daily life in the Asylum are a chilling reminder of the horror that happened at Pennhurst – adult sized cribs, rubber furniture with restraints, communal showers and windowless classrooms.
Before our imaginations get too carried away, John and Katie from South Jersey Soul Searchers take over the group. John is the founder of SJSS and hosts the Dead Air Paranormal radio show. Katie is SJSS’s case manager and lead investigator. They introduce us to a slew of technological gadgets to assist us – electro magnetic frequency meters, the ovilus ghost box, thermal gun, laser scope, and a plasma globe. Since many of the spirits are children or child-like, they also bring candy and toys to entice activity. Night vision video cameras and audio recorders are used to document the investigation, later they’ll review them to see if we can catch an Electronic Voice Phenomenon. EVP recordings are the holy grail of ghost hunting and actual proof that spirits are trying to communicate with the living. We grab a video camera and head out to explore the epically creepy building. Pennhurst’s Paranormal investigations allow you the freedom to choose your own experience. If you’re a veteran hunter or just crazy enough to want to wander alone, you’re welcome to. If a guided experience is more your style, you can spend the entire 6 hours with John and Katie. We chose to do a little of both.
So, did we meet any Ghosts?
We’re not sure. We’re new in the paranormal circuit and it’s definitely something we’d like to continue exploring. We didn’t see any apparitions or feel anything touch us, but we experienced some interesting moments throughout the night:
When we were in the back stairwell, the ripped window screen shook when we asked the spirits to play with us. We thought it could be a fluke, so we asked for a repeat and the spirit gladly obliged, two more times.
We also had a fascinating experience with a ball on the 3rd floor. Once again, we asked if anyone wanted to play. At times, it seemed as though the ball was rolled right out of my grip and later, I could feel the ball pushing into my hand. It was surreal.
There was a closet door on the 3rd floor that seemed to be locked shut. John had each of us take turns trying to open the door. One by one, we knocked on the door, asked to be let in and tried to open it. As I pulled on the handle, I could feel the door start to open, suddenly it was violently pulled back to shut. Other members of the group had a similar experience and there was some banging that seemed to come from within the closet.
So… that was really creepy and weird, but the Jaded New Yorker in me has to ask:
Could there have been three strong gusts of wind moving the ripped window screen? Was the ball some kind of trick? Was there someone actually locked in the closet?
I could create a hundred excuses, but my gut tells me, No.
Pennhurst Paranormal Association separates itself from the Halloween haunted attraction. The owners have dreams of restoring all the historic buildings and educating the public about the atrocities that occurred there.
All I know is that we’re dying to go back. We had a blast exploring the equipment and techniques used to connect with the other realm. We’d also love to have a historic walking tour of the property and explore the other buildings—especially the tunnels. I know it sounds crazy, but 6 hours definitely isn’t enough.
The Pennhurst Paranormal Association offers both private and public paranormal tours and investigations from March through August. Tickets are $125 each for the public investigations and $1,000 for private investigations with up to 20 guests.