But for others, the real holiday spirit is best embodied by a truly terrifying, scare-your-pants-off experience — even if it’s totally fabricated.
If you’re a member of the latter group, then there’s no question as to whether or not your Halloween season will include an adrenaline-pumping visit to one of the many haunted house attractions across the U.S.
In 2013 the Haunted Attraction Association estimated there were about 2,500 haunted attractions worldwide, most of which exist in the U.S., so there’s certainly no shortage of eerie otherworldly adventures to choose from when it comes to satisfying your desire for a spine-chilling scare.
In celebration of the Halloween season, and to help you narrow down some of your choices, here we’re highlighting a few of the premiere haunted house attractions that are absolutely worth a visit — if your heart can handle it, that is.
Terror Behind the Walls — Philadelphia, Pa.
For the Halloween season, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary is transformed into America’s largest haunted house attraction. The gothic structure was once one of the most famous prisons in the world, but today, its decaying cellblocks and vacant guard towers make the perfect setting for a spine-chilling experience. Visitors can opt to explore the attraction participating as onlookers or choose the “interactive” experience, which means they’ll be vulnerable to any monsters that cross their paths and might even become incorporated as part of the show.
Erebus — Pontiac, Mich.
From 2005 to 2009, this four-story haunted house —founded by “haunt industry” veterans Ed and Jim Terebus — held the Guinness World Record for the longest walk-through haunted attraction and earned the final spot on the HauntedHouses.com 2015 list of the 13 scariest haunted houses. Visitors can expect to spend about 45 terrifying minutes inside the house and should be prepared to be grabbed, bitten and even buried alive.