Haunted Attractions are not one-size-fits-all and Halloween New England has come to the rescue with 10 useful tips to make sure your haunted house experience is a killer one this October!
If you plan to drive up, park, buy a ticket, walk through, get back in the car and go home then you are cheating yourself out of an incredibly great night. Instead, have a drink, mingle, soak up the action around you, and chuckle at the people who are already shaking in their shoes. Enjoy the atmosphere before you even step inside. Once you enter the attraction, take your time appreciating the scenes and have fun getting scared, spooked, or shocked. Why rush the experience? The Halloween season is over a month long--challenge yourself to see how many you can rack up every weekend.
You would think this is a no-brainer but it is not. Frankly, nothing can kill your evening like bringing along your obnoxious cousin who thinks he's too tough to be scared and makes sneering comments to the actors, gripes about the scenes, and ruins all the surprises. Of course everyone knows that the characters and scenes aren't real but you've paid decent money for a ticket to have a great evening, why go through with someone who wants to belittle the fun of the experience? Seriously, leave the frat boy buddies at home--they'll only drag you down and ruin your night.
Do a little research to find out what you are getting into. Some attractions are in a warehouse, others are in houses, and many are outdoors under tents or in the woods. Depending on where you're headed, you may be walking through a forest the night after a downpour and you'll be glad you wore your ugly but hyper-practical boots. Even more, dress warmly and comfortably. The haunt may be under a tent but the queue line could be outdoors and you might be standing outside for 45 minutes or more.
Depending on the time of the season you go, prepare to wait in line. Weekends are busiest, especially from Columbus Day Weekend in mid-October through Halloween. We can't stress this enough--waiting is truly part of the experience. Not only does waiting give you time to get adjusted to the creepy vibe of the place but many attractions have different characters that roam and interact with the crowds. The time you spend waiting is time spent priming you for the main attraction. Change your perspective from impatience to embracing the wait as a very cool part of the experience.
Many haunted houses and trails open up in late September or early October. You can often find special deals like Buy One-Get-One Free options early in the season or on off-peak nights like a Thursday or Sunday. Going early in the season can help you avoid some long waits and big crowds and you can usually linger longer to enjoy each scene (not always the case on busy nights). On lighter volume nights, the attractions can space out the groups to give you a different kind of experience.
7. Pony Up for the Express Ticket
On a busy night late in the season, it's going to take a while to get through the attraction(s)--that is a plain fact of hitting up a popular attraction so close to Halloween. Not everybody wants to wait in line--after all, someone has to relieve the babysitter!--so it might be worth your while to spring for an Express Ticket or a VIP Pass. It's common to pay up to double the general admission price but you are diverted to a speedier line and there may be other perks included. Some VIP tickets may permit you to go through the attraction unlimited times or have other freebies thrown in. Not every attraction has this so you'll need to look into it.
The various characters you see inside and outside the haunted attraction are there to give you a great time. There's a saying "don't touch the actors and they won't touch you" and generally there is a rule that none of the actors will ever physically interact with you--which isn't to say they won't be blowing on the back of your neck to freak you out! But hey, most attractions are dark and a little confusing so you may bump into one another from time to time by accident. Acting in a haunted house is a very physical, demanding, and challenging job. Remember, they are there to try to give you a memorable night.
Just like going to a movie, not every haunted house is appropriate for every age. Some haunts might be suitable for your thrill-seeking preteens while other attractions may be too visceral, graphic, and mature for even a sensitive adult to handle. If you are planning to bring your preteens or teens in tow, read up on the haunt to see if the themes and content are right for your older kids. Know your kids and use your best judgment with the information you have--ask others who may have been there for their opinion.
If you are afraid to continue, just speak in a clear voice that you want to exit the event. Professional attractions train their actors to help you exit and regroup.
You might be surprised to learn that designing and building haunted attractions is a thriving industry filled with super creative people who are tremendously dedicated to their craft. Whether you are visiting one of the largest attractions in your area or a local yard haunt, you will see the culmination of months of planning, creating, building, and decorating by artists who put their heart and soul into delivering a memorable and thrilling time for their visitors. In those rare moments when you aren't getting the daylights scared out of you, look around you to appreciate all the work that has gone into the event. You will not be disappointed!
Halloween New England's guides to CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, and VT Haunted Houses and Trails will give you a complete list of attractions, maps, contact info, haunted house features, and much more. We also have guides for Haunted Corn Mazes, Haunted Hayrides, Ghost Tours, Costume Stores, and Salem Attractions.
The Pixel Perfection: After Dark contributed the photos in this article. Please do not reproduce or edit their work without express permission to do so.
Your source for Pumpkin Patches, Hayrides, Haunted Houses, Corn Mazes, Museums, Ghost Tours, Costumes Stores & more in New England!