Travel Channel just enlisted the expertise of a panel of advisors to come up with ten of the best haunts in the country. Our own Paranormal Pop Culture Expert and host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s "Paranormal Paparazzi," Aaron Sagers, was one of the contributors. Also included on the panel were, Lead Investigator for "Ghost Adventures," Zak Bagans; Author, TV Personality, and Paranormal Expert, Jeff Belanger; Video Project Manager, TravelChannel.com, Arthur Hsu; and, Owner, HauntWorld.com, HauntWorld Magazine and Halloween Productions, Larry Kirchner.
Drum roll please! Here are the ten haunts that made the 2014 Travel Channel's Best: Halloween Attractions...
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor – Long Beach, Calif.
The Queen Mary was built in the early 1930s as a luxury trans-Atlantic ocean liner, but was pressed into military service to carry troops during World War II where hundreds died in and around the ship. This Halloween, the haunted ship is offering its Dark Harbor tours with four new attractions – the Soulmate maze, the B340 maze, Voodoo Village and Monster Midway, which features a freak show, a mechanical monster and a new ride, the Sinister Swings. Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” recently did a lockdown investigation aboard the Queen Mary for the show’s season 10 premiere, uncovering chilling paranormal evidence. So keep your eyes open, because those ghostly apparitions you see may not just be another special effect.
13th Floor Haunted House – Denver, Colo.
Guests taking a frightful visit to the 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver – the largest and longest indoor haunted attraction in Colorado – will understand why most buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Renovated this year with two new attractions, watch evil take control of unwilling bodies in Undead: The Possession or run for your life as terrifying ghouls and monsters come alive as you walk through Dwellings of the Dead. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as Microsoft Kinect, the robotic monsters are more than capable of frightening the victims who dare to venture into the 13th Floor.
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights – Orlando, Fla.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando should be at the top of anyone’s Halloween bucket list, especially fans looking for big-budget scares. Movie industry experts craft haunted houses so loaded with detail that visitors walk through and feel like they’ve been dropped into an episode of “The Walking Dead” or the movie “From Dusk Till Dawn.” Other popular attractions featured at the theme park include Bayou of Blood, Dollhouse of the Damned and Roanoke – Cannibal Colony. Those willing to face their fears can also enter, at their own risk, the “Halloween” house for a face-to-face meeting with Michael Myers, the iconic masked slasher from the movies.
Netherworld – Atlanta, Ga.
With over 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, Netherworld is one of the nation’s most famous attractions. Having been featured on TV and in movies such as “Zombieland,” this spooky attraction has amazingly detailed sets. And unlike other Halloween attractions, Netherworld’s creepy characters greet patrons in the parking lot before they purchase tickets, scaring them off before they even enter.
13th Gate – Baton Rouge, La.
The 13th Gate is one of the most, if not the most, elaborately detailed haunted houses in America thanks to a construction crew that includes award-winning set designers, lighting and sound technicians and special-effects artists. Sets are over-the-top and feature live animals, including snakes and gators. In each of the 13 themed indoor and outdoor areas,more than 100 professional actors and 12 special makeup artists help bring the horror to life.
Festival of the Dead – Salem, Mass.
Salem, Mass. is historically known for the 1692 Witch trials that left 20 people executed. This year’s Festival of the Dead includes two weeks of events and parties designed to bring out your inner-Witch. Attend a séance to speak with the dead, share your stories with others at the Mourning Tea, pick up new ghost-hunting techniques or learn about death’s macabre customs and strange rituals. Finish the festival with the Official Salem Witches’ Ball on Oct. 31 and you’ll leave this town spellbound.
Bennett’s Curse – Jessup, Md.
This haunted spectacle outside of Baltimore is one of the top Halloween attractions in the Mid-Atlantic region. It features three terrifying haunted houses – Medieval Underworld, Inferno 3D and Sanctuary of Insanity – and the owners of this popular haunt continue to add monsters and twists to keep the attractions exciting for new and returning visitors. Not only has Bennett’s Curse been featured on Travel Channel’s “America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions 3,” but it has consistently been ranked by several sources as one of the best Halloween attractions in the U.S. This spooky spot is also among the first to frighten its victims with the latest cutting-edge technology.
Fright Dome – Las Vegas, Nev.
Located in Circus Circus’ Adventuredome, the Fright Dome is one of Las Vegas’ largest and longest-running Halloween attractions. With six new haunted houses, the theme park is transformed into a pitch-black, lights-out, haunted spectacle – easily making it the scariest on the Strip. Scary creatures lurk in every dark, fog-filled corner, making guests feel as though they’re walking through their worst nightmare. The five-acre theme park also includes 25 rides and attractions, multiple live shows at night and four new scare zones, including the Clown Overload Zone. “My personal nightmare of clowns with glowing eyes surrounding me came to life,” says Zak Bagans, lead investigator of “Ghost Adventures,” “I had the worst panic attack. Needless to say, I’ll go back again because it was badass!”
ScareHouse – Pittsburgh, Pa.
ScareHouse is the place to be this year, especially with an exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment to help create the scariest Halloween to date. The partnership even sparked a visit from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who said, “With the sound design and the atmospherics, it is beautiful. I could live here!” Featured attractions include The Summoning, Pittsburgh Zombies: Black Out and The Basement. This Halloween haunt offers a big-budget sensibility without losing its hometown appeal.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House – Weston, W.V.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is one of the most memorable haunted locations for “Ghost Adventures” lead investigator Zak Bagans, who completed a live 7-hour investigation with the Ghost Adventures crew. The spirits that roam the asylum’s halls are extremely active and tours are offered to see how the mentally insane lived and died within these walls. “It is undeniably the scariest overall haunted attraction that I’ve been to in the U.S.,” says Bagans. Additionally, visitors can participate in zombie paintball, a fall festival and the Asylum Ball, which includes a costume contest.
Do you agree with the picks? Have you been to any or all of these attractions? Weigh in and let us know some of your favs. Click here for more details from the Travel Channel.