I wrote a feature story on local Halloween attractions for Point Park students to visit during October. It was published by The Globe on October 1, 2013.
A haunted elevator at Hundred Acres Manor drops down into “Damnation” to fight off wall-to-wall zombies.
While waiting to ride Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood’s Fright Night, the hand of a demonic clown brushes up against an unsuspecting patron.
Entering a darkly lit house at the West Deer Nightmare, people stumble across mutilated bodies and misplaced appendages.
These are only a few of the new themes of the haunted attractions in the Western Pennsylvania region, spanning from Bethel Park to West Mifflin to Bairdford.
“Every year there are new attractions,” said Nicolette Kalafatis, a freshman cinema major who worked at Hundred Acres Manor for the past two years.
The arrival of the Halloween season draws out the thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies. Owners of these haunted attractions realize people get bored with the same old themes, so year after year, they change things up.
“We start designing for the next season in January using what elements we found successful and what patrons expect. We aim to make it over the top and terrifying,” said Ethan Turon, owner of Hundred Acres Manor at 1 Hundred Acre Drive in Bethel Park.
Each of these haunted attractions provides different scares, chills and thrills.
After fighting off brain-hungry zombies in Damnation of Haunted Acres Manor, a path leads the next section of the attraction called South Valley Hospital, containing tortured patients and psychotic doctors. If patrons survive these horrors, they will meet the Unearthed Family living in a bomb shelter that has a hunger for flesh, and run out into the famous “Maze.” The 7500-square-foot maze is overrun with chainsaw-wielding lunatics that push you into the last part of the attraction, the Brine Slaughterhouse.
Ticket prices and hours of operation are at http://www.hundredacresmanor.com.
“We’ve been open for ten years, and every year patronage has gone up,” Turon said. “We expect this season to be record-breaking.”
After finally walking through the tunnel leading into Kennywood, there is only mass chaos. Sections of the park have different themes and mazes set up throughout the park for Phantom Fright Nights, including Vampire Villa, Fear Festival, Voodoo Bayou and Kennyville Cemetery. It is open Fridays and Saturdays, until Oct. 26 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets start at $29.99 and college students pay half price with student ID on Sun., Oct. 13.
“People will wait and stalk you around the whole park,” said Patrick Sisson, a freshman musical theater major who is currently a vampire actor at Fright Night. “On a good Saturday night you can expect 15,000 people to be there.”
The story of Noah Hobbs is a disturbing one and was the inspiration for West Deer Nightmare’s newest attraction. After police captured and shot him, it is said his soul and spirit was brought back in the forms of the mutilated bodies he experimented on in his home. The house terrifies and leaves all who enter disturbed and frightened with images of tortured bodies and use of morbid special effects. West Deer Nightmare is located at Maple Avenue in Bairdford. Hours of operation are found at http://www.westdeernightmare.com. Tickets are only $10.00.
“If you really want to get scared, this is the house to come to,” Shawn Maudhuit, owner of West Deer Nightmare, said. “We give a real haunted experience.”
People of all ages and backgrounds love a good scare, and haunted attractions like these, said Margee Kerr, a scare specialist and sociologist at Scarehouse.
“People enjoy being scared. It’s a physically and psychologically gratifying experience to go in a haunted house and come out having faced your biggest fears with your friends,” said Kerr.