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Popular haunted attractions not for the squeamish

By Staff | Sep 30, 2015

By Amanda Nicholson The Ohio State Reformatory, with its rambling cell blocks, plays host to the Haunted Prison Experience each year.

After the calm facade is passed, hallways of old prisons, asylums and other abandoned buildings come alive as the sound of screams echo through the terror-filled night.

On nights starting this month, strobe lights flash, fog fills halls and grotesque demons, zombies, guards and blood-covered nurses send chills down spines and thrill millions that attend haunted houses each year.

Machinery whirs, chains clank, cell doors slam, giant butcher knifes (or saws) are shaken at unsuspecting attendees and actors jump from behind myriad objects or come from behind walls, cackling maniacally.

Each year as All Hallows Eve nears, haunted attractions pop up all across the country, offering a taste of the horrific, the sight of the macabre.

There’s something about the dark hallways and ghastly appearance of actors that make haunted houses a yearly tradition for many; haunted houses speak to those who enjoy a night of fright.

My first haunted house was at none other than “Terror Behind the Walls” at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. From the Detritus, an overgrown labyrinth, to the Machine Shop, to the Infimary, Lockdown, Breakout and Quarantine, there are sure to be many chills and thrills at this year’s haunted house, which covers multiple cell blocks inside the 186-year-old building.

The cast of actors are spot on inside the castle-like structure, popping from behind hidden spaces in walls inside the sprawling prison, blending in with the surroundings only to drag you from your group to a secluded spot, trying to bring forth fear. After returning to the group, behind the next corner lies yet another fright-inducing sight that would scare even the most seasoned haunted house connoisseur.

The attraction has the reputation of being one of the best haunted houses in the country (it’s consistently ranked at the top), and it definitely made its mark last year as screams echoed through the mist-filled halls, making it worth the trip if one wants to make the trek to Philly.

This year, I’m thrilled to be attending two more haunted houses, at West Virginia Penitentiary’s “Dungeon of Horrors” in Moundsville and the “Haunted Prison Experience” at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, both sure to bring a fun, scream-inducing time.

Normally not one to like being scared, I think there’s something about the Halloween season that makes fright par for the course, something that is to be expected. Which is great in preparing oneself for what could be around the next corner of a fright-filled hallway in an old, abandoned prison.