Choosing the best haunted houses in the nation is a labor of love for the Queen of Haunts, also known as Amber Arnett-Bequeaith. She has spent a lifetime in the haunt industry – celebrating forty-five seasons. Some of her early memories as a five-year-old was sleeping in a coffin and rising up from it to toss petals on passersby in her family-owned haunt in Kansas City. The family still owns the haunt it created in 1975, the Edge of Hell, marking it as the nation’s oldest-operated, commercial, haunted house. The years following, they expanded to a whole bevy of scare-based attractions including haunts Beast and Macabre Cinema, a ghost and gangsters tour, hayrides, and the Festival of the Full Moon where the Queen of Haunts reigns over scary fun and laughter.
“The most common question I get is what is the best haunted attraction to visit,” said the Queen of Haunts. This fright-for-fun expert is quizzed by all types of people – from scare enthusiasts with either a penchant for travel, or a bucket-list of thrill goals, or others simply wanting to hear how their local haunt stacks up. While she admits she is hard to scare and knows the inside “tricks of the trade,” she favors the haunts where the scares are invented but the fun is for real – best described as “TERROR-ific”.
The United States is a behemoth in the haunt industry, with approximately 1,200 haunts focused on fear-based entertainment – without counting the charity-run, smaller-scale haunts. In the sea of choices, the Queen’s picks are sure to cast scares to make fun memories for a lifetime.
Here are the top 13 TERRORific haunted attractions for heart-pounding, hair-raising fun:
- Edge of Hell, Kansas City – perhaps close to her beating heart, but this granddaddy of haunts creates a mind-blowing scary experience from heaven to hell and the world’s largest serpent is undeniably first-class in fright!
- Cutting Edge, Dallas – marches onto the list with the acclaimed zombie drum line and scares that go above and beyond – on the edge of darkness.
- Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride, Philadelphia – take it from a seasoned haunt expert; a Bates Motel and haunted hayride will leave you scared out of your wits.
- Beast, Kansas City – this time travel to the medieval times where an eye for an eye can be vicious and reflects the monster of men and a sensory-experience that includes jumping out a second-story window.
- NETHERWORLD, Atlanta – this sprawling one-story haunt has something for everyone to leave you scared to the bone.
- Headless Horseman, New York – a legendary haunt that sits among the hills outside New York where the beheaded horseman made that fateful ride and scares the dickens out of those who venture. The presence of horses ramps the scare beyond horse speed.
- Macabre Cinema, Kansas City – the haunt for everyone who loves horror movies but wants to be part of the action – it even includes some real horror movie sets. You won’t have time for popcorn in this adrenaline-fueled attraction.
- Spooky Woods, Greensboro/Highpoint – thrill-seekers are in for a new kind of scare on the Sudden Death Express train ride – giving new meaning to going off the rails!
- Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinnati – mix a horror back-story of an old schoolhouse with extraordinary haunt technology and you’ll swear the spirits are present and inflicting terror.
- Erebus, Detroit – a time machine that is disguised as a haunted house to make all the visitors actual guinea pig subjects – leaves them trembling with the prospect this research project is scary.
- Haunted Hotel, San Diego – relocated to a bigger space opens the door to even more scares. The crowds are sure to be breathless inside a hotel that leads to mayhem and macabre.
- 13th Floor, Chicago – the superstitious naturally know to take heed going to the 13th floor – most buildings hide the floor from access. The adventure into Chicago’s 13th floor will make everyone a believer in this dark reality.
- 13th Gate, Baton Rouge – Wrapped in history and the eeriness of the dead above ground in mausoleums makes it all the more believable that the nightmare inside these gates will raise the hairs on your neck.