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Theme Parks, Headless Horsemen, and Haunted Ships: Top Spots For Getting Into the Halloween Spirit

By: - October 21, 2015
Category : Hauntings, Places

Well ladies and gentleman…it’s that time of year again. The leaves are bursting into reds and oranges. The weather gets a little cooler. And everything gets a temporary pumpkin spiced make-over. Short of 4th of July, the month of October is my favorite time of year. There’s something about fall that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of going to apple orchards and scarecrow fests, and living near a pumpkin patch. Maybe its the beautiful scenery of streets filled with leaves and trick-or-treaters so happy when you open the door for their first Halloween. Or maybe its the scary movies I revisit this time of year, like rewatching my favorite Tales From The Crypt episodes. I always mention highly unusual things begin to happen. Like clockwork – as we approach this year’s Halloween, scary things are happening out there — things like the fact we might actually run out of pumpkins by the time Thanksgiving rolls around! Did I say pumpkin shortage? Yes I did.

Due to an unusually rainy June in Illinois (where 90% of the country’s pumpkins grow) there is a large possibility there will be a massive shortage of pumpkins come November. Even Libby’s, the company that makes pumpkin puree, said their reserves are down nearly a third of where they were last year. Some of the aisles at the grocery store by me are starting to already look like the zombie apocalypse.

Okay, I admit it – if you don’t like pumpkins, it’s really not that scary. It’s nothing like last year with the clowns of Wasco roaming around the city; standing in parking lots, creepily. But if it’s the spirit of Halloween you’re looking for maybe you can check out a few of these places if you happen to be in the state they’re occurring…

California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, & Texas Residents might want to check this out –

Six Flags Fright Fest

Six Flags is having their annual Fright Fest where they revamp the park to give an answer to anyone whose wondered if occupied amusement parks could be as creepy as abandoned amusement parks. The website states that the park is family-friendly by day, but by night they recommend that children under the age of 13 or anyone who scares easily should probably choose another theme park. Not being a huge fan of roller coasters, I would probably sit this one out. What is interesting though, is depending on your location in the United States, each park has a little something different in store. A few photos of the park…

Before Halloween

Before Halloween

Guests are greeted by the shocking visual of the "sea of blood." It would have been just as scary if they opted for more plastic horses around the carousel.

Guests are greeted by the shocking visual of the “sea of blood.” It would have been just as scary had they just added more plastic horses attached to the carousel.

Over 200 lbs. of red dye are used to turn the otherwise clear blue water into an unforgettable sight. With recent sales struggles, Six Flags has been determined to get their footing back on the Halloween crowd. Time will tell if the move will pan out. The problem with growing up near one in Illinois, is that the park is subject to so many weather conditions that its really only good for 3 months out of the year.

Gigantic spiders crawl into the park.

Gigantic spiders crawl into the park.

I remember seeing this on the up to Kenosha, Wisconsin when I was a kid. It always reminded me of the spider from Home Alone. Ah, memories.

They also have a sense of humor, making their own amusement park graveyard.

They also have a sense of humor, making their own amusement park graveyard.

The FrightFest in Georgia looks like it has some great art designers.

The Fright Fest in Georgia looks like it has some great art designers.

I’ve always been a big fan of places that immerse you into a world, so it feels like you’ve stepped into another dimension. Theme parks that pay tribute to Halloween seem to do that quite well. Speaking of Halloween…

We move ourselves to Universal Studios in California and Florida.

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights

Universal's Entrance during Halloween Horror Nights.

Universal’s Entrance during Halloween Horror Nights.

From what I’ve heard this place might just be the best bang for your spine-tingled buck. What’s unique about Universal, is that they own the rights to so many horror classics, they’re allowed to use the real, authentic images. What started off as a throwback to the classic Universal Monsters in 1991, has spawned into a haven for horror nuts. Universal Studios has gone all-out to put on one of the most unforgettable shows.

New for 2015, is  Michael Myers Comes Home. A maze that takes its audience to the town of Haddonfield, IL where you have the chance to step through the silver screen into the setting, and find your way out, before the knife-wielding Michael Myers finds his next victim.


Universal's newest maze where you're dropped into the movie.

Universal’s newest maze where you’re dropped into the movie.

The other big draw this year is the temporary edition of Terror Tram: Surviving the Purge. Basically the audience gets dumped off the tram tour, and you have to make your way through the Bates Motel and other creepy fixtures while surviving looters and killers in the streets. If you’re into the movies or plot, then this is probably right for you.


I gather this will be a similar scene as the grocery store after the pumpkin puree is gone.

If not, let’s move along.

For the residents of New York-

The Horseman’s Hallow & The Cemetery Tour
Sleepy Hallow, New York

1600x900Most people recall seeing clips from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.” What most people don’t know, is located in the quiet town of Sleepy Hallow, you’re able to take a walking lantern-lit cemetery tour that ends at the author’s final place of rest. Other notable “guests” at the cemetery include Industrialists Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller, and a Revolutionary militia captain.

Now that your inner English geek is satisfied, how about a few more scares? Why not head towards the heart of the town…

The Phillipsburg Manor transforms into a treacherous landscape ruled by witches, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, undead soldiers, and the Headless Horseman himself! Visitors begin walking a haunted trail and into the town where residents have gone mad by the Headless Horseman. They’re all too keen to keep you from sharing the secret. Those who survive the trail enter the terrifying ruins of Ichabod Crane’s Schoolhouse, where they must endure a twisting maze that ends face to face in the Horseman’s lair.

With award winning make-up artists and convincing costumes  this is Sleepy Hallow’s premiere attraction.

The town has so much going for it there’s even the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze!

The great Jack O' Lantern Blaze Photo Credit: Bryan Haeffele

The great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze Photo Credit: Bryan Haeffele


The detail in some of those pumpkins looks incredible.

The detail in some of those pumpkins looks incredible.

With more than 7,000 individually carved pumpkins, it’s no wonder the show is so popular. An elaborate walk-through experience, the tour takes you around an 18th century riverside landscape. The breathtaking display is sure to capture even the most pessimistic anti-Halloween person. Due to the popularity, the show was sold out every night it was available last year.

Since we’re on the East Coast, let’s take a trip to a town that capitalizes on their Salem Witch Trial history…

Festival of the Dead

Salem, Massachusetts

Photo Credit:  J.W. Ocker

Photo Credit: J.W. Ocker

The town’s annual Festival of The Dead pumps the town with an estimated 500,000 visitors each year. Activities include a witchcraft expo, Psychic Fair, all while getting to interact with mediums, crystal balls, paranormal investigators. The festivities all culminate at the Salem Witch Halloween Ballroom where hundreds gather to “summon the spirits” of Halloween.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been one to find joy in summoning spirits.

Heading to New Hampshire we arrive at the Canobie Lake Park in ironically Salem.

Lake Canobie Lake Park Screeemfest


For the sake of time, I’ll wrap this park and the massive rollercoaster park at Ceder Rapids, Ohio in one little note. Both are supposed to have a great great show similar to Six Flags. With Lake Canobie boasting their once-abandoned hotel you can now stay in if you feel brave.

Finally, we land back in Long Beach, California where the Queen Mary sits quietly docked. But once inside expect the ship to be quiet noisy with souls.

Dark Harbor in Long Beach

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor entrance

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor entrance

What’s interesting about this tour, is that not only are you placed into a scenario that you know will be scary, but also one that isn’t even on land. The kicker here is the ship is known for being haunted even before the Halloween festivities begin. If you’re more of the adventure type this one may be a win. Once more, you have the opportunity to sleep on the ship if you’re willing stay awake throughout the night.


Lastly, and something more my speed while staying in California – you might choose to hedge your bets and go with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland where the only thing shocking are the prices. Womp.Womp.Womp.

If it's one thing Disney does right, its creating the right atmosphere for fun.

If it’s one thing Disney does right, its creating the right atmosphere for fun.

Being a fan of Disneyland, and even going this past month, I would love to try to get my hands on a few of those tickets at some point. The problem is, the tickets sell out in a rapid-fire display akin to the Force Awakens presale. The good news for me at least, is there is no rush so there’s no pressure.

Well, with so many options you have a plethora of options to get into the Halloween Spirit. Let me know which one, if any, you decide to visit.