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Have I mentioned that Halloween is my favorite time of year? Well, it is. And, in my opinion, no one does Halloween quite like us New Englanders (okay, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I do know that we do Halloween pretty darn well)! Here’s a list of my top five “can’t miss” Halloween attractions; I highly recommend you check out as many as possible if you’re in the area.
#5 Factory of Terror, Fall River, MA – The Factory of Terror is one of the few singular haunted houses I’ve been to that really delivers enough thrills and chills to be worth the price ($20 for anyone over 10) and the wait on line (which can easily be more than an hour or even two so get there early). It’s technically considered three haunted attractions, because different sections have different themes, like the 30-room area known as Bloodworth Dungeon, the 4D Blackout, and Phobia Mayhem, but they flow seamlessly together and you only wait on line once, so you might not even be able to distinguish one area from the other. The Factory has great sets, plenty of super-creepy dark corridors and gory props, and all the elements that any great haunted house needs. You’ll see some great costumes and actors who really love what they’re doing – scaring the heck out of you! My only mild complaint is that on some visits, the Factory seemed a little sparsely populated with haunts so it’s a bit hit or miss, but I’ve been going here for at least nine years (some years more than once a season) and have never made it through without at least a dozen shrieks of terror. The Factory is open all weekends in October and limited weeknights, so check out their schedule. I notice this year on select nights they’re going to turn up the terror by turning down the lights (even more) and you and your group will have to make it through with only a small flashlight – sounds pretty cool!
#4 Fright Fest at Six Flags New England, Route 159 near Springfield, MA – I haven’t been to Fright Fest at Six Flags in a long time, but anything that combines rides and haunted houses is great in my book. They have top-notch haunted houses like Midnight Mansion and Wicked Woods available for an extra fee, but for standard admission rates you can check out Main Street Graveyard, Demon District and more, plus rides. And with big sponsors like M&M'S®, 3 MUSKETEERS® and DOVE®, you know Six Flags has the resources to do it right! I’m definitely hoping to check it out this year.
Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH, has a similar event called Scream Fest but I found the haunts to be a little tamer and more family friendly. It was still a great time and I’d recommend it for families with younger kids who still want to be scared.
#3 Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular, Providence, RI – I’ve heard Pumpkin Fest in Keene, New Hampshire, is pretty cool but I doubt anything can top the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular. Experience this amazing nighttime display featuring 5,000+ illuminated jack-o-lanterns set along a woodland trail. Hundreds of the pumpkins are carved into outstanding works of art that are nothing short of breathtaking. This year’s theme is “All the World’s a Stage,” so you’ll recognize scenes and characters from movies, Broadway hits, and television shows. The pumpkins are presented in themed scenes set to music. This has become a fairly recent Halloween tradition for me, and I wouldn’t miss it! Expect a very long wait; I recommend getting there on the later side after all the kiddies go (last person is admitted at 10 p.m.).
#2 Spooky World/ Nightmare New England, Litchfield, NH – In the 18 years that I’ve been going to Spooky World, it’s gone through some major changes. It started out on a farm in Berlin, MA, and, in my opinion, the best part was its haunted hayride. It later moved to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, where it had some average haunts and a spooky carnival atmosphere complete with some small rides. After quite a few years there, it bounced around to different locations for a while and never really found its stride. In 2009, the creators of Spooky World teamed up with Nightmare New England to create the ultimate haunted destination. This is by far the scariest group of haunted houses I’ve ever been to. The costumes are ridiculously cool – seriously, I think some of the creatures walking around truly are monsters, and they clearly take being scary very seriously. It has six attractions, each with a different theme, but it’s equally fun just to walk around the midway and take pictures with the roaming ghouls. This year, similar to what Factory of Terror is doing, they’re having a “Lights Out” night on November 3rd where you’ll be in total darkness except for a glowstick. Spooky World is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who don’t like waiting in line, because you’ll probably wait around an hour for each attraction (unless you purchase the more expensive VIP pass), so plan to be there for at least six hours if you want to do everything. I definitely think it’s worth it though for the true horror fan! I would definitely caution you to leave little kids at home for this one.
#1 Salem, Massachusetts – How can an entire town make this list, you ask? Salem is to Halloween what Times Square is to New Year’s Eve and New Orleans is to Mardi Gras. The whole town transforms for the month of October to embrace Halloween and host its “Haunted Happenings” festivities. Come early to tour the historic Witch Museum (yes, it’s that Salem – home to the infamous witch trials), take a walking tour, or check out some of the unique shops, then hit the haunted houses, costume parties, and bars at night for a wicked good time. There’s so much to do, so check out the guide to customize your Salem experience. There’s something for every child and adult culminating with some massive costume balls and parties around Halloween. The closer to Halloween it gets, the crazier the town gets, so go on Saturday, 10/27 (or Halloween) if you want major costumed crowds and mayhem (use caution and stick with your friends, though, as I’ve heard about some muggings and vandalism). Go earlier in the month if you want a tamer or more family-friendly visit.
Remember to check the websites and calendars of these attractions before making the trek, as many have limited hours of operation. Most are largely outdoors, so plan accordingly for the weather.
So what are your fave Halloween haunts?