Halloween Thrills and Haunted Houses
From the bizarre and the fearsome to the just plain weird, these local haunted attractions offer nail-biting Halloween thrills
Teeth of terror: Philipsburg Manor’s Horseman’s Hollow is inhabited by 19th-century vampires — and other ghoulish creatures
Photograph by Brian Haeffele
Ah, autumn in the Valley — the leaves, the apples, the chainsaw-wielding clowns. While the daytime is dedicated to harvest festivals, pumpkin-picking, and other family-friendly fun, the area’s many haunted house attractions come to life as the sun sets.
Several of these professionally crafted venues have a high gore-factor, and most are not recommended for the young or faint of heart. All of them aim to scare the pants off anyone who enters, with heart-pounding music; disorienting light shows; and — of course — vampires, werewolves, and other creepy creatures of the night.
Frankenstein’s Fortress has been up and running for 13 years. Although it might not be the goriest Halloween attraction, the Fortress still holds enough spine-chilling fright to satisfy; you know a homegrown haunt is good when Martha Stewart has called it the best she’s seen.
Roughly 300 characters — ranging from slightly strange to downright creepy — are scattered about, and the skits and scares are a little different each night. Tour the surreal mansion or attempt to cross the bottomless pit. Tim Burton fans will love the hall decorated with tribute art done in his unique style. There are trails to explore; a tree (constructed out of chestnut shells) that houses witches; and Frankenstein’s laboratory, where the mad scientist dwells. And that’s just a few of the attractions; there’s much more to be seen. $14, $5 children under 11.
Oct. 1-31, Fri.-Sat. 6:30-9:30 p.m., Sun. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
86 Creamery Rd., Stanfordville. 845-868-7782; www.frankensteinsfortress.com
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is brought to life in a horrifying way at the Valley’s brand-new haunt, Horseman’s Hollow. This attraction features professional actors and high-tech special effects designed to terrify the bravest of souls.
Bloodsucking vampires, wicked witches, trembling ghosts, and other unholy beings take over historic Philipsburg Manor, located in the heart of Sleepy Hollow. A haunted trail leads unlucky guests through a village where the Headless Horseman has driven the inhabitants mad. Within the Horseman’s Lair, you’ll witness blood-curdling scenes during which rotting corpses become a feast for the undead. Not suitable for young children. $20.
Oct. 15-16, 22-24, 28-30
381 N. Broadway (Rte. 9), Sleepy Hollow. 914-631-8200; www.hudsonvalley.org
Each year, the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses attracts scores of shriek-seekers from throughout the country with its award-winning attractions. Sure to shock and appall all who enter the gates, this year’s storyline centers around the escape of the fictional Prisoner X, a bloodthirsty criminal who’s killed dozens of inmates, not to mention his own mother, by biting and clawing his way out of her when she was pregnant with him. Think that’s messed up? Wait until you see the explicit gore that awaits within their five ghasty haunted houses; labyrinth-style corn maze with roaming characters; and mile-long hayride, during which the Headless Horseman himself chases away unwanted visitors. Don’t miss the unforgettable John Shaw Pandemonium Midnight sideshow. Not recommended for children under nine. $33; reservations accepted.
Sept. 18 & 25, every Fri.-Sun. in Oct. plus Thurs. Oct. 21 & 28; Nov. 5-6
778 Broadway, Rte. 9W, Ulster Park. 845-339-2666; www.headlesshorseman.com
What’s your favorite scary movie? Relive it at the Haunted Museum of Unnatural History 9. For this hair-raising event, 5,000 square feet of the New York State Museum has been taken over by the terrifying characters of campfire legends and Hollywood horror flicks. Objects from the museum’s collections and past exhibits are given new life within the frightening attractions, which include a dark maze with eerie music and a light show to really get your blood pumping — speaking of which, watch out for the vampires. Also, explore the Tomb of the Undead, brave the Wolf’s Den, see bozos-gone-bad in Clown Town, tour Zombie Place, and enter Blood Castle if you dare. Not recommended for children. $8. (All proceeds benefit the museum’s after-school programs for Albany youth.)
Oct. 23-24 & 31, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Oct. 30, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 6-10 p.m.
Madison Ave., Albany. 518-474-5877; www.nysm.nysed.gov
The Terrordome Haunted Scream Park is back for another season of blood, guts, gore, and general mayhem. This year brings a new layout featuring three attractions: the Funhouse, where mirror tricks and a dizzying tunnel disorient while killer clowns and other carnival evils lurk; the Butcher Shop, full of horrifying scenes of dismemberment; and the annual staple, the Barn of Terror, where every twist and turn brings visitors into a new lair of blood-soaked scenes and characters. (If you hear “One, two, Freddy’s comin’ for you” — run!) Actors roam the grounds providing scares and entertainment in between houses. Not recommended for children under eight. $22.
Oct. 1-31, Fri.-Sat. 7 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun. 7-10 p.m.
84 Lakeside Rd., Newburgh. 845-476-VAMP (8267); www.terrordome.com
This year, Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion is back with an all-new lineup that aims to reach new levels of terror. Nightmare Castle preys upon the individual fears of all who enter — whether it’s clowns, darkness, or being buried alive that disturbs you the most. The Madness is an interactive attraction based on experiments-gone-wrong in a 1950s asylum. The Legend is genuinely freaky because it’s based on a true story; in 1977 an outlaw named Elmer McCurdy was found hanged in an amusement park funhouse — find out how he got there and why. In between haunts, illusionist Ryan Dutcher stuns audiences with his mystifying performances. $22.
Sept. 24-Oct. 31, Fri. 7-11 p.m., Sat. 7 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun. 6-9 p.m. plus Thurs. Oct. 28, 7-10 p.m.
85 Sheafe Rd., Poughkeepsie. 845-297-2288; www.thehauntedmansion.com
Brought to you by the same folks who present the annual New York Renaissance Faire, the Forest of Fear stands out from the rest with its Twisted Carnival. As if the grisly, 26-room Slaughterhouse wasn’t scary enough, you’ll get the chance to scream your lungs out on quick-flying fair rides. New this year, check out the perilous coffin ride, and on select nights, enjoy performances by the freaky and fantastic Bindlestiff Cirkus (see Web site for details). The grounds feature vendors and entertainers; don’t be surprised if you find yourself unknowingly walking beside a hungry zombie who snuck up to scare you. Not recommended for children under eight. $20.
Oct. 8-31, Fri. dusk-12 a.m., Sat. dusk-1 a.m., Sun. dusk-11 p.m.
Sterling Forest. 800 Rte. 17A, Tuxedo Park. 845-351-5174; www.renfair.com/forestoffear