Scary Potter’s 2015 Top Haunts List
*The following top list of haunted attractions was created by our Pennsylvania Haunted House Review Team, “Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express.” Only haunts that Scary Potter was able to visit and review during the 2015 haunting season have been considered for this list.
Oh, ho, ho, we’re back! The 2016 Haunt Season is nearly upon us, but before we run off to bask in the warm, fuzzy chills of this year’s attractions, let’s take a moment to reflect on last year’s stand-out attractions, shall we?
11ish. Ghost Lake (honorable mention – Conneaut Lake, PA)
Standout aspect : Location/value/greater than the sum of its parts award. Ghost Lake is another attraction that I feel is undervalued by the scoring system, so I’m demanding (to myself) that it is included here. See, most of the attractions, on their own merit, are good, but not quite mind-blowing, but taken as a collective, and combined with the Ghoster Coaster, and a very reasonable price-tag, the whole experience is epic. Amusement park, haunted hotel, a stroll by the river, A ROLLER COASTER – the places you visit as you travel throughout Ghost Lake’s MASSIVE lair are wonderfully varied. In fact, I would say that I enjoyed the walk from haunt to haunt at Ghost Lake better than I enjoyed some whole attractions last year. This is another annual must-visit for me.
10. Haunted Hills Estate (Uniontown, PA)
Standout aspect : Interactivity. Admittedly, the auxiliary attractions were rough last year, but the center piece of the Estate, the Challenge Trail, was in excellent form. Haunted Hills is one of those attractions that I feel I can take anyone – people who love a traditional haunted house have Legends and those of a more squeamish disposition have the Trail – an interactive game within a highly-atmospheric horror story. It’s unique and idiosyncratic in all the best ways – a legitimate one-of-a-kind experience. Most of all,
it’s an absurd amount of fun.
9. Cheeseman’s Fright Farm (Portersville, PA)
Standout aspect : Atmosphere… and cuisine. My first haunted hayride-to a haunted trail, and still my favorite. Watching the last remnants of civilization shrink and then disappear as you are taken out into the cold, dark night generates a sensation of blissful dread that no city haunt can ever reproduce. They always have a great trail, with the recurring strobe-lit corn maze a perennial favorite. 95% of the attraction changes every year ensuring that the experience always feels fresh and the scares unexpected… Most importantly: nachos, pizza, hot cider and delicious, delicious pumpkin pie – every year. Yum-finity.
8. Factory of Terror Haunted House (Canton, Ohio)
Standout aspect : Girth. They don’t keep coming back as one of the largest attractions in the country for nothing. There are a ton of scares packed into the Factory. It received a nearly-perfect value score because of it. With a variety of different attractions, and a lot of cool hub areas for photographs, FoT certainly is worth every penny. Also, one of our favorite actresses, whose name we most closely approximate to Ha Ktiktita resides there. Fingers crossed that she’ll be back this season.
7. Gravestone Manor (Plains, PA)
Standout aspect : The ultimate destruction of expectation. Don’t get me wrong, I love haunted houses, truly. I love a good Zombie Nightmare or Scary Clown Massacre, and even an occasional Redneck Hillbilly Chainsaw Barbeque, but… OH, THANK GOD, SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Gravestone Manor is a small attraction, put together by a hard-working crew of extremely dedicated individuals. A unique story and experience, a great cast (including our superb guide Madison), a plethora of clever, effective scares, and a budget price tag, Gravestone truly impressed us. Sometimes our scoring system doesn’t tell the whole story and that was definitely the case here. Easily one of our favorite attractions of the year, and the haunt with the biggest heart.
6. The ScareHouse (Etna, PA)
Standout aspect : Costuming. Read through my reviews (go ahead, I’ll wait), and you’ll notice that I generally don’t have a whole lot to say about costuming. Most attractions are adequate in this category, but very few really IMPRESS. And then we went to Scarehouse. Excellent, excellent make-up and outfitting. Everyone down to the most insignificant cameo-zombie looked great. Coupled with some excellent set design, Scarehouse is one of the most visually-appealing attractions that we’ve seen.
5. Akron Haunted School House and Laboratory (Akron, Ohio)
Standout aspect : Customer Service. Generally “customer service” isn’t the most exciting thing to be praised for in a haunted attraction, but when you got it, flaunt it. ASL has an excellent staff – from the ownership to the line monsters, down to the gentlemen flagging cars – one of the latter in particular was probably our favorite “actor” of the season. Runners-up: the must-see Tesla Coil, and the fantastic set design.
4. Haunted Hillside (Mount Pleasant, PA)
Standout aspect : Ambition. The Hillside is not a multi-million dollar attraction. It doesn’t try to be and it doesn’t want to be. They took a unique, well-fleshed-out storyline, a very DIY approach to set design, and made it WORK. It’s interactive, fluid, atmospheric and scary. Also, it featured one of our favorite costumes of the year and a truly chilling ending set piece. And Bubba; I’ll always love Bubba.
3. Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Hayride (Scranton, PA)
Standout aspect : Pitch Black. Don’t get me wrong, the hayride and carnival were great, and if Pitch Black had sadly not existed, we still would have loved Reaper’s Revenge; but, come on, a dark maze haunt that was actually scary – REALLY scary… MVP all day. The day the haunt owners choose to retire it, I will weep openly. That’s a promise.
2. Field of Screams (Mountville, PA)
Standout aspect : Fright Effect – A team effort shared by the horde of monsters throughout the attractions and the carnivorous landscape that were simply insatiable in their desire to rip the screams out of us. We said in our review that literally EVERYTHING – down to the bricks in the walls – was out to get you at Field of Screams, and we meant it!
1. Hundred Acres Manor Haunted House (Bethel Park, PA)
Standout aspect : 2015’s crowned champ did pretty much everything right so it’s hard to choose here; but, truthfully, it’s impossible to overstate the quality of their special effects. As top-notch as you’ll see in any haunt, with a particular nod to the olefactory assault they provided and one “unsettling” set piece of the new Vodou segment, the FX department really pushed this attraction past every other haunt we experienced last year.
Any attractions looking to have Scary Potter visit this year, please feel free to contact us – we will be in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and briefly in most of the other east coast states this season (Florida, Tennessee, Carolinas, Michigan, etc). Also, if we cannot personally visit your attraction, one of our other Scare Factor teams may be able to instead.
Thank you to all of the attractions that graciously allowed us to visit last year. We truly appreciate it. Here’s to another wonderful season of scares, chills, and… pumpkin pie.
About the Author
Team Scary Potter is now a veteran review team for The Scare Factor that started in 2015. They consistently produce excellent, highly-detailed reviews with whimsical notes that really bring their experiences to life. Based out of North-Eastern Pennsylvania, they’re right in the heart of haunt country and many of the attractions they visit are some of the industry’s finest!
What are some Top Haunts that you’ve been to in the past? Tell us about them in the comments below!