New York City: The Premiere Place For Hellacious Halloween Horrors by Brett Myers

The time of year has come when the seasons click and the New York air has forgone the summer humidity for autumn’s crispness. And once the leaves change color and jackets come out of storage, the first thing New Yorkers look forward to is Halloween. In one of the most artistically diverse cities, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate any holiday here. However, Halloween brings out a different set of desires. Everyone enjoys a little scare this time of year and the city provides more than enough. With unlimited access to technology, creative minds, and actors, New York (in)famously houses some of the best and most horrifying haunted houses in the country. Perhaps more than ever, horror junkies can have their desires met and then some as the city’s best attractions have upped the ante this year, ensuring the most fear for your funds.

Celebrating their 10th year in operation, Blood Manor in Tribeca describes itself as “New York City’s premiere haunted attraction.” This 5,000 square foot sensory attack involves every classic piece of horror imagery one can imagine: Zombies, clowns, meat lockers, rotting skeletons, etc. All organized in an onslaught of in-your-face scares, screams, and flashing lights. Arranged in groups of six for the 20-25 minute experience, adrenaline seekers witness a calculated combination of inventive lighting design, state-of-the-art animatronics, and thoroughly decorated actors covered in fake blood, prosthetics, and colored contacts. On top of all this modern technology, the Manor utilizes old fashioned images like smoke machines, pitch black darkness, and mysterious sounds to top off all of its abrasive horror to bring New Yorkers a classic yet highly effective Halloween experience.

To keep the city guessing, Blood Manor adds new themes, known as “chambers” according to their website, every year to torment fears of all kinds. This year, patrons can expect mummies, doll people, maggots, and cannibals on top of the Manor’s famous collection of horrors. Additionally, each Thursday during their entire run will be known as Touch Me Thursdays where the actors are free to touch the customers (to an extent), adding a new layer of fear and immersion. Along with student discount nights and shorter waiting times, there’s no reason to skip on experiencing one of the biggest frights the city has to offer. Just make sure not to do it alone!

Blackout Haunted House has caused quite a stir these past few years with their ingenious take on what haunted houses can do. Located in Chelsea, Blackout passes on the buckets of blood and overwhelming effects of traditional haunted attractions and, instead, employs minimal décor and realistic situations to scare horror lovers in search of something new. And, boy, do they get something new! Past versions forced their willing victims to go through the warehouse alone, already breaking ground and grabbing the public’s attention/fear. What happens inside can be described as less of a haunted house and more as an immersive and horrific piece of theater. One year infamously involved patrons being fake waterboarded with a bag over their head and forced to bark like a dog to be released. Additionally, rumors spread like wildfire of the actors making them chew on used tampons and saving an actor from being sexually assaulted.

Of course, all of these events have been heavily rehearsed and involved fake props, but their realism really struck a nerve with New Yorkers. In fact, the creators, Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor, have reported their horrified customers running out of the house and almost into the street to get away from their attackers. This year’s edition, Blackout: House, forgoes the solitary experience for a group of one, but they’ve maintained their surreal reputation to replicate the feeling of being held hostage. With several years of success under its sleeve and another location in Los Angeles, Blackout has proved itself a formidable attraction every Halloween and those looking for a truly surreal experience ought to look no further.

For 11 seasons, New Yorkers have been treated to the demented attraction that is the haunted house Nightmare. Coming off two critically acclaimed seasons (Killers and Killers2), the creators of the city’s longest running haunted attraction have tackled the challenge of topping their numerous, past successes. However, this year’s edition has caused quite a stir as it gives thrill seekers an experience that may or may not hit a little too close to home. This year’s season is known as Nightmare: New York and it makes use of all the horrific legends and mythology that haunt this mysterious city. Not only will the citizens of New York witness classic legends such as Cropsey and sewer alligators, but also newer folklore like giant rats caused by Hurricane Sandy’s damage to the subway system will come to life.

In just about 25-minutes tops, patrons will start from New York’s beginnings as cursed Native American property and continue into the many killers and curses that hang over this town, a majority of which most citizens haven’t heard of yet. And, for an extra layer of immersion, those brave enough can ask to be marked with a red “X,” telling the actors that they’re allowed to get even more up close and personal with those adorned with the marking. With an eye for detail and grotesque realism, creator Timothy Haskell has promised to turn the things that make this city great, such as being immersed in history one couldn’t image, into an absolute nightmare.

If you think you’re brave enough, grab a friend, keep your eyes peeled, and head downtown for some of the best frights the city has to offer. No matter what scares you, be it blood and guts or realistic fears, you’ll be sure to find it in the concrete jungle. The question is, though, are you ready to find what the concrete jungle has for you? Happy Halloween!


Wanderlust Wednesday – Interesting Tourist Attractions

Found this interesting article on Huffington Post. Some of the sites are very appropriate for Halloween. The Paris Sewer Museum seems fun but Bubblegum Alley may be a touch to sticky and icky for me. Enjoy your travels and have a safe Halloween. What have been some of your strangest travel adventures? Share in the comments.


From the strange to the creepy to the gross, cities around the world have some bizarre tourist attractions.

Whether you have a love of all things odd or are looking for a break from everyday museums and monuments, these weird attractions are a must-see.

Check out some of the world’s most bizarre tourist attractions below!

Yunessun Spa Resort
yunessun spa resort
If you’ve always wanted to soak in your favorite beverage, a visit to Japan’s Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Hot Springs Amusement Park & Spa Resortis in order. Not only can you take a relaxing dip in your run-of-the-mill jacuzzis, but you can bathe in spas filled with sake, green tea, coffee or red wine.

Island Of The Dolls
xochimilco dolls

Mexico’s Isla de las Munecas is the perfect combination of creepy and flat-out weird. Dedicated to the lost soul of a young girl (creepy), the island is populated by hundreds of old, decomposing baby dolls hanging from trees (weird) — the dolls are believed to possess the soul of the dead girl. Go for the frights, and for the story.

Bubblegum Alley
bubblegum alley

Bubblegum Alley is an attraction you can be a part of. The wall of chewed bubblegum in San Luis Obispo, Calif., has been growing since the 1970s. The sticky, colorful wall is a must-see for gum chewers and those who want to ick out their germaphobe travel companions.

Avanos Hair Museum
avanos hair museum

There are some bizarre museums out there, and theAvanos Hair Museum is maybe one of the strangest in the world. A dark cavern that sits below a pottery shop, the “museum” features thousands of locks of hair.

Capuchin Catacombs
capuchin catacombs

Located in Palermo, Italy, the Capuchin Catacombs are bone-chillingly creepy. Eight thousand incredibly well-preserved mummies dressed in their finest garb line the walls of these tombs, which tourists can today stroll through. Many of the bodies are posed — making them even eerier. Avoid in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Karni Mata Temple
karni mata temple

Deshnok, India’s Karni Mata Temple — also known as the Temple of Rats — lives up to its name. The temple is named for the Goddess Karni, who believed her family members would never die, but rather be reincarnated as rats. The temple’s rat population is treated as sacred, giving protection to the temple. If you’re not a fan of rodents, don’t fear — they’re apparently very friendly.

Paris Sewer Museum
paris sewer museum

“Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers…” said Victor Hugo in his 1862 novel, Les Miserables, and now you, too, can hang out where the vagrants of yore passed their time. The Paris Sewer Museum takes you beneath the city and is dedicated to exploring the significance of the sewer system. History buffs will enjoy the educational experience, and everyone else will be just slightly weirded out.

Wanderlust Wednesday – Fall Festivals

Yes, fall has arrived and with it some interesting ways to spend time with your family. You could always go apple or pumpkin picking but why not try something new. Chitlins anyone?


Crisp weather and harvest season make for plenty of idyllic fall festivals — but autumnal celebrations need not focus on pumpkins, cider and hayrides alone. These fabulously out-of-the-box festivals generate passionate fans for their unique celebrations of nature and history — even if nature and history mean a surplus of biting insects or a runaway casket. Here’s where to go for some unconventional fun this fall:

Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade: Oct. 26, 2013

(photo: Flickr: Ancestors of Cornelius Dunham)
Back in 1889, Emma Crawford moved to the town of Manitou Springs, just outsideColorado Springs, to help her tuberculosis, but unfortunately she died. Some 40 years later, her poorly-buried coffin became unearthed and slid down a mountain into a canyon. Since 1994, the town has hosted a ghoulish parade in her honor on the weekend before Halloween, followed by a fabulously flippant race of souped-up coffins, carried by sprinting pall-bearers, and holding costumed Emmas sitting inside. Admission: Free.

Trailing of the Sheep Festival: Oct 10-13, 2013

(photo: Michael Edminster/Visit Idaho)

Sheep have outnumbered humans in Idaho for over a century, and this festival in Ketchum (about three hours east of Boise) observes the critters’ annual migration to the southern part of the state. The big event is the Sunday sheep parade, where you can follow 1,500 sheep down Ketchum’s Main Street; on other days you can watch the Championship Sheepdog Trials, dig in to lamb barbecue, and hear music from great sheep-loving nations such as Peru, Poland and the Basque region. Kids can learn about soap-making and wool-spinning, or create Christmas crafts. Admission: Free for the parade. Tickets to the sheepdog trials cost $2 per person aged 6 and up; free for kids 5 and under.

Fire Ant Festival: Oct. 11-12, 2013
About two hours east of Dallas, the town of Marshall, Texas claims to be the birthplace of boogie-woogie music — and it’s also home to plenty of pesky ants. The locals have embraced both at this annual festival, which features a lot of live music as well as a Fireant 5K, a cyclist-friendly Tour de Fireant, a costumed-ant-filled parade and a kids dancing contest.Admission: Free.
Wooly Worm Festival: Oct. 19-20, 2013

(photo: Woolly Worm Festival)

Move over, Punxsutawney Phil. For 35 years now, folks have been gathering in Banner Elk,North Carolina (about an hour and a half from Asheville), to use striped wooly worms predict the upcoming winter’s temperatures and compete for a cash prize of $1,000. These caterpillars have 13 stripes, and a season has 13 weeks; you lay odds on each week to correspond with each stripe. Aside from submitting predictions, you can enjoy fall foods and live entertainment — or enter the wooly worm races, picking your favorite worm as it climbs a string (which the festival website describes as “so indisputably ridiculous that it is completely liberating!”). Admission: $5 for adults; $2 for kids ages 5-12; free for kids 4 and under.

The Chitlin Strut: Nov. 30, 2013
Now in its 48th year, this annual festival celebrating fried chitlins—and always on the Saturday after Thanksgiving — was reportedly first created when the small town of Salley,South Carolina, needed to raise money for Christmas lights. Today, it’s a compelling antidote to turkey leftovers and Black Friday sales. Aside sampling the boiled or fried pig intestines, you can go on carnival rides, take part in “Strut Idol” or hog-calling contests, or visit with Santa, who perhaps knows how to put away a few chitlins himself. Admission:Idol contestants: $5 for adults, $3 for kids ages 5- 11, and free for kids 4 and under.

Katrina Brown Hunt contributed this to