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Thrills and Chills: Ghost Tours and Haunted Houses

October is prime time for ghouls, zombies and other creatures of the night, and there are plenty of ghost tours and haunted houses where you can encounter them . . . if you dare. Here are a few great places to get scared out of your wits this Halloween season:

Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary  | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  Eastern State Penitentiary

As though prisons weren’t scary enough, Terror Behind the Walls takes frightful experiences to a whole new level by turning an entire penitentiary into a haunted attraction. There’s a pitch black 1800s cell block, a prison break with inmates on the run, a terrifying prison infirmary offering no escape, and an attraction called Quarantine 4D that simulates hallucinations and other mind-altering effects. New this year is “The Hex Challenge,” where guests can enter a secret room to join forces with the creepy characters inside and ultimately escape this massive haunted prison.

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Haunted Overload | Lee, New Hampshire

The mission of Haunted Overload is to be one of the most creative and unique haunted attractions in New England and it has twice been voted one of the top 13 haunted attractions in the country. It offers three levels of fear. The “Day Haunt” is ideal for young kids or others who scare easily. They can meander through the props and sets during the day without fear that someone is going to jump out at them. The next level is “Fright Night Lite” which allows guests to experience the attraction’s spectacular lighting and sound effects in in a “monster-free” nighttime setting. Finally, there’s “Haunted Overload,” an award-winning horror show that pulls out all the stops. It’s billed as “the most frightening forest in New England” and offers a fully-immersive Halloween experience with twisted characters awaiting guests at every turn.

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The Voodoo Bone Lady Haunted Tours | New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has been called “America’s Most Haunted City,” and this company (you’ve got to love the name) takes five separate haunted tours and rolls them into one. The tour goes through the “mystical and mysterious” realms of voodoo, vampires, ghosts, witchcraft and pirates. It also visits the sites of actual documented hauntings and shares “the most ghastly and horrific” history that New Orleans can claim.

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The Edge of Hell | Kansas City, Missouri

This attraction is now in its 41st year, and includes two haunted houses.  The first one, The Beast, has been named among the top 13 haunted houses in the nation for years. Visitors make their way past dramatic scenes on four floors for a true 4D experience that includes movie-quality special effects, holograms, props, animatronics and a real alligator. The second haunted house, the Edge of Hell, has also received national acclaim. It focuses on phobias and features a five-story “fright from heaven to hell” plus the world’s largest living snake – a 350 lb. python.  Visitors are ushered in by Rat Man and other scary cast members.

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The 13th Floor | Denver, Colorado Clowns

Billed as the largest haunted house in Denver, this attraction takes its name from the floor that doesn’t exist in most high-rise buildings, but it does here. It promises to be a haunted house created from your darkest fears. The three new attraction themes for 2016 include Slasher Remix designed to bring your worst slasher nightmares to life, Undead: Abominations with walking corpses terrorizing deep dark passageways of the underground, and Cursed: The Ritual with ravenous, undead werewolves that have been revived by an evil sorcerer. Oh, and did we mention they have red eyes? It’s apparently a sure sign that they’ve been possessed.

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Spooked in Seattle | Seattle, Washington

This 90-minute tour is led by real paranormal experts and is offered in association with AGHOST (Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle Tacoma), the oldest paranormal investigation group in the Pacific Northwest. Guests are invited to join these real ghost hunters for an evening of spirited tales within Seattle’s unique neighborhoods on a guided tour of some of the cities most haunted sites, including Seattle’s famous underground. The tour also includes information about ghosts and the guides offer some of the evidence collected during investigations.

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Fear Farm and Haunted Hayride | Phoenix, Arizona Pumpkins

Located on the west side of Phoenix, the Fear Farm Haunted House features the mythical legend of a ferocious half man/half goat called the Goatman, as well as alien undead and other alien beasts, two creepy clowns named Tremmors and Flinch, and the scary roar of chainsaws at the Slidell Family Slaughterhouse. New for 2016 is a haunted hayride through 10 acres of corn populated by evil spirits who have an “intense craving for human flesh.”

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Check the websites of the haunted houses or ghost tours you’re interested in for schedules and ticket information. And be sure to observe any warnings they post – many of these attractions are not suitable for young children or the faint of heart!