By Liz Fuga
Late September indicates the start of the Halloween season for one reason: almost every haunted attraction opens the last week of September. If you love live, scary entertainment, the Pittsburgh area is an excellent place to be as it offers some of the best haunts in the country.
The Hundred Acre Manor (1 Acre Drive, Bethel Park, PA)
This haunt constantly appears in national “best” lists for good reason. Even though it’s a bit out of the way, it has excellent in-line entertainment and numerous attractions other than the haunt itself. The opening set, the haunted manor itself, is authentic (as in the house is old). It’s uncomfortable: creaky, uneven, and with the slight smell of decay, which is perfect for a horror attraction. The outside sets are highly inventive, and I particularly enjoyed the “dragon lair” they had last year (and that I hope comes back this year). Constantly moving between outside and inside was very disorienting, and, in a way, very unnerving. You could never quite tell where you were. All around, it was an excellent experience.
Scarehouse (436 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA)
This haunt has appeared on the Travel Channel’s special of the nation’s best haunts. Like Hundred Acre Manor, it is not difficult why it is so acclaimed. It is situated in an old theater and makes use of the crumbling marquee and behind-the-scenes technical rooms. The sets were numerous, diverse and very inventive, my personal favorite being their “Zombies of Pittsburgh” attraction. They recreated various city landmarks, including the original Primanti Brothers. Although, a close second would be the highly disorienting “rave” set. The effects were surreal, eerie and a lot of fun. The haunt did not feel too long or too short. The only downside was the live-entertainment which was a bit half-hearted.
Terrortown (Smallman St. & 17th St., Pittsburgh, PA)
The surprising standout of my excursion was a new (as of 2011) haunt, Terrortown. The venue was small, but they made great use of the claustrophobic atmosphere. What really made this one stand out, though, was the acting. Terrortown had the most interactive cast of any of the haunts I visited. The actors never rushed me through one area to the other, and I was actually able to hold conversations with some of the characters. There is nothing quite as eerie as talking to a person so deep in character that you forget they are playing one. It puts you right there in the moment and is very scary and extremely entertaining. Although, as I neared the end of the haunt, the actors has lost a lot of steam and the cast couldn’t be bothered to try to scare me. There was no life or excitement in the last quarter. Still, I can’t help but recommend it if you’re curious. I hope Terrortown is as good this year.
All of these haunts were amazing and would easily recommend any one of them (or all of them). I certainly hope they are able to give us another great Halloween season. There are plenty more haunts in the area though, and I would love to hear about them. Please, post your opinions on haunted attractions in areas you may have been to, or opinions on the ones mentioned above.