Houston’s best haunted houses
The spirit of All Hollows’ Eve is upon us and the revelry has already begun. This year many haunted attractions can be found around Houston but two of the best known are Phobia and Screamworld.
A seemingly abandoned train track reveals a gravel road that leads to a clearing surrounded by dark woods, the kind of drive fueled by that unnatural mixture of fear and excitement that Halloween is about. Walking into the darkness of the venue conjures images of a 1950’s horror flick and an abandoned 1980’s amusement park.
The adventure begins with Mind Control so prepare for blackout darkness, deafening sounds and a continuous death wish. This one will disturb you for sure; for added terror yell out your friend’s name and see what happens. Across the way is Dark Institute: Psychiatrics. Here, the mental patients are in charge and you wonder if the actors are really actors. Normal scenery and playful sounds were much to be feared, definitely leaves you wanting more.
Located on the opposite end is 3D Clown Phobia, think Killer Klowns From Outerspace meets Insane Clown Posse. Before entering, you are given a pair of glasses that create mind-bending optical illusions that make you second guess what is real and what is imagined!
Next door is Exile (the 3 for 1 experience) which mostly takes place amongst darkened woods and post nuclear civilization. Creaky wooden walkways weave through dank log cabins and abandoned cars as the swamp unfolds to reveal an apocalyptic nightmare.
After exiting Exile, stagger across the gravel road to the left imbedded in overgrown vegetation you find Claustrophobia and Dawn of Machines both in ramshackle décor with a metal distortion laden.
The top three houses at Phobia are Exile, Claustrophobia and Dawn of Machines. And if you’re wondering, yes, they have exits inside all houses. Phobia is equipped with security, free parking, ATM’s, concessions and bathrooms! If you want to enjoy this experience, go early around 9 and bring 3 or 4 friends. For maximum pleasure or fright, stay in the middle of the crowd.
House attractions can be bought at one house for $13, two for $25, and three for $30. Add $10 for additional houses, length can vary generally about 15 minutes long plus the line. Exile is the only one that is purchased at $30 since it is a 3-in-one attraction and can be 20-30 minutes in length, but only purchased as one ticket. For more info or discounts go to www.darke.com.
In the outskirts of Houston off I-45 North is the reincarnation of the slaughterhouse found in your nightmares. Be prepared since the
lines can be long, but for an added fee, you may take the VIP Quick Pass. Screamworld combines Maze of Maniacs, The Haunted Hotel, The Edge of Darkness, Jake’s Slaughterhouse and Zombie Graveyard. The maze and graveyard are both outside and can be omitted if necessary. The others flow into one another, but exits are made available for the weak.
This nightmare begins with a chain link maze. You will find no themes here but a continuous experience of layered fear. Once in, you are lead through a darkened tunnel, which you can touch. The walls then become disfigured as your index finger slips into an eye socket or several of them. Scenery switches from dungeons to pyscho realms of fright.
The temperature can be uncomfortable at times and confining as well. A descending staircase leads you through the fog to surprising scuttles and a lurch at every corner.
Parking is $5 on Fridays and Saturdays benefiting the Boy Scouts. You can also find actual gypsies on site for palm reading and tarot cards. Concessions, ATM’s and bathrooms are also available. Thursdays are discount nights. General Admission is $25 and the VIP Quick Pass is $29 online and onsite $35. Note: Some service fees apply for online purchases. Time length varies. Check out the site for discounts www.screamworld.com.
Which haunted house in Houston do you think is best?