Haunted houses are the black jelly beans of the holiday entertainment world – you either really love them or really hate them.
If you’re the former…well…now might be a good time to stop reading. If you’re the latter, settle in. Your October is about to get awesome.
New York City is extreme about everything, from its weather to its hybrid pastries, so it’s no surprise that NYC’s haunt industry is the most intense you’ll find anywhere. [Side note: How cool is it that the ‘haunt industry’ is a thing??]
Haunted mazes and slightly creepy hayrides just don’t cut it here. We need gore. We need groping. We need physical and psychological torture (and no, we’re not talking about riding the G train). We need something that will truly scare the bejeezus out of the toughest people on the planet.
We need… these New York haunted houses. The attractions on this list cater to adult audiences, which means extreme physical contact, safe words, abduction, violence, nudity, electric shocks, and waivers before you can experience any of it.
If you want a Halloween that completely shatters the traditional rules and limitations of haunted attractions, you’ve come to the right place. We’re counting down the scariest, most intense experiences New York City has to offer this October, starting with…
#4 The Gravesend Inn
Image: tienmao / Gravesend Inn
Fright fans won’t find this one quite as blood-curdlingly creepy as the other entrants on this list, but it’s worth a visit for other reasons. The Gravesend Inn is a high-tech haunted hotel produced every year by Theatreworks, City Tech’s resident theatrical troupe that trains students to design, build, and maintain attractions at high-end theme parks.
What makes the project so cool is that, unbeknownst to them, the audience actually runs the whole thing. The Gravesend Inn experience is controlled entirely by audience actions, which trigger sensors that run the lights, sound, and video. If no one’s there, nothing happens. If you’re there, the show follows you until you exit and reacts to everything you do. Which, to be honest, is a pretty terrifying thought all on its own.
Dates: October 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and November 1
Location: Voorhees Theatre, 186 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (map)
Admission: $5 for students (with ID) and group admission / $8 for general sales / Free to New York City College of Technology students with ID the day of the event
Fright Factor: Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion
#3 Blood Manor
Image: Blood Manor
Blood Manor is celebrating 10 years of causing New Yorkers to crap themselves this October, and we don’t even want to know what kind of creeptacular clowns they’ll have at the birthday party. If you’re into the classics, Blood Manor features all the traditional forms of guts and gore – from blood-covered brides to bloodthirsty butchers to spooky strippers. The 5,000 square foot space will also be adding a few new attractions to the line-up this year, including something called ‘Maggot Invasion’ that already makes us want to shower.
To up the insanity, attend on “Touch Me Thursdays” so you can find out exactly what it feels like to be groped by a hungry zombie or one of the “Lights Out Nights,” when you must face Blood Manor armed with only a glowstick.
Dates: October 1 – November 8 (check schedule for exact dates)
Location: 163 Varick St, New York, NY 10013 (map)
Admission: $30-$35 for general admission / $50-$60 for express entry / $28 for general admission for groups of 15 or more
Fright Factor: Warn your roommate ahead of time to expect a snuggle buddy tonight.
#2 Nightmare: New York
Image: Nightmare NYC
Nightmare: New York has made its name by eschewing ghouls and goblins in favor of frightening attendees with real-life terrors. For the last two years, the focus has been on IRL killers like Charles Manson and Aileen Wuornos (plus a special appearance by a coked-up Patrick Bateman). This year, Nightmare is taking on its hometown and diving headfirst into New York City’s very own heart of darkness.
In case you’d forgotten that NYC is actually a totally terrifying place to live, Nightmare will remind you with recreations of the city’s legendary horror stories and urban legends. Cropsey, mole people, the 1980s subway…it’s all there. Volunteer to be marked with a bloody “X” if you’re especially brave/demented and would like to be manhandled by the cast of psychopaths.
Dates: September 26 – November 1
Location: Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002 (map)
Admission: $30-$34 for general admission / $50-$60 for VIP / $20 for student rush tix at the door
Fright Factor: Bring spare undies.
When we say that Blackout goes above and beyond what all other New York haunted houses do, what we really mean is Blackout goes straight to the darkest depths of hell and drags you down with it. This is the single most extreme experience you’ll have this October – so extreme that you have to sign a waiver before you’re allowed in and you’re given a safe word in case you need to tap out.
Folks who braved Blackout have reported getting groped, getting abducted, being forced to put things in their mouths, getting faux-waterboarded, being fake-peed on, and walking barefoot down a hallway covered in “used” condoms. Oh, and did we mention that you’ll have to travel through this psychosexual terror extravaganza alone? Have fun with your nightmares, kids.
Dates: October 9 – November 8
Location: 225 E Houston St New York, NY 10002 (map)
Fright Factor: Go ahead and book the appointment with your therapist now. You’ll thank us later.
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Header Image: Gaudencio Garcinuño