By Bernie Ment
Ahh, October, that wonderful month where the leaves fall from the trees and the temperatures begin to drop to levels that beg one to remember that the white stuff is just around the corner. But don’t jump that gun just yet. It’s also that favorite time of year when people get to step out of the shells of everyday life, rip off that calm, cool and collected mask of societal acceptance and adopt a persona that reminds others that we live in a world of the walking dead and other creatures spawned in our nightmares. (Read Part 2 by clicking here.)
Welcome to Halloween, kids!
Here are a few haunted attractions to visit over the next month:
Fright Nights at the Fair at the New York State Fairgrounds – Solvay
Number of attractions: 5
This year, the Fright Nights team have been hard at work updating and upgrading the horrors and they’ve got five events to tempt the fear palette this go-around.
The clown prison is now “The revenge of IT,” an homage to the clown Pennywise made famous in the Stephen King novel “IT,” currently brought to life on the big screen.
The Haunted Mansion, Chainsaw Massacre and the Insane Asylum have returned in all new formats for the 2017 season complete with new rooms and scares to thrill attendees. Additionally, they’ve added a 3-D pirate adventure that will knock your socks off.
All five of the attractions are quick, fun and exciting and there are other activities to keep you entertained while you’re there. There’s a replica of the Ghostbusters car and several food vendors around the premises to keep your stomach growls from scaring other visitors.
Pricing: You can visit a single house for $10 but that would be insane. The combo ticket is just $25 for all five attractions and coupons are available throughout CNY that will knock $5 off that price!
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 7 PM to Midnight and Sundays from 7 PM to 11 PM.
For more info and directions, visit theFrightNights.com
My ratings: Revenge of IT – 4 out of 5 bloody pumpkins, Haunted House – 5 out of 5, Insane Asylum – 4.5 out of 5, Chainsaw Massacre – 5 out of 5 and the 3-D Pirate Adventure – 4.5 out of 5.
The Last Ride – Hastings, N.Y.
Number of attractions: 2
Another early bird attraction this year is the Last Ride attraction featuring two of the best scare attractions in CNY. There’s a haunted house and haunted hayride, both guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
The hayride is definitely the better of the two attractions and they’ve spent some time adding to the scare-o-meter this year. The wagon is pulled through the haunted forest and stops along the way as ghouls terrorize you in the dark. Some of the barns have creatures that attack from all sides, including from above. And there’s a great zip-line effect that makes a few appearances along the way.
You can do the hayride two different ways. The open air wagon is designed for visitors of all ages or you can ride in the hearse, which is a flat bed with several coffins leaning against the sideboards. The monsters will attack the wagon and terrorize those trapped in the coffins just for fun.
The haunted house is short, sweet and to-the-point, but packs more scares than many attractions far larger than the trailer in which it is housed. Scares lurk around every corner and you never know when something might grab at your ankles as you stumble your way through the predetermined pathway of doom.
There’s also a concession stand if you get hungry on your visit. Just don’t eat before you do the attractions. No sense fattening up and tempting the ghouls.
Pricing: Same as last year. You can ride the hayride for $12 or do the house for $10. A combo pass for both, though is just $20. If you prefer to ride the trail in the hearse, the price is $14 or you can do the hearse ride and house together for $22.
Hours: Friday and Saturdays throughout October from 7 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 7 to 10 p.m.
For more information and directions, visit thelastridepalermo.com
My ratings: The Haunted House – 4 out of 5 bloody pumpkins and The Haunted Hayride in Wagon – 4.5 out of 5 and in the Hearse – 5 out of 5.
The Trail of Terror – Volney, N.Y.
Number of attractions: 2
The trail is still the signature attraction here and it’s better than ever. They’ve added new constructs throughout the trail and ghouls pop out to scare visitors as they amble along the walkway. The bridge has been restored this year and the clowns at the end are gone, but you’ll still get chills as you try to find your way out of the frightful forest.
The haunted house hasn’t seen any many changes this year. You still have to crouch down in one section and ghouls make themselves known quite often as you feel your way through the darkness. The rotating tunnel was only half running when I went through on opening weekend, so hopefully they get that corrected as the season moves along.
This is the 27th year for this scarefest and the fun is still going strong. If you’re brave enough to buy a VIP ticket, you get to visit the séance room as a value-added bonus. The VIP pass also lets you skip the lines so it’s well worth the price on a busy night.
Pricing: The Trail and the Barn are $13 each. You can do the Trail and Barn together for $20 or get a VIP pass for $30.
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays throughout October from 7 to 11 p.m. nightly. Also Sunday Oct. 29 from 7 to 10 p.m.
For more information, visit thetrailofterror.com
My ratings: The Trail – 5 out of 5 bloody pumpkins, The Haunted House – 4 out of 5.
These are the early birds and there is more to come including Demon Acres and my personal favorite Frightmare Farms. Watch for those next week.
Remember to use discretion when bringing children to these events. Some of the imagery can be very intense for visitors of all ages. The monsters generally do not touch visitors but can still be very intimidating, so exercise restraint before lashing out at the ghouls. And as with everything else, enjoy the attractions responsibly.