Blood on my hands: The haunted houses of Austin
Do you have what it takes to survive the haunted houses in Austin? I thought I did, but I was totally wrong. From creepy clowns to non-stop screams, here's what you can expect at some of Austin's most popular haunted hotspots.
523 Highland Mall Boulevard
The House of Torment has been featured on the Travel Channel and rated the “Second Spookiest Haunted House” by Good Morning America. It’s very popular, so be prepared to wait in line. (The Saturday I was there, lines reached up to two hours for tickets and three hours to get in.) Pro tip: you can buy your tickets online to skip the first wait. You can also purchase a VIP pass that lets you skip all lines and go straight into the haunted houses, which I recommend if you can afford it.
Waiting in line can be entertaining, though, as different monsters follow unsuspecting customers around the parking lot. You’ll also be privy to some entertaining high school gossip if you eavesdrop in line. If you’re really lucky, a middle-aged woman with a water bottle full of vodka and juice will offer you shots.
There are actually two different haunted houses here: one has a clone theme and other is pirate themed. (I was too busy screaming too really notice the details). I was worried that the crowds would make the haunted house less scary, but the fact that there are groups of people directly behind and in front of you as you go through the haunted house does not matter, as it is planned out well.
After finishing the first haunted house, I was too scared to move on to the second one and had to drink some tea since I lost my voice from screaming. The house is fairly long and the production value is high and impressive. I recommend going on a weeknight to avoid the crowds and teenagers.
9185 Research Boulevard
Night Terrors is located in what looks to be an old car dealership off of 183. After being so horrified by the House of Torment, I was a little skeptical that Night Terrors could top it...but I found myself more terrified than I thought possible.
The winding hallways were definitely not as crowded, since they spaced all the parties out so it felt like you were the only ones going through the haunted house. That meant every single monster was focused on my friend and I as we passed through; they also took my name in the beginning and repeated “Get Kerri!” throughout the journey.
Night Terrors is also an interactive haunted house. Sometimes you would have to try a few exits to get out of a room. I don’t want to give away too much, but at one point I broke down and cried hard. I haven’t cried that hard since my friends ditched me at Dorney Park freshman year of high school.
If you are hesitant at all about haunted houses, this is not the place for you. If you are looking for an intense scare, definitely check it out. It’s a great alternative to the House of Torment if you don’t want to wait in the long lines on the weekend. Warning: they sell ponchos because fake blood is used. I ended leaving with a fair amount of blood on my hands as well as an intense need to not go inside a haunted house for a long, long time.
74200 Coldwater Canyon Drive
Now in it’s fifth year, this popular attraction benefits a different local cancer charity every year. This fall, the event spotlights the Breast Cancer Research Center. It guarantees to be “Austin's only extreme, full contact, interactive haunted house adventure.” You can choose regular or red level admission: red level is said to be bloodier and more physically challenging.
To give you an idea: the website warns you to wear old clothes and be ready to walk, run and crawl. They even suggest wearing coveralls. How often are you going to get to wear coveralls? I’m very intrigued.
Tickets are running out fast, so if you are interested you should go online soon and reserve a spot before they are completely sold out.
If you're looking for a less terrifying spook this Halloween, try once of these less-haunted alternatives:
303 Red River (meets on Moonshine’s Patio)
These walking tours take you through spots connected with local ghost stories of downtown Austin. Get your scare on without all the creepy, in-your-face clowns of a haunted house.
10621 Pioneer Farms Drive
Pioneer Farms offers a family friendly Halloween walking tour across the Chisholm Trail, a leisurely course that runs through the farm grounds. Four nights only, beginning October 21st.