For some, the Halloween season isn’t complete without the adrenaline rush of visiting a haunted house — or several.
“People just like that horror, that paranormal, that intensity, because they can only really get it once a year,” said Andrea Conyers, amusement operations manager for Bingemans Screampark in Kitchener.
This year, Screampark’s 13th season, there are nine themed “haunts” showcasing a range of horrors.
A tour lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Not everyone makes it, but there’s the option to slip out through one of the “chicken out” exits.
“This year alone, we’re close to 600 chickens,” Conyers said.
Screampark is one of the many spooky experiences that cater to adults and teens around the province this season, including haunted houses, farms and mazes — even a train ride described as an “apocalyptic nightmare.”
Here’s a look at some of Ontario’s local haunts.
Greater Toronto Area
If the rollercoasters aren’t enough to make you scream, head to Canada’s Wonderland during the Halloween season.
There’s a full slate of mayhem hosted by more than 700 monsters at Halloween Haunt. The attractions include haunted areas, a corn maze, and performances by a group called the Dixieland Zombie Marching band. (“Watch your step or you might just become the next member of the band,” the website states).
Halloween Haunt is not recommended for children under 13.
At Legends of Horror, sinister characters from literature’s depths come to life during an hour-long walk through a real castle and its grounds.
The event, which has billed itself as promenade theatre rather than a haunted house, takes participants through Casa Loma’s tunnels and areas not open to the public. The event is all ages, but children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, and parental discretion is advised.
Screemers boasts more than 120 actors playing out the stuff of nightmares in seven “haunted walk-through-themed horror mazes.” One of those themes is Christmas, so watch out for Evil Santa.
Midway rides and an illusion show are included in the cost of admission. Screemers is not recommended for anyone under 10.
Bizarros Factory of Fear features enclosed spaces, projection effects and, as a video posted on YouTube shows, actors ready to jump out and scare you.
“I just s– myself!,” said one rather honest reviewer on the Bizzaros website.
The terror is said to last about five minutes, two if you’re rushing to escape!
A few of the Hamilton Bulldogs gave it a try earlier this fall:
The Phantom Farm is “created primarily for teenagers, but designed to scare the heck out of anybody.”
The haunt boasts three spooky areas, the graveyard, the barn and the forest, where you can go on a haunted hayride.
In what may be a trend among OHL teams, the Oshawa Generals also decided to check it out.
Bingmans Screampark is one of the biggest haunts in Ontario. This year, in addition to hosting nine horror-filled attractions or “testing sites,” the terror has ratcheted up a few notches through a new continuous format.
There are no lines to wait in between attractions — and no chance to catch your breath. The event is not recommended for those under 12.
At some haunted house amusements, there’s an early exit option for those who can’t take any more horror and gore. What makes the Terror Train in Waterloo Region unique is that it’s a real train ride. And like on a regular train, once it leaves the station, you just can’t up and leave.
The storyline for the ride is an apocalypse scenario where passengers are fleeing town due to a mysterious virus that is spreading.
“Stuff’s just going to happen. That’s all I can really say,” said Andrea Conyers of Bingemans Screampark, which has partnered with the Waterloo Central Railway to host this special Halloween event.
At Fear Farm, there are six horror-themed attractions to explore, including new scares this year.
Visitors will brave evil clowns, zombies in the corn stalks, homicidal hillbillies and more. There’s a hayride too — but the Fear Farm folks warn you might jump out of your seat.
The intended audience is 16 and up.
Kusterman’s After Dark features two haunts — one inside a barn, said to be the former residence of a farmer’s daughter who disappeared. The other takes participants for a moonlit walk into the cornstalks — what could possibly go wrong, right?
The haunts are recommended for ages 14 and up. They are part of a wider fall festival with attractions including a flashlight maze and a coffin simulator.
Haunt Manor in Niagara Falls sounds more like a whole haunted town.
In addition to a haunted house, there’s a haunted jail, an attic, a graveyard, a diner and a “Bates Motel.”
Also of note, a sinister clown named Daddy Red is hosting what’s described as a live freak show.
Fright Fest at Saunders Farm has five fright zones to get your heart racing, some based on a story of a farmer-scientist who supposedly conducted gruesome experiments on the property.
There’s lots more to check out on site, including live performances and food.
On peak nights, the website recommends visitors give themselves four hours.