Scare City

Previews of some of Cincinnati’s BEST haunted houses

click to enlarge Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
Halloween Haunt at Kings Island

Can’t decide whether you want to be chased through cornfields by zombies, encounter Dracula and Wolfman or explore some of the darkest parts of the city? With this haunted house preview guide, all you have to do is read, pick your poison and get ready to run.

The Chambers of Horror

Classically dark and monstrously nightmarish, the Chambers will be closing its doors for good after 35 hellish years of haunting. Just be sure to escape in time, or you’ll risk being locked behind one of the Chambers’ hundreds of doors, with no light at the end of the tunnel. With more than 30 detailed rooms designed to keep you isolated from other groups and a trained cast of haunters, it’s like being trapped in your own horror movie. Only one path sets you free, while other doors just lead you into deeper and darker scares. Runtime about 26 minutes. Dusk-midnight Fridays; dusk-1 a.m. Saturdays. Through Nov. 1. $13. The old Cambridge Inn building, 1601 S. University Blvd., Middletown, thechambers.org.

The Dent Schoolhouse

One of Buzzfeed’s “19 Terrifying Haunted Houses You Should Experience Before You Die,” the tragedy within the 19th century Dent Schoolhouse cannot and should not be denied — even if it (or its now-infamous murderous janitor) kills you. The school itself is a history lesson in hellish horror: Abandoned decades ago, legend has it that several children vanished from the schoolhouse nearly 70 years ago and were later found dead and decaying in barrels, wedged behind the walls of the janitorial basement. Their paranormal presence is still felt there today. Although janitor Charlie, the prime suspect, disappeared along with the children, he comes back with a vengeance each year to haunt all who enter. The half-hour tour through the schoolhouse features between 50 and 65 trained and expertly costumed actors, cutting-edge technology and animatronics. Get a hall pass and be prepared to run through the haunted halls only to escape to the Queen City Slaughter Yard, an outdoor maze filled with blood, butchered hogs and guys chasing you with chainsaws. For a real scare, there are special lights-out exclusive tours Nov. 1 and 2. Want to hear about the schoolhouse’s paranormal activity firsthand? On Wednesdays, Dent offers guided ghost tours to the most haunted spots in the school, with history lessons and behind-the-scenes looks. Snag tickets online — they sell out fast. 7:30-10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; 7:30 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 2. $20; $30 fast-pass; $40 front-of-line; $10 adult lights-on tour; $5 children lights-on tour; $15 lights-off tour; $25 ghost tour. 5963 Harrison Ave., Harrison, 513-598-4600, frightsite.com.

Halloween Haunt at Kings Island

After the sun goes down, the park is transformed into a nightmare-come-true where evil reigns supreme. Kings Island’s carnival of terror returns this season with the region’s largest band of ghosts, goblins and ghouls. You’ll be constantly looking over your shoulder as you brave 15 haunted paths, mazes and walk-throughs. The main event is a collection of 15 haunted sites, including the Delta Delta Die haunted sorority house, the 28 Days Later-inspired Urgent Scare, the killer clowns of CarnEvil and Madame Fatale’s Cavern of Terror. Family game night takes on a whole new meaning with Board to Death, where favorite board games come to life in the deadliest of ways. Walk down the sideshow that is Freak Street, then step into Club Blood — a nightclub that’s more True Blood than Twihard. There are also live performances, including a chance to see Ghouls Gone Wild, a stage show with Frankenstein, his bride, the Mummy and Wolfman recreating Rock hits. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturdays. Through Oct. 26. $26.99 Fridays; $32.99 Saturdays; $35-$75 fast-lane passes; $10.99 Fright Feast all-you-can-eat buffet; discount tickets online. 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visitkingsisland.com.

The Dungeons of Delhi
Photo: Citybeat Archives

The Dungeons of Delhi

Charity and bloodlust are an unlikely pair to say the least, but at the Dungeons, they are a match made in heaven … or hell. Get your heart pounding and blood pumping for a couple of good causes: The Delhi Police Explorers, a law enforcement career introduction program for teenagers, and The Anderson Food Bank. For 21 years, the Dungeons have been delivering horrifying scenes straight out of nightmares, ghost stories and horror movies with believable handcrafted props, homemade costumes and an all-volunteer staff. And if you’re unlucky enough to be one of the last ones out, you can request a full zombie horde to chase you to your car. All proceeds benefit the charities. 8 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays; lights-on tours 6-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 1. $10; $8 with a canned good; $5 re-entry; $3 lights-on tours nightly. 362 Anderson Ferry Road, in the rear of Del-Fair Shopping Center, Delhi, 513-473-0848, dungeonsofdelhi.com.

Heritage Village Museum Haunted Village

The Heritage Village Museum offers some slightly frightening family fun. Take a wagon ride through the recreated 19th century Ohio village as a ragtag group of zombies chase behind, or stroll the cemetery and be entertained by the headless horseman, a mad scientist, a fortune teller and witches. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to dress in costume for face painting, games, balloon-animal making and more. 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Oct. 10-25. $8; $3 per day Hamilton County parking pass; free for museum members. 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, 513-563-9484, heritagevillagecincinnati.org.

Highway 50 Fright Field

This haunted adventure is located on an 1830s farm near a real American Indian archaeological site with too many ghost stories to count. Walk through a cornfield, down a haunted trail and into a cemetery “gone bad,” encountering ghosts, ghouls, zombies, freaky scarecrows and other live scares hiding in the field. Runtime about 25 minutes. 8 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Through Oct. 25. $10; $8 children 12 and younger. 1294 US Highway 50, North Bend, Ohio, 513-353-0284, highway50frightfield.com.

Land of Illusion

Step right up for an old-school haunted theme park that puts a scream-worthy spin on classic horror blockbusters. Take a page from Indiana Jones himself as you enter the Temple of Terror, and then the Re-Animator-esque confines of Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate. Try to escape Killer Klowns that make Stephen King’s It seem like child’s play, then grab a chainsaw of the Texas variety for the Voodoo Bayou Shanty. All of this leads up to the esteemed Middletown Haunted Trail, which offers a mile of haunts and an eerie cemetery of school buses that will leave you hoarse from screaming. For an additional 13 bones, there’s the Zombie Sniper Patrol, where you’ll ride in a military transport and fire paintballs in an attempt to eliminate a zombie horde Walking Dead-style. With a working knowledge of the horror genre, you should make it out alive. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 8-11:30 p.m. Sundays; 8 p.m.-midnight Oct. 31. Through Nov 2. $24.99 Sundays; $34.99 Fridays and Saturdays; $15 optional fast pass; $12.99 Zombie Patrol ticket; $5 parking. 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, 513-423-9960, thelandofillusion.com.

Lewisburg Haunted Cave

Venture underground into this historic 80-foot-deep mine to brave a seemingly never-ending maze where you’ll encounter brown bats by the thousands, hundreds of feet of haunted bridges and at least an hour of mayhem (in 2010, the cave was Guinness certified as the longest walk-through horror house). Cross real, rickety footbridges in the pitch-black as underwater terrors grasp for your feet in an attempt to bring you down to the dark with them. If you make it down the bridge alive, the devil’s maze awaits with person-sized indoor pyrotechnics that rival hell’s own fiery depths. 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Through Oct. 31. $16 adults; $5 children 10 and younger; coupons available online. 4392 Swisher Mill Road, Lewisburg, 937-962-5602, hauntedcaveatlewisburg.com.

The Mayhem Mansion

Travel back in time to the Roaring ‘20s when this alleged real-life murder house and speakeasy was at its haunted, murderous prime. Owner Robert Haverford was driven so mad by the death of his young daughter, he poisoned the entire town at her in-home funeral and left them rotting in the basement. Decades later, there is still much to explore and much to fear: its off-putting, boarded-up farmhouse vibe is transformed into the stuff of night terrors with an intense team of all-volunteer actors who bring the mansion’s ghoulish family ties to life in a very hands-on way. They don’t take kindly to visitors, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Got an unquenchable thirst for blood? Save the date for an “adults only, extreme, hands on” tour that promises to be so creepy that IDs will be checked at the door. There will be blood — enough to make management advise thrill-seekers to wear old clothing and bring plastic bags to avoid blood soaked car seats on the drive home … if you make it that far. 8 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 2. $14; $10 Haverford’s Hollow Trail; $8 children 10 and under; $5-$8 re-entry; $5-$8 fast pass. 13966 DeCoursey Pike, Morning View, Ky., 859-356-DEAD, themayhemmansion.com.

USS Nightmare
Photo: Provided

The USS Nightmare

All aboard the “death dredge” to experience one of the city’s most nightmarish and reportedly authentic haunted sites for a half-hour of thrills on a riverboat. A tour of the USS Nightmare’s impressive crew of actors and movie-quality effects includes run-ins with the infamous rat girl, the captain — who died aboard the ship — and pit monster, plus new scenes of the equally terrifying galley and crew quarters. This sinister labyrinth of horrific twists and turns promises to leave its crowds of guests breathless. A special lights-on matinee ($6 online) 4-6 p.m. Oct. 19 is for those too young (or too scared) for the regular show. Take the Unrated eXtreme Captain’s Tour ($23 online) for an insane experience 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Oct. 24-25, where actors get up close and personal in a darker ship with more extreme special effects. 7-11 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 1. $15 Wednesdays; $18 Thursdays-Sundays; $22 RIP Express online. Newport on the Levee, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., ussnightmare.com.

Mount Healthy Haunted Hall

The Mount Healthy Haunted Hall is an old-school haunt that can take more than 40 minutes to explore. Relive Halloween haunts with a trip back to haunted house’s 1970s-past with handmade props and scenery brought to life with a dedicated cast of characters sure to deliver real scares in crafty ways. This season, relive the silver screen’s scariest moments with a twist. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West turned into an all-powerful Wicked Witch of ooze, as well as all the classics from Dracula to Wolfman and visitors from the Bates Motel. You’ll get lost in a blackout maze, flee from zombies and bow to the devil if you want to get out alive. Proceeds benefit the Madonna Council Knights of Columbus and several youth organizations. Special lights-on tour 6-6:45 p.m. Oct. 26 ($5 children; free for adults). 8-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7-9 p.m. Sundays. Through Nov. 1. $10; $8 with a canned good; $15 fast pass. 7700 Seward Ave., Mount Healthy, 513-729-1974, hauntedhallinfo.com.

St. Rita School for the Deaf Haunted House

With almost four decades under its belt, the Queen City’s oldest haunted house — an early 1900s boys dormitory on St. Rita school grounds — still reigns supreme with a dark yet surprisingly kid-friendly eeriness that includes creative and classic handmade props, Dracula, the Wolfman and a horde of spooky zombies. Its all-volunteer acting team remains dedicated to providing spooky yet mild scares for the young and the young at heart. Proceeds benefit St. Rita’s School for the Deaf. There’s a special lights-on, masks-off, trick-or-treating matinee for children ($2) 3-5 p.m. Oct. 25-26. 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 7-11 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays. Through Nov. 1. $10; free parking; coupons and group rates available online. St. Rita School for the Deaf, 1720 Glendale Milford Road, Evendale, 513-771-1060, srsdeaf.org.

Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride

Journey to this haunted farm to experience acres of spooktacular entertainment thanks to one hell of a hayride. Now in its ninth year, the haunted hayride takes you through 25 minutes of cinema horrors past and present, including Jeepers Creepers, Friday the 13th, The Purge and more. Watch out for the Headless Horseman, masked little girls wielding bloody axes and a gang of hillbillies out for revenge as the wagon journeys through thrilling scenes along its haunted trail. Be prepared for screams all around when demonic actors hitch a ride. For an additional $10, get lost in Farmers Revenge, a relatively short barn maze with a crazed farmer, clowns and claustrophobia. 8 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Through Oct. 26. $12 hayride; $15 hayride VIP; $10 Farmer’s Revenge; $20 combo. 4172 Belleview Road, Petersburg, Ky., 859-322-0516, sandylandacres.com.

Scream Acres Ct

Scream Acres is packed with nearly every theme you could imagine. This all-in-one haunted house crams five themes into 20,000-square-feet. One turn and you could end up buried alive, the next you’re in a funeral home where the dead aren’t exactly … dead. Then there’s the terrifying Deliverance-come-true nightmare that is Hillbilly Revenge. Another twist and you find yourself in a funhouse that makes you realize that your fears of It were justified. Before you know it, another wrong turn and you’re in the pitch-black of Blackout with the sneaking suspicion you’re not alone. But what might be most horrifying is that this scream fest was once a beloved Johnny’s Toys, where some of us spent our birthdays turning the key to Johnny’s magic castle. 8-11 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 8. $16; $20 combo ticket; $30 VIP combo ticket. 4399 Boron Drive, Covington, Ky., 513-703-7384, cincyscreams.com.

Springboro Haunted Hayride

Board the tractor-drawn hayride from hell and brace yourself for a dark journey that drips with a righteous backwoods evil. On the mile-long ride, you’ll be chased by creeps wielding chainsaws and machetes, renegade clowns, lost souls and violent creatures, and just when you think you’ve escaped, they’ll hop right on board with you — weapons and all. Make your way to the Black Bog haunted trail afterward to run for your life through an equally horrifying corn maze. Sundown-11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through Oct. 26. $12 hayride; $12 bog; $22 combo. 6070 Springboro Road, Lebanon, 937-748-2272, springborohauntedhayride.com.

Wilmington Haunted Hollow Ride

This haunted bus ride through the forests of Clinton County never fails to offer new twists and scares each season. Start your journey in a fog-filled tunnel, riding through the hollow and an abandoned rattlesnake mine as fire-breathing semi-trucks and live actors chase you. Then, if you dare, brave a tour of the strange and off-putting underground Slaughter Hotel, where the sleuths of the group will uncover the rumored secret floor and electrical laboratory where Samuel Slaughter tried to make his own bride. Also on Slaughter’s property is the Nightmare Penitentiary, a prison for the criminally insane, haunted by isolated and deranged dark souls. 8-11:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through Nov. 1. $15 Haunted Hollow ride; $10 Slaughter Hotel; $10 Nightmare Penitentiary; $20 combo special; $35 VIP pass; free for children ages 5 and younger. Cash only with ATM on site. Wilmington Haunted Hollow, 1261 W. Dalton Road, Wilmington, 937-382-6147, wilmingtonhauntedhollowride.com.

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