PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh has become a destination city for haunted attractions.
Some of the most popular haunts in the country are located right here. And they’re constantly finding new, inventive ways to terrify us.
For millions of thrill-seekers, getting scared is actually an enjoyable way to spend an October evening. Each year, Americans spend millions of dollars to be intimidated, unnerved, and scared out of their minds.
And those seeking a truly authentic, immersive experience are demanding more.
In fact, legal documentation is becoming commonplace in the industry as places like Hundred Acres Manor create new and elaborate experiences, separate from the main haunt.
The Enigma Project is a series of expertly-crafted escape rooms.
“Anybody who’s been enjoying escape rooms, what we’ve been wanting to do is take them to that next level, a little more horrific, a little more intense with meltdown, a little bit more frantic, a little more of that underlying dread of what would happen if you don’t escape,” said Terry Peyton, of Hundred Acres Manor.
More intimate, more cerebral, and certainly more terrifying.
“All sorts of thoughts racing through your head,” said Stephanie Raap, who loves haunted houses. “Once you walk in and look around you, it’s almost like fight or flight where the adrenaline pumps and you’re ready to roll and get from one room to the next to the next.”
It takes a lot more than just luck to pull off a successful haunt; professional technicians and set designers work year-round behind the scenes.
“More and more, especially with technology and animatronics, it’s getting more challenging to scare people, so you constantly have to be on the cusp of that,” says Chris Firman, of Terror Town.
Of course, all the elaborate sets play a big role, but so do all the talented actors. They are the ones who bring to life the creepy characters from the cannibalistic underground city of Terror Town.
Visitors to the Strip District haunted house actually become part of the story.
“I love it,” said George Jacobs, an actor at Terror Town. “I’ve done it every year since I’ve been 16, and I just turned 41.”
They like to explore psychological fears in their dark and shadowy caverns.
“Appealing to those different fears, whether it’s arachnophobia, claustrophobia, or fear of snakes, we really try to get under your skin,” said Firman. “Getting in that psyche and that’s what’s going to freak you out before you even go in the haunt.”
And these horror aficionados will tell you they’re not just role-players, they’re family.
“You know, they’ve all been with us and they really love it and have a passion for Halloween, and that’s what’s key,” said Firman.
That’s what makes this unearthly industry so appealing to us, because you never know what may be lurking in the shadows.
Many haunted attractions are now extending their seasons, too. Terror Town, for example, will have a special Friday the 13th Night next month.