October 15, 2013

Our Picks for Atlanta's Best Haunted Houses this Halloween

It almost seems like yesterday when I experienced my first haunted house. Growing up in Macon, Georgia there were always some backwoods mom and pop haunted house that would scare anyone who dared to walk through them. Every Halloween the Macon Jaycees would host the best haunted houses in central Georgia. How could I forget. I was eight years old and the monsters would always find a way to chase me. Here it is decades later and I still find myself searching for the scariest haunted attractions.

For the past eleven years, I have traveled the southeast to find the best haunted attractions each season. Not only do I rummage the creepy backwoods, I also visit theme parks like Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream. To me its more than just an experience. I'm fascinated by the caliber of production design and the actors. Honestly, if I were casting a scary movie, I'd start with the haunted houses in Georgia. Haunted House connoisseurs like myself know the best attractions are actor-driven.

I'm not here to throw any haunted attractions under the bus but I'd be perfectly happy if I never saw another overly commercialized animatronic attraction again. However, a novice generally loves animatronics because its a quick scare. It doesn't allow people to experience the fear of being closely followed immediately after the initial shock of fear. Try being in the woods where you hear noises but you can't figure out where the heck they're coming from. That'll definitely get your heart racing.

The one thing I can say is that Atlanta has haunted attractions that will suit just about anyone's taste. So I am here to share some of my favorite haunted houses in the area. This year's haunted house crawl included the following haunts. They are listed in the order we visited.

FOR THE ZOMBIE FANATICS....You will enjoy this haunt if you are fans of 28 Days Later, the Walking Dead, World War Z, and other similar movies. 

We kicked off the haunted house crawl just south of the perimeter with Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse. They are back for their fourth year with two new themed shows that will have you either trying to escape the backwoods full of disturbed spirits, Or...well, the other one has an actual question mark icon for a reason. Therefore, I can't really tell you what happens because then I'll give it away. However, I can say that by the time we ran out, all I can remember is hearing my friend Jason hit the wall while everyone else turned the curb. He still swears that he miscalculated the turn. Witnesses beg to differ. lol.

The experience...
While running through the woods I was fearful for one guy in our group because he always got left behind. All I kept thinking was "dude, you'd never survive a real apocalypse." Do you remember the scenes in World War Z where Brad Pitt was moving through the hallways as quietly as possible? Yeah, we had a few of those moments too except we were hitting one another, frantically urging each other to hush. We were doing pretty well until I even slipped up and freaked out a bit. You know what I'm talking about. You've seen the movies where the girl is in the closet but can't control her breathing when she needs to be quiet the most.We even turned our tour guide. We got scared all while having a great time.

Survival tips... Don't be that guy who's like "Wow, look at that!" because everyone else WILL leave you to be swarmed and nearly eaten alive. Also, when they tell you to be quiet, BE QUIET.

FOR THE HOSTEL AND SAW FANATICS... If you enjoy torture, blood, gore and all things twisted, you will love this haunted house. Caution!!! It is NOT for the easily offended.

When I first discovered Chambers of Horror, I even thought to myself, "What is a southern church girl like me doing around such an extreme offensive attraction like this?" I really did. It was so different then any other haunted attraction I had ever seen. It's a mix between the movie Saw and Hostel, with a bit of S&M. I'm not joking. That's exactly why you sign your life away before you enter and why it's an adults only attraction. I guarantee that you won't be able to see a show like this anywhere else either.

People either love it, or they come out wondering what in the world just happened to them. If you have a weak stomach, it may not be the right attraction for you. However, if you're a hardcore rocker and torture loving type of person, then this will be your absolute favorite. There's a lot of blood, sharp objects, nudity and exploding surprises just for you.

The experience...
You may not know how to feel after going through this attraction. One minute you'll see something and be in shock. Then you'll hear something and find yourself laughing. Seconds later something will scare you. Some people may even find themselves in tears. My recommendation? Just go experience it for yourself to fully understand what I'm talking about.

Survival tips... 
Don't go in there trying be cute. Leave your clean sneakers at home. Why? Because there is no guarantee that your clothes will be the same as they were when you arrived. Also, close your mouth if you don't want anything flying inside it. Ewwww! 

FOR THE OLD SCHOOL SCARY MOVIE FANATICS....This place will scare you.

If you're one of those people that find the traditional killer thriller movies scary, then this place will scare the crap out of you. I've been to a lot of haunted houses, but when I stumbled upon Creepers back in 2006 I was hooked. I even felt inclined to purchase a shirt that read "I crapped my pants at Creepers." Why? Because I almost did. I still have that shirt too. Creepers was the only one that really left me screaming and running in confusion. That is why I was thrilled to hear that they were back this year. I waited four long years for this and "oh," how they've been missed.

The scenarios they put you in can easily make you have a fear-or-flight response. It's dark and there aren't any tour guides to help you to find the way out. You'll get turned around and find yourself grabbing onto whomever is closest to you. Just make sure it's a friend and not a creature. I'll admit that it happened to me. I was so busy trying to look out for the next scare, that I found myself in the shadow of another. Not cool. Luckily I'm not much of a screamer. However, when I am scared I tend to move rather quickly onto the next room so I don't have to stick around to see what happens next.

The experience...
They leave you to fend for yourself. The sets are spooky and the sounds are too. Just because you enter one way, don't assume you'll know where the exit is. Just because you're a big dude, doesn't mean that you won't meet someone bigger than you at this haunt. Out of all of the haunted houses we visited (including Netherworld the previous day), all of participants voted Creepers as the scariest haunted house. 

Survival tips...
Wear running shoes and keep your eyes and ears open. I used to be one that could stay quiet so the actors wouldn't see me, but if one catches you, then they will all get you. Big muscular men can't help you either so figure something else out. I would know. I was following three of them until they turned around in fear, pushing me back in the direction we just came from.

Before we went inside. This was the last stop of the night.

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