Looking for a good scream and a good time? Check out some of the region's best haunts that are far enough away from home to keep the nightmares at bay but close enough to get there and back within the day.
It's October now and the ghosts, goblins and zombies have woken up, dusted off the cobwebs and are already out in full force, ready and waiting to scare the socks off mere mortals.
And, while some scaredy cats are hunkering down at home, there is a breed of human that goes looking for thrills, chills and things that go bump in the night. If you are one of latter, here's a guide to three of the best haunts in the region.
309 Port Penn Road, Middltown
Frightland is a 16 year old Delaware institution that routinely garners national recognition for its frightfully entertaining attractions. People new to the area may be surprised to learn that the whole thing started as a Leukemia fundraiser when the owner's daughter was stricken with the debilitating illness. She has since recovered and continues to flourish alongside her dad's scary brainchild, which started out as a simple hayride.
Now, however, there are eight nightmare-inducing attractions that, according to General Manager Debbie Hall, 30 to 40,000 people regularly attend. There are three indoor attractions (Idalia Manor, the Haunted Barn and The Attic) and five outdoor (The Escape, the Haunted Hayride, the Haunted Woods, Phobia and Town of Redemption) that exploit every kind of fear imaginable.
"The hayride is good for breaking in the kids because you can turn and hide your face," Hall said. "But, it can still be intense. The attic is pitch black and preys on your imagination. Phobia is based on what people are scared of, from bugs and snakes to clowns or the dentist."
Each element is distinct and Hall said that they change things up and add things every year so that people can be continually surprised and entertained.
Ticket prices range from $20 to $30 and tickets can be bought online or at the gate. There is also a $5 fee for parking.
Bonus If the screams get to be too much, Frightland also features a traditional carnival area with all the usual rides, games and oh-so-bad-for-you carnival food.
Screams at the Beach
22518 Lewes Georgetown Highway, Georgetown
With an expanse of farmland and lonely back roads, southern Delaware has plenty of prime properties with a high creep-out factor. One of the best may be Screams at the Beach (known as Sports at the Beach the rest of the year). For about a month, the facility transforms itself with five separate scream-worthy attractions that include a cemetery walk-through, a haunting hayride and two indoor tours. Oh, and an eight-foot tall clown with a chainsaw.
Manager Mike Milliken said that due to the intensity of it, he recommends not bringing children under 12 years old.
"It's very in your face," Milliken said. "There's a lot of noise and a lot of smells, from back alley decay to the slaughterhouse."
However, there are also some less intense daytime activities for the kiddies. Through Sunday, Nov. 4, children can enjoy the wonders of the petting zoo, a giant jumping pillow, playground, carnival games, gem mining and air cannons. There's even a dunk tank in the evenings and pig races on the weekends.
Admission prices vary. Expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $35, depending on how much you want to experience and how many people are in your group.
Tickets are available online and at the gate, which opens at 6:45 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Bonus Celebrating a birthday this month? Milliken said they have party packages available that offer a customized experience. But, he also admits it's a bit worse when the actors know your name. Also, there are coupons floating around at Spirit Halloween stores that will take $5 off admission prices.
94 Park Avenue, Sinking Spring, PA
Don't be deceived by the name "Shocktoberfest," as this is no mere festival of all things Halloween. It's actually not a festival at all. Shocktoberfest is a 30-acre "scream park" located near Reading, PA featuring annually featuring four separate scary attractions: The Unknown, The Prison of the Dead, Zombie Revenge Haunted Hayride and Club Shock.
Not for the faint of heart, Shocktoberfest incorporates state-of-the-art animatronics, lighting, live actors and Hollywood make-up magic, making nightmares come alive.
New this year, is the Zombie Revenge Haunted Hayride, which includes zombies of every variety, from human to plant to animal.
One of the mainstays of the park is Club Shock, a 10,000 square-foot haunted nightclub that features the "Ghouls Gone Wild" dancers. The club is open to anyone 15 years old or older and does not serve alcohol.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate and prices range from $15 to $34. For an additional $10, RIP tickets will cut down on waiting by ushering thrillseekers to the front of the line. The gates only accept cash but there are ATMs on-site.
The facilities are open rain or shine Thursday through Sunday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays). Inclement weather does affect the hayride, however.
Bonus It seems that no Halloween theme park is complete without some festival fare and a few carnival games. Find Shocktoberfest's offering on the Monster Midway, which features all the usual calorie-rich favorites from funnel cake and French fries to burgers and sandwiches. Pay attention to the "Scare Zones," though. Apparently, there are no safe places, even when eating.