New York City has plenty of purportedly haunted locales, but a surprising paucity of that suburban childhood Halloween staple: “haunted” houses. Sure, you can head to a bar downtown and wait for the ghost of Jack Kerouac to manifest itself in a cocktail garnish, or hope to run into a tragic silent movie star on the site of an old film studio in Queens, but there aren’t a lot of places where you can pay for an aspiring actor in passably believable gore makeup to make scary faces at you.
But, the haunted houses and attractions (or, in modern day internet speak, “haunting-inspired immersive experience pop-ups”) we do have come correct. They’ve got your fake blood, your corpses, your jump scares, your actual boneyards, tableaus straight out of your most terrifying nightmares, and it’s all so very Instagrammable. So go ahead and stake out an abandoned hospital to catch a glimpse of the ghost of a mercurial psychiatrist for as long as you want. Then get back in the New York groove, and pay a fee for instant gratification and an artificial thrill at the city’s best fake fear factories.
This 5,000-square-foot house of horrors is worth a MetroCard swipe to downtown Manhattan if you can brave long lines, hour-long waits, and hair-raising scares. Visitors with heart conditions and anxiety issues are cautioned against a trip to Blood Manor, which equates to guaranteed thrills for the rest of us. Ghastly ghouls in various stages of decrepitude follow guests as they wander in and out of terrifying themed rooms at this classic, sprawling fear factory. Warning: Don’t wear nice clothes. Visitors are known to leave with (fake) blood stains.
Cost: General admission is $30
Now in its 20th year, this pop-up “inn” fashioned after a seaside resort is one of the cheapest haunted house experiences in the five boroughs. Why is it so affordable? It’s run by students from New York City College of Technology (City Tech) design, rather than the typical craven corporate creepshow profiteers. Plan a trip to the nautical nightmare during the last two weeks of October to see possessed portraits, decapitated tourists, and to visit with guests who checked in, but never checked out (because they died and now they’re scary ghosts).
Cost: General admission is $10