Whether you live in the Pittsburgh area or are visiting, October is a magical time filled with a variety of fall activities. At the top of that list is visiting a haunted house. While Pittsburgh is host to about 46 haunted attractions per the Southwest Pennsylvania Haunted House Guide website(http://www.swpenna.com/cat/haunted-houses-in-pittsburgh/), one of the premier standouts is The ScareHouse - One of AMERICA's best haunted houses per the Travel Channel, USA Today, and Hollywood actor - Elijah Wood.
Each year, The ScareHouse orchestrates a 3-haunt experience for patrons. This year's haunt segments include The Summoning, Trick 'r Treat: Hallowed Grounds, and Krampus: Come All Ye Fearful. For those looking for an even scarier option, The Basement is a separate, participation-based and immersive experience that is so intense it requires a waiver. I opted to stick with the main haunt as I am, self-admittedly, frightened by the mere thought of The Basement.
For those of you not familiar with The ScareHouse, it is located in Etna. Due to the mass appeal, the haunt also includes a bus ride from the Pittsburgh Zoo parking lot. (Seriously, Etna could not withstand the traffic and parking for the amount of people that The ScareHouse brings in.) But, it's what the cast does with that parking lot that makes it part of the overall experience. As I was parking my car in the lot, lines had already formed for the 9:00 and 9:30 tours. A school bus sat off on the side waiting for the "go" to start loading the next group.
Then I heard the chainsaw - followed by a girl's scream.
Looking over at the line, a girl was screaming and running away from a masked and cloaked creature with a chainsaw. She darted in and out of the line, as patrons opened a path to allow the monster to pursue her. For clarification, this girl was NOT part of the haunt. She was legit a patron standing in line to go through the haunt. It made it funnier when the other crowd roaming character joined in the pursuit. I watched as the girl tried to run one direction, was cut off by the masked gentleman with the chainsaw, changed direction, and almost ran into the other character.
PRO TIP: Get the RIP pass.
Why, do you need the RIP pass, you ask? The lines for the 9:00 and 9:30 runs were about 20-people deep when I got there. And continued to grow while I waited. There was no line for the RIP. You get front-of-the-line access without a reservation. I literally parked my car, was ushered to the RIP waiting line, enjoyed the aforementioned shenanigans, and hopped the next bus to the haunt. I might have had a 15-minute wait for the bus.
I won't go into great detail about the haunt itself - primarily because you really should go and experience it for yourself. The first part of the haunt is dedicated to The Summoning, which is based upon a macabre secret society with arcane rituals. From The Summoning, patrons find themselves in Trick 'r Treat: Hallowed Grounds - a black-and-white "pop-up" book brought to life. The ScareHouse experience wraps up in the coup de grace Krampus: Come All Ye Fearful haunt - in conjunction with LEGENDARY's upcoming movie release. Collaborating with the film's director, Michael Dougherty, means the haunt offers a rare opportunity for guests to see actual props, costumes and creatures from the move BEFORE it hits the big screen in early December.
If you don't want to take my word for it, take the word of the excited guest who proudly approached my group after she had gone through the ScareHouse and explained - to a group of total strangers - that she peed her pants during the haunt. There was no shame or humility in her statement. For this girl, it was a badge of honor. She almost turned around to show her accomplishment to our group when her friend hustled her toward the bus back to the parking lot.
Even after we boarded the bus back to the parking lot, the hustle and bustle of excitement for the crowd continued. I overheard a few folks talking about their Basement experiences. My favorite part of the conversation was when one guy was talking about being placed in a casket, and a girl spoke up about being upset that SHE hadn't been placed in a casket during her experience. I gleaned from that little tid-bit that the Basement is definitely not cookie cutter. And, my curiosity is piqued. Perhaps I'll find myself biting the bullet and checking out The Basement before the end of the season.
The bottom line, as indicated in the tweet following my walk-through of this year's haunt, "GET TICKETS AND GO!"