I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m not squeamish around blood or bugs. But I’m downright terrified of a man brandishing a fake chainsaw that’s covered in red-tinted cornstarch.
And anytime someone mentions one of the haunted attractions that pop up every fall, my palms start sweating and my heart rate picks up.
But if walking down a tight hallway with terrible music and obnoxious strobe lights blaring all around you sounds like your idea of fun, then you’re in the right place – Ohio seems to have an affinity for creating places where things pop out of the walls and heckle you.
And some haunts have taken it to the next step. Because why have one terrifying building with zombies when you could have four? Or why have a building at all when you can scare the shit out of people in a cave?
The Dent Schoolhouse
This Cincinnati site used to be an operational schoolhouse until the 1950s, when kids started going missing and someone noticed the basement was smelling weird. The rumor is that the school’s janitor killed all the kids and hid their bodies in the walls, only to disappear and never be seen again.
What a perfect location for a haunted house.
Now, everywhere you look is a play on school gone horribly wrong – from a mutilated pig corpse in Biology to a girl stuck under a table saw in shop class. There’s even an actor who creeps around the basement in a janitor costume.
Haunted Prison Experience
This Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield was open until 1990 and is probably most famous for being the setting of the award-winning film The Shawshank Redemption.
Now it’s a haunted house that’s won a lot of awards for giving people the creeps.
The experience takes you all around the old prison – upstairs, around the cells, and through the wards.
And since it’s a prison, plenty of people have died within its walls, so there are plenty of claims that the place is haunted.
I think the worst part about this Ashley, Ohio, haunted attraction is that it takes you around on an old military bus to the various houses. So even if you’re scared out of your mind, you really can’t leave until you hop on the creepy bus to get back to the comfort of your own car.
This haunt’s theme centers on the idea that you’re being scanned for some sort of super-soldier creation program – which I can only assume means there are weird mutilated bodies everywhere.
The first stop on the crazy bus is a trip to a doctor’s house, where recruits are scanned for the program (i.e. a cackling doctor and more mutilated bodies).
And if that’s not enough, there’s another haunted house full of more things popping out of the walls to visit after you climb back on the bus. Yay.
Carnival of Horrors
There’s almost too much going on at the Blossom Music Center to name.
It starts out with clowns (because people are still freaked out by It, I guess) doing their thing in an abandoned funhouse.
Creepy clowns and those weird mirror things are fine and terrifying, but then you’re handed a flashlight and sent out into the haunted woods, which really raises a number of questions for which need some answers for. Who thinks that’s a good idea? What if the batteries die? Can it double as a weapon?
There’s also a labyrinth haunted asylum, and some sort of 3-D movie that also involves moving floors and creatures, and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach also haunts the place (just kidding, he’s not dead).
Lewisburg Haunted Cave
This one is literally underground. In a cave. 30,000 live bats.….and I’m out.
If you need me, I’ll be trying to find a way out of my own living nightmare.
For a list of other nearby haunted attractions, visit ohiohauntedhouses.com.
In case you missed it, our own resident scaredy-cat, Lindsay Arnett, took one for the team to share these with the audience of Good Day Columbus. Watch it, here.