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HAUNTED HOUSE GUIDE: These haunted attractions near Dayton will scare the bejesus out of you

As summer gives way to fall, there’s a chill in the air — and spooky things start to rear their heads. 

While Dayton has a lot of great (and terrifying) attractions, there are some great ones well worth the short drive...should you make it out alive.

>> 7 of Dayton’s most haunted spots

Here are some of the scariest haunts in Dayton and some that are worth the drive:

(Contributed)

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DENT HAUNTED SCHOOLHOUSE 

5963 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati | (513) 445-9767

This is considered one of the top haunts in Cincinnati, and has been recognized as a top national attraction by Fangoria, HautWorld.com, Haunted Attraction magazine and America Haunts.

All good haunts need a good backstory, and this place has a pretty good one. As the legend goes, students began disappearing from the old Dent Public School (built in 1884) in 1942. More students would go missing for the next several years until people started noticing a foul smell emanating from the basement. In 1955, an angry mob, frustrated over the unsolved mystery, discovered the school janitor had killed their sons and daughters and allowed their bodies to rot in the basement. The janitor got away (or did he?), but the spirits of the dead children haunt the place, seeking revenge.

>> The ‘Most Haunted Village in Ohio’

Details: You’re led through the schoolhouse to various grizzly scenes while more than 50 actors (we think they’re all just actors) try to scare you into next week. Reviewers report waiting in line as long as two hours to get inside this haunt, however, you can skip ahead of the line if you’re willing to pay more. New rooms this year include a memorial to the murdered children with portraits that seem strangely alive, an upgraded kitchen with a meat saw, conveyor belt, and trash dump that all guests must walk through, a ghost dance in the auditorium, and man-sized spiders in the basement. New tech includes projection mapping and the introduction of smells in addition to the assault on your other senses.

Cost: $20 (general admission), $35 (fast pass admission, online only), $50 (front of the line admission)

Dates: Sept. 14-Nov. 3

Website or Facebook 

LAND OF ILLUSION SCREAM PARK

8762 Thomas Road, Middletown | (513) 423-9960

This is a haunt that goes beyond just walking through a series of dark rooms with strobe lights. For one thing, there are separate haunted houses and a haunted trail, all included with your general admission. There also are live bands (which can sometimes be scary, too, depending on your tastes). If you’re the type who’s been counting the days until the new season of "The Walking Dead," you’ll hone your zombie-killing skills by becoming a member of the Zombie Sniper Patrol, which is also a separate admission fee.

Scenes from the Land of Illusion in Middletown, 2013 season. KEN-YON HARDY/STAFF

Details: The Land of Illusion Scream Park has been scaring the bejesus out of people for almost 20 years. One thing that sets this place apart is a bar serving beer and cocktails as well as plenty of snacks and concessions. New this year is Phobia: Face Your Fears. This haunted attraction capitalizes on certain universal, irrational human fears. What’s your phobia? Spiders? Snakes? Enclosed spaces? Creepy dolls? There are a few attractions that have an additional fee: The Zombie Sniper Patroll, the 40-foot Demon Drop, the Mechanical Bull and Gyroscope Ride attractions.

Dates: Sept. 1-Nov. 3. September (Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.), October (Thursdays and Sundays 7:30-11:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m.-2 a.m.), Nov. 2-3 (8 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

Cost: $36.99 (general admission), $54.99 (Friday fast pass), $64.99 (Saturday fast pass). $5 parking fee. Additional ticket options here.

Website or Facebook 

LEWISBURG HAUNTED CAVE

4392 Swishers Mill Road, Lewisburg 

More than a half mile of fright awaits you as you venture into this wicked attraction located 80 feet below ground in a Limestone Cave. Oh, and there are 30,000 live bats. The "Guinness Book of World Records" named the Lewisburg Haunted Cave the longest walk-through haunted house in 2010. There are also 500 feet of bridges to traverse if you want to have any hope of making it out alive.

The Lewisburg Cave. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL BURGE) (Contributed)

Details: Darkness is the scare merchant’s best friend, and there’s plenty of that here. Sure, there may be some tricks here and there, but the more than 30,000 bats are 100 percent real. The Lewisburg Historical Society offers a historic wagon ride tour that is not scary at all. This haunted attraction is so great its part of a USA Today poll on best haunted attractions, and only one of a few in Ohio on the list.

>> 3 Ohio haunted houses, including Lewisburg Cave, part of national poll on best haunts

Dates: Sept. 14-Oct. 27. The attraction is open from 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, with extended hours on Saturdays in October opening at 6 p.m.

>> Your best and worst nightmare is back for another season!

Cost: $18-22 (adults), $8 (children 10 and under)/ Historic wagon rides are $10 (adult), $5 (children)

Website or Facebook

BRIMSTONE HAUNT

Characters such as this are a common sight at the Brimstone Haunt (formerly the Springboro Haunted Hayride and Black Bog) in Wilmington. CONTRIBUTED (Contributing Writer)

427 Brimstone Rd., Wilmington| (513) 409-0644

This haunted hayride is put together by the producers of Ohio Renaissance Festival and Celtic Fest Ohio, along with a group who helped put on the now-defunct Springboro Haunted Hayride and Black Bog. This haunted attraction is back for a second year. You could spend a day at the Ren Fest, and your evening at this haunted attraction!

Details: Aside from the haunted hayride, which brings you into a cursed land of monsters and evil spirits, this location offers a mysterious walk in the woods of the Forgotten Forest. It seems many have sought answers to the aforementioned mysteries. Predictably, none have returned. The Brimstone Haunted Hayride has a new theme this year. Eighty years ago, an archaeologist built a museum to house the mystical relics he collected over his career. A fire burned the museum to the ground, and locals have reported weird sightings ever since. Now, you’ve been hired by the land’s current owner to investigate the ruins and discover what mystical energies and creatures remain within…

Dates: Sept. 28-Oct. 27 (Friday and Saturdays only). The ticket office opens at 7 p.m. and closes at midnight.

Cost: $15 for the hayride, $12 for the Forgotten Forest ($22 for both)

Website or Facebook 

>> 5 new and old traditions to love at the Ohio Renaissance Festival

RIVERSIDE JAYCEES HAUNTED CASTLE OF CARNAGE, TRAIL & MAZE

1213 Old Harshman Road, Riverside | (937) 254-2576

The Riverside Jaycees use their haunted attractions to give back to the community by helping young adults gain leadership skills. The thing that makes this haunted attraction so special is that it is run entirely by volunteers and proceeds support the non-profit’s community projects year-round.

Scenes from the Mid-Summer Nights Scream Haunted Castle of Carnage, presented by the Riverside Jaycees, Friday, June 12, 2009. (E.L. Hubbard)

Details: This may be the most “boo” for your buck, with three attractions included for one reasonable price. If you make it through the Haunted Castle of Carnage, you’ll have the Trail of Terror to contend with. Still alive? Great. How about making your way through a 6,000 square foot maze? Parking is free and there are concessions available. You can jump to the front of the line for $10 more on Fridays and Saturdays until midnight. Save yourself $3 on a regular admission by printing out the coupon on the main website.

Dates: Sept. 21-Oct. 27 (Fridays through Sundays)

Cost: $15 (general admission), $25 (fast pass)

Website or Facebook

 

DAYTON SCREAM PARK

5117 Valley Pike, Dayton | (937) 397-2273

This haunted location promises to throw everything at you, including the haunted kitchen sink. Psychopaths on four wheelers and cars chase you along a trail with more than 30 gruesome scenes and more than 60 live monsters. A maze and a special section where the frights from the silver screen make their way into your living nightmares are also included in the admission price.

(Contributed)

Details: The Dayton Scream Park has continued to tinker and expand on its more than 20 acres of bloodletting madness. Their trails feature over 30 scenes with more than 60 live “monsters” and “insane clowns.” One ticket gets you into all attractions

Dates: Sept. 14-Oct. 27 (Fridays and Saturdays)

Cost: $20 (general admission)

Website or Facebook

>> VIDEO: Haunted yard in Liberty Twp. returns with new thrills

WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE

1261 W. Dalton Road, Wilmington | (937) 382-6147

Named a must-see haunt by Haunted Attraction Magazine, this attraction continues to add to its creep factor. You can board a bus that takes you through a forest of horrifying scenes while being chased by fire breathing semis. There’s also the Terror in the Corn Maze and Slaughter Hotel to contend with. A recent addition is the 4D Hillbilly Simulated Coffin Ride, which is supposed to give you the feeling of being buried alive. Nightmare Penitentiary has been abandoned but out of its remains an Eville Asylum has been born.

(Contributed)

Details: The demented folks at Wilmington Haunted Hollow Ride make changes to their attractions every year, so it’s not the same old and tired show. Did we mention fire-breathing semi-trucks?

Dates: Sept. 22-Oct. 27 (Fridays and Saturdays). Open from 7:30 p.m. until midnight.

Cost: $20 Haunted Hollow Ride only. $25 (general admission to four attractions), $45 (fast pass). $5 coffin ride. CASH ONLY.

Website or Facebook

KINGS ISLAND HALLOWEEN HAUNT

6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason(513) 754-5700

It’s only appropriate that a park featuring thrill rides should have a popular annual Halloween attraction. Indeed, the King’s Island Haunt contains nine haunted mazes, four outdoor scare zones, and three live shows. Plus the rides! You many need to ride the Diamondback just to calm down.

 (Courtesy: Kings Island promotions)

Details: It can get pricey to run the gamut of the entire Halloween Haunt experience, but no other haunt in our area can compete with the rides the amusement park has to offer. Parking is an additional charge. Here’s what’s new in 2018:

  • Chaos! (Haunted Maze): As our planet slowly dies, the federal government has authorized a laboratory to develop a sedative for people evacuating to other planets. Unfortunately, the pipes carrying the vapor form of the sedative have burst open, causing dangerous hallucinations. Can you make it out of the lab before you succumb? 
  • Coney Maul (Scare Zone): Nearly 100 years ago, an infamous ringleader dropped his midnight circus into the heart of Coney Mall. Terrified of the clowns, the locals stayed away. When the cops moved in to evict, they disappeared. Do you dare stroll through Coney Mall, or Coney Maul, during Halloween season? 
  • Pumpkin Eater (Scare Zone): Four hundred years ago in Rivertown, a jealous pumpkin farmer murdered his cheating wife, only to see her ghost wearing a jack-o-lantern face. Driven mad, the farmer began murdering others, giving them jack-o-lantern faces as well, until he transformed into one himself. Now, Rivertown is infested with the farmer and his pumpkin demons. To venture through here, you must really, really want to ride Mystic Timbers. 
  • Haunted Homecoming (Live Show): The demonic creatures of the night will perform classic rock songs from today and yesterday.

Dates: Sept. 21-Oct. 27 (Fridays and Saturdays)

Cost: $44.99-$99.99 (before additional fees)

Website or Facebook

YOUNG’S DAIRY HAUNTED WAGON RIDES

6880 Springfield Xenia Road, Yellow Springs | (937) 325-0629

This experience begins with a visit to the Storytelling Theatre where you and your family are properly prepped for the goosebumps sure to follow. Then you’re taken into a dark cornfield where scary things await.

You might as well enjoy some homemade ice cream while you’re at Young’s. (TOM GILLIAM) (Tom Gilliam)

Details: The emphasis of this haunt is on the family. So it’s not designed to be too scary for children. No one chases or grabs you. It’s just enough for lighthearted fun, with the occasional chainsaw.

Dates: Sept. 29-Oct. 28 (Fridays and Saturdays)

Cost: $12 ages 5 and up, $5 ages four and under. An adult must accompany all children under age 11.

Website or Facebook

Have a favorite spooky haunted attraction we should check out? Let us know about it: contact@dayton.com

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