"Scream of the crop" for Halloween fun in the Metropolitan area
Gremlins, ghosts and ghouls galore! It's that time of the year again, where we break out our scary – and sometimes funny – costumes, drink apple cider and curl up on the couch to watch a horror movie with friends. However, instead of going out to trick-or-treat or staying at home this year, consider celebrating Halloween at one of the many haunted attractions in the area. Here at SCO, our experts have created the "SCOream Awards," a list of Halloween scares that deserve recognition and will surely make you scream.
Best Theme Park Event: Fright Fest v. Halloween Haunt
Fright Fest at Six Flags (Scare Rating: PG-13)
Six Flags America celebrates Halloween with its annual Fright Fest event, one of the largest events in the D.C. metro area. Fright Fest is open every weekend in October, as well as, Friday, October 21 and Friday, October 28. During the day, attractions include seasonally-themed shows and kid-friendly events. However, at 6 p.m., the park transforms from "Thrills by Day" to "Fright by Night." The month-long event features haunted trails, rides in the dark, costumed "monsters" and more. Tickets range from $36.99 to $56.99 at the gate or $28.50 to $36.99 online. Six Flags of Maryland is located at 13710 Central Ave. Bowie/Mitchellville, MD 20721.
Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion (Scare Rating: PG-13)
Similar to Fright Fest, Kings Dominion features two events during the month of October: Howl-O-Fest during the day and
at night. Halloween Haunt is open every Friday (7 p.m. to
Midnight), Saturday (10:30 a.m. to Midnight) and Sunday (10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.) from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. While Howl-O-Fest features a variety of Halloween-themed kid-friendly fun, Halloween Haunt boasts mazes, "scare zones," costumed "monsters" and more. Tickets range from $36.99 to $58.99 at the gate or $29.99 to $48.99. Kings Dominion of Virginia is located at 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047.
Verdict: Fright Fest takes this one. While both theme parks feature similar activities during the same days, Six Flags edges out Kings Dominion in three categories: cost, time and place. The tickets for Fright Fest, on average, are cheaper; Fright Fest starts an hour earlier than Halloween Haunt on Friday nights and Six Flags is geographically closer than Kings Dominion to costumers coming from the Metro area.
Best Haunted House: Bennett's Curse v. Patuxent Research Lab
Bennett's Curse at Blobs Park (Scare Rating: T – for terrifying)
Ranked as one of the best Halloween attractions by America's Best Haunts , Bennett's Curse is arguably the best scares in the entire D.C. area. It features three haunted houses: "House of Vampyres," "Zombie Kingdom 3D" and "Sanctuary of Insanity." Each house features a unique storyline and is equipped with its own monsters, blood, pitch-black walkways and claustrophobic halls. Bennett's Curse is open on Thursdays and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The finale is on Monday, Oct. 31, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets for the complete tour range from $25 to $40, depending on the day and amount of wait time in line. Blobs Park is located at 8024 Max Blobs Park Rd. Jessup, MD 20794.
Patuxent Research Lab at Prince George's Stadium (Scare Rating: PG-13)
The Patuxent Research Lab haunted house is open every Friday and Saturday night during the month of October, and Sunday, Oct. 30. The house features creative use of lighting, realistic props and costumed actors. Doors open at 6:30 each night. Tickets are $15 per person. The Prince George's Stadium is located at 4101 Northeast Crain Highway, Bowie, MD 20717.
Verdict: Bennett's Curse dominates in almost every aspect—from scare factor to professional reviews to size of production. Although Patuxent Research Lab is cheaper and there's a longer trek up to Jessup, MD, the pros of Bennett's Curse far outweigh its cons; Blobs Park is worth the trip.
Best Haunted Trail: Field of Screams v. Markoff's Haunted Forest
Field of Screams at Reedy Branch Park (Scare Rating: Parental Discretion is advised)
The non-profit Olney Boys and Girls Association host its annual Field of Screams event in Olney, MD. Field of Screams is open to the public every Friday and Saturday until Nov. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., several Thursdays and Sundays from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 31, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The event features three attractions: Hades' Haunted Hayride, Lusion Manor and the Trail of Terror, a 25 minute walk through the "haunted woods." Tickets vary from $10 for the hayride to $20 for the trail. Reduced fees for groups and individual packages are also available by reservation only. Reedy Branch Park is located at 4501 Olney -Laytonsville Rd. Olney, MD 20832.
Markoff's Haunted Forest at the Calleva Farm (Scare Rating: Intended to terrify)
Ranked as one of the top haunted attractions in the country by AOL CityGuide and Good Morning America, Markoff's Haunted Forest is also the Halloween attraction in Maryland. The event features two 20 minute walks through the haunted woods, which include 13 scenes on each trail. Markoff's Haunted Forest is open every Thursday to Sunday until the end of October and Monday, Oct. 31. It runs from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $20 to $25 per trail, depending on the day. Zip lines, hayrides, ghost hunts and outdoor movies are also available. The Calleva Farm is located at 19120 Martinsburg Rd., Dickerson, MD 20842.
Verdict: Tie. Markoff's Haunted Forest is nationally renowned and its history of excellence spans twice that of Field of Screams. However, the wait times are longer at Markoff's. Neither event is located in the heart of Montgomery County: Olney is near the edge, while Dickerson is just past Poolesville, and the prices are too similar to make a huge difference.
Best Haunted Scream Park: Creepy Hallow Scream Park v. Nightmare Screamplex
Creepy Hallow Scream Park (Scare Rating: Use your own discretion)
Hailed as one of the best Halloween attractions by Richmond.com, Creepy Hallow Scream Park features three main attractions: the Creepy Hallow Hayride, the Scream Forest and the haunted Bedlam House. The event runs from every Friday through Sunday in October, select Thursdays and Monday, Oct. 31. It opens at 7 p.m. each evening and ends at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, or 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $15 "per body" for each attraction; however, combo passes and group discounts are available. Creepy Hallow Scream Park is located at 14435 Stone Horse Creek Rd., Glenn Allen, VA 23059.
Nightmare Screamplex at the Maryland SoccerPlex (Scare Rating: FEAR)
As the only Scream Park in all of Maryland and D.C., Nightmare Screamplex is the "Biggest and Scariest Haunted even in the Tri-State area," according to its website. In addition to the Pirate Adventures hosted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for younger children, Nightmare Screamplex promises that patrons will experience fear as they travel through the Nightmare Forest, the Maize of Terror and the Lost Asylum in the evening. The event is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every weekend until Nov. 5, and select weekdays. Tickets range from $20 to $25. The Maryland SoccerPlex is located at 18031 Central Park Circle, Boyds, MD 20841.
Verdict: Although Nightmare Screamplex is not open on Halloween itself, it provides plenty of Halloween scares. The concept is original; the event includes a distinct plotline that allows all three attractions to be connected, rather than separate from one another –a pattern that exists at other Halloween events. In addition, Nightmare Screamplex is cheaper than Creepy Hallow, is located in Montgomery County and fundraises for several Montgomery County Public Schools. Nightmare Screamplex win this scare-off.
Brittany Cheng. <br>Brittany Cheng ('13) served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online (SCO) with <a href = "http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/staff/698">Langston Taylor</a> during the 2012-2013 school year. During their tenure, Cheng and Taylor led the site's front page makeover with technical staff members Prashan Dharmasena and Jessica Shi, incorporated live-blogging ... More »