Look at the changing leaves if you want, but this season is all about frights and chills. And Northeast Ohio lays claim to a veritable pumpkin patch of blood-curdling experiences. For decades, these haunted houses have won awards and left you with goose bumps for days.
The Ohio State Reformatory's Haunted Prison Experience might be the most unique. The whole frightful experience unravels inside the old reformatory in Mansfield that was closed in 1990. (This is the same prison that was used for location shots in The Shawshank Redemption, and it has developed a reputation as one of the scariest places in the world.) Complete with actors, visual effects and props, the Haunted Prison Experience has won multiple awards for being genuinely frightening. You must be 13 or older to enter, and if there's any doubt, you will be asked to provide proof of a birth date. (100 Reformatory Rd., Mansfield; hauntedx.com)
Named one of the scariest haunted attractions in the country, 7 Floors of Hell in Cleveland is back for another horrifying year. Spread among seven different houses, it's never the same two years in a row. (19191 Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights; 7floorsofhell.com).
Voted one of the best haunted attractions in Ohio last year, The Fear Experience is back with four all new haunted houses, plus over $200,000 in terrifying renovations (think buried alive coffin rides!). While these creepy attractions may give you goosebumps, a heated indoor waiting area will kill the chill while you wait. (10701 Brookpark Road, Parma; thefearexperience.com)
What makes the Factory of Terror in Canton so notable? Perhaps it's the fact that it held the Guinness Book of World Records title for Longest Walk-Through Horror House for two years. Set in an actual abandoned factory, the Factory of Terror offers four different attractions, including a mirror maze and a 3D-experience. New this year: The Scare Chair, which will take you on a bumpy, scary ride. Buckle up! (4125 Mahoning Rd., NE Canton; fotohio.com)
The same folks who put together the Factory of Terror have a haunted house in Mentor—The Forsaken Haunted House. This 30,000-square foot attraction is based on a fictional tragedy of a pesticide turning an entire town into flesh-eating zombies. (8200 Tyler Blvd., Mentor; forsakenhaunt.com)
For 33 years, Bloodview has been a familiar name among haunted attractions in Northeast Ohio. Created by the Legion of Terror, the world's oldest improvisational horror production company, Bloodview offers three attractions for one price, including the Gorehouse, billed as Bloodview's goriest attraction ever. Bloodview's actors also stage spontaneous performances in the outdoor lot, with a new theme every weekend. (1010 Towpath Trail, Broadview Heights; bloodview.net)
Along with Ghostly Manor, an award-winning haunted house featured on Travel Channel, the Lake Eerie Fear Fest boasts frights for every taste: There's also 3-D blacklight mini-golf, and an XD 4-D motion theater showing four different films. (3319 US Rt. 250, Sandusky; lakeeeriefearfest.com)
Blossom Music Center, a sweet concert facility during the summer, has turned into a Carnival of Horrors for Halloween ever since 2003. This year's attractions include the Insane Asylum Cage Maze, The Fun House, The Freakshow and The Wicked Woods. (1145 West Steels Corners, Cuyahoga Falls; carnivalofhorrors.com)
The Spooky Ranch is back for its 23nd year with five different attractions, including the Extreme Nightmares Haunted House (which children under 11 are not allowed to enter), Crazy Clowns in 3-D, and the famous Haunted Hayride. (19066 Mallet Creek, Columbia Station; spookyranch.com)
If a haunted hayride doesn't give you the adrenaline rush you're looking for, Mapleside Farms will be having a hayride where you get to shoot paintballs at zombies. (294 Pearl Rd., Brunswick; lightupthelivingdead.com).
Cornstalkers offer a one-acre cornfield and five-acre forest where scary actors will be lurking around, waiting for a chance to frighten you when you least expect it. (423 Ridge Rd., Hinckley; cornstalkers.com)
Hauntville offers an interactive fright experience, with 3-D glasses and new technology to create eye-popping visual effects, and professional actors ready to lock you in prison or worse. (1579 West River Rd., Elyria; hauntville.net)
The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory has been around for more than 30 years, perennially making "Top 10 Best Haunted Houses" lists. This year you can get your chills on seven floors of terror. (1300 Triplett Blvd., Akron; hshlab.com)