Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
A haunting we will go: Region filled with frights, bites and fun this Halloween season
The Halloween season is starting to rival the Christmas season.
Last year, $10.14 billion was spent on the holiday and more is expected to be shelled out this year as the COVID pandemic fades into the rearview mirror.
Also like Christmas, Halloween seems to be kicking off earlier than ever. As we roll into October and the weather stays Fall-like, expect big crowds and scary scenes to dominate.
“We do to a presale in July, ‘buy one, get one free,’” said Randy Bates, owner of Bates Motel in Glen Mills. “So it’s half off tickets and usually around the end of June, beginning of July, I start getting the emails, ‘Hey, when are you doing your special?’ And as soon as that email goes out, people start flocking to the site.”
From haunted houses to specials at bars and restaurants, here are even more options around the region this year. Here are some of the ways to get your Halloween fix.
Bates Motel and Haunted Attractions
The full hayride is back for 2022 and, well, it might be just bigger than ever. Over the past two years, Bates changed the hayride to a walk through the woods.
“We had a lot of customers that really enjoyed the hay ride,” Bates said. “That’s kind of what our whole traction was built around. So we decided to bring it back. People seem to be excited about it. We did sort of a survey through our constant contact list and seem like, ‘Hey, bring it back.’”
The entrance to the hay ride has been totally rebuilt and reaches skyward.
“Our main entrance was always the castle,” said Bates. “The last couple of years it’s really deteriorated. So, we tore it down and built a new one. And it’s about twice the size.”
There is also a new western themed town along the hay ride. They built 10 new houses, brought in some more horses and other surprises to make the experience new.
“I want to try and build everything larger than life, and I like to set it up so that when you’re going through, you can’t see everything at once,” Bates said. “You have to go through a couple of different times. So, I always hear people getting off the wagon going like, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ Mostly it was something on the other side of the wagon. So, they get off and they get right back on again.”
Visitors can also be scared in the haunted house and the corn maze. Much of the house was redone last year and the corn maze adds jumps at each turn. There is also a non-scary harvest festival area running during the day.
Check out https://thebatesmotel.com/ for tickets, hours and more information.
Halloween Haunts at Eastern State Penitentiary
What’s old is new again and, maybe, just a little different as the legendary historic prison in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.
While not exactly like the old ‘Terror Behind the Walls,’ this year’s Halloween Haunts will feature three new attractions for a total of five places to walk through the cellblocks with ghosts and ghouls. There is also a return to the ‘opt-in’ option for visitors. If you decide to put on a glowing necklace, you can be pulled deeper into the prison for a more personal experience.
“Opting-in has been a fan favorite and a rite of passage for many of our visitors, so we’re thrilled to bring that experience back this year,” said Brett Bertolino, vice president and director of operations. “Opting-in allows our visitors to customize their experience and amp up the scare factor. But don’t worry, If you need a breather between haunted houses or prefer a less scary experience, Halloween Nights includes plenty of opportunities to enjoy live entertainment or explore our historic tours and exhibits.”
New offerings for this season include two haunted houses and an immersive,
“Nightmares” will bring visitors face-to-face with the creatures that lurk in the shadowy corners of their most unsettling dreams. “Big Top Terror” winds through the grounds of a twisted carnival with menacing characters at every turn. Continuing their carnival-themed adventure, visitors can stop for a drink and light fare at the “Bizarre Bar,” where fire dancers, knife throwers, and other acts will be on hand to entertain.
There is also an opportunity for night tours through the former prison hospital, which, while not scary, shows some of the history of the prison.
Halloween Nights runs through Nov. 12. Check out https://www.easternstate. org/halloween/node/3 for tickets, hours and more information.
Lincoln Mill Haunted House
Housed in the former Mad River Brewing Company, comes the newest haunted attraction to the region. Lincoln Mill Haunted House is Hurricane Ida-themed and features an interesting back story.
According to the owners, “The flood significantly damaged the mill’s interior and revealed a hidden
chamber located below the basement level. Countless bodies were found and a dark truth was discovered about the mill’s past. Local authorities determined that during the 1930’s, Viktor Kane, the mill owner, tormented and experimented on his workers. Countless workers lost their lives and their spirits continue to haunt the mill. Construction has since been halted and the mill will open up for guests to experience its dark past for themselves.”
Lincoln Mill Haunted House will debut in Manayunk at 4100 Main Street for five weekends, starting Oct. 6. Lincoln Mill will feature over 40 live scareactors, production quality sets, props, animatronics, and special effects such as fog, strobes, and flashing lights. The owners want it to be the scariest haunted house in the greater Philadelphia region.
Go to https://lincolnmillhaunt.com/ for more information.
It’s not all scares and thrills this Halloween season. There are plenty of family-friendly events to check out.
One of the most popular in the region is Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards in Media. Expect large crowds on the weekend, but it is a rite of passage for many families. There is always the fun hayride to the witch’s house and a harvest moon
hayride. Of course, there are pumpkins of all shapes and sizes for your carving or eating pleasure.
Animals are also getting in the spirit of the season.
The Elmwood Park Zoo and Philadelphia Zoo are each hosting their annual ‘Boo at the Zoo’ events weekends in October.
Get dressed in your best costumes for Elmwood Park Zoo’s Trick-Or-Treat Nights on Oct. 27, 28, 29 & 30, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. There is also a more laid-back.Boo Just For You event Oct. 12, from 4-6 p.m. This after-hours session is geared toward individuals and their families with sensory sensitivities. For more information, check out https://www.elmwoodparkzoo.org/events/ boo/
The Philadelphia Zoo’s annual Halloween spectacular will take place Oct. 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30th, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p,m. Gather your ghost and goblins, put on your favorite costume, trick-or-treat through the Zoo, enjoy festive fall offerings, educational children’s activities, seasonal décor, photo opportunities and experience the Zoo’s 42 acre gardens during the beautiful autumn season. Look for info coming soon about pumpkin feedings and animal enrichments, including the annual feeding of the pumpkins to the hippos. Admission for Boo at the Zoo is free with the regular price of admission. Make your timed reservations at www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org. Members can make their reservations for free.
“The fall season at the Zoo is beyond special,” said Philadelphia Zoo Chief Marketing and Experience Officer Amy Shearer. “The animals are on the go in the crisp autumn air, the leaves throughout our campus turn gold and scarlet, and all of the kids delight in all of the Boo at the Zoo Halloween fun,” says “If you want to be surprised and delighted at an extraordinary place, Philadelphia Zoo is where to be this fall; it’s where people come to make memories.”
Meanwhile, the scarecrows are back at Morris Arboretum., More than 30 scarecrows will be on display throughout the Arboretum Oct. 1 through Halloween. The theme this year is “Spooky Scarecrows.”
The Spooky Scarecrow Walk features more than 30 scarecrows designed by members of the public and they will be on display throughout the Arboretum through Halloween. Visitors will vote for their favorite scarecrow online October 1-17—the top three scarecrows win a cash prize. Top prize is $250. For more information, visit morrisarboretum.org.
Bites and Frights
For a little more adult fun and a few tasty bites, two of the more popular Halloween pop-up bars are back in business for 2022.
Nightmare Before Tinsel (116 S 12th St, Philadelphia) has been re-imagined this year. Gone are a lot of the blood and guts, but the spooky atmosphere remains the same. As do the Halloween-themed cocktails like Blood Bar (comes in a souvenir blood bag), Jekyll and Hyde and Hokum-Smokum. All drinks come in a souvenir cup.
“This year we proudly present an immersive fantasy and horror adventure, inspired by a variety of nostalgic horror and fantasy themes,” said Artist and Interior Designer Scott Johnston. “Let us take you through an apocalyptic zombie-scape, into a vibrant haunted mansion festooned with pirate skeletons, hulking beasts, and famous monsters from across the decades… past macabre artifacts from our haunted and twisted past, and ultimately into the shocking depths of our shared imaginations.”
Nightmare Before Tinsel hours are Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-Midnight; Friday and Saturday, 4p.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday, 4 p.m.Midnight.
A couple of blocks away, the Craftsman Row Saloon (112 S 8th St, Philadelphia) has been transformed into a Nightmare Before Christmas Theme. It’s complete with Jack the Pumpkin King and Sally overlooking the patrons.
The special Halloween menu includes two special over-the-top milkshakes. The Gravedigger is made with pumpkin ice cream, while This is Halloween features chocolate at crushed Oreos.