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Haunted houses of the Carolinas
Attractions abound in both states

by Ty Hardin

Haunted houses attract throngs of thrill-seeking visitors every year.
“Haunted House” attractions simulate the experience of visiting a structure that is inhabited by what appears to be ghosts or creatures. The illusion, created by actors, animatronics, illusions and special effects, is designed to frighten patrons who typically purchase tickets for the privilege. These events are open to the public and are commonly held throughout the month of October, leading up to Halloween.

It is estimated there are around 3,000 operating every year in North America alone.
Events held in older, slightly dilapidated buildings utilize the natural atmosphere with strategically placed special effects, lights and props, while others will construct elaborate scenery and contain amusement park quality mechanical figures and illusions. Actors in these dark attractions might be dressed either in masks or greasepaints and basic costumes, but those with higher budgets often opt to dress their characters in customized outfits and elaborate makeup.

Halloween is often a large part of queer culture during the season and is celebrated through the numerous parties held at clubs and in private homes.

For this Halloween season — Q-Notes has collected a handful of highly recommended haunted attractions for your thrill-seeking pleasure in both Carolinas.

North Carolina:
• Asheville
The Biltmore Estate

Back in 1914, George W. Vanderbilt died from complications from a surgery he had for appendicitis. His wife was extremely upset. So late at night, in the Library, she would sit in front of the large marble fireplace and talk with George, though he was never really there. Her servants started to think she was losing her mind.

To this day, late at night you can still hear her voice very softly talking with George. Also, You can feel George’s presence in the Billiard Room and the second floor Oak Sitting room — one of his favorite rooms in the mansion. Workers report feelings of being watched, apparitions, voices, laughing and screams. A headless orange cat has been seen by numerous visitors roaming the area between the gardens and the bass pond. The pool room is also a focal point of unexplainable events: the sound of people swimming echoes throughout the entire lower floor in the dead of night. Insane laughter can be heard coming from the drain at the bottom of the pool. It’s $10 for the small tour and $50 for the full tour of the house — but be sure you stay close to the guide. Odds are, there will only be three or four people touring with you. 828-225-1333.

• Charlotte
Scarowinds

The only haunted theme park in the Carolinas Weekends in October, Paramount’s Carowinds transforms into Scarowinds. Enter the fog-shrouded gateway to celebrate the sinister season with a night of fright that oozes with chilling thrills and mayhem! www.scarowinds.com.

• Greensboro
The Deep River Slaughter Mill

It’s just 15 minutes from Greensboro in Randleman and boy does it pack a punch! Here’s their scary pitch: “Many of you may be familiar with the old Laughlin Mills of Randleman, N.C. Years ago it was a major producer of great textiles. But, after closing its doors, it became home to a new bunch: a family of cannibals from Texas known as the Hewits. Last year’s massacre has left the mill full of decaying corpses. The family began to do sick experiments and voo-doo in attempt to bring back the dead — and it worked. They have risen and they are hungry — for you.

Get more details at hometown.aol.com/jamesman3000/halsbrook.html.

• Raleigh-Durham
The Frightmare Haunted House

Are you ready for the best haunted house of 2006? The Frightmare returns to Raleigh with a brand new show. Located in the same building as last year.This year Frightmare features a three-dimensional maze and lots of new scares. Over 15,000 square feet of thrills and chills. www.thefrightmare.com

South Carolina:
• Charleston
Charleston Ghost & Dungeon
Walking Tour

Featured on the Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted Places,” the Charleston Ghost & Dungeon Walking Tour offers exclusive access to the pre-Revolutionary dungeon. Discover where pirates, patriots and criminals spent their last days and learn about the many ghosts that dwell within one of America’s most historical buildings. In addition, you’ll explore the dark edges of Charleston’s Haunted Historic District and hear fun and chilling tales of ghosts, haunted houses, voodoo and Lowcountry superstitions. www.charlestondungeon.com.

• Columbia
Blood Moon

Are you afraid of the night? You will be after you walk through the dark woods. Come walk through this maze and haunted woods and be guided into the pitch black still of the night and enjoy spine tingling, hair raising, heart pounding fear!
Reportedly one of the Midlands’ most frightening Halloween events of the season. Held at Saluda Shoals Park. More information at www.icrc.net.

• Greenville
Nightmare on Pendleton Street

A haunted house and maze held in an old mortuary in downtown Greenville. Their promotional material boasts the following: There are no tour guides — so fill out your last will and testament now. You may not come out alive.
Ooooh scary! Get more details at www. b937online.com.

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