Posted on October 20, 2014
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , , ,

Last year Shocktoberfest in Pennsylvania made headlines countrywide by announcing their Naked and Scared Challenge. The idea was to allow guests to shed their “protection” by removing all clothing before walking through a haunted house that was designed to stimulate all senses.

But the town stepped in, deciding that patrons voluntarily walking naked through a private haunted house was “adult entertainment” and could not take place. Though it likely could have happened with a fight, Shocktoberfest owner Pat Konopelski decided not to make enemies at City Hall, instead making it the “Almost” Naked and Scared Challenge, in which everyone could participate in their underwear – still achieving the same stripped down effect.

For 2014, Pat has brought back the Naked and Scared Challenge after much demand, continuing to draw excited thrill seekers each event night. After all families have left and all other lines are cleared, the go-ahead is given for guests to take their clothes off, enduring the 40-degree weather, and brave “The Unknown” – the name of the haunted house that features air blasts, water, and other close encounters for one’s bare skin.

And this year, I took part myself, not only to get a sense of what it’s all about but also to shoot another fantastically entertaining video of all the fun. You’ll have to take my word for it that I was only wearing boxers while behind the camera filming the three guys and two girls in the video below. These are actual Shocktoberfest guests too, not actors.

Fair warning: Last year’s video was blurred to keep the video fairly safe. This year, it’s uncensored and shot from a POV perspective. And the two girls who accompanied me were strippers wearing thongs. So be ready for some behinds. (Yep, this is perfect Outside the Magic material…)


Video: Shocktoberfest Almost Naked and Scared Challenge 2014 uncensored


Being nearly naked definitely heightens the haunted house experience. There is little boundary between you and your surroundings, leaving you feeling exposed – because you are. On top of that, the cold weather coupled with surprising effects amp up what are otherwise rather ordinary startles. There’s nothing sexual about the experience, only a chance to break all barriers and take on the terrors within, leaving nothing to hide behind. I do think Pat stumbled onto something interesting with this experience, a chance for those who have become bored or desensitized to haunted houses to recapture that feeling of being on edge when entering. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than stripping down with The Unknown quite literally ahead.

Find out more information about Shocktoberfest, including the Naked and Scared Challenge, on their web site.


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Posted on October 16, 2014
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , ,

Hidden deep in the backwoods outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania lies Pennhurst Asylum. It’s not only a creep-tastic location for a haunted attraction, but a part of the state’s history – an actual former asylum that once housed crazed inmates who now purportedly haunt its buildings.

The functional Pennhurst facility closed back in the 1980s, abandoning its many structures to crumble an rot for decades. It reopened just five years ago, instantly becoming one of the most talked about Halloween events in the country. The local community was outraged initially, demanding the haunt get shut down, fearing it would trample on historic and sacred grounds.

Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst Asylum

But today it is hallowed as an inventive, exciting, and intense experience for thrill seekers and Halloween fans alike.

Simply driving to Pennhurst causes shivers, with seemingly endless dark and curvy roads winding through a forest in the middle of nowhere. Once at the event, it’s all too clear this is a controlled, safe place to simply have some spooky fun.


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Posted on October 15, 2014
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: ,

On the docks of Long Beach , California sits the once grand ocean liner the Queen Mary. On May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary departed from Southampton, England crossing the ocean on her maiden voyage. For several years The Queen Mary was the greatest and grandest ocean liner hosting celebrities like Bob Hope and Clark Gable as well as royalty.

When World War II began, history had a different plan for the Queen Mary. She was quickly turned into a troopship leaving the joys of celebration aboard the ship as a thing of the past. The ship was painted a grey color to act as camouflage and became known as “Grey Ghost” as she was the largest and fastest ship available. After World War II the Queen Mary was restored to her original glory like before the war and carried passengers across the Atlantic for several more decades.

On October 31 (Halloween), 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her final cruise arriving in Long Beach, California. She has been there ever since.

The Queen Mary has a long history, but some of her past may still be lurking around the grand ship. Time magazine has voted the Queen Mary one of the ten most haunted places in America. Year round there are many haunted tours offered aboard the ship, but during Halloween season greater and many more haunts are waiting for you as part of “Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor: Evil Lurks Within.”

The best part of Dark Harbor is the fact that they have a fantastic (already really haunted) location to create some of the mazes. Half of the haunted mazes (B340, Soulmate & Submerged) are located inside the basement of the ship. Frankly, these old basements are creepy enough prior to building a haunt inside. Filling it with crazy characters simply adds to the already present discomfort and fear.

And those characters were all out for the event’s opening night earlier this month, including the famed Ringmaster and Scary Mary among others.



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Posted on October 14, 2014
Topics: Disney, Entertainment, Movies, Special EventsTags: , , , , , ,

Frequently featured on Travel Channel specials, Hundred Acres Manor in Pittsburgh, PA is among the country’s most popular haunted attractions. With six back-to-back haunted houses to walk through, including one devilishly disorienting maze, this experience fills an evening with plenty of fun moments and surprising thrills.

It’s often gory and over the top with its scenes, which often play out with exaggerated theatrics. From the very beginning, it’s clear Hundred Acres Manor aims to impress with in-your-face entertainment.

The experience starts by stepping into one of several elevators to “descend” into the haunt’s depths. It’s called Dead Lift, featuring a rockin’ good time for a few minutes. Those guests lucky enough to step inside with the creepy elevator operator in the video below will be treated to a particularly amusing rendition of “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” from “Frozen.” Take a look…


Video: Frozen parody “Do You Want to Hide a Body?” at Hundred Acres Manor


From what I gather, that ghoul showed up for work one day ready to sing and hasn’t stopped doing his schtick ever since. Nor should he.

Hundred Acres Manor then traverses through four haunted houses: Damnation, The Family, Brine Slaughterhouse, and the newest and best – Torture Tank. Damnation certainly offers its share of scares, combining loud actor-driven moments with even louder animatronics and special effects. The Family combines every awful backwoods, inbred, cannibal stereotype into one stomach-churning experience. Brine Slaughterhouse is even gorier, amping up the scares with wretched smells.

But Torture Tank shines as the most enjoyable overall attraction at Hundred Acres Manor. Its theme, which clearly continues throughout, invites guests into a steampunk-style world to live out their darkest, freakiest fantasies. Beginning with a reception area and continuing past a delightfully disturbing barker, each scene plays out showcasing someone else’s twisted inner desires to torture others. It’s an onslaught of insanity that’s sheer fun to watch.

Take a stroll through Hundred Acres Manor in the video below, soaking in a few choice moments from each experience.


Video: Hundred Acres Manor haunted house POV overview in Pittsburgh, PA


Also featured at Hundred Acres Manor is a nearly pitch black maze that has the potential to leave guests lost for hours on end. Some make it through quickly while others find themselves crying in a corner, unable to find a way out. But since the haunts are sequential and the maze is the second to last stop, it’s necessary to figure out how to leave before making it into the final haunt.

For those looking for some interactivity, Hundred Acres Manor also adds zombie paintball this year, though with pop guns in a shooting gallery type environment it’s really less than thrilling. The concept is great, but the execution needs a lot of work. It ends up being more exhausting on the arms than fun.

Set in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, Hundred Acres Manor does a great job at being creepy from the get go. The walkthrough experiences are inventive and fun, even if the scares are mostly “boo” type startles. Thankfully, the scenes that play out frequently are entertaining and always so over-the-top that all guests will leave thinking, “What did I just see?” That is, if they’re not screaming on the way out.

More information can be found at HundredAcresManor.com.


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Posted on October 13, 2014
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , , , ,

ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is inviting their guests to step back in time nearly a century ago as “The Summoning” takes the popular Halloween event to a new level of design.

Art director Macabre Noir modeled the ’20s / ’30s look of The Summoning haunted house after her own tastes – even after her own home, which is decorated to fit the era. Her clear design sense has brought this new ScareHouse experience to the levels of the biggest theme park events with large scale, highly detailed environments creating non-stop believability and a true sense of walking through a different time period.

Add in a dash of Legendary Entertainment’s recent cult classic film “Trick ‘r Treat,” complete with a live appearance by Sam, and The Summoning is among Halloween’s finest this year.

For those who can’t make it, we have an exclusive walkthrough of the entire The Summoning experience, a POV video in which the ScareHouse actors play to our camera – the next best thing to being there. Of course it’s filled with spoilers, including the surprise finale scene, so don’t watch if you plan on attending. But if you want to see the tremendous attention to detail an independent haunted attraction can produce (or you’re simply a “Trick ‘r Treat” fan), check out The Summoning in the video below.


Video: The Summoning / Trick r Treat haunted house full POV walkthrough at ScareHouse in Pittsburgh


The Summoning is filled with interesting characters and unique moments. The story takes guests from a seemingly ordinary Halloween party from decades ago into the seedy underbelly of a fraternal organization. Its believability comes in part from ScareHouse’s historic location, a former Elks lodge. In fact, part of The Summoning passes through the lodge’s old ballroom, now transformed into a centerpiece of the haunted house, an extravagant theater.

In the maze’s first half, the startles largely come from the denizens of this world, mostly normal, though increasingly shady. A psychic, bartender, poker players, a drunk, and a madam and her women of the night are among the close encounters guests stumble across.

But once guests arrive at that grand theater – late to the show, naturally – an usher takes them backstage to meet “The Great One,” guided by creepy minions and a host of off-putting creatures that culminate with the biggest of them all.

The Summoning creates a time and place in which guests will want to remain. It’s tough to keep walking, wanting to absorb all the period-authentic details included in each scene. But ultimately it’s about the scare, and this experience is full of them, particularly as guests are pulsed through alone or in small groups, allowing everyone to take the full brunt of the monsters’ attacks. Along the way, ScareHouse visitors will find themselves engaged, disoriented, and overwhelmed by the scope and scale of this year’s addition, a hopeful sign of great things to come at this excellent haunt.

Check back to Outside the Magic soon for another exclusive look at The Summoning, a behind the scenes walkthrough with Macabre Noir. We’ll also soon be taking you backstage into ScareHouse’s makeup and costuming department – and giving you a first person look into their extreme haunted house, The Basement.

(Photos by Rachellynn Shoen / ScareHouse.com)


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Introduction to Outside the Magic and a visit to The ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, PA
Date: 10/13/14 | Duration: 00:30:12
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