Miami has a country-wide rep for being a scary place. Not only is the thought of our multi-cultural population a political conservative's worst nightmare, but the "Miami Zombie" incident earlier this year didn't do much help to win favorable opinions across the nation, either.
Whatever. If there's one thing Miami is in the business for, is the business of fear. (Well, and sex. And drugs. And hotel rooms. But also fear.) And this Halloween season is no exception.
If you get a thrill out of the idea of being chased down by a chainsaw wielding maniac and would pay good money to experience real-life, bone-chilling paranormal activity, you're in luck. From creepy vampire shows to real-life haunted mansions, this October is chock full of spooky haunted attractions for fear enthusiasts of all types.
5. Dr. Wilde's Screamatorium at Zoo Miami, October 10-31
Zoo Miami's full-scale family-friendly fright emporium features 7,000 square feet of graveyard ghouls and goblins. The haunted house is the brainchild of special event design team called Flore de Lisa, which has crafted props and effects for Universal Studios in the past. Expect horror scenes depicting the living dead, graveyards, butcher shops, and deceased creatures roaming around to the music of departed rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. (Naturally, this haunted house may not be suitable for younger children.)
8p.m. to midnight., 12400 SW 152nd Street, Miami, 305-251-0400, miamimetrozoo.com
4. The Vampire Circus at Bayfront Park, October 18-31
This show offers a different kind of nightmarish scares -- the sitting down kind. Coming to Bayfront Park, The Vampire Circus is filled with supernatural circus performers, terror, and enchanted magic and comedy that would make Tim Burton proud. Spectators can witness live entertainment, comprised of 30 world-class artists showcasing their multidisciplinary skills in theater, dance, and gymnastics, all of which push the physical boundaries of human capabilities.
Inspired by mysterious 19th century traveling carnivals, The Vampire Circus is the tale of Count Dracula and his plan for global domination-- a traveling circus with his gypsy followers is the perfect cover-up to travel unnoticed, unleash Dracula's world reign of terror, and turn all humans into an army of vampires. The show promises its audience members will "break their fourth wall." We're not exactly sure what that translates to, but if that means making one want to sleep with a nightlight for a week, we'll take it.
7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-358-7550, thevampirecircus.us
3. House of Horror at Miami International Mall, September 27-October 31
Cheesy carnival rides and gimmicky events aside, the haunted house at House of Horror amusement park is one of Miami's best. The two-acre (yes, two-acre) space also makes it the largest haunted house in South Florida. They say the freaks come out at night, and House of Horror has hired all of them to work their best scare antics. Actors in gruesome attire, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, will make you wary of every corner you turn. On top of that, 30 rooms of loud shrieks and screams and blinding strobe-lights are a scary thing in and of itself.
Price: Adults, $23; Children 6 and under, $15
1455 NW 107th Ave., Doral, 305-639-6000, houseofhorrorpark.com
2. Haunted Mansion Tour at Curtiss Mansion, October 25-31
This is the real deal. No costumed college kids, lightning strobe lights, or props necessary to scare the wits out of anyone here. The Pueblo-Mission Revival-style mansion was the home of aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss. Curtiss lived there for only five years before his unexpected death in 1930. At the time of his death, he was working on several inventions that would have would have put him on the map. Unfortunately, his work was cut short and he left behind a hefty amount of unfinished business.
Just a few years ago, Curtiss Mansion looked like an abandoned, vandalized home straight out of The Amityville Horror. The mansion has now been restored to its original 1925 condition, but there have been reports of lights going on and off and some unexplained voices heard at night. Whether or not the house is really haunted has not been confirmed. The only way to find out is to see for yourself.
Price: $15 advanced purchase, $20 at the door
8 p.m. to midnight. 500 Deer Run, Miami Springs, 305-469-4674, curtissmansionblog.com
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1. Halloween Spookover at Deering Estate, October 26
If the previous contender seemed too scary for you, you ain't seen nothing yet. The most eerie, supernatural experience awaits at the former home of Charles Deering. By day, Deering Estate sets the scene for fairytale weddings and high-brow charity events -- but by night, it's a whole different story. The house was built on tribal indian burial grounds, which makes for the perfect Poltergeist experience.
The League of Paranormal Investigators invites those with a curiosity in the supernatural to spend the night at Deering Estate, Ghost Adventures style. The paranormal investigation takes place both indoors and outdoors of the main house using actual tools and gadgets for effective ghost hunting. Pendulums, dowsing rods, EMF meters, voice recorders, and cameras are encouraged, you know, in case you're really that into making contact with evil, angry spirits.
11 p.m. to 4 a.m., 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Miami, 305-235-1668, spookover.com