October is a special time of year. There's always pumpkins and cider and candy exploding from Publix. You hear Michael Jackson's "Thriller" about five times a week. But the best part of the lovely fall season is Halloween - that glorious holiday where creeps and cowards unite in fear and excitement.
And there's no better place to do exactly that than at one of our local haunted houses. Here's our list of South Florida haunts that are sure to get your goosebumps going.
Festival of Souls
Las Olas Riverfront, 300 SW 1st Ave., Ft. Lauderdale
Let's start with this doozy. This year, 24 people couldn't make it through and three people peed their pants, according to the Festival of Souls' 2013 Wall of Lost Souls Count. Voted best haunted house in South Florida by HauntWorld.com last year, Festival of Souls has it all and then some. The Demon Mansion haunted house and Pitch Black Maze are scary staples of this event, but the Festival has themed weekends to change up the terror: October 17-20, it's vampires and werewolves; October 24-27, zombies; and October 30 to November 1, horror movie characters. Visitors also can take out some aggression with the Live Zombie Shoot and Dunk A Zombie attractions. In addition to the main attractions, Festival of Souls features live bands every Thursday and Sunday, food trucks every Saturday night, and more than 10 DJs spinning all month. Other upcoming events include Zombie Walk on October 18, the "Scare Basal - Dark Artist Showcase" from October 24-27, and a costume contest for adults 18 and over on October 26. Tickets start at $15 for kids 12 and under. Visit festivalofsouls.inticketing.com for tickets and facebook.com/festivalofsouls for upcoming promotions.
House of Horror Amusement Park
Miami International Mall East parking lot, 1455 NW 107th Ave, Doral
House of Horror's Haunted House spans two acres with more than 30 rooms of terror. House of Horror offers park guests a variety of entertainment: Carnival rides for children and adults, food, carnival games, circus attractions, live performances, and, for some odd and awesome reason, Hulk Hogan's Micro Championship Wrestling Live as seen on True TV. Tickets cost $23 for adults and $15 for kids 6 and under. Visit houseofhorrorpark.com to get tickets and facebook.com/housrofhorrormiami for ticket promotions.
9067 Southern Blvd, West Palm Beach
Fright Nights returns to the South Florida Fairgrounds this year with an ultra-creepy theme for anyone with coulrophobia, a.k.a fear of clowns: "Carnival of Creeps." In addition to circus-y scares, attractions include "The Smiths," which tells the tale of a murderous family plotting to massacre everyone in their new community; "A Grim's Tale," channeling all the bloody gore Disney left out of its fairy tale retellings; and "Country Bill's Meat Market," a place where you really, really don't want to order the mystery meatloaf. Admission costs $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Visit myfrightnights.com.
21069 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton
Sure, it's a bit of a drive, but Enigma Haunt is worth it. Enigma Haunt tells the tales of South Florida's unsolved and disturbing past. Visitors can enter more than 13,000 square feet of terror with undead abominations, demons, and tortured souls. Groups of four to six guests will enter into claustrophobic chambers that lead to dimensions where every endless path brings an aching uncertainty. Traveling through haunted rooms catering to all senses, more than 40 performers are willing and eager to deliver fear and panic with every turn and scare patrons to the end of the journey. Admission to Enigma Haunt costs $18 online and $20 at the event. Visit enigmahaunt.com.
-- Shelly Davidov