Haunt Industry Expert, Queen of Haunts, Reveals the Frightfully Fun Places to Travel
In the kingdom of haunted American places, the Queen of Haunts seeks to find the best haunt entertainment for screams and laughter. She follows in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, the former haunt queens who started the Edge of Hell Haunted House in Kansas City in 1975 - the oldest commercial haunted attraction in the nation still operating. Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, known as the Queen of Haunts, was a very young child, initially taking naps in the coffins and participating in the haunting when she would awake. It's in her blood.
It takes more than a sixth sense of these queens at the haunts and other family members to conceive, operate, and update an attraction to maintain the longevity and success of the Edge of Hell. The Queen and her uncle, a haunt mastermind, took the reins and now run three successful haunted attractions in the same district, while other haunt businesses didn't make it. Haunted houses were plentiful in the 1980s and 90s, but the business of scaring is tricky, with razor-thin margins and a short season that creates a death knell for them.
The Queen of Haunts travels the world to find ideas, inspiration, and interactions with the best in haunt entertainment.
"Maybe my passion for haunting was natural for me or nurtured through a lifetime in it," said Arnett-Bequeaith. "My vacations and travel encircle my love of haunting and family, spooky-based fun. In my book, safe screams and laughter are what matter. We're a family immersed in Halloween traditions."
Demand for fright entertainment has bounced back to pre-pandemic highs, which attracts travelers with a bucket list for fright-filled excitement. The Queen of Haunts names the top 13 cities for terror-ific travel in 2022 for a thrilling itinerary.
- Kansas City is at the top of the Queen's list. Yes, familiarity is part of it, but what other city has a district of three mega-sized, nationally acclaimed haunts? Haunters can have a blast with a weekend going to these highly-rated haunted attractions – grab a triple pass to the Beast Haunted House, Edge of Hell, and Macabre Cinema. The Festival of the Full Moon takes place around the haunts at night and by day on First Friday Weekends. In October, the Boo in the Bottoms' theme draws in the young at heart who love the Halloween season.
- Savannah, GA: Ghosts come to life on the haunted tours as horrid historical tales are shared with visitors walking the pier and the cemeteries. The area is so bewitching it was a fitting name for the Queen's firstborn, October baby. A blast for a girlfriend weekend getaway.
- Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Antonio: The Halloween season is the best time to go to the Dallas area. Many know about the macabre historical 6th Floor Museum, but the metro offers two haunted attractions that give fear-fascinated travelers double the fun. Thrillvania is on 50 acres where the spirits offer jolting scares. Also, Cutting Edge in Ft. Worth scares to a different beat. This old meat-packing plant is occupied by the undead who found work a grind and have never left. It's hair-raising fright plus the bonus of an award-winning Zombie drum line. Bundle scary sites from Dallas to the Alamo in San Antonio to possibly catch apparitions of the guards and prisoners who perished at this historical, famous battle site.
- Philadelphia is an epicenter for a dark past – where the Twilight Tours in Old City give visitors the low-down. Thrill seekers looking for the best in haunted attractions must put a few nights on the itinerary at Bates Motel near Philadelphia. This haunted attraction and hayride are so big that it has an old western town, a haunted house, and a slew of other fright-filled activities that make a hauntingly-fun vacation escape. Count this as one of the best at haunting with an extraordinarily gifted family who owns and operates this farm.
- Gettysburg: Ghost stories date back to the Civil War at this battlefield site. The walking tours share the horrors of the time and the aftermath of the undead not resting. Another way to visit the site is on horseback. The Queen and family took the horseback riding tour, given it covers a lot of ground and the paranormal activity was significant – even the horses seemed to sense a ghostly presence on this once bloody battlefield.
- Salt Lake City: While mountains and sacred places come to mind when planning a trip to Salt Lake City, the must-see attraction that gets my heart racing is Nightmare on 13th. The haunt creators have a long track record of scaring the right way - which means it's safe and super scary with 13 haunts inside and a gigantic castle of things to do. The Queen was highly impressed with the spirited cast that goes the extra mile.
- Atlanta: This one is a no-brainer – thrill seekers with a bucket list will all include NETHERWORLD. Atlanta has many extreme places to see, but this one is in another stratosphere of scary. The special effects are so masterful it transports you into an apocalyptic time. If the end is coming, this place is the preview, leaving this seasoned haunt veteran quite impressed with the costuming and haunt memorabilia.
- Boston/Salem, MA: New England is swarming with spooky legends and historical happenings, like the women executed for being suspected of being a witch in Salem and the ghost tours in Boston. Plan a night or two out at the Spooky World haunted attraction in Litchfield, New Hampshire to experience a heart-pounding adrenaline rush no one will regret. The house, hayride, and labyrinth are something to behold for the ultimate frightful adventure.
- Detroit: While a day trip to enjoy the rhythm of Motown isn't scary, the injustices these talented singers experienced were dreadfully frightening and shouldn't be forgotten. A quick drive north to Erebus in Pontiac, Michigan, will treat the most adventurous to a fright-filled evening. Fair warning: the mad scientist there uses the haunt as a guise to get test subjects within its multi-story building that takes up half of a block. Fear fans will never be the same afterward, but this soul-shaker is worth every minute.
- Greensboro/High Point, NC: Hiking through a forest at night in a thunderstorm is a nightly reality at Spooky Woods and a feast of fun for fright-lovers. This massive attraction pulses terror through 14 haunted buildings and the surrounding wooded area. The rural setting, with its corn mazes and abandoned town, makes this an oasis for fright mania. A family-friendly bonus is to try the zipline and other activities during the day.
- San Diego: There's a lot to draw tourists to San Diego, but thrill seekers' top of the list should be The Haunted Hotel for a whole night of terror-ific excitement. The attraction has everything desired to scare, plus outside they have a range of haunt-themed entertainment, from live music and palm readers to a boo bar and a collection of haunt oddities.
- Paducah, KY and Springfield, MO: Some smaller cities also pack in the scaring. A favorite is Talon Falls SCREAMPARK, where they have acres of moonlit space to get a hefty dose of scaring within a psych ward, crypt, and a gigantic pirate ship, to name a few highlights. Engineering fright is in the Queen's family. Thus a road trip from Paducah to Springfield, Missouri, is suggested to experience the Hotel of Terror, operated by some alive and dead family characters. The relative blood thing, it's real!
- San Francisco and Portland: Take advantage of two cities on the West coast with highlights that include a spine-chilling walk through Alcatraz Island prison and the haunted Golden Gate Park. A quick flight north to Portland is warranted to visit the Shanghai Tunnels, where in the 1800s, people were kidnapped and forced into servitude overseas. Plus, tune in to a midnight tea party to hear the green witch Tigress Magnolia, who celebrates Portland's departed and also happens to be the Queen of Haunt's sister in all things healthy and spooky on the West Coast.
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