Calling all ghost-hunting enthusiasts and fright fanatics! As the Halloween season approaches, we’re ready for our fill of spooky attractions, whether investigating some real-life ghost stories or shuffling through the dark in a haunted house. Not up for big scares? Enjoy the harvest season with family activities at some of South Jersey’s vibrant working farms, from pumpkin picking to caramel apples, to hayrides and corn mazes. Whatever your Halloween desires, we’ve compiled a list that has its share of monsters, ghouls, and haunted adventures for every member of your ghostly gang.
Night of Terror at Creamy Acres
If one haunted house just isn’t enough for you, than Creamy Acres may be the place. Home to six Halloween attractions, the Night of Terror’s 16th year includes two haunted houses, a 3-D experience, a pitch-black maze, a hayride through the woods, two eerie walking sites and more—all for one admission price. But this working dairy farm doesn’t discriminate against the timid, offering daytime hayrides, pumpkin picking, and a five-acre corn maze popular for families and children.
Fridays and Saturdays in Oct., $30-60, 448 Lincoln Mill Road, Mullica Hill, (856) 223-1669, CreamyAcres.com
Voyage of the Living Dead: Battleship New Jersey
Something’s gone horribly wrong on New Jersey’s famous battleship. Climb aboard and join Dr. Helene Tesla, former Dean of the Transylvania College for the Dead, as she reveals the results of her doomed science experiment—zombie sailors! Escaping these undead monsters with all your parts intact, and you’ll enjoy graveyard dancing, snacks and drinks on the fantail.
Fridays-Sundays in October and every night from Oct. 26-30, $30, 100 Clinton St., Camden, (866) 877-6262 ext. 107, BattleshipNewJersey.org
Burlington County Prison Museum’s: The Haunted Prison
What’s better than a good scare on Halloween? A good scare at an actual haunted prison. The Burlington County Prison Museum transforms its grounds into a haunted house you won’t want to miss, right in the 200-year-old courtyard where dozens of paranormal investigators have come to research this prison’s ghastly past. Your ticket for this 30-minute walking attraction also includes a voucher for free daytime admission to the historic museum.
October 7-14, 15-21, and 22-29, $17, 128 High St., Mount Holly, (609) 284-0915, PrisonHaunt.com
Mullica Hill Ghost Walk
Learn the true haunted history of downtown Mullica Hill during this hour-long walking ghost tour. This one-night event will take you back through time as you stroll past historic houses and public buildings, all with their own spooky, storied pasts. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m. and leave every 15 minutes, though advance tickets are required.
Oct. 8, $5, 7 S. Main St., (856) 478-4949, HarrisonHistorical.com
For their 13th year of haunted attractions, Indian Acres Tree Farm is kicking it up a notch. The frightful “Eerie Acres” weekend features six scary scenes, like the terrifying clown carnival, pirate-infested Bermuda Triangle zone, graveyard of lost souls and a look at the spookier side of Harry Potter. Daytime fun is not lacking here either: you can pick pumpkins, whoosh down a zip line or take a wagon ride with the family.
Fridays-Sundays in Oct., $20, 111 Tuckerton Road, Medford, (609) 953-0087, IndianAcresTreeFarm.com
Haddonfield Ghost Walks
Led by Bill Meehan, author of the book Haunted Haddonfield, this 90-minute ghost walk will uncover the stories of Haddonfield residents past, from ghosts that haunted the Indian King Tavern’s basement to the morgue on Potter Street, all the way back to some vengeful Revolutionary War prisoners. Tickets for this event, which starts promptly at 7 p.m., can be found at the Haddonfield Public Library, the Historical Society of Haddonfield, and the town’s visitors’ center.
Oct 21-22, 28-29, $10 for adults, $5 for children, 343 Kings Highway E., Haddonfield, (856) 429-7375, HaddonfieldNJ.org
Goblins in the Garden
A little less scary, and a little more fun! Goblins in the Garden, a family festival at the Camden Children’s Garden, invites kids to show up in costume for a haunted train ride, trip through a maze and an encounter with a fortune teller. Traditional Mexican Día de los Muertos activities precede Halloween crafts, trick or treating and a costume parade.
Oct. 22-23, $6, 3 Riverside Drive, Camden, (856) 365-8733, CamdenChildrensGarden.org
Despite what you may think, you don’t have to rent this year’s new thriller to get a good scare. South Jersey’s urban legends, ghost stories and myths have been gathered, researched and passed down throughout the generations, from Weird N.J. to visits from SyFy’s Ghost Hunters crew.
Marti Haines, a member of the local paranormal investigation group South Jersey Ghost Research, says there’s plenty of ghostly activity in our own backyard.
Take the Thomas Budd House for example (now The Bookery) on the corner of White and Church streets in Mount Holly. Dating from the 1700s, the building has its fill of ghostly visitors, most likely Hessian soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Haines says. “People have actually seen the solders themselves down in the basement. There have been sightings of solders in the area in other buildings, too,” says Haines, explaining that many believe a solider was put to death in that building and makes appearances to this day.
Haines has worked with South Jersey Ghost Research for seven years, and now manages the group’s Ghost Hunters Store in Mount Holly. These passionate researchers undertake nearly 100 investigations each year in the tri-state area, equipped with an arsenal of video cameras, motion sensors, infrared and night-vision cameras, high-end audio recorders, and electromagnetic and temperature sensors.
Evidence posted online includes photos from Old Stone House Village in Washington Township, plus buildings at Rowan University and dozens of private homes across South Jersey.
In Haddonfield, Bill Meehan, found enough ghost stories and legends to research and write his book, Haunted Haddonfield. “My approach to these stories is [to view them as] folklore, which is one of my motivations in trying to preserve them,” says Meehan. In addition to folklore, Meehan interviews people who have had personal experiences with the unknown. “It is remarkable how many homes in Haddonfield are believed to be haunted by their present day owners,” says Meehan.
One of the oldest folk stories, he says, takes place along Hopkins Road in Haddon Heights. “It was a particularly remote and forested place. At this location, stories were told about a gigantic black bird,” says Meehan. “It was [believed to be] a ghost of an Indian girl who had lost her lover and evolved into a giant bird. On cloudy and misty nights, many said the bird carried a torch in its beak to help search for people to devour.”
So next time you want to experience something scary, take a ride to some of these South Jersey towns, sign up for a ghost tour, and talk to some locals. You never know if you will be next to experience the supernatural.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 8 (October, 2011).
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