People across America are expected to spend a whopping total of $9 billion on all things Halloween, including costumes, candy, decorations and more, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF's survey of nearly 7,000 consumers found that Americans will spend a near-record high on Halloween, and 21 percent of them plan to visit a haunted house this year.
Haunted house designer and attraction expert Larry Kirchner has been in the Halloween business for more than 25 years and for the 13th year in a row, his website HauntWorld.com released a ranking of America's scariest haunted houses.
"Most of these haunts have been around for 20-plus years and they're just getting better," Kirchner tells CNBC Make It.
Kirchner, also the owner of Halloween Productions, has worked with hundreds of amusement parks to help stage attractions and currently owns some of St. Louis' most famous haunted attractions such as The Darkness, House of the Occult at Lemp Brewery and Creepyworld.
"People used to go to multiple haunted houses, but now that they're more expensive, people need to do their research to help them choose," says Kirchner.
If you're in search of some spooky plans, here are the seven scariest haunted houses in America, based on HauntWorld.com's latest rankings.
Location: Ulster Park, NY
Background: Located in the Hudson Valley region of New York state, Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses is set in an 18th century historic manor that was originally a horse exchange tavern, circa 1793.
Don't miss: The theatrical hayride, the corn maze and the Headless Horseman Escape Rooms
Location: Mountville, Pennsylvania
Background: Based in a farm in Lancaster, the Field of Screams opened in 1993.
Don't miss: The haunted night walk through a "post-apocalyptic" trail
Cost: $25 to $37
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Background: The Dent Schoolhouse was reportedly a real public school that opened in 1894. Legend has it Dent was the site of a mass murder in the 1950s, when a janitor was suspected of killing missing students.
Don't miss: The "lights out" tour of the school house is done completely in the dark
Cost: $15 to $55
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Background: An indoor and outdoor experience, 13th Gate has been haunting the Louisiana area for 16 years using a mix of phobias including a "snake-infested" Louisiana Swamp, cramped tunnels and zombies.
Don't miss: Axe-throwing at 13th Gate's "Carnevil" attraction
Cost: $30 to $55
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Background: Netherworld was created by Ben Armstrong, who was in TV production, and Billy Messina, a former Hollywood special effects artist, who "set out to develop characters and scenes that were completely original," according to Atlanta Magazine. Now it's one of the largest attractions on the list.
Don't miss: Its two haunted houses, "The Awakened" with classic horror elements and the extraterrestrial-themed "Subject: Unknown"
Cost: $23 to 55
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Background: Now in its 28th year running, Nightmare on 13th is the oldest and largest haunted house in Utah, according ABC4 News in Salt Lake. "The Nightmare on 13th is well known for constantly changing. We work year around to create highly realistic sets and over the top special effects," reads its site. This year's acquatic theme and takes vistors through man-made caves and mines.
Don't miss: Photo-ops throughout the haunted house with costumed actors
Cost: $25 to $45
Location: Akron, Ohio
Background: The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory has been around for over 30 years and its seven floors of attractions play on classic phobias.
Don't miss: Happy hour at the Haunted Midway
Cost: $25 to $30
The rest of the top 13 attractions can be found at Hauntworld.
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