Halloween has its whimsical side: pumpkins, spooky decorations, costume parties or escorting your kids trick-or-treating. But it also has a dark side, filled with fear and terror. As someone who is drawn to that dark side, I love going to Haunted House attractions. Lucky for me, Louisiana has some of the best in the country, and one of my all-time favorites is 13th Gate, a 40,000 square foot Haunted House in downtown Baton Rouge.
I’m not the only fan: 13th Gate continuously garners high praises from visitors and reviewers alike, including The Travel Channel which cited it as “one of the scariest Halloween attractions”, and AOL Cityguide, which ranked it #1 on their “Top 13 Haunted Houses Across America” list.
I’ve visited many Haunted House attractions, and while most of them are fun, with cool lighting and sound effects, eerie characters lunging out at you and spooky sets, I find that a lot of them aren’t really scary. For me, they don’t scare you as much as startle you, as anyone would be if someone or something unexpectedly jumped out at them.
I think what makes 13th Gate so extremely scary is their atmosphere; most haunted houses clearly look like sets, designed to create the illusion of a haunted house. But 13th Gate’s environment seems real, and that gets your adrenaline pumping even before anything frightening happens! The lighting helps a lot, too, because it seems real and organic as opposed to random strobe lights or spotlights used just for effect. I would swear that the air inside that place is…different, heavier. It felt thick in my lungs and made me aware of my breathing. I noticed my skin felt tacky. Is it all in my head, or…?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but to give you an idea of what you might encounter during your visit: you may find yourself crawling through a crematory oven, lost on a foggy, frightening London street, or in the company of hundreds of live snakes. I distinctly remember entering one spine-chilling area where I’m sure I smelled rotting meat! Ewww…and fantastic!
And if your nervous system can take a little more stimulation, stop by Necropolis 13 next door. It’s an eerie, old New Orleans cemetery with crumbling tombstones, crypts and catacombs and, of course, zombies! Plus, there’s a nightly voodoo fire show which, at least the last time I was there, seemed to attract some real ghosts!
Not surprisingly, the lines can get pretty long the closer it gets to Halloween. You might want to consider paying the extra money for a VIP pass which gets you bumped to the front of the line.
If you think you can handle a good scare this Halloween, then the 13th Gate in Baton Rouge is a must…if you dare!