Haunted Houses for NYC Kids: 8 Not-too-scary Halloween Installations for Families
We are in the process of updating this post for 2014. Please check back in early October. Earlier this week, we wrote about haunted houses in Westchester County. But there are actually quite a few haunted houses right here in NYC, too. Of course the scary thing about most of them is that they're geared toward grown-ups, not families. However, there are a handful of not-so-spooky haunted houses in New York City that offer gentle Halloween chills for children.
While you're sure to find spooky family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and school fall fair, we're skipping those and focusing on more elaborate haunted houses that sound like memorable experiences. Read on for the scoop on the top eight Halloween haunted houses for NYC kids... if you dare! And check out our Halloween Fun Guide for even more seasonal fun.
Museum of UnNatural Mysteries – Bronx
Weekends October 5-October 27 plus Columbus Day 11am-5pm
The Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Boulevard
Free with Total Experience Ticket: In advance: $30.56 for adults, $20.56 for children ages 3-12; at the door: $33.95 and $23.95 respectively
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo festivities, the Museum of UnNatural Mysteries features Dr. B. Zarre (get it?) and his kooky collection of creepy relics and crazy creatures from Earth and beyond. The doc himself shows kids how dinosaurs became extinct and shares fascinating artifacts. Afterward, families can enjoy more Halloween-themed fun including Dinosaur Safari rides, the brand-new Komodo Dragon exhibit, kids' concerts, animal-themed puppet shows, a hay maze, trick-or-treating and costume parades.
Haunted Pumpkin Garden Spooky Nighttime Adventures – Bronx
Friday, October 18-Saturday, October 19; Friday, October 25-Saturday, October 26 6:30-8:30pm
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard
Bring your flashlight so you can explore the NYBG's Haunted Pumpkin Garden after dark, making it a sort of outdoor haunted house. Once the spooky tour ends, kids can trick-or-treat and decorate a pumpkin to take home. Advance timed tickets are required.
Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel – Downtown Brooklyn
Thursday, October 20-Saturday, October 26; Thursday, October 31-Saturday, November 2. Times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Voorhees Theatre, 186 Jay Street near Bridge Plaza Court
Ages 8 and up
This spooky haunted house is built by the students and faculty of Theatreworks, City Tech College's department of entertainment technology. Think the type of animatronic houses you see at amusement parks, like Disney.
NY”Z” Scream Haunted House – Upper East Side
Friday, October 25 4-7pm; Saturday, October 26 11am-3pm
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, enter at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street
Ages 4 and up
Central Park's big Pumpkin Fest always includes a haunted house. This year's theme is zombies. The lines for everything at the Saturday fete are always scarily long so if you just want to check out the haunted house, your best bet is to go the evening before when parks staff offer families a sneak peek from 4 to 7pm.
Halloween Haunted House – Floral Park
Friday, October 25-Sunday, October 27 4-7pm
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway
You never know what you'll find—or what will find you—in the farm’s not-too-scary haunted house. Afterward, go for a hayride, down some cider, buy your pumpkins and apples, and navigate the Amazing Maize Maze for an extra fee. If you go on Sunday, October 27, you can also hit the ride- and activity-filled Children's Fall Festival from 11am to 4pm for an additional $5.
Prospect Walk and Haunted Carnival – Prospect Park
Saturday, October 26 noon-3pm
Another alfresco haunted hike. Head to Lookout Hill, which will be filled with zombies, wolf men, headless horsemen, good and bad witches, and other creepy characters. Afterward, hit the Nethermead for a Halloween-themed carnival with games, treats and other fun.
Prospect Park Zoo's Spooky Barn – Prospect Park
Saturday, Oct 26-Sunday, October 27 noon-3:30pm
450 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Park
Free with admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo weekend, the barn is teeming with not-too-scary creatures. Afterward, stick around for other Halloween fun like wildlife witch shows, pumpkins for baboons, roaming costumed characters and more.
American Museum of Natural History – Upper West Side
Thursday, October 31 4-7pm
Central Park West at 79th Street
The AMNH's annual party is really anything but scary, unless seeing your kids hopped up on sugar is your greatest fear. Families hit the tot spot for crafts, candy, live music and costumed characters. Still, you could argue that the eerie halls of the AMNH are like a haunted house all year round.
What about New York City's year-round haunted attraction Times Scare on Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street? Honestly, we've never visited (though we have been by and seen the dude in bad KISS makeup trying to get people to go in). Though the FAQ says it's open to all ages, the recommendation is 10 and up. So while it may be less terrifying than the adults-only Blood Manor or Nightmare, we still stay steer clear until they're teens.
As for the annual kid-friendly Inwood Hill Haunted House and Forest, unfortunately, due to Hurricane Sandy destroying all of the props and equipment last year, it won't be happening in 2013.