Haunted Houses//photo courtesy of Rebecca Karpinski

By: Trevor Gioia

The history of haunted houses as a Halloween attraction is quite unique and comes from various places.

An article from The American Haunts website, “History of Haunted Houses,” written by Bekah McKendry, said “The first part of haunted houses actually goes back to the 1800’s with John Pepper’s ghost, which fascinated and terrified people.The 1800’s also saw a new attraction called a wax museum which messed up people’s sense of realism.”

Going to the 1900’s the traveling carnival introduced the freak show and oddities. These horrified customers thought that things such as freaks were real.

The family owned carnival introduced the dark ride and fun houses during this time as well. The first haunted attraction was an actual horror show called Orton and Spooner Ghost House’, which was like a magic show and horror stage show with the use of blood to shock the audience.

In 1969, the opening of the muchloved Disneyland ride, ‘Haunted Mansion’, was a smash hit.The ‘Haunted Mansion’ was important to haunted house history and yes, because this was the first time to connect technology and magic tricks to create the ride. The way people move around the mansion is by  riding a vehicle.

It used an old, original haunted mansion that used a pepper ghost in the scene which included the dancing ghost and the pipe organ. The technology in the haunted mansion also pushed for technology that was based on haunted houses later on.  
In the 1970s, there were many haunted houses that were seen around Halloween. It was usually made by young people for giving money to charities.  Two people by the names of Jim Gould and Tom Hilligoss, who came from a history of making haunted houses, put together a company that would make, sell, and have special effects and other things that would make up a modern haunted house.

   As the years went on, the haunted houses improved and there were few new types of haunted attractions that were made.

They are now hayrides, mazes and virtual haunted houses that can be found at most modern theme parks around halloween. Did you know that world’s longest walk through haunted house is in Fort Worth, TX and it is called The Cutting Edge.”  

All of these people and places make up what the modern haunted house is like the Haunted mansion with its use of a dark ride and pepper’s ghost technique. The Orton and Spooner ghost house, which modern haunted houses owe the blood filled scenes to this stage show.