Haunted Acres (5 stars)

Because of safety laws and expensive land, there are no top notch haunted attractions close to Boston. However, just an hour’s drive away, close to Rt 93 in Southern New Hampshire, is Haunted Acres!

The venue is huge, with 4 amazing attractions and 2 solid ones, and you can easily spend 2-4 hours there, including eating dinner at their tavern. Parking is free and you can hang out in the common area in front of the fire, stop by some vendors, smash pumpkins with a giant mallet, or take part in one of their six experiences.

1. Our favorite was the quarter mile haunted woods walk. Woods walks are always better than indoor attractions, because you are bonding with nature and walking in the natural moonlight.

As you go in, a giant animatronic demon yowls at you, and then you are walking through a forest surrounded by pretty good sets and actors, though not at the theatrical level. (Few of the actors had real lines to say, for example.) The path was completely clear of stumbling hazards, but some of the hills were too steep.

We moved through a set that themed like Davy Jones’ locker, had a tree almost fall on top of us, a demon fly in and almost grab us, and an animatronic wolf head almost bite us. They have lasers, air cannons, and lots of good fog.

2. The 3D nuclear accident was delightful in two ways. First, I am used to 3D mazes (Witches Woods, Spooky World) that are just plywood constructions with weird stuff painted on the walls. That’s not very immersive. Instead, at Haunted Acres the 3D effect included props and protrusions from the walls and ceiling, plus actors who really knew how to surround and distract you. They had a pattern room better than the one at Hysteria at Connors Farm, to better hide the pattern-costumed monster.

3. 11:57, the 4D experience from Fun Time Events is a chair that you sit in, putting on virtual reality goggles and a headset. The chair vibrates and you get puffs of air, while you can look all around the 3D virtual world just by moving your head, and a movie plays for 4 minutes. It’s not interactive, but a really cool technology worth checking out, a spooky virtual reality all around you, hosted by David Losh and Lilly Leathers. It’s worth the extra $7.

4. The Maze from Hell was, similarly to the 3-D Nuclear Accident, much better than expected. Lots of haunted attractions have a maze that is pretty much just filler. But the actors inside really interacted with us and the maze has a secret. Here’s a hint: you are NOT leaving if the monsters don’t let you! Really this attraction, just a bunch of plywood walls, was a LOT more fun than it should have been. Great job!

5. The Graveyard of the Damned was a shorter and less interesting woods walk, but hey — icing on the cake of this large attraction. The path was cleared of stones and obstacles, but some of the slopes were too steep. We loved meeting Dracula at the start.

6. The Cell. Mostly plywood and unrehearsed actors, worth seeing but our least favorite. Strangely, two years ago it was our second favorite. What a difference a few actors can make.

Although two years ago I called Haunted Acres a must-see, 5-star attraction, perhaps the 2nd best in New England, without its zipline (which will hopefully return next year) I am downgrading it to simply the best in New Hampshire. I am glad to give it 5 stars. Make sure to go on a weekend, when more staff are available to spook you.

Haunted Acres is at www.hauntedacresnh.com in Candia, New Hampshire. November 1st is “Lights Out Night” where all lights are turned off. Every party gets a glow stick, and that’s it!