With over 1,200 professionally-run haunted houses in the United States, those of us who love a good scare have a lot to choose from. When it comes to Pittsburgh’s haunts, we’re very lucky to have top-notch houses and walkthroughs. But what about Pittsburgh’s best haunted house? Does Scarehouse make the cut?
Truth? I live for haunted houses and October. As in, as soon as Dia de los Muertos rolls around, I’m counting down the days to the next Halloween season. I’m happy to share that I’ve spent time in countless professionally-owned haunted houses (and a couple of real ones, too), so my standards are high.
Scarehouse Pittsburgh’s Best Haunted House
When it comes to the top notch Pittsburgh haunted houses (all haunts, for that matter), there are a few things I look for to give one a gold star. First, how immersive is the theming? Next, what caliber are the scare actors? Third, how creative is it when it comes to theming? Lastly, just how scary is it?
Here’s the lowdown on Scarehouse in Pittsburgh and why it makes the grade.
Scarehouse is not a five-minute haunted house like you’d find at some theme parks, not that there’s anything wrong with it. Instead, walking through will take about 30 minutes and a bit less if you run scared. With a series of rooms, each uniquely themed and darkly lit, it has a great flow to it.
Located in Tarentum at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall adjacent to the movie theater, it’s not in a place you’d expect to work, but it does so – and very well. Having moved a few times around Pittsburgh, I loved the fact that it had a former home in an old building and thought its new location would be a deterrent. Nope.
Lastly, purchasing timed tickets will help you not only save time in the pre-queue, but it will ensure your spot especially when it gets close to Halloween. I recently saw Scarehouse tickets discounted at Costco, which saves a few bucks off the price of admission. On my visit, I had the pleasure of talking to the owner and creator, Scott Simmons, and he made it a rule that guests shouldn’t have to wait any longer than an hour on peak visit days to experience the frights.
Scarehouse happily admits that, each season, its theme changes. For 2023, it decided on a post-apocalyptic style and feel, which I’m not mad at. From the moment you hit the interior queue, the haunt immerses you from sounds to lighting. Scott Simmons told me that the pieces used to decorate each room are found, donated, or ready to be thrown away.
Seeing the haunt with its lights on, he definitely was telling the truth. You could visit dozens of times and still not see the beauty of its decor. If you love a good Easter egg, be on the lookout for the actual candy wrappers from the movie “Trick or Treat” – he was given a .pdf of the original design to use. While some rooms are larger than others, there’s a nice blend of creepy, all-dark-no-stars, strobe-lit, and downright gorgeous areas.
For me, it’s the scare actors at a haunted house that truly make the experience memorable, and Scarehouse doesn’t disappoint on that level, either. From the entrance queue, both well-painted and creepy-clothed members offer an insight into what you’ll be seeing when you walk through the main door. They tease and taunt the crowd, even making a few feel uncomfortable and leery of the experience.
For me, I’d expect nothing less while waiting. It would be disappointing to wait for my turn and be unenthused. Additionally, having them around to keep people in line, both metaphorically and proverbially, helps with crowd control. As for the haunt itself, the folks who go all in to make the experience realistic really do give their all. I loved the running themes throughout, compliments of a few earworms and recalls.
While trying to remember what an actor said while in fear may seem impossible, try chatting with them to see what they tell you. I adore getting them to chat off the cuff as it adds to the experience.
How Scary Is Scarehouse?
Answering that question is relative, as some folks get scared much more easily than others. I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum as I don’t get scared in haunted houses, so it’s easier for me to take in the general splendor and vibe. Having written that, there was a point when I did get a creepy, unsettling feeling because I realized that I still had twenty or so minutes to go until I got out of it. But if you’re on the other side of the coin, then yes, it’s scary. Is it Pittsburgh’s best haunted house? Indeed.
So here’s my truth: if you love a good scare, Scarehouse will not disappoint you. Because of the amount of time it takes to get through, the scary actors, the amount of immersion, and the fun, it’s truly worth the ticket price.