Haunted Attractions Throughout History

Scary Haunted House

Every haunted attraction in America boasts a unique experience and features distinct creative ingenuity, yet they all share a history featuring humanity’s worst nightmares. Today’s thrillseekers will enjoy scares refined by centuries of spooky craft development. You, too, can immerse yourself in this long-established tradition of trepidation by visiting a scary haunted house attraction come Halloween.

Field of Screams Maryland offers such experiences every fall. Brave zealots can face their greatest fears at the top-rated scream park in the region, which includes the Slaughter Factory, Carnival Town Games, and Super Screams Haunted Trail. Folks from up and down the East Coast flock to Field of Screams Maryland every year, so keep your eyes peeled for updated ticketing information online or call (888) 720-1112 today!

Here, we offer a taste of the history behind modern haunted attractions:

Ancient Influence

The first civilizations to employ haunted thrills for entertainment were ancient Greece and Rome. Roman theater, for instance, often featured fake blood, fog, and special effects as well as monstrous characters. Ancient Greek tragedy was no less a horror genre featuring mass murder, dismemberment, and torture.

Ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, used haunted themes without entertainment in mind. Instead, they designed mazes with traps, self-opening doors, and moving walls to ward off thieves. These structures could have made excellent haunted attractions, but they merely laid the groundwork for future entertainment.

The Dark Ages

The Dark Ages witnessed religious conversion throughout Europe. Yet far be it from new Christians to neglect long-held pagan traditions. They continued to observe Halloween and even launched some customs we practice today: trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, and dressing in costumes. 

They also performed biblical plays, acting out the most fear-inducing bible passages. These frightening performances, designed to inspire terror, convinced audiences to repent. They encouraged people to convert while simultaneously igniting a fascination with haunted arts.

The Renaissance

During the Renaissance, Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote plays emphasizing gore, death, demons, monsters, and spirits. Audience members were jarred by riveting performances that left them more intrigued by fearful entertainment. 

Hamlet featured guilt, madness, and gruesome murder while Macbeth offered the elusive ghost Banquo. Shakespeare’s works were shrouded in emotional and psychological dread. These elements made tragedy compelling and deepened public interest in haunted thematics.

The 1800s

“Supernatural” professions—including fortune tellers, mediums, and spiritualists—took grasp during the Nineteenth Century. Their apparent black magic reflected that of British inventor and scientist John Henry Pepper, who invented a technique called “Pepper’s Ghost” around the same time. His method created the illusion of a ghost using a mirror hologram.

During the same era, wax museums—such as The Cavern of the Great Thieves and Chamber of Horrors—also appeared. They included wax figures of notorious, executed criminals as well as guillotined aristocracy. Such wax forms continue to be used in present-day haunted attractions.

The Early 1900s

The first haunted attractions, influenced by wax museums, appeared in the early 1900s with spooky carnival themes that incorporated human deformity exhibits. Soon after, these evolved into haunted rides featuring eerie scenes, which visitors viewed from a boat or train.

Mystique grew around haunted structures and themes when adults began telling children that dilapidated buildings were haunted. These cautionary tactics, however, may have backfired by creating more fascination than dread. 


When Disney’s Haunted Mansion opened in 1969, it was a hit across America. Using a train to transport visitors, the ride portrayed a ghastly wedding party, a headless woman, and transforming portraits. The Haunted Mansion’s popularity sparked replications across the country. Additionally, the horror movie craze of the 80s fueled increased interest in fear-inducing attractions. 

Now that haunted attractions are commonplace entertainment, the industry continues to improve and expand. Creative directors provide new excitement year after year, keeping haunted enthusiasts engaged and ready for a new scare.

Visit a Scary Haunted House in Maryland

Scary Haunted House

Field of Screams Maryland offers more than just a scary haunted house. It encompasses all of your senses in a multi-feature experience, combining exceptional costumes, set design, and ambiance to enthrall visitors in the spooky season. Experience the region’s number one haunted attraction this fall! Check for updated ticketing details on our website or call Field of Screams Maryland at (888) 720-1112.