Halloween scene: Haunt these houses during spooky season

After one more season of frightening nights at its longtime Gwinnett County location, one of Atlanta’s — and the region’s — most prominent haunted houses will have a new address.

So Netherworld plans to make this Halloween season truly one to die for.

“We started this in 1997 never expecting it to grow in the manner it has,” co-owner Billy Messina said during a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So many people have said, ‘I just want to let you know I have been coming here since (childhood) and now I’m bringing my kids.’ That’s awesome.”

Although Netherworld has been a mostly seasonal event, running it is a yearlong endeavor. The attraction maintains a permanent roster of between 12 and 20 employees, in addition to the 380 or so hired for Halloween duty. Those numbers are all likely to rise, and the Netherworld team is ready to welcome growing numbers of guests as well.

“Generally in a year we will have over 75,000 visitors,” co-owner Ben Armstrong said. It’s traditionally drawn a steady stream of celebrity visitors; with Marvel’s latest “Avengers” installment filming in Atlanta at the moment, we wouldn’t be surprised if a super hero or two stops by.

Netherworld’s last hurrah features two terrifying tracks: “Primal Scream,” described as a world where “Primordial Guardians have awakened to rip the evils of this earth with tooth, claw, thorn, stone and bone. The green kingdoms raise the dead with parasitic fungi and attack with colossal tree monsters!” Then there is “Mr. Grendel’s Funhouse of Horrors,” in 3D. (“Put on your 3D glasses and experience demented clowns, bizarre monsters and weird creatures from other worlds. Then go backstage at the attraction where you can find Mr. Grendel butchering and eating his less fortunate victims in a gory feast of horrors.”)

The address for now, 6624 Dawson Blvd. in Norcross, is open nightly through Halloween. After the nights of Nov. 3-5, it’s off to Stone Mountain. Its new 9.5-acre site on West Park Place Boulevard is just south of U.S. 78 near Stone Mountain Park. The new facility will allow Netherworld to broaden its functions, including serving as a filming location and as an events venue.

“It’s a fresh start,” Armstrong said. “We grew over time into what we are. The plan is to take all those years of knowledge and shape (the new facility) to exactly what we want to do.”

Hauling 20 years of costumes, props, animatronics, electrical gear and countless other items is going to be a challenge. The guys couldn’t even estimate how much stuff there is to move.

“If we went by tonnage, I can’t even imagine,” Messina said. “It’s going to be a back breaker.”

But they’re ready for the move — and for the next 20 years and beyond.

“We’re in the business of scaring people, but we’re really in the business of entertaining people,” Armstrong said. “It’s a tradition. It’s a chance to get off the couch and have an adventure.”

Netherworld is just one of many scary adventures available to you in the Atlanta area this October. Check out these other local haunted houses:

Fright Fest

Six Flags aims to top its already high scream count during the Halloween season. The amusement park pairs its thrilling roller coaster with haunted attractions meant to coax shrieks out of even the bravest attendees. A Victorian mansion plagued by a murderous bride and a campground ruled by a psychotic camp counselor are among this year’s haunts. Fright Fest also features special Halloween versions of park rides, terrifying live entertainment and special “scare zones” infested with about 200 roaming characters.

House on Horror Hill

House on Horror Hill is an Atlanta Halloween staple. Now in its 36th year, the Alpharetta haunted house remains loyal to the scare tactics and volunteer-driven horror it has used since the 1980s, a sharp contrast from today’s popular animatronic-heavy attractions. The formula continues to draw crowds of about 3,000.

13 Stories

13 Stories Haunted House is inspired by the urban legend of a 13-story haunted house with increasingly frightening floors no one’s capable of surviving. The Newnan attraction is an unnerving maze of human phobias — even if it isn’t actually locaed in a 13-story building. The haunted house’s “Sacrifice” area allows horrors to torment attendees physically and mentally and was ranked one of the best extreme haunted attractions by USA Today. It requires a separate waiver to enter.

Paranoia Haunted House

Experiment X and Slaughter Shack, Paranoia Haunted House’s two spooky attractions, pack a double punch. In Experiment X, Dr. Tobias Warner’s human experiments go awry and attendees must confront the doctor in the abandoned factory where he’s been hiding out. Slaughter Shack puts guests in the middle of a home for murderers, cannibals and psychopaths. The haunted house is known for its intricate scenic design and pre-show thrills.

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