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The Short Version: Ghostly Manor Thrill Center can bring extra fun, adventure, and spookiness to dates in Sandusky, Ohio. The 50,000-square-foot center has 11 attractions that include a year-round haunted house, an escape room, and an arcade. Couples can visit Ghostly Manor Thrill Center to enjoy the laser maze course or the roller skating rink. They can even go on a simulated roller coaster at the XD theater. The family-run facility is a wonderful spot for couples who are young at heart.
Calling Billy Criscione’s father a fun dad is an understatement. As a parent in the 1990s, he went all out to make holidays come alive and became a local legend in Sandusky, Ohio. Every October, he would design and build a haunted house on the family’s property for local children to enjoy on Halloween.
“My dad’s passion was holidays. He was the Clark Griswold of the neighborhood,” Billy told us.
In 2000, when Billy was a senior in high school, his father made a surprise announcement. He had bought a roller rink called Skateworld and planned to turn the 27,000-square-foot building into a haunted house. That was the beginning of Ghostly Manor Thrill Center.
“I think deep down my mom was excited that the haunted house would no longer be in our home but shocked that my dad had made such a large purchase for a hobby,” Billy recalled in an interview.
While Billy and his sister went off to college, their parents started a new family business in Sandusky.
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center grew more popular with time, and Billy’s father kept adding more attractions and games to make it even better.
Eventually, Billy left his sales job in Chicago to take over as manager of Ghostly Manor Thrill Center. Billy moved back to his hometown with his wife and two children so he could keep his father’s legacy going.
“I always knew that, at some point in my life, I wanted to move back home to the Lake Erie Shores and Islands because of the small-town, family-oriented feel this area has,” Billy told the local tourism board. “Together with my parents and my wife, we grew the business and our family.”
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center now stretches over 50,000 square feet and includes four buildings and 11 fun and freaky activities. All attractions are indoors, so the center remains year-round. That means couples can visit a haunted house any time of the year and enjoy a date full of laughs and thrills.
Looking for a spooky and downright kooky date venue? Ghostly Manor Thrill Center definitely fits the bill. The center’s most popular attraction is the haunted house from which it gets its name.
Ghostly Manor Haunted House has the look and feel of an old-timey mansion under a curse, and plenty of monstrous surprises lurk in its halls. It is open all year round, and tickets cost $11 off-season.
Billy’s father dreamed up the haunted house over 20 years ago. The 6,000-square-foot attraction has several dozen rooms and employs actors to pop out at guests as they shuffle their way through the dark.
“The haunted house is our signature attraction,” Billy said. “We run it as a high-startle experience — nothing gory or demonic — but we don’t recommend it for people under 10. It gets your heart racing.”
During the month of October, Ghostly Manor adds four additional haunted houses to its lineup of attractions. That way, couples who love creepy dates can make the most of the scary season.
One TripAdvisor reviewer shares her experience with the haunted house: “Crazy! Scary! Monsters! Loud noises made us jump and scream! Graveyards and hanging body parts! Don’t go if you’re scared of the dark! Definitely go if you dare!”
The Missing Deed escape room is one of the newest attractions at the thrill center. Participants must solve a series of puzzles and follow clues to find the missing deed to Ghostly Manor. If puzzlers fail to find this missing deed, the developers will construct the dreaded Justin Bieber Land. So the stakes are pretty high.
Couples can enter the escape room by themselves or bring some of their nerdiest friends to help them beat the escape room within the allotted time.
“It’s a one-hour experience with three or four dozen clues you have to solve. It’s difficult, but everyone loves it,” said Billy.
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center has a lot to offer people of all ages. Beyond the haunted house and escape room, the center has virtual reality games that put people in the midst of an adrenaline-inducing adventure. Couples on a date can cling to each other as they ride the virtual roller coaster ride at the 4-D Theater. The show includes simulated wind, lightning flashes , and chair movements to complete the effect.
Additionally, people can go to the virtual reality area and put on the VR goggles to immerse themselves in a VR game.
“One the most famous is Zombies — that’s where you ward off zombies from getting to you. You see people hit the floor and scream!” Billy said with a laugh.
The Laser Maze is another fun spot where people can test their cunning and flexibility. The attraction challenges visitors to play bank robber and work their way past a laser maze to get to a bank vault.
“There’s a haze in the room, and you have to navigate through the lasers without breaking the beams,” said Billy.
Skateworld — Ghostly Manor’s original attraction — still provides a lot of good times for people of all ages. The neon lights, music, and skating games can get visitors in a good mood and give them the chance to stretch their legs. Skating rinks may be old-fashioned, but they’ve never gone out of style at Ghostly Manor.
Ghostly Manor gives couples the chance to have a one-of-a-kind adventure on their date night. They can go to the 3-D blacklight mini golf course, put on their 3-D glasses, and embark on a wizard’s journey to slay a dragon one putt at a time.
One couple went to Ghostly Manor Thrill Center along with their three children, who range in age from 8 to 16 years old. They spent the day exploring the center and had nothing but positive things to say afterward.
“We were looking for something fun, different, and inside because it was so cold out,” the couple wrote in a review. “We ended up getting the thrill passes which included the haunted house, 6D movie, 3D glow mini golf and skating and adding on the escape room and laser maze. All in all, we all had a great time, and this place held up to our expectations!”
Billy’s father built Ghostly Manor Thrill Center because he loved entertaining people of all ages. Over 20 years later, the center has become a family affair. Billy manages the center with his wife, and he said he gets a lot of helpful feedback from his parents and children.
It was actually Billy’s children who came up with the idea for the Jump, Climb, and Skate pass, which offers young visitors unlimited access to the bounce houses, jungle gym, and skating rink.
Ghostly Manor Thrill Center isn’t just for children — adults are welcome to join in as well. The center is a great date spot for people of all ages. Billy told us he wants to create a fun experience for everyone and bring different generations together under one haunted house roof.
During the day, the center tends to fill up with children and families, but more teenagers and childless adults tend to stop by as it gets darker outside.
Ghostly Manor sees both locals and tourists exploring its many attractions, and it’s a particularly popular activity on rainy or snowy days. Couples with children appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere, and those without children enjoy breaking the ice with some unique activities and entertainment.
“It’s a great opportunity to do something you don’t normally do, like roller skating or going to a haunted house in the summer. We’re one of the only haunted houses in the country that’s open year-round,” Billy told us.