Every year, millions of people visit haunted houses to get scared, and to get into the Halloween spirit. While it may seem a novelty that these places have people in costumes jump out at visitors, they have actually been around for quite a long time!

Some of the earliest forms of haunted houses are often thought to be pyramids and tombs. While the purpose was a bit different, these structures were built to keep tomb robbers away. They had a plethora of built-in traps and moving walls to scare and prevent people from stealing the precious goods of pharaohs.

Up to this point, most things horror related were kept in plays, where special effects were used to depict demons, ghosts, and people getting murdered.

Though, it wasn't until the early 1800's when a British woman named Marie Tussaud made wax sculptures of decapitated French figures for the sole purpose of startling an audience. Soon after, she settled down and established a permanent gallery for her wax sculptures called Chamber of Horrors, which still keep its name to this date.

As the concept of horror themed attractions caught on, and the Great Depression was in full swing, people started to decorate their basements and houses in a spooky fashion, inviting neighbors to come get a few scares. These old fashioned haunted houses were seen as a way to keep malicious teenagers busy and out of trouble.

Walt Disney started the commercial scare business when he opened up Disneyland's Haunted Mansion in 1969. In a single day, the haunted house attracted more than 80,000 guests.

From there, the desire for these attractions grew larger and larger, soon popping up in states and cities around the world. This is especially true in America during the rise of slasher flicks, such as Friday the 13th, and Halloween.

Today, haunted houses can be found just about anywhere, and most larger cities will usually have more than one.

Information from:

Smithsonian
America Haunts