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It’s that special time of year again. You know, the time when the leaves start changing colors and we pay money to have the shit scared out of us and otherwise willingly subject ourselves to our worst nightmares.
Whatever your wretched delight, these tormented Halloween attractions have been carefully concocted by the creepiest minds ever to crawl out of Hollywood. A bevy of professional sickos have unrepentantly taken the classic fright-fest and turned it upside down, ripped off its’ old familiar head and replaced it with a boiling cauldron of psychologically disturbing tales of terror starring you and your unsuspecting date. Even if you’re not a fan of the new immersive and highly interactive scare technologies you most definitely need to pay attention here if for no other reason than preventing your good-for-nothing friends and family from tricking you into losing your shit.
From the old school scare-driven haunts like Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights to the new wave of suspense filled horror plays where you must participate in order to make it out alive.
We are gonna crack open this coffin and give your old zombie brain a little adrenalin tickle so lock the doors, sip some whiskey to calm your nerves and start scrolling down to terror-town.
The Old School
1. Knotts Scary Farm
Buena Park, California
A true classic teen pleaser with roaming monsters, malicious mazes and a macabre stage show from the one and only Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
If your zombie killing skills need some sharpening check out the brand new hybrid gaming challenge- Special Ops: Infected. A zombie apocalypse war scenario where your own rag tag team of citizens unite in an attempt to exterminate the undead with specialized laser guns in a variety of terrifying wilderness terrains. Score big points and receive a heroes welcome back at home base but let the zombies get too close and your weapons deactivate and you move to the bottom of the food chain.
Looking to face your fears and solve some maniacal puzzles? Get your group together and shell out an extra fee for Trapped: Lock & Key, an experience reminiscent of those sinister SAW movies. The extreme challenge here is to keep your cool and engage your brain long enough to escape each room in the maze. Reservations are required.
Thirsty? You can grab a BEER at the Calico Saloon or Ghost Town Grill.
Can’t get enough of KSF?
Buy a 75$ Scary Pass – Good for all 24 blood curdling nights of ghoulish fun.
Bonus: Move to the front of the line for the haunted attractions and unlock hidden extras with the FrightLane & Skeleton Key combo, for an extra fee of course.
2. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
Universal City, California
Old standbys like Dracula, American Werewolf in London, Alien vs. Predator and From Dusk til Dawn lull you into a false sense of “you can’t really touch me” maze safety until a ravenous hoard of walkers attack the Terror Tram ride, forcing you to flee on foot through the historic Universal backlot now totally infested with the Walking Dead, courtesy of season 4.
Fancy a tasty treat after losing your lunch on the last ride? Rocker and avid horror fan Slash sweetens the deal with a twisted new soundtrack for the Clowns 3D maze staged in an old rundown ice cream factory. Don’t let your Coulrophobia get the best of you. Stop by this original and order yourself a double scoop cone of creamy evil from a psychotic clown posse with not-so-subtle murderous intentions.
3. Dark Harbor -Queen Mary
Long Beach, California
Looking for the Real Deal?
Stay aboard the Queen Mary and score 2 tickets to Dark Harbor, packages starting at $229.
Officially haunted. How this is certified is beyond our pay grade but it’s a big old ship so of course it’s haunted. This totally sounds like the perfect spook filled evening. Grab a room, hit the scare fest and drink your fill of adult beverages then go hide back inside your room and try to sleep knowing that all of those maritime ghosts and ghouls are still definitely wandering around outside your door.
We look forward to hearing all about it cause we certainly ain’t gonna test those murky waters. Sure, it’s awfully tempting with a bevy of monster filled mazes, new rides, musical entertainment, food and most importantly, Cocktails! But we’re still NOPE.
The New School
4. Sinister Pointe – Beyond the Mirror, A Bloody Mary Tale
If spine-chilling urban legends and crawling thru terrifying tunnels on your hands and knees in complete and utter darkness floats your boat then you’ll probably also dig fending for yourself once you’ve been totally separated and isolated from your helpless friends.
Did you love those “choose your own adventure” books as a child? Well Sinister Pointe has done away with the old various maze routes so go ahead and delight in this opportunity to rely solely upon your own tortured decision making skills. Choose wisely, your escape may depend on it.
Tickets $17 – $27
Scream Passes get you into a quick(er) entry line.
5. Delusion: Lies Within: An Interactive Play
Los Angeles, California
WTH? It may be the hottest ticket in Los Angeles but what exactly is it?
We did some digging and what we can tell you is that it’s 50 freaky minutes of hellishly interactive Horror Theater staged in a spooky century old mansion with real actors.
Smallish groups of eager victims enter the house of horrors on a timed schedule to keep the play experience intimate and make it easier for the wickedly disturbed actors to pick off the weaklings.
The key element here is that YOU must participate in order to move the sinister storyline along which makes it even harder to keep your sanity intact.
If you get totally wigged out then try being the meat in a chicken sandwich, otherwise known as positioning yourself between two of your unsuspecting friends and using them as human shields.
But this is not your Momma’s haunted house and the evil overlords are deadly serious about this being a play so respect the art and absolutely no cell phone use or chit chat during the creep show or they’ll kick you to the curb and keep your $60.
Keepin’ it Classy
6. Roger’s Gardens
Corona Del Mar, California
Hauntingly Beautiful: Roger’s Gardens in Corona Del Mar puts on a creepily elegant display for their Halloween Boutique every year, one that you’d be proud to take both your Grandma and your goth teen to.
Sign up for their Preferred Customer program to get your invitation to opening night or show up anytime in September through October.
It’s free to browse of course, but bring your nickels and dimes as you will most definitely find that special spooky something that turns your Halloween shindig into the best party of the year.
Bonus: Show up on the weekends from 11am-2pm to grab a bite from the rotating lineup of food trucks and share your meal at tables in the garden.
7. Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton
Los Angeles, California
If you love Tim Burton movies and rank Nightmare Before Christmas as your favorite holiday sing along then you already know that it’s totally worth the extra cash to snap up these crazy awesome tickets.
At Nokia Live, Pit tickets run $150 each plus $21 in service fees. That’s $342 for you and your love to geek out to full blown orchestral and choir performances from Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Beetlejuice, Nightmare and so much more.
If your not feeling the high-roller vibe go for the cheap seats that start at $55 cause any seat in this house is a good one when listening to the orchestra and watching gi-normous video screens play the accompanying movie bits.
Tip: Pre-purchase parking passes online to avoid long lines at the kiosks.
8. Disneyland’s Halloween Time
Sept. 12 thru Oct. 31st is absolutely the best time of the year to visit when, Disneyland gets it’s annual Nightmare Before Christmas makeover.
For adult beverages you can step outside the park into Downtown Disney and grab a cocktail at the outdoor Uva Bar which is a primo spot for people watching. Or be like the cool kids and just plunk down the extra bucks for a park hopper pass so you can head over to Radiator Springs and get yourself a legit Racer 5 IPA at Flo’s V8 Cafe inside Disney’s California Adventure. Not in the mood for beer? Try the Carthay Circle Lounge and fill your belly with tasty small plates and plenty of good bourbon.
Top Secret Tip #1- Make reservations at the Catal restaurant in Downtown Disney. 8:30pm, outdoor balcony next to the railing for the most comfortable views of Disneyland’s fireworks show. Check times for fireworks show.
9. Forneris Farms Corn Maze
Mission Hills, California
For all of you scaredy cats out there, keep driving right past those haunted horror mazes and head out to Mission Hills for some good ol’ down home country fun and prepare to get lost inside 4 acres of elaborately carved corn maze.
That’s right, you’re gonna get lost in there but you can relax because the only spooky part about this maze is the cemetery next door so if you want to ramp things up a bit, try streaming the original 1984 kiddie creepfest, Children of the Corn on the night before you go!
The farm will also provide you with a map and a phone number to call if you need a little help finding your way out, just don’t call 911. That’s already been done in Massachusetts and that poor embarrassed family was located by a police dog just 25 feet from the exit.
In addition to some corny maze fun you’ll find the farm’s produce market, a tractor pulled train, pony rides on the weekends, a HUGE pumpkin patch ripe for family photo ops and farm fresh roasted corn to fill your belly.
Cash only with an ATM available on site.
$8 Per Adult
10. McKamey Manor (aka -BatShit Crazy: Extreme hands-on horror experience for only your most disturbed friends)
San Diego, California
Warning: You can expect these event to last several terrifying hours with full body contact, violence, nudity, your nudity, electric shock, edibles, insects, torture, small confined spaces, abduction, water boarding, firing squads and so on. You must sign a waiver.
Safe words don’t exist.
Quitters need not apply.
Check out this link if you’re nuts and tell us all about it if you dare to go.
11. Zombie Walk
Long Beach, California
A 3 day invasion of undead music, film, and horror vendors.
Like a zombie swap-meet…but cooler.
12. Roar & Snore Creep Camp – San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego, California
Adults only fun on Halloween. Including haunted trails, campfire tails, and treats for the killer critters.
13. Festival Supreme
Los Angeles, California
Comedy. Music. Scary shit. Good times.
True Travelin’ Tales of Terror
When Halloween comes poking around each year there is never a lack of scary events to fill our calendar but when we are on holiday, monsters and mayhem are usually the last thing on our mind.
Never the less, we have had our fair share of frightful run-ins on the road so pay close attention for tried and true tips on how to turn your vacation videos into the next Blair Witch Project.
To ensure maximum scary effect, plan on arriving to your remote vacation rental late at night because street lights are everywhere.
Totally rely upon your navigation system to help you find this remote cabin. Who needs maps with a car full of smart techie gear.
What appears cozy and romantic at sunset can be downright scary when darkness falls.
“Is it an animal head?”
To save a few bucks and get away from the hustle and bustle of this classic old west town we picked a cozy but modern cabin on VRBO.com just a few miles from downtown. But after a little too much futzing around in New Mexico our arrival was delayed late into the evening
Now imagine a dark tree lined country road with very few street lights and big parcels of land with long driveways and houses off in the distance. Add in some spotty cell service and tiny address numbers painted on the sides of mailboxes to make finding our rental a wee bit harder.
After cruising up and down the road trying to point our headlights through the trees we finally found a driveway with a carved sign bearing the last name of our host. So we slowly crept down the driveway still unsure if we in the right place until we spotted the cabin. The same one pictured on the website. But the main house was completely dark and no lights were on inside the cabin.
As we pulled up to the parking space our headlights illuminated the dangling head of a large elk with great big horns and just a little bit of vertebrae poking out at the bottom. We both thought this was a rather poor welcoming sight to guests and Lena immediately began questioning the sanity of my arrangements.
I was quickly nominated to investigate the cabin by Lena who planned to remain safely inside the truck with the window down one inch so she could hear me if I called for help. I’m not sure if she planned to actually help or was just waiting for a signal to speed away from the carnage. With considerable hesitation, I jumped out of the car to look inside the windows to the cabin and saw that it was not a cabin at all but rather someones garage.
Relieved, we raced backed up the driveway to the road and searched for a cell signal so we could sheepishly call our host and request help with directions.
It turns out, we were just one driveway off and had mistakenly found her son’s property next door but when we mentioned the scary dangling head her tone changed and she asked us “Is it an animal head?” Of course these two city girls had to wonder why this was even a question.
Once we made it down the next driveway we could see that our lovely cabin just as advertised with lights on and WiFi to boot.
After unpacking, we dashed back into town to grab a bite to eat before bed and decided that we had to have proof of the head or no one would believe our story. So we “accidentally” drove down the wrong driveway again. Back to the scary cabin look-a-like one more time to grab a couple quick Instagram shots of Mr.Elk Head.
But this time, our presence was detected and a large dark shape came barreling through the trees straight for us. Barely escaping the furry beast, we hauled butt up the driveway and retreated to our cabin only to be followed and politely nuzzled by the sweetest Cujo looking dog we’ve ever seen.
“Beware of the Mud Flats Killer”
Point Reyes, California
Oh Sunset Magazine, how could you lead me astray. For Lena’s October birthday present I planned a little romantic getaway to Northern California after spotting this incredible boat house in my latest issue of Sunset.
This nautical themed house on stilts sat 75 feet out over the water and featured wrap around windows with amazing sunset views and birds galore right smack dab in the middle of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Now the trouble starts when we get stuck in Golden Gate Bridge traffic and veer off to take a sunset drive along scenic Highway 1 causing us a late evening arrival again. It also didn’t help arriving at night on Halloween weekend which may have led to a heightened sense of scary along with the extremely dark shoreline and lack of street lights.
When we got there the tide had gone out and the 75 foot wooden walkway now hovered over a murky bubbling mud flat with groups of sinister looking horsetail waving back and forth in the nighttime breeze.
Unpacking, we noticed right away that the wrap around windows were only covered with sheer white gauzy fabric that surely softened the waters reflection during the day but left us feeling creepy and exposed at night. The light at the end of the dock would sometimes flicker ominously when cars passed by and we sensed that hiding inside this glass house would be nearly impossible come time for trick or treaters. We contemplated getting a bucket of candy and stashing it at the end of the walkway so any little monsters wouldn’t be tempted to trot down the dock and freak us out all evening long.
Finally after sucking down a calming bottle of red wine and relaxing in the tiny indoor jacuzzi, we snuggled into the super comfy bed and Lena picked up the guest book and turned to the last entry and began to read aloud. “Everything was great…blah blah blah… Beware of the Mud Flats Killer!” Thank you most recent guest for the wonderful bed time story. Clearly they and others had enjoyed similar feelings at night.
“Look an alfresco bath tub!”
Mineral King, California
I’ve always wanted to drive the 700+ switch backs along the road thru Mineral King just outside of Kings Canyon National Park. So when the opportunity arose I orchestrated a weekend getaway with a tiny cabin rental along this very road.
The gated property had 2 cabins and some free range cows lingering about. After returning from our days adventure we noticed that the other guests were leaving as we saw them scrawling their goodbyes across the white erase board cleverly hung on the storage shack by the owners with instructions to write any cabin requests or comments.
Spending the rest of the afternoon grilling our dinner feast we decided to fill up the giant 8 foot cooling tub out on the patio with warm water from the sink so we could take an alfresco sunset soak. Only about half way full and our cabin’s water heater decided to give up so Lena checked out the other cabin which was still unlocked and began making trips back and forth.
After many of these trips hauling buckets of warm water to and fro we settled in with a glass of wine and just moments later a mysterious truck pulled up to the gate, opened it and drove onto the property toward the other cabin. Both of us sank down into the water, peering over the rim and praying that the visitor did not see us or desire to chit chat.
Thankfully he disappeared into the cabin and we hastily made our escape back inside and locked our door. Suspiciously, the visitor did not appear to be cleaning the cabin and soon the lights went out. We thought this was very unusual but theorized that maybe the fella was a friend of the owners or something less fishy.
Falling asleep while watching a movie from the cabin’s classic VHS collection, we were startled awake at midnight by strange scratching noises on our metal roof. Possibly a raccoon or a tiny wayward cow was up there taunting us with it’s scritchy-scratchy sounds when we heard the truck door slam and the engine roared coming to life.
The stranger sat in his dimly lit truck for far too long which prompted us to don our headlamps and quietly examine the security of our door locks and windows. Finally when he was finished creeping us out he slowly disappeared the same way he came in, closing the gate behind him and rumbling off into the darkness. Definitely no street lights out in these boonies.
Whether your hangin’ at home or travelin’ during this Halloween season, just remember this is the perfect time of year to exercise your adrenal glands and get that adrenaline pumping. So pick your poison, grab a date and head out into the night for a heart pounding adventure and a bevy of scream filled cuddles. Yup, Halloween is for Lovers. Who needs Valentine’s Day when you’ve got menacing clowns to drive your sweetheart deep into your waiting arms. Don’t forget the deodorant.
Lena & Kristina