When all the kids and their pillow cases full of candy start bugging you, just remember this: You can get into places that they can’t. With that in mind, these are the best places in Orange County to enjoy a good haunted house this Halloween season. Blood, gore, special effects and fountains of blood await you at these horrific locales. Some are even designated as actual haunted spots, so the creepy factor ratchets up a few notches on All Hallows Eve.
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
Leave the kiddies at home or deal with them sleeping in your bed for months to come. The Queen Mary is considered one of the most haunted places in California and the Dark Harbor Halloween event takes full advantage of the spookiness by bringing visitors through the most haunted areas. More than just a haunted house, live music, bloody theatrics and a cast of creepy characters ensure the scariest experience money can buy. The Dark Harbor is open through Nov. 2.
The Empty Grave
321 W. Katella Ave.
Anaheim, California 92802
If costumed monsters and creaky hardwood buildings get your ire up, then The Empty Grave might be the place for you. Based around a lengthy and frightening maze, you and a few friends are sent alone through the haunted house and other spooky areas to ensure you feel alone and scared throughout the trip. The creators spend a good amount of cash on making sure you don’t find antiquated scares around every corner by busting out special effects and animatronics you just haven’t seen before elsewhere. You can tour the Empty Grave through Oct. 31.
195 Arovisgta Circle
Brea, CA 92821
This one is not for the faint of heart. You will be trapped in a room without any escape, you will be forced to run for your life while being separated from your friends, and you will even be harassed by monsters in the parking lot before you even get into the venue. There will be blood, there will be gore and you will love it all if you love classic horror films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Saw.” The creators of Sinister Pointe have helped build the aforementioned Dark Harbor and a permanent Haunted Attraction exhibit in Taiwan. Sinister Pointe will be open through Nov. 2, but the scares don’t stop there — they will be haunting OC for the holidays on Dec. 13, 14, 21 and 22.
Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, CA 90620
Knotts Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt has been a prime Halloween destination for generations, but this year promises to be the biggest yet. A reservations-only specialty maze, “Trapped: The New Experience,” offers extra in-your-face scares and mind-bending puzzles. Special Fright Lane with Skeleton Key passes allow thrill-seekers to skip the maze lines and unlock additional rooms and special scares in select mazes an unlimited amount of times and all night long, but often sells out early.
Cemetery Of Lost Souls
22234 La Palma Ave
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
Martial arts studio United Studios of Self Defense may put on this Haunted House, but don’t expect to be able to defend yourself against the frights inside. The Cemetery of Lost Souls has garnered rave reviews. The family hour from 5 to 6 p.m. allows kids and scaredy cats to see the house before the monsters arrive, but the rest of the evening is reserved for frights. In addition to the haunted house, come for the festival atmosphere. There will be food, live music and a bounce house.
Jesse Seilhan is a writer, editor and photographer from the California Bay Area. After moving to Long Beach, Jesse continues his passion for writing and music by covering concerts, interviewing top artists, and giving a dose of wisdom in a crazy, mixed-up musical world. His work can be found at Examiner.com.