No longer relegated to just one night for little kids, Halloween has taken on a life of its own for teens and adults of all ages at Southern California’s theme and amusement parks. Gore, terror, monsters, zombies and more will make you yearn for the sweet costumes of your youth. Some places offer more family-friendly attractions for the holiday so pick carefully…if you dare. With so many people dying to get in to these limited time events, advance ticket purchases are recommended. Be sure to check each location’s page for age and other restrictions.
Knott’s Scary Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, CA 90620
Sept. 26 to Nov. 2
Thursdays and Sundays, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Are you ready to be scared? Berry, berry scared? The normally happy Knott’s is transformed from family favorite to fearful frightfest with a terrifying number of attractions. Ten specialty mazes, with creepy names such as “Pinocchio Unstrung” and “Uncle Willy’s Slaughter House,” a variety of shows including “Elvira’s Sinema Séance” will keep you entertained and moderately unhinged. An “Atmosfear” of creepy experiences like the steam punk and vampire-themed “Necropolis” and the Knott’s Boardwalk “CarnEVIL” clown freak show will make you yearn for the innocent circus clowns of your youth. 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.
Halloween Time & Mickey’s Halloween Party
1313 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92803
Sept. 13 through Oct. 31
Family-friendly Disneyland stays that way but with some minor spooks and super festive tweaks throughout the park. The Haunted Mansion is transformed into a winter Jack Skellington-wonderland in a “The Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. Ghosts will chase you in Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and chill you even more in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Villains roam the festively-decorated streets and Main Street in turned into a Pumpkin Festival with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns on display. A Dia de los Muertos altar, kids’ activities and pumpkin-carving demonstrations round out the Halloween theme. The “Happiest Haunts Tour” takes you through both parks’ spooks and fun. Mickey’s Halloween Party, requiring a separate ticket on select days, allows you to revel in the park with only your fellow partiers, partaking in generous and non-scary trick-or-treating stations, dance parties and many rides. Costumes encouraged and tickets sell out early and fast.
Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Hollywood
1000 Universal Center Dr.
Universal City, CA 91608
Weekends only Sept. 20 through Nov. 2
From the movie company that invented the horror film genre comes an immersive event like no other. Debuting this year are the urban movie sets on the back lot as the backdrop for a particularly realistic night of terror. Isolated cityscapes with scenes from AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” and a “nightmarish landscape of doom” inspired by Black Sabbath’s recent number one album “13” will have you running for safety and begging for it to stop. A ride on the Terror Tram, stumbling around through darkened mazes, in themed scare zones such as “Bride of Chucky” and “Scarecrowz,” wandering zombies and ax murderers will have you on edge all night and screaming in fun. Or are those screams of genuine terror? Lighten things up a tiny bit with “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” live (or living dead) show. A limited number of “Front of the Line” passes are sold each night if you want to be first to be terrified, and “VIP Experience: The Insidious Experiment” tickets are also sold offering dinner, drinks, valet parking, participation in a paranormal investigation and front of the line privileges. Arriving early is recommended and masks and costumes are prohibited. Not recommended for children 13 and under.