Kid-friendly and haunted houses don’t always go together. Young ones enjoy the excess of candy and fun costumes, yet most will opt out of the dark, monster-filled spooky haunts during Halloween. This year, let kids enjoy the creepier side of the holiday without giving them nightmares. Orange County brings you kid-friendly Halloween haunts this season that’ll be perfect for the whole costumed family.
11th Annual Halloween Fair and Haunted House
1 University Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Price: free/$5 haunted house ages 10 and older only
Hours: Oct. 27 and 28, 6 p.m to 10 p.m.
The 11th annual Halloween fair at Soka University promises games, activities and food booths for the locals to enjoy. The student clubs at the university put together the event at the recreation center, making it ideal for kids of any age. The haunted house, held at the first-floor crypt of the recreation center, is recommended for children ages 10 and older only. All proceeds collected will benefit the student clubs at Soka University.
Anaheim Fall Festival & Halloween Parade
Center Street Promenade
Anaheim, CA 92805
Hours: Oct. 27, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The 74-year tradition in downtown Anaheim is filled with live entertainment, game booths, arts and crafts, a pumpkin patch and trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating for children up to 12 years old will begin at 4:30 p.m. and last as long as supplies do. A costume contest at noon will award cash prizes. The historic Halloween parade begins at 6 p.m. from West Street and will travel east down Broadway to Anaheim Boulevard. The haunted house, Anaheim’s Dungeon of Doom will begin 11 a.m. and run to 9 p.m. Organizers promise 12-foot spiders, skulls dancing in mid air and a kid turning into a gorilla. No blood, guts or gore here, and it is said to be fun for the whole family.
Haunted Garden at the Arboretum
1900 Associated Road
Fullerton, CA 92831
Price: $10 pre-paid ticket pricing adults and teens/$6 children younger than 12/$3 students with Titan card/$12 adults and teens at the gate/$10 children younger than 12/$5 students with Titan card.
Hours: Oct. 26 and 27, garden tour from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The end of the tours leads to the games, activities and entertainment at the Haunter’s Ball. A special party will be held by organizers for the younger children on Saturday night (the 27th). In the afternoon a costume parade will be held along with pumpkin patch tours, crafts and much more. This portion of the day is suitable for children from the age of 3 to 5. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-orders for the event will be taken from Sept 1 until the day before the event.
Boot Hill Haunted House
Irvine, CA 92614
Price: Donations requested with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Hours: Oct. 26 to 30, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Located just off of East Yale Loop and Springbrook, the residence at 16 Goldenrod will host its 13th annual haunted house. For nine nights, 16 Goldenrod will be transformed to an old church and cemetery, haunted by the ghost of Jedediah Smith. Parking is available at the Springbrook Elementary School until 10 p.m. Event organizer Shea Foley promises an entirely age-appropriate show. “We pride ourselves on not featuring one drop of blood or gore anywhere on Boot Hill,” Foley said. “We do have monsters that jump out, but if a child is too scared, we will actually bring all the monsters out front so that they can walk through and see all the effects without the things that go bump in the night scaring them.”
Irvine Park Railroad
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
Price: free/paid parking throughout the area
Hours: Sept. 22 to Oct. 31, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Irvine Park in Orange will hold its annual Halloween festivities with fun ranging from a pumpkin patch behind the train station to a Halloween bounce house jumper, face painting and even a haunted house that is not too spooky and appropriate for even the youngest attendee. The event also features an opportunity to guess the weight of a pumpkin, and the winner gets to take home the giant pumpkin. A coupon discount for the events during this time is available here.
Boo at the Zoo
Santa Ana Zoo
1801 E. Chestnut Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Price: $7 members/$14 non-members/free children younger than 2/free parking
Hours: Oct. 26 to 28, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Rain or shine, the Boo at the Zoo event is a family friendly option that includes trick-or-treating, educational animal presentations, storytelling and tons of entertainment. Attendees may take part in the grand finale costume parade as well. A Teen Scream event will take place for the older kids, which includes a haunted house that has its own separate entrance. The haunted house is included with the price of admission.
Elle Toussi is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.