Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, Hocus Pocus re-runs and the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte all signal we are well into the month of October. While all of these beloved fall favorites are great, one of the most exciting and festive things to do with friends is to visit a haunted attraction to get a good scare. Here is a list of some seasonal haunted attractions to get your pulse racing.
Halloween Horror Nights
at Universal Studios
Described as the “scariest, most intense Halloween event in Southern California” on its website, Halloween Horror Nights is a student favorite.
With seven new mazes, including American Horror Story installments, a maze based on The Exorcist and the popular The Walking Dead attraction, there’s an experience for all horror enthusiasts.
“I think Universal does a better job with the scenery, the makeup, everything looks better at Universal,” said Akemi Hidalgo, a fourth-year civil engineering student.
This is an opinion other students share, pointing out that Halloween Horror Nights takes place within an actual movie studio and therefore pulls off a more realistic atmosphere.
“Universal Studios is pretty good about it by having everyone in makeup following you,” said Sheila Hernandez, a third-year business administration student. “They actually drive you up a hill and then they dump you and they start chasing you, and that’s really fun [“] interacting with them.”
Dark Harbor at the
Voted as one of the top 10 haunted places by Time Magazine, the Queen Mary in Long Beach is home to Dark Harbor, a haunted experience with six unique mazes.
Each one offers a backstory with a central character, taking you further into the world of the terrifying events that will be experienced throughout the maze.
Lullaby the maze centered on Scary Mary, a little girl who has risen from the dead, is surely eerie enough for a scare.
In addition to the mazes, Dark Harbor features a 4D experience called Panic, a short film with in-theater effects. Dark Harbor seeks to take advantage of the setting and mystery that is the Queen Mary and make it a truly immersive experience.
Knott’s Scary Farm
A longtime classic, Knott’s Scary Farm is another popular go-to. Knott’s boasts nine different mazes, all themed and equally scary.
According to the Knott’s website, the Tooth Fairy Maze features a demented tooth fairy that “steals more than just teeth,” even leading guests into a blackout room where they have to feel their way out to the rest of the maze.
Within the Skeleton Key Rooms, there are four different themes with a unique story for each, offering interactive scares and mystery.
The park also has different “scare zones” containing unique characters who prowl around in the fog and wait for their next victims.
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
Perhaps a slightly more family-friendly, but still frightening place to visit before October ends, is the famous LA Haunted Hayride.
What makes this attraction so unique is that it is a hayride where guests travel through the attraction on a hay wagon and go to several different locations, being scared along the way.
For the first time ever this year, you can leave the safety of the wagon and go face-to-face with the monsters and creepy characters.
Every year features a new theme for the hayride, this year’s theme being “Secret Society,” a Halloween society where wrongdoings occur in order to bring everyone their favorite night of the year. Once inside, the neighborhood’s trick-or-treaters are welcome for interactive fun each night.
Aside from the haunted hayride, visitors can find options for the entire family, including food and drinks, pumpkin carving, a light show and psychic readings.
Alone: An Existential Haunting
If amusement parks and mazes are not enough for a good scare, Alone offers a more disturbing alternative.
On its website it is described as a “site-specific, fully-immersive and existential experience that explores the range of human emotions.”
There is no set location for this experience, so those who are scheduled to participate receive instructions on a meeting place via phone call.
As if that isn’t scary enough, all participants of Alone have to be over 18 and are required to sign a waiver agreeing to run, jump and crawl, among other things. The Alone website also explains that “your body may be aggressively touched and moved or tenderly embraced or be utterly left displaced and alone”.
Although this is not a typical scary attraction filled with blood and gore, it explores many themes and the human psyche, taking visitors through different ranges of emotion from joy to outright fear.
Brennan McSwain, a fifth-year business marketing student, feels a good-quality atmosphere is necessary for a truly frightening experience.
“We pay to get the thrill,” said McSwain. “We pay to get scared.”
It is safe to say these five attractions deliver in their own unique ways and have the ability to fulfill the thrill-seeker’s desire for a scream this Halloween season before it’s too late.