Preview: Halloween comes early to Southern California

By Michael Torres

As the academic year begins, students are not only greeted by new challenges in their coursework, but they are welcomed by an early Halloween season, which offers them spooky experiences.

On Sept. 18, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood kicked off its ninth annual haunt event.

The event operates from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on select nights in September and October. It offers guests the opportunity to fall victims to their favorite blockbuster horror icons.

Halloween Horror Nights offers high-quality scares with five new mazes and the return of the popular “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” maze, which made its first appearance last year.

For the fourth year, the wildly popular AMC television show “The Walking Dead” has a maze at the event. In addition, Horror Nights has a new Terror Tram featuring characters from the popular film “The Purge.” Other attractions include “Insidious: Return to the Further,” “Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home,” “Crimson Peak: Maze of Madness” and “This is the End 3D.”

“Jabbawockeez,” a new, high-energy show featuring the winners of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” made its debut at Halloween Horror Nights, and it transports audiences into a new realm of reality through choreography and special effects.

The event also features “Exterminatorz,” a new scare zone with hideous hybrids of pests that are part insect and part man.

Many visitors regard Halloween Horror Nights as the premier Halloween event. However, its ever-growing popularity often leaves guests waiting in long lines and paying over $80 for admission.

If affordability is the main concern, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain offer similar, cheaper Halloween events.

Knott’s Berry Farm, a veteran in Halloween attractions, will be transformed into Knott’s Scary Farm for its 43rd annual Halloween Haunt on Thursday.

The event features 10 mazes, three scare zones and two returning shows. “Dead of Winter,” a new maze for 2015, will challenge guests to escape the icy grasp of a chilling Snow Queen.

Returning for another year at Knott’s is “Special Ops: Infected-Patient Zero”: a maze that gives guests the opportunity to take combat against zombies using state of the art laser technology. The interactive maze takes over 6 acres of the park.

While the event is not amongst the more popular Halloween destinations, shorter lines and a variety in attractions await visitors. Knott’s Scary Farm operates on select nights in September and October and admission starts at $40.

Six Flags Magic Mountain offers a ghoulish Halloween event that will run on select Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from Sept. 26 through Nov. 1.

Six Flags Fright Fest features seven mazes, seven scare zones and three shows.

Some of the mazes featured this year include Red’s Revenge, Vault 666, The Aftermath, Willoughby’s Resurrected, Toyz of Terror 3D, Chupacabra and Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness.

Unlike their competitors, Fright Fest’s general admission includes all-day access to attractions, scare zones and nighttime shows. However, an additional fee is required for access to any of the mazes.

Although it appears that amusement parks are the only ones that host Halloween nightlife, Ten Thirty One Productions hosts the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride deep within Griffith Park.

The Haunted Hayride offers visitors an old-fashioned nocturnal experience by transporting guests in a tractor through the Griffith Park Zoo. The theme for this year, based off the childhood urban legend, is Boogeyman.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood

Courtesy of Universal Studios

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood

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