2012 Halloween Recommendations: Best Yard Haunts in Los Angeles

Looking for last-minute, inexpensive ways to enjoy Halloween in Los Angeles? Look no further, as Hollywood Gothique presents its must-see list of Halloween Yard Haunts.

By now, you have probably maxed out your credit card purchasing VIP tickets to the Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt and/or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, not to mention Delusion 2012: The Blood Rite, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, and the Blumhouse of Horrors. Fear not, however; an empty wallet is not a sentence to forego any further frights during the waning days of October. Los Angeles has more to offer than Halloween Theme Park Attractions and Halloween Haunted Houses and Hayrides. There is also a multitude of Halloween Yard Haunts, whose proprietors are more than happy to put their creepy creativity on display for free. Most of these are local, neighborhood events – worth taking your kids for trick-or-treats if you live nearby – but a few are standouts – worth a special trip, because of their elaborate special effects, impressive lighting displays, or terrifying walk-through mazes. Hollywood Gothique is more than happy to take you on a virtual tour of the best amateur Halloween events the city has to offer. So come along with us – if you dare…!

Note: Typically, yard haunt displays are safe for children, but many of the attractions in this list feature scary walk-through mazes, which may not be appropriate for trick-or-treaters under 13. Please read the fine print to be sure.

THE BACKWOODS MAZE

Backwoods Maze 2011 MutantLocation: 1912 North Pepper Street Burbank, CA 91505

Remaining Dates: October 26-28 & Halloween night, 7-10pm

Website: Click here

Description: The Backwoods Maze offers one of the best walk-through haunted attractions in Los Angeles, amateur or professional. The theme generally runs along the lines of Uncle Willy’s Slaughterhouse at Knotts Scary Farm, but this year, the Backwoods Maze substitutes a post-apocalyptic wasteland for  cannibal crazies. Hopefully, the sense of a hand-made environment cut off from modern technology – not to mention civilization – remains intact.

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BONEY ISLAND YARD HAUNT

boney island skeleton hawkerLocation: 4602 Morse Avenue Sherman Oaks, CA 91432

Remaining Dates: Through October 31

Hours: 6-9pm Sunday-Thursday; 6-10pm Friday-Saturday

Website: Click here

The Boney Island Yard Haunt – the most whimsical and family-friendly of Los Angeles’s many Halloween Events for Children – offers a haunted yard full of mystical illusions and goofy gags. Nothing is really scary; everything is safe for kids – and adults will love it, too. This year, the whimsical skeletons present new magic show, entitled “Abracadaver” – which promises “even more jaw-dropping illusions to thrill and amaze you this Halloween.”

As always, admission to this amateur (but very professional done) event is free.

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DARK REALMS

Dark RealmsLocation: 537 Palm Dr., Brea, CA 92821

Remaining dates: October 26-27, and Halloween night

Hours: 7-10pm; non-scare hours for children are 6:30-7:00pm.

Admission: $8 for one or $15 for two. All proceeds will be donated to CHOC Hospital.

Description: We just discovered this walk-through home haunt this season. Sadly, Halloween 2012 will be the haunt’s last year, because the owners are moving. Unlike most amateur Halloween events, Dark Realms: An American Haunt charges for admission, but the money goes to a good cause. The haunt itself is fairly impressive in scope – not quite up to the level of the Backwoods Maze, but in that vein, with lots of nice settings, props, and monsters.

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ETERNAL REST CEMETERY

EternalRestPromoCard2012WebResDates: October 27 and Halloween night, 7pm-midnight

Location: 414 Rose Avenue Venice, California (310) 755-1586

Website: Click here

Description: This annual amateur event is one of the better Halloween Yard Haunts in Los Angeles. With a decorated front yard and a very tight walk-through maze around the side of the house, Eternal Rest Cemetery provides a fun evening for the neighborhood, but it is good enough to attract fright fans from all around the city. The maze takes only a few minutes to get through, but it is very effective – and probably too scary for very young children. Arrive early, because lines get long, especially on Halloween night.

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FOREST OF MIRRORS

forest of mirrors front yard
Ectoplasmic emanations outside the Forest of Mirrors

Location: 6124 Lederer Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91367-1329

Date: October 31 only, 6:30pm-midnight

Website: Click here

Description: The miraculous mirrored attraction – unique among Halloween yard haunts in Los Angeles – opens its gates once more, on Halloween night only. No matter how busy you are trick-or-treating that night, you should make the effort to swing by. Located in the back yard of a house once owned by silent movie comedian Buster Keaton, the Forest of Mirrors features a cemetery that seems endlessly extended thanks to a clever illusion: the forking pathways lead to arches, but the arches turn out to be not passages but mirrors; the result is disorienting because the mirrors are carefully placed so that you do not see your own reflection until you are almost ready to step through the looking glass – a startling and remarkable effect.

This one is spooky but safe for kids. There may be a jump scare or two, but mostly Forest of Mirrors relies on its amazing illusion to fascinate you.

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THE HAUNTED SHACK

Haunted Shack Skeleton blacklight 2010 cropDates: October 27 & 31, 7-10pm

Location: 5112 Maricopa Street Torrance, CA 90503

Website: Click here

Description: The best little home haunt in Torrance returns for two days of haunting this Halloween – on Saturday, October 27, and Wednesday, October 31. The Haunted Shack has been around since 1997, growing into a 1500-square-foot walk-through labyrinth, featuring some amazing tricks and illusions. The corridors are loaded with skeletal ghouls, eager to deliver scares, but what stands out in memory is the unexpected twists, turns, and surprises, such as a “solid” wall that turns out to be a hidden door. There are some professional-level tricks-and-treats inside, making this a must-see for anyone in the area.

The Haunted Shack is free, but gladly accepts donations on behalf of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which benefits research for curing breast cancer.

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THE HAUNT WITH NO NAME YET

haunt with no name yet 3Location: 19351 Hatteras Street Tarzana, CA

Dates: October 29-31

Hours: 6pm-10pm on Monday & Tuesday; dusk to 10pm on Halloween night

Website: Click here

Description: Tarzana’s as-yet unnamed yard haunt returns for its 21st year. The Haunt with No Name Yet is spooky in a wonderfully understated way, with a pumpkin-patch-full of hand-carved Jack-O’Lanterns, wonderful ornaments and lighting, and a handful of creepy effects. Kids will not be too terrified, but they will enjoy the ghostly tricks-and-treats, as will their parents.

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HELIZONDO HAUNT

Haunt at Helizondo blakc light skullsLocation: 2134 Elizondo Avenue, Simi Valley, CA 93065

Dates & Hours: October 30 & 31 from dusk till…?

Website: Click here

Description: This elaborate yard haunt and walk-through maze – loaded with custom-made props and decorations – opens its doors for two nights of Halloween of mirth and terror. The Simi Valley location is a bit distant for most Los Angeles Halloween fans, but if you are anywhere in the general vicinity, the Helizondo Haunt is worth a visit (and you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting Mourning Rose Manor, not far away). Last year’s theme, Rasputin’s Carnival of Risk, actually infused a little vitality into the over-used killer klown canrival cliches, indicating that these amateur haunters know how to put on a good show.

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THE HOUSE AT HAUNTED HILL

House at Haunted Hill skeleton with candlesLocation: 4400 Saltillo Street, Woodland Hills, CA

Dates: October 26-31

Hours: 7-10pm weeknights & Sunday; 7pm-midnight on Friday & Saturday

Website: Click here

Description: One of the best Halloween yard haunts in Los Angeles returns for another six nights of spooky entertainment. Don’t expect shrieking ghosts, blood-stained monsters, or grinding chainsaws; instead, The House at Haunted Hill features a full-blown narrative show, using elaborate effects, music and narration to tell the the tragic tale of a Hollywood starlet who had the misfortune to marry a man whose late wife apparently never read the part of the wedding vow that states “till death do us part.” The proprietors are planning to install a major addition this year; let’s hope they can pull it off. House at Haunted Hill is truly a magnificent achievement, with professional-level production values that create an eerie shivers in keeping with the Halloween season – scary but fun, and safe for children.

Admission and parking are free, but the street is usually blocked off to cars for the safety of foot traffic, so be prepared to walk up that haunted hill!

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THE HOUSE OF RESTLESS SPIRITS

hors newspaper finalDates & Hours: October 27 & 31, 7-11pm

Location: 1008 Euclid Street, Santa Monica, CA

Website: Click here

Description: Santa Monica’s premiere yard haunt – one of the best Halloween events in Los Angeles, amateur or professional – returns for two nights of subtle, spooky shivers: Saturday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 31. House of Restless Spirits is literal “yard haunt,” offering a walk-around rather than a walk-through: you will see numerous ghostly effects in the front and back yards of the house, as a multitude of apparitions manifest. The back story of the House of Restless Spirits involves a ship’s captain, who buried his family in the backyard cemetery during an influenza epidemic decades ago, then took his ship out to sea one last time – never to return. Guests are admitted in small groups at discrete intervals, to give everyone a chance to savor the ethereal effects in turn. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Please note: Wait times can exceed an hour. The 11pm stop-time is the time when the House of Restless Spirits shuts down, so you need to be in line well before then.

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ROTTEN APPLE 907: WILSLEY MANOR

Willsey Manor 2012Location: 907 N. California Street Burbank, CA 91505

Dates: October 26-28, 31

Hours: 7-10pm on Saturday & Sunday; 7-9pm on Sunday & Wednesday (Halloween night)

Website: Click here

Description: Rotten Apple 907 – one of the best group of yard haunters in Los Angeles – offers four nights of Halloween horror this October. As always, the theme is new for this year: Wilsley Manor offers a traditional haunted house, set in a mansion once owned by a pair of brothers, one of whom went homicidally insane. His victims still walk the halls – do you dare enter and confront them? Rotten Apple 907’s home haunts have always been fun, but in recent years they have extended their walk-through maze and offered professional-quality scares, making this one of the best amateur attractions around town.

As always, admission is free, but donations will be accepted for charity; this year’s recipient is Family Promise.

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There are many other great Halloween Yard Haunts in Los Angeles. You can find last-minute additions filed under Amateur Halloween events.