Yard Haunt Odyssey 2019: Santa Clarita (updated)

With the hiatus/demise of The Backwoods Maze and Boney Island, the San Fernando Valley may be losing its title as the Halloween Home Haunt Kingdom of Los Angeles. Instead, the Northwest County region of Los Angeles has stepped forward to claim the crown, with no less than ten yard haunts in Santa Clarita, Valencia, and the surrounding areas. The offerings are widely divergent, including yard displays and walk-throughs; some are intensely scary, while others are family friendly. Many of them feature production values, designs, costumes, makeup, and performances on par with the best work found in professional haunted house attractions. In short, the only way you can go wrong in Santa Clarita is by not going at all. Check the schedules to see what haunts are open on the same days, then punch their addresses into Google maps and find your way to Halloween fun!

For more amateur Halloween displays and mazes in other areas, check out our page of Halloween home haunts.

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Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: Beware the Dark Realm
28621 Sugar Pine Way, Santa Clarita, 91390
October 18-19, 25-26, 7-10pm
bewarethedarkrealm.com

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Beware the Dark Realm's reputation precedes it at this point, and it's built up a good one over the years. Long-time fans have been returning every year, and I count myself among them. The sojourn through the winding corridors will take you about five minutes once inside, but the fun begins while you're still in the queue, with The King and several costumed characters of the castle's royal court skulking around looking to get you in a properly terrified mood for the journey ahead. While we were waiting for our turn my compatriots refused to take their eye's off the king's jester, dreading the thought that he'd close the distance when they weren't looking.

There isn't strictly speaking a story once you're inside, but there is some improvised dialogue, starting off trapped in the dungeon, only to be released to find cannibals intent on adding you to their stew, and confronted by the Grim Reaper himself at the end. We went through twice, and on our second run, we actually emerged with one extra person in our party, having saved her from the cannibals near the beginning, guarding her through the maze, and sneaking her past the reaper to set her free outside the castle. Beware the Dark Realm will be open Fridays and Saturdays for the rest of the month but closed on Halloween Night. Be prepared for a long line and lack of parking, but hundreds of people agree that it's worth the wait.

- Capsule Comment by Marie Deloups

Several other homes on Sugar Pine Way have decorated for the season. Since you probably will not be lucky enough to park close to Beware the Dark Realm, you will probably end up walking past at least a few of these.

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Valencia 2019 Yard Haunts: Clown Town
25302 Via Palacio, Valencia 91355
Through November 2, 7-10pm
facebook.com/ClownTownSCV

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A circus-themed yard display, Clown Town (a.k.a. The Corner House) consists of two houses, one on the corner and another right next to it, giving the impression of one very large home haunt. On Halloween Night, the entrance to the circus (actually the garage) will be open to provide candy to trick-or-treaters.

- Capsule Comment by Steve Biodrowski

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Valencia 2019 Yard Haunts
Club Fear: Twisted Manor
23501 Clearidge Drive, Valencia
October 25-26, 31, 7-10pm
facebook.com/SurviveClubFear

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Club Fear impressed us with last Halloween's presentation, "Nightmares," but they have outdone themselves this year with "Twisted Manor." The home haunt announces itself with an imposing "brick" facade designed to convince you that you will indeed be entering a manor. On the yard nearby, a cemetery enhances the mood, with lightning and thunder; presumably this is the final resting place for the manor's residents?

Outside, sliders in clown attire serve double duty, harassing guests as they arrive and delivering a final coup de grâce to guest exiting the manor. The interior is a mini-labyrinth of scares, though it doesn't feel so "mini" while you're in it - Club Fear squeezes a lot into their available space. There seem to be monsters everywhere, and there are some clever gags including a dead end where a monster pushes a "wall" toward you, forcing you to retreat.

Much as we enjoyed Club Fear: Nightmares last year, it made a good first impression but in retrospect was not quite as elaborate as we had imagined. Club Fear: Twisted Manor is everything we imagined and more.

- Capsule Comment by Steve Biodrowski

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Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: Coffinwood Cemetery
27159 Waterford Dr, Santa Clarita, 91354
Fridays & Saturdays in October, plus Halloween night, 7-10pm

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Another haunt for the whole family Coffinwood Cemetery has some great decorations along the twisting path through the yard and into the garage. There are some costumed actors lurking in the shadows to jump out and give you a fright, but they're definitely able to adjust the experience for the audience, as we saw some going through in strollers and having a great time, while older guests who could handle more were tormented accordingly. If you rush through the haunt is pretty short, so take time to linger and enjoy the decorations, and to give a monster or two a chance to sneak up behind you. Very short line, ample parking on the night of our visit.

- Capsule Comment by Marie Deloups

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Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: The Curse of the Treasure
20205 Soladera Way. Santa Clarita
Oct. 25, 26, 31 & Nov. 1, 6-10p (5-6p no scare)

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Pirates are scary, right? At least if they're dead and they're guarding a cursed treasure - which indeed they are inside this short but scary garage haunt walk-through. After a talking skull reads the haunt's rules, the maze itself begins inside a treasure room, where a blackout allows a ghost pirate to sneak up on you. After that, you walk through a bog with a monster, navigate your way through a laser tunnel of fog, and cross what we took to be a bridge but which we should have realized was a gangplank to the ship's lower deck, where we encountered some unfortunate prisoners, both dead and undead, among the bilge. Great fun!

- Capsule Comment by Steve Biodrowski

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For 2019, The Farm Haunt presents Dr. Diablo’s Caskets and Curiosities.
Castaic 2019 Yard Haunts: The Farm Haunt
Dr. Diablo’s Caskets and Curiosities
29130 Diablo Place, Castaic Ca 91384
Through Halloween Night, 7-10pm
facebook.com/thefarmerfowler

The Farm Haunt has always been one of our favorites the past few years. Last year's walk-through boasted an attractive display, and the color scheme was aesthetically pleasing. However, no longer residents of Glendale, they are now located up north in Castaic. The Haunt Proprietor, Farmer Fowler, actually incorporated the move into the haunt’s story line: “The residents of Glendale have finally ridden themselves of the Norton family. With the locals getting tired of the going’s on at The Farm and all of the unexplainable disappearances, the locals finally forced the family out of town. Rumor has it the Norton family has taken up residence up north in Castaic with Eli’s cousin, Dr.Diablo”

Opting for a yard display this season, The Farm's theme this year is: “Dr. Diablo’s Caskets and Curiosities.” Dr. Diablo is the township’s Physician, Undertaker and Collector of the Strange. If you were to just drive by, a glimpse of the magnificent facade would have you swear it was a haunted walk-through. Hopefully, it will be next year.

- Capsule Comment by Warren So

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Santa Clarita Yard Haunts 2019
Halloween On Agajanian's 2019 theme is Circus.
Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: Halloween On Agajanian
28540 Agajanian Drive Santa Clarita, CA 91390
facebook.com/HalloweenonAgajanian

Over the past several years, this yard display has been everything from the Bates Motel to an Egyptian pyramid to a Greek temple to a haunted mine to a cemetery-mausoleum to a burning fire station manned by skeletons. This season's theme is Circus, which features a tent, skeleton inside a canon, a ticket booth with a skeleton attendant, a skeletal clown, and a knife-throwing wheel. The circus tent has an entrance, where trick-or-treaters can get candy on Halloween Night. You'll have to take your chances on what else happens that night.

Visit this one with with the Pumpkin Jack’s and the Santa Poco yard display, which are literally within eyesight down the street.

- Capsule Comment by Warren So

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Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: Pumkin Jack's Haunted House
28603 Natalie Lane, Santa Clarita
October 25-26 & 31, 7-11pm
facebook.com/pumkinjackshauntedhouse

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Pumkin Jack's Haunted House resurrects Michael Meyers for Halloween 2019! Not the SNL comedian but the Michael Meyers, the unstoppable, homicidal "Shape" of John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween and the numerous sequels, spin-offs, remakes, and reboots that followed. The result is rather like the home version of the Return of Michael Meyers maze at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood but better. At the familiar address on Natalie Lane, a facade out front transforms the property into a recreation of the famous house seen in the original film. Inside, you walk through a series of rooms where Michael appears in various guises: the clown mask from his very first appearance as a crazed youngster, the more familiar Shatner mask seen in most of the films, and the grimmer version seen in the Rob Zombie version and its sequel.

Pumkin Jack's has always excelled at construction. From the very early days, they gave you the feeling you were walking through real rooms, not slap-dash recreations. That holds true this season: like always, the believable settings provide a solid foundation for the scares: some of the spaces are cramped, making it difficult if not impossible to avoid the knife-wielding maniac, and the actors take full advantage of the various hiding places - including one that is particularly amazing but which we will not reveal because we want you to discover it for yourself.

Pumkin Jack's presentation does fall prey to the pitfall plaguing Halloween Horror Nights' mazes: even allowing for the different masks Michael wears, it's still the same monster scaring you in every room. Fortunately, the presentation varies here and there, including a staged scene wherein Michael attacks a victim instead of attacking the audience, and if that were not enough, Pumkin Jack throws in a loon with a chainsaw just for a little variety at the very end.

With so many great haunts in Santa Clarita, it's hard to pick a #1, but Pumkin Jack's defintiely belongs near the top of the list.

- Capsule Comment by Steve Biodrowski

Catty-corner from Pumkin Jack's Haunted House, at 21792 Redwood Canyon Place, is a yard display for a small Mexican pueblo named Santa Poco.

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Valencia Yard Haunts: Shiver
26154 Montolla Lane, Valencia
October 18-19, 25-26, 31, 7-10pm
facebook.com/shiverhauntscv

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This is another home haunt that has expanded since last Halloween, or perhaps "squeezed more into the available space" might be a better way of putting it. There is also an overarching theme: the premise is that, when a traveling circus packed up and move on, they deliberately left behind their crazed clowns, who have since overrun the town. The concept justifies the presence of the painted-face creeps in a series of non-circus settings: a foliage-strewn laser swamp, a bloody suburban home, etc.

Though not as spectacular as Beware the Dark Realm or Club Fear, production values are good; however, the real appeal is the clowns. Having taken up residence, they engage their visitors with crazed form of hospitality, which includes, of course, inviting them for "dinner" - or is that inviting them "to be dinner? Jump-scares and screams are not enough here; level of engagement between actors and participants involves singling some victims out for special if not always pleasant attention.

Special kudos to the soundtrack, which includes everything from "Send in the Clowns" to The Kinks' "Death of a Clown."

- Capsule Comment by Steve Biodrowski

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Santa Clarita 2019 Yard Haunts: Stoney Point Haunt
23227 Barnacle Ln, Santa Clarita, 91355
Fridays & Saturdays in October, plus Halloween night, 7-10pm
facebook.com/events/1699918386805341

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This haunt clocks in at under a minute, but that keeps the line moving fast even with the two-at-a-time limit, and gives time to go through twice if you missed any of the great decorations or costumes the first time though. This one is definitely appropriate for all ages, and in fact the actors inside are all children. Dressed in creepy costumes with sunken eyes and eerie lighting, they're hiding in the corners ready to startle you when you least expect it. If you want to give your young ones more than just trick-or-treating this year, bring them by Stoney Point Haunt. Parking was a bit scarce.

- Capsule Comment by Marie Deloups

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Santa Clarita and the surrounding areas have more haunts. Patricia Manor (20146 Patricia Place, Saugus) is supposed to be open, but we understand that circumstances have forced the proprietor to offer a scaled-down version this Halloween. We will update this page if we get more information. Meanwhile, check the Hollywood Gothique home haunts page to make sure you don't miss anything.

Note: This article has been updated since originally being posted on October 13, 2019.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.