Halloween 2013: Must-See Pro Haunts in Los Angeles

What are 2013’s best professional Halloween attractions? Which should have you rushing into danger like Ulysses answering the Siren’s call? Which should send you running like the last man on Earth fleeing a hungry zombie horde? Read on to find out…if you dare!

It’s time to get serious, fright fans! October is halfway over – it’s time to stop dithering and start enjoying the myriad and mysterious Halloween theme park attractions, haunted house events, film screenings, tours and shows available in Los Angeles. You simply must savor these Professional Halloween Events as soon as possible, in order to leave time for the Amateur Halloween Events that will materialize during the final days of the season.

Consequently, we urge you with all possible alarm: if you have yet to make plans, do so now, and pre-order tickets before they sell out. With time running short, you may not be able to see all the Halloween haunted houses and hayrides in Los Angeles, but fear not, for Hollywood Gothique is here to help you prioritize. Therefore, forthwith, allow us to pinpoint 2013’s Must-See Halloween Haunts in Los Angeles.

Wicked Lit

Richard Large, Erik Keitel, Brian David Pope
Richard Large, Erik Keitel, Brian David Pope

The annual Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival has always been good. This year it’s the best ever. We know that its dramatic theatrical approach (with short plays staged inside a real mausoleum) is not the sort of traditional walk-through that Halloween fans imagine: no jump-scares, no chainsaws, just great stories based on classic literature. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to see this. And you should hurry: there is limited space for each performance, and the shows do sell out. If you’re lucky, the run may be extended, but do not count on it.

The Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival runs at the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery Thrusdays through Sundays in October, plus November 1 and 2. The address is 2300 Marengo Avenue in Altadena. Get more information, including ticket prices at Unbound Productions.org.

Knott’s Scary Farm

Trick or Treat Exterior
The wonderfully spooky Trick or Treat maze at Knotts Scary Farm.

The annual Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt has taken its lumps in recent years, ever since Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood upped the ante in terms of production makeup, sets, costumes; however, in Halloween 2013, Knotts Scary Farm proved their is still undead life in the Old Western Ghost Town. The new attractions are imaginative and distinctive; the old favorites are worth revisiting (and in some cases radically revamped). Best of all: the cast is wildly enthusiastic, delivering the scares with an intensity rare for such a large event.

Knotts Scary Farm continues its Halloween 2013 season on October 17-20, 24-27, 30-31, and November 1-2. Hours are 7pm to 1am on Thursdays and Sundays; 7pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. The address is 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, CA 90620. More info: Click here.

The Purge: Fear the Night

The Purge: Fear the Night
The Purge: Fear the Night

Though we question whether this theme truly suits the Halloween season, there is no question that The Purge: Fear the Night is a breath-taking theatrical experience – a wild, interactive ride through the corridors of the Variety Arts Theatre, with you and your friends playing the role of hostages-accomplices in a terrorist strike against the government responsible for The Purge (an annual evening of utter lawlessness).

The Purge: Fear the Night continues at the Variety Arts Theatre (940 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017) on October 17-19, 24-26, 29-31, and November 1-2. Advance ticket prices are $39-45. Get more info at their website.

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The Los Angeles Haunted Hayridein Griffith Park is great as always.  The old sets have been re-populated with a new cast of characters, and the 360-degree experience of being under assault from all directions as a tractor slowly pulls you through the Old Zoo is enjoyable unnerving. Our favorite new set piece involves a conflagration at a Catholic orphanage, with victims displaying skin that glows like red embers. Also noteworthy: the Hayride’s “B-Side” attraction, The In-Between Maze, really stand on its own this year.

hhn-2013-insidiousHalloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood disappointed us slightly with its relatively formulaic scare strategy, but we loved the colorful 3D extravagance of the Black Sabbath 13 maze, and we think that Insidious: Into the Further is a must-see all on its own – one of the best attractions this year to truly simulate a “haunted house” experience (as opposed to the more visceral slaughterhouses, dark carnivals, and psycho-asylums that proliferate this time of year).

The Queen Mary Dark Harbor went off course a bit with a new circus-theme. Nevertheless, they managed to impress us with their mis-labeled “Freak Shows” – which are actually mini-mazes. They require an extra fee, but you get what you pay for: a scare experience directed at you personally, because only small groups are allowed through – no conga line here! A couple of the mazes are very short – featuring just a single scare, really – and another is comic in tone, with a talking skeleton. The other two offer low-visibility mazes that will have you struggling to escape and shivering over what may be lurking along side you, unseen.

Haunted Hollywood Sports recovered this year from a poor debut in Halloween 2012. We saw only a couple of the attractions at the press preview night, but if the rest of the event lives up to them, then this one is definitely worth penciling in on your October calendar. There are three mazes and two scare zones, but the real appeal of this paintball facility is the Killhouses, which allow you to protect yourself from marauding monsters – at last, instead of screaming helplessly, you can shoot your way to safety!

We Are Still Looking Forward To…

Delusion: Masque of Mortality. Scheduling problems have prevented us from seeing this event, which is sold out through the end of October. It’s an epic tragedy that we will not be able to enjoy our favorite Halloween event until after Halloween Night has come and gone, but we know it will be worth the wait. Let this be a lesson to you: book your reservations now, or live to regret it.

Old Town Haunt Halloween Attraction in Pasadena: Halloween 2013 is being billed as your last chance to descend into the catacombs of this great walk-through attraction. Even if you have seen everything else, you haven’t seen anything like the Old Town Haunt; the claustrophobic underground setting is truly unique, and the monsters within know how to make the most of it.

Reign of Terror bar2013
The Reign of Terror Haunted House

Reign of Terror Haunted House in Thousand Oaks:  This attraction lives up to its name: it truly does offer a haunted house setting, as elaborate and convincing as anything at Universal Studios Hollywood. There are other sections as well – a bloody bayou and an insane asylum, for example – but the old school ethereal thrills of the original haunted house make this one a perennial must-see.

FrightFair Screampark in Woodland Hills: We have been enjoying this Halloween attraction for over a decade; it doesn’t change much, but it always delivers the screams. The long-standing Factory of Nightmares haunted house was always a favorite; even back in the dim days before we kept track of Halloween events with jouranlistic precision, it stuck in our memory as one of the best. In recent years, FrightFair has added an outdoor Creatures of the Corn trail and an Insane Reaction maze, which (unlike most Halloween “mazes”) truly challenges you to find a way out.

Hollywood Gothique will return with a look at must-see amateur events, including Halloween Yard Haunts and fund-raising Halloween Tours and Shows.