L.A.'s Best Family-Friendly Haunt
Hollywood Gothique Says:
Once a modest train ride past low-tech Halloween decorations, the Los Angeles Live Steamers Ghost Train grew into one of the most spectacular haunted rides imaginable – a delightful treat for the whole family. The Ghost Train was never terrifying, especially in its early days, but as it added ever more special effects, it became slightly more sinister and much more spectacular – still more fanciful than frightening, but with more lifelike figures, whose movements and voices could invoke a tiny spark of tension in easily intimidated trick-or-treaters.
Still, there was not the sort of stuff to instill nightmares. There were no costumed actors pouncing from the darkness, just a few props rigged to pop up unexpectedly. In other words, it was perfect for parents who wanted to avoid intense scares while enjoying Halloween with their children, earning a well deserved place in the Hollywood Gothique Hall of Fame.
5202 Zoo Drive – Los Angeles, CA 90027
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2020 Update: The Ghost Train remains on indefinite (permanent?) hiatus. The annual Halloween event came to an end with an announcement in September of 2019 that the Los Angeles Live Steamers board of directors had "decided to not host" the Ghost Train that year because of "negative politics" that left the "future...unknown."
Los Angeles Ghost Train History
Located at 5202 Zoo Drive in Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum began presenting their “Ghost Train” in 2001. Supported by train enthusiasts, the non-profit corporation ran their 7 1/2-inch gauge model trains on Sundays year-round, then decorated the path around the tracks for Halloween with approximately 30 spooky scenes.
Originally, the ride was somewhat akin to a twenty-minute drive past a few dozen well decorated yard haunts, featuring decorations, lights, and static props but few effects and little if anything scary: lots of colorful lights, Jack O'Lanterns, skeletons, giant spiders, scarecrows, and a Grim Reaper or two.
The ride was ideal for child-sized riders, but adults could manage if they did not mind squatting down on the tiny trains for the approximately 20-minute duration. Minimum height was 34 inches tall; maximum weight was 350 pounds. Riders under 15 had to be accompanied by an adult.
Over the years, the Los Angeles Live Steamers gradually expanded, adding more decorations, mechanical props, and other special effects. Starting in 2011, the Live Steamers began using digital video projection to create wonderfully elaborate displays of supernatural activity. With its ever more elaborate presentation, The Ghost Train eventually morphed into something resembling a demented Disneyland, filled with with more than enough Halloween magic to appeal to haunt-goers of all ages. The attraction earned Hollywood Gothique's pick for best Halloween-themed ride in our 2013 Halloween Haunt Awards.
Probably the most terrifying thing about the Ghost Train was parking: the regular entrance to the Live Steamers was closed at night, and the small dirt lot was a quarter mile east. Some visitors ended up parked on the dark road in the middle of Griffith Park with few cross streets and almost no street lights, and just made a mad dash across the pavement whenever there was a break in traffic.
In 2016, the Ghost Train went on hiatus but returned in 2017. For Halloween 2018, the Ghost Train was joined in Griffith Park by the Boney Island Halloween Haunt. Though separately ticketed, the two adjacent attractions provided a great double-bill of family-friendly Halloween fun.
In 2019, the Ghost Train went on hiatus again, its future - if any - uncertain.
L.A. Live Steamers Ghost Train Archive
Check out reviews, videos, and photographs in the Griffith Park Ghost Trainer Archive: