Eager to know what’s up with the latest iteration of Haunt O’ Ween? Then you have come to the right place, because we have news. Whether it’s good news or bad news depends on what you expect from your Halloween events. So gather round and listen closely, because we are going to make this uncharacteristically brief.
- Haunt O’ Ween is still delightful.
- The layout has been rearranged so that it feels new.
- The food situation has been improved.
- The tone has shifted, skewing more toward young children.
Looking for a fuller explanation? Then read on…if you dare!
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Entrance
Haunt O’ Ween begins with less fanfare than before. Instead of scary skeletons guarding the signature sign over the entrance, there is a check-in tent and a photo op. Nothing spooky here, much less scary. But the sight of a basset hound posing for a picture was enough to make our night a good one.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Funny Bones Ranch
The first themed area is Funny Bones Ranch, which sets the tone for much that follows. It feels very much like a harvest festival, with some cute skeletons added for Halloween flavor. There’s some amusing tableau, including a trio of musicians (static figures) backed by recorded music, but our favorite is the skeleton horse with carrots dangling from its mouth.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Beyond the Grave Rave
More colorful is Beyond the Grave Rave, which simulates a Halloween music festival. A giant skeleton dominates the exterior, but the most spectacular sight is the interior of a dome, where kids can kick bouncing balls back and forth (occasionally interacting with live characters).
One noticeable aspect (which will recur throughout Haunt O’ Ween) is that the dome’s gaudy colors and decorations are not particularly themed to Halloween, and a pair of skeletons pose as DJs. A pair of skeletons, posing as DJs, lend a seasonal feel; otherwise, this space could be used any time of year.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Hidden Hollows
Hidden Hollows is the creepiest section of this year’s Haunt O’ Ween, featuring a fog-filled graveyard and sinister giant skeletons. It is not seriously scary, but it does capture a Halloween vibe much more than the rest of the event, making it our favor place to pause and soak up the atmosphere.
Speaking of which, one nice thing about Haunt O’ Ween 2022 is the presence of seating, tables, and snack booths scattered throughout the various themed areas. Many serve soft drinks, canned cocktails, and treats, but there are also a few food carts offering hand-held food (hot dogs, tacos). This is a welcome improvement over last year, when sponsored beverages were just about the only libation throughout most of the festival, and visitors had to trek to the very end of Haunt O’ Ween in order to sit down and enjoy a meal.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Ghoul Town
Ghoul Town, despite its name, is not very ghoulish. The spookiest thing about it is the tunnel leading to it from Hidden Hollows. After that, it resembles a cartoonish small town main street, with some skeletal prisoners in a vintage paddy wagon. Along with the humans, the criminal class in this town appears to include dogs, spider, and rats.
There is also an area set aside to enjoy Happy Dad Hard Seltzer, with a sign welcoming dads (and moms). Though probably not intentional, this is a reminder that, despite the presence of hard liquor, this year’s Haunt O’ Ween is very much aimed at families with children.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Midnight Magic
Midnight Magic, with its purple lighting scheme and fanciful structures, is perhaps the visual striking area of Haunt O’ Ween 2022. It certainly lives up to its name – it feels like a fantasy come to life.
On the other hand, this is another area where the Halloween aspects are actually minimal. Beside a bubbling cauldron (sometimes presided over by a live witch), there are some black cats peering out of windows, and that is about it.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Town of Haunt O’ Ween
The highlight for trick-or-treaters is the Town of Haunt O’ Ween, consisting mostly of a row of houses where costumed characters hand out candy – lots and lots of candy.
Like Moonlight Magic, Town of Haunt O’ Ween is absolutely beautiful, but its fantastical look is as much Willy Wonka as Halloween. There is a pirate skeleton, some coffin-shaped doors, and one house is decorated with bats. Otherwise, this could as easily be Candy Town.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022 Photographs: Fangtastic Fair
The final stop of Haunt O’ Ween is Fangtastic Fair, which features kiddie rides, games, food trucks, beverage booths. Unlike last year, there are several vendors, so there are more options available and less chance of a logjam in line. We opted for a “meatball” sandwich and nachos at Veggie Bomb (which bills itself as Vegan Street Food). The meal went down very nice with a canned cocktail of Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey and Coke.
All in all, a pleasant way to end the evening.
Haunt O’ Ween 2022: Conclusion
As we mentioned above, Haunt O’ Ween is a glorious fantasy world filled with marvelous wonders. However, this year it is less of a Halloween event than a fall festival. There are enough skeletons, pumpkins, and gravestones to justify the “Haunt” in “Haunt O’ Ween,” but they feel a bit like an overlay on a series of tableau that are meant to be repurposed for other seasons. In fact, it is easy to imagine walking through this layout during Christmas or Easter. There was even a stilt-walking Easter Bunny on view opening night (though he self-identified as “Bad Bunny”).
The result should satisfy families looking for a kid-safe event, but this year there is less appeal to adults without children. In short, Haunt O’ Ween is still fun, but now it feels more like a children’s Halloween event rather than an all-ages Halloween event.
Hollywood Gothique's rating of Haunt O' Ween
1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See
Great fun for families with children and for people who like their Halloween events without the scares. But the skew toward a younger demographic makes this less appealing for childless adults.
Haunt O’ Ween continues nighty at Westfield Promenade through October 30, with hours from 4pm to 9pm. Tickets are $40 for General Admission, $65 for VIP. The address is 6100 Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills. For more information, visit hauntoweenla.com.