Riverside Halloween events do not always receive the full attention they deserve from us. In an effort to balance the scales this year, we made a trip to the annual Ghost Walk Riverside last weekend. A side benefit of the journey was the opportunity to visit some nearby Halloween home haunts.
Two of these are amusing yard displays inspired by famous Disneyland attractions. The third is a terrifying walk-through that ranks among the best we have seen this year. Combined with Ghost Walk Riverside (which we will review elsewhere), they made an excellent smorgasboard of seasonal entertainment.
Pirates of Magnolia (yard display)
5121 Magnolia Avenue,
Riverside, CA 92506
Through October 31, 7-9pm
From White Park, you reach this eye-catching yard display by heading south on Market Street, which changes name to Magnolia Avenue just to make navigation a little more challenging. Fortunately, you need know neither street name nor address to find these pirates; billowing smoke floating down the road will lead you to a building under siege, where orange flames ripple in the windows; pirate skeletons dangle from the walls; and the flash and thunder of cannon fire blasts through the night air.
What you’re really seeing, of course, is an amazing recreation of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, with music and voices taken from the original. The mechanical props look authentic, and the house could pass for the sort of colonial mansion appropriate to the famous ride. Even smoke and fire are convincing; in fact, that the Riverside fire department makes a point of informing dispatchers not to bother them with 911 calls for this address during the Halloween season. Our favorite bit is the pair of skeletons on the roof, firing a canon that lights up and recoils with each blast.
Haunted Mansion (yard display)
4027 Bandini Avenue
Riverside, CA 92506
A few blocks farther south, this homage to Disney’s Haunted Mansion is more low-key than Pirates of Magnolia. The lawn is decorated with gravestones, as any good yard haunt should be, but there are some nice touches, like a giant Jack O’ Lantern and a digital projection of a ghost materializing near the caretaker. Most impressive is the house itself, which easily passes for a haunted mansion in the dark. The imposing structure, with its angular roof starkly etched against the night sky, recreates a famous scene from near the beginning of the Disney attraction; a ghostly bride stands on the second floor, and Madame Leota lurks inside her crystal ball – all while excerpts from the Haunted Mansion soundscape waft through the evening air. Delightful stuff!
Reichland Asylum (walk-through)
3980 Bandini Avenue
Riverside, CA 92506
Open through Halloween Night, 7-10pm
A few houses up the block from the Haunted Mansion lies Reichland Asylum. This, too, features an eye-catching facade; its dilapidated walls and eerie lighting suggest figurative – and maybe literal – Hell Hole far removed from any concept of “asylum.”
Reichland offers a length walk-through, which begins with new “patients” being escorted inside for a brief video orientation, followed by decontamination (which – we are warned after that fact – may have “side effects). The path takes you inside and outside of the institution – through a doctor’s office, past patient cells, into a nurse’s station, and out into an alleyway behind.
Along the way, you can distinguish staff from inmates mostly by clothing, since all of them seem equally insane. What’s nice is that, instead of being generically crazy, the characters have individual obsessions: a doctor raves about eyes watching from the walls; a patient wants you to become part of her stuffed-animal collection; and most hilariously, a man in the alley (either homeless or an escapee) covets your shoes – he really, really wants a pair.
In terms of production design, Reichland Asylum is not quite on par with Beware the Dark Realm or Rotten Apple 907. Its more impressive set piece is the facade out front, but the interiors have some clever touches, like piles of cardboard boxes used to suggest an antiquated filing system never brought up to date, and the dingy look of the patient quarters underlines the horrific nature of the place. There is also a colorful play room where you can get candy from strangers – always a good idea!
Special effects, mechanical or visual, are minimal but not really necessary since the cast is the star of the show. Insane asylum haunts, pro and amateur, are a dime a dozen, but the crazy characters haunting Reichland’ make it something special: these inmates all belong in the asylum, but each is insane in his or her own special way.
Reichland Asylum Rating
Reichland Asylum delivers an experience superior to many professional mazes. For a point of comparison with other home haunts, its interiors are less elaborate than Rotten Apple 907’s, but Reichland’s maze is longer, with more characters and scares.
More: Halloween Odyssey 2021
- Video: Evils of the London Fog at Rotten Apple 907
- Halloween Odyssey 2021: Verdugos Yard Haunts
- Halloween 2021 Video: Beware the Dark Realm
- Video Interview: Coffinwood Cemetery
- Halloween Odyssey 2021: Inland Empire Yard Haunts
- Halloween Odyssey 2021: Orange County Yard Haunts
- Farewell to Haunted By Memories Manor
- Halloween Odyssey 2021: San Fernando Valley Yard Haunts