Now that October has officially started and the air is finally cooling off, I think it’s about time to start going to Halloween haunts (or continue going if you start mid-September like me). Everyone knows about the big theme park events like Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, Knott’s Scary Farm, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor and Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest. But did you know there are so many smaller haunts that are absolutely amazing and deserve your attention?
Well here’s a list of thirteen of the haunts that I am personally anticipating the most and ones that you should definitely have on your radar:
The final event in Alone’s Four Indices of Light: Absorption. Calling Alone’s experiences a haunt does not do them justice. It’s more of a large immersive theater performance with the goal to make you feel something, whether it’s wonder, uneasiness, happiness, or fear. But no matter, you will be leaving smiling after they give you an armless hug. The final index is Absorption–defined as the assimilation, incorporation, or receiving of something from the outside; when one substance takes on another, the emitted transmission is thus changed. This theme will be very apparent during the haunt, so expect to come out changed. Their events are brilliantly ambitious and with the success of the first three, the fourth should be a top haunt this October.
Prepare to be moved by actors through the space. You may run, crawl, or be left utterly alone in darkness. But anyone should be able to handle this (it is definitely not as extreme as Blackout or Heretic)—the touching can range from an aggressive grab to a gentle embrace. Trust me, it will make you feel something.
Check out this fully immersive 45-minute walkthrough alone during October 17-18, 21-25, and 28-Nov 1, 2015. Click here for tickets.
Blackout is extreme theatre at its finest. It is not for the faint of heart, it is aggressive, it is shocking, but ultimately it is fine-tuned theatre piece. Be prepared to experience sensory deprivation, deeply personal questions, and a look inside of yourself that you may not be ready for. Events often stay with the participants, forcing them to reflect over the course of weeks to months. This was most people’s first experience with extreme haunts and always a favorite among crowds.
The only downside is shows have only been announced thus far for San Francisco. If you’re up for a drive, buckle up and get ready for a terrifying ride. You can purchase tickets here.
If not, cross your fingers and hope it comes to LA!
CreepLA is a first year haunt that is drawing it’s imagery from the horrors that real people have committed in Los Angeles (hence the name). They believe that humans are far scarier than monsters. Set in an abandoned warehouse in the arts district of LA, this event will be fully immersive and interactive. The description on their page even states that we will be expected to “hide in dark rooms”–now, what will we be hiding from? We have not had a chance to do this haunt yet, but from everything I’ve seen and read, this haunt has the potential to be one of the best this season. It’s theme is both realistic and personal to those living in LA, the imagery is downright frightening, and their style appears to be both innovative and creepy.
Check them out for showdates and tickets.
And if you want more information, please check out an interview I conducted with them.
The Empty Grave is one of OC’s best haunts. If you enjoy Fright Fest or Knott’s Scary Farm, this is the haunt for you. They implement state of the arts special effects, special lighting, animatronics, frightful props (including a fully functioning 1977 Cadillac Hearse), and live actors. This event may not be as long as some of the ones later on this list (it’s between 10-15 minutes), but tickets are also not as much either ($13 dollars!). If you want something a little more involved than a theme park haunt or have some daring kids (there are no age limits), then check out The Empty Grave in October!
Purchase tickets here.
I almost didn’t include this one because it is in Las Vegas, but I have heard nothing by amazing things about this haunt so I had to. As the name suggests, this is a combination of three haunts: Castle Vampyre, The Coven of 13, and Gates of Hell (which is rated R). The first two have amazing set design, production value, and some of the most innovative scares of any haunts I’ve done. If you like haunts, definitely check these out. But Gates of Hell is considered an extreme haunt (it is the only rated R haunt in Nevada). Prepare for sensory overload in this claustrophobic terror maze leading to the Prince of Darkness himself. Plus, tickets for all three is only $35 dollars—so worth it!
I suggest this haunt for those who’ve done all the theme parks and boutique haunts and want to experience something creative and innovative and don’t mind driving. Trust me, it’s worth the extra travel!
Purchase tickets at the door for the best experience.
Tip: For those of you wanting the extremest of the extreme, check out Freakling Bros’ The Victim Experience. Do not do this attempt this unless you fully understand what you are getting yourself into.
Heretic is an underground horror simulation, and it doesn’t get much more real than this. The ideas are genius—follow a killer as he commits murders, join a documentary crew infiltrating a dangerous cult, be transformed through body modification, stay overnight in an isolated cabin in the woods—and Adrian Marcado (the creator) is not afraid to take risks. These risks have generated some of the most beautiful haunts, but also some of the most extreme. Heretic horror houses can sometimes border on the thin line that separates pain from pleasure. This is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for those who are uncomfortable with heavy aggression. But if you can handle it, there is definitely genius and true art buried within.
It is an exclusive group now, but tickets are rarely sold to the public. Sign up for their mailing list and keep an eye out if you’d like to participate.
Motel 6 Feet Under has my favorite pun in a haunt name thus far. You may have heard them at ScareLA as they were having a scream contest there. This haunt will have you traveling through a haunted hotel, hoping you’ll spend the night. If that gets you excited, keep an eye on them because they have a five year plan to build an actual overnight haunt experience. This one has potential to grow big with their involvement in the community and their fantastic ideas.
Fun fact: Motel 6 Feet Under has a wonderful program set up to provide job training in theatrical arts construction for underdeserved adults (Building Occupational Opportunities, or BOO). This helps teach skills to those in need of work and get them back on their feet.
For tickets and more information, check here.
The Red X by Immersion X
The Red X is an augmented reality haunt, utilizing your camera phone or tablet to transform the space around you—unveiling paranormal guests or items that aren’t physically there. Explore a haunted church with famous ghost hunter Britt Griffith and try to escape without being followed home by something otherworldly. Unlike other haunts, this event encourages you to explore at your own pace, giving you a full 90 minutes to explore. It is on the pricier side but could be one of the most unique experiences this October.
Check out an interview I did with their creator if you’d like to learn more.
The Sinner’s Soiree by Drunken Devil Productions
The Sinner’s Soiree debuted a short preview of their haunt at ScareLA and left us excited for more. A first year haunt, Drunken Devil have created a mixture of haunt and speakeasy that truly embraces a sense of quirkiness and brashness. They suggest you pop open that third bottle of wine in the spirit of Halloween and create some mischief. Their haunt has wonderful imagery thus far, and really has embraced a style that is fully unique and enticing.
The event itself has intimate groups traveling into a twisted, Southern Gothic version of Hell. After the haunt, unwind in the Devil’s Den, a New Orleans inspired lounge with live entertainment, themed drinks, and vendors to peruse. If you dare drink with the devil, check out more information here.
To purchase tickets, click here.
Imagine being locked in a dark maze with your worst nightmares. You need to navigate to escape, but you can’t see. Your only hope is your partner who is in another room, watching you on surveillance cameras, directing your every move. Do you trust your partner to get you to safety? Or will they send you right into the arms of your greatest fear?
Check this experience out from October 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29-Nov1, and 5-8th. Purchase tickets here.
Ward 13 by Evil Twin Studios
Continuing the theme from last year, we move deeper into Raymond Hill Sanitarium—into an undocumented area where finding a cure was secondary to exploratory experimentation. Patients feared this area—Ward 13—more than death. Experience an intimate, intense 15 minute walkthrough designed for a small group of patients, I mean patrons. Last year ended with one of the most innovative scares from a boutique haunts, and I am excited to see what they come up with this year. This haunt will be better than those you see at Universal or Knott’s with some true moments of genius thrown in.
Purchase tickets here.
Part haunt and part theatre performance, Zombie Joe’s Underground: Urban Death Tour of Terror is the most emotionally raw experience of the Halloween Season. Enter the front doors, armed with only a makeshift flashlight and see the horrors that reside within. The scenes are shocking, disturbing, scary, and unsettling–but that’s everything you want from a haunt like this. Then when you reach it’s heart, sit down and a series of vignettes that force you to reflect upon yourself. It’s surreal, sometimes spooky, sometimes comical, but every single piece will impact the person watching and make you feel something strong. When it’s over, work your way through the haunt again to escape–but this time everything has changed. If you want raw, visceral, intense, in your face theatre, then this is the show for you.
Purchase your tickets here.
The 17th Door is the most ambitious haunt I’ve seen so far this season. Robbie and Heather Luther’s first foray into the haunt world, this is a 17 room, 35-minute long haunt that is fully immersive with jaw-dropping sets and production value. The amount of love that has gone into this haunt is unmeasurable. One of the few haunts this season with a full immersive storyline (if you’re missing Delusion, this may be your best replacement), this haunt follows Paula as she starts at Gluttire University and faces her inner demons that manifest as pig-faced monsters. Complete with a waiver and a safe-word, this haunt promises to be immersive and intense, but should still doable for the scaredy-cats in your group!
Purchase tickets here.
Although Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse is not technically a haunt (it’s a play), I had to include it on this list. Ghoulmaster’s is a wonderfully fun, campy, and enjoyable performance that captures the spirit of the Halloween season perfectly. It is wonderfully acted, employing real actors, silly puppetry, and fantastic dance numbers (Ghoulmaster is a Michael Jackson impersonator so you know he can dance). The play is not scary and is even appropriate for children (depending on how cool of a parent you are—there are some sexy costumes). I highly suggest seeing this mixture of Thriller, PeeWee’s Playhouse, and Rocky Horror Picture show, and then seeing it again.
Check out more information here.
Those are my most anticipate haunts for 2015, what are yours?