One might think of New Orleans or Salem, Massachusetts when trying to imagine a great city for celebrating Halloween. But Los Angeles has an entire month of events to thrill, chill and scare the living crap out of you!
7 p.m.-12 midnite weekdays, 1 a.m. weekends / Long Beach / $29
Dark Harbor has been a longtime favorite of The LA Beat. The Queen Mary hosts six blood-curdling mazes, including, “Lullabye Maze,” based on the legend of the Queen Mary’s resident ghost, Scary Mary, “Feast,” featuring an evil chef, and “Circus” with a horrifying ringmaster, sinister creatures and monsters. There will also be new secret bars, including a 9-degree Ice Cave, extreme aerial acts and slider shows all night long in the Big Top Bungalows, Panic 4-D and Sinister Swings. Runs TH- SUN plus Halloween night. Recommended for 12 and older. Tickets start at $24 with add-ons including access to secret bars and front-of-the-line passes. Parking $30 or $25 offsite with shuttle. You can even spend the night in the ship’s hotel, which is totally haunted. Use promo code NIGHT to book rooms starting at $80. TICKETS
7 p.m. – 12 a.m. / Griffith Park (The old zoo) by the merry-go-round / $39.99
This year is the 10th anniversary of the successful Griffith Park attraction. The theme this time around involves clowns. We warned you. Besides the hayride itself, there are three scare zones–House of Shadows, a dark place to meet the spirits, Trick or Treat, where you can go door-to-door to meet the residents, and Purgatory, featuring interactive shows, a Scary-Go-Round, a psychic and a “Bootique” for shopping.
There is a range of ticket prices for different experiences. GA admission is $39.99. I recommend scaredy-cats sit in the middle, as the characters do jump onto the tram and get right up in your face. No kids under 8 years old, no smoking, no refunds if you chicken out. Do not touch the wild animals or the actors. No costumes except on Halloween. They rate it as a “high scare.” TICKETS
7 p.m. – 1 a.m. (2 am on Fri and Sat) / Buena Park / $44 and up online
Knott’s Scary Farm offers no less than nine haunted mazes, including “Trick or Treat: Lights Out,” which is completely dark and you are given only a fault flashlight to make your way to the other side. There are also Scare Zones, themed areas where more than 1,000 horrifying creatures like clowns, drowned goths, and sliders (i.e. actors in scary costumes jumping out, or suddenly sliding up to your feet and scaring the holy shit out of you). There are also three scary stage shows and a bunch of thrill rides with all the light out. If that’s not enough for you, there are dance parties, an art bazaar and a boo-fet with monster photo-ops. We recommend the fried chicken and boysenberry pie. Thursday through Sunday this week, then Wednesdays through Sundays. Recommended 13+ TICKETS
7 p.m. – 2 a.m. (1 a.m. on select nights) / Studio City / $75
As usual, Universal sets the bar for Halloween attractions in LA. In addition to the Terror Tram, Universal presents eight themed mazes, a “high-energy” energy Jabbawockeez live live show” and five scare zones, where roaming out-of-work actors scare the crap out of you. One of the most intriguing mazes this year is based on “The Upside-Down” from Stranger Things. They mine the studio’s entire film-making history for mazes based on Poltergeist, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, The Purge, and even one based on the traditional Universal Monsters, which I expect will be much scarier than the black and white classic films. TICKETS
7 p.m. – 1 a.m. / Burbank / $79
Five dark mazes take advantage of the Warner Brothers’ movie catalogue, including The Conjuring, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist and It, which we will admit are promising premises for a scary night. Check out the gallery of props, models and costumes from Tim Burton movies like Sweeney Todd, The Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks! and Beetlejuice. I absolutely cannot think of anything campier than their live stage show wgich features two fantastic drag queens, Allusia and Cupcake Canne, fully decked out as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? physically battling for the spotlight on the mainstage. There is also a Creepy Carnival featuring a live DJ, a Lost Boys retro arcade, SFX make-up demonstrations and plenty of food and drinks. That’s where I’ll be waiting when you’re done with the mazes, kids. Thursdays – Sundays through October 28th. Not open on Halloween night. 13 and over, guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Parking is $20. TICKETS
TOURS AND SHOWS
Hours vary / Hollywood / $99
Not wanting to be left out, Paramount Studios has developed a 2 1/2-hour scary walking tour covering the darker stories of the studio lot. Taking advantage of their location right next to The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the tour takes you through the cemetery with only flashlights to illuminate your path. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings; schedule may vary. Complimentary champagne, movie candy, and popcorn. Good walking shoes required. 16 years and older. TICKETS
8 p.m. – 1 a.m. / North Hollywood / $15
Let our own Dukey Flyswatter describe the show in this quote from his 2017 review, “…a cracker box of a theater with no remarkable exterior clues as to what remarkable slices of madness lie within…Joe’s wordless exposures pares back the layers and takes death, madness, loss and body horror to its bare essentials, usually in less than twenty seconds for each unrelated black out. It’s not unlikely you’ll encounter zombies, cyst fetishists, hatred of infants and necrophilia at the pace of a whirling dervish. I once saw a guy lick up mayo off the stage floor from an overgrown faux zit. Does William Shatner have commitment like that?” Fridays and Saturdays, plus Halloween night. TICKETS
7:30 p.m. & 9 p.m. / Altadena / $30
This year is the 10th anniversary of this theatre troupe who puts on creepy plays in creepy places. Simone Snaith describes the show thusly in her review, “Wicked Lit stages classic horror stories and invites a limited number of patrons to experience the immersive performances each night. Spend a night in an Altadena cemetery as you’re led across the grounds for spooky theatrical productions.” This year Wicked Lit will be presenting a new production, “The Chimes: A Goblin Story” adapted from the novella of the same name by Charles Dickens and the world premiere of “Teig O’Kane and the Corpse” adapted from the short story by Ernest Rhys, translated by Dr. Douglas Hyde. Patrons will walk the grounds of the Mausoleum up hills and through corridors, so comfortable shoes are recommended, and not every location will be wheelchair-accessible. The show is approximately 85 minutes with no bathroom breaks. Two showtimes: 7:30 P.M. and 9 P.M. TICKETS
Dusk / Calabasas / $25
Nights of the Jack is a family-friendly Halloween Jack O’ Lantern experience. Thousands of hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins are spread along 1/2 mile trail on King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas. Some displays are larger-than-life, whereas other pumpkins are finely detailed by their artists. Most visits last from 45 minutes to an hour, but feel free to wander at your own pace. There will also be food trucks and vendors. Comfortable shoes are recommended. Tickets are sold in 30-minute intervals. Advanced ticket purchase is required. TICKETS
6 p.m. – 10 p.m. / Griffith Park / $15
Animation producer Rick Polizzi started Boney Island in the front yard of his Sherman Oaks home as an alternative to scary Halloween displays. It closed down after 20 years due to traffic problems. But it has resurrected to our delight in Griffith Park’s Travel Town. Even though they had to start again from scratch, Maestro Maxilla, your animated skeleton host, rascally cauldrons, dancing waters, skeletons perform rope tricks, levitate through hoops are all back to entertain you in this carnival-style walk-through. Thursdays through Sundays and Sunday through Wednesday on Halloween week. TICKETS
7 p.m. – 10 p.m. / Griffith Park / $25
Griffith Park’s Live Steamers Railroad Museum has been running the Ghost Train every year with the exception of 2016. Last year they returned, much to our delight. The 1/8 size trains take riders on a 23-minute journey through family-friendly displays using animatronics, fog, projections and other special effects. Riders must be at least 34” tall to ride and weigh less than 350 pounds. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus Tuesday the 30th and Wednesday the 31st. TICKETS
10 p.m. – 4 p.m. / Griffith Park / Free with $18 – $21 Zoo Admission
Boo at The Zoo celebrates October with exciting activities every day of the week as well as special weekend events. The theme is “Merry not Scary.” During the week, kids can enjoy a “Spooky Stroll” with Halloween games, a mini pumpkin patch, and photo ops in the Eucalyptus Grove from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Animals & You Boo” allows kids a close-up experience with the animals in front of the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo, and a special Halloween edition of the World of Birds Show with real live vultures and owls. On weekends the zoo ups the ante with a puppet show, a mad scientist’s lab, pumpkin carving demonstrations, crafts, and special feedings. Check the schedule as there will be “carcass feedings.”
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, Creature Campout is back by popular demand. Families can have a sleepover at the zoo with ghost stories, a guided nighttime tour of the Zoo and its nocturnal inhabitants, interactive activities, early morning tour, and an animal presentation. Dinner, s’mores snack, and continental breakfast are included. The program begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, 2018, and ends Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 10 a.m. Tickets are $100 per person, purchase here.
Hours vary / $11 – $23 / Hollywood
This showing of Nightmare Before Christmas is in 4D, including smog, sprinklers, and a ripoff of the tingler, has become an annual tradition at El Capitan. Park across Hollywood Blvd. at the Hollywood and Highland Center. And just try not to sing along!