This year Halloween is going to be very different – but its spirit lives on, just in a safer way. Drive-up attractions around Los Angeles vary from family-friendly to terrifying; this list will help you select the one that’s right for you. To follow COVID safety guidelines, the attractions limit the number of cars per show, requiring all visitors to remain in their cars and mask up if they want to roll down the windows for a scarier experience. Visitors drive to one or more show sites, with no scares happening until cars are safely parked with the engines turned off. The actors/monsters will not touch your cars, which makes it much more appealing for me because I hate the close-up scares the most. Here are the attractions, from scariest to mild.
LOS ANGELES HAUNTED HAYRIDE: DRIVE-UP EXPERIENCE – San Dimas
The Haunted Hayride is an L.A. staple, totally re-imagined this year. For one thing, it is at Bonelli Park in San Dimas instead of the trails of Griffith Park. Enter the attraction through All Hallows Lane, where you will see familiar Hayride scenes as well as new surprises. The drive will be filled with creepy ambiance, with no real scares until you are safely parked at the drive-in, where a 40’ projection screen combined with horrifying sets and characters from Midnight Falls will provide you with a multimedia experience like no other.
Horror movie host Monte Revolta and his Minions of the Living Dead will host a Monster Movie Spooktacular featuring original content as well as creepy short films. The (masked) actors will roam, but will not touch you or your vehicle. Expect strobe lights and fog throughout the event, so it is not recommended for people with seizure disorders, asthma or other health issues. Feel free to bring snacks, but no pets, smoking, vaping, or gender reveals (we don’t need any more fires).
Select dates now open through November 1, 2020. The standard ticket ($49.99 to $59.99, depending on the date) admits one vehicle with up to 2 passengers into Rows 6-7. Preferred tickets ($59.99 to $69.99) allow one vehicle with up to 2 passengers to park in Rows 4-5. The VIP ticket ($89.99 to $99.99) admits one vehicle with up to two passengers into Rows 2-3. The Platinum Experience (max 8 people in the same vehicle) lets you park your car in the front row and nestle into your own private (stationary) hay wagon. Additional guests in cars at all ticket levels can be added for $9.99 each. Recommended for ages 13 and older.
URBAN LEGENDS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – Costa Mesa
If you are mourning the loss of Queen Mary Dark Harbor this year, don’t fret – one of the original creators/producers is presenting this drive-thru haunt at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The attraction will lead you through a 45-minute experience with five immersive zones. Monsters, jump scares, dancers, and spectacular lighting, visual and sound effects combine to make this one of the most anticipated haunts this year.
The five zones include Hell Mouth, where you will encounter the giant, fiery she-monster Blaze Drag-on of Ojai; Elizabeth Lake, home to Lancaster’s Lake Monster; La Lechuza, a people-eating owl witch; the half-goat, horned Billiwhack Monster of Ventura County; and of course, the Underground Lizard People, who once held Depression-era Los Angeles spellbound.
The event is Wed – Sun through November 1, 2020.Tickets start at $59.99 per vehicle Wednesdays, $59.99 Thurs – Sun, and $69.99 Fri – Sat. VIP tickets, groups of six or more/larger vehicles, and season passes for all 24 nights are also available, and you can add food and merchandise to your ticket online. Recommended for ages 13 and older, though there is a family friendly haunt Oct 31st from 5 – 7 pm with costumes, goody bags and a decorated car parade.
THE HAUNTED BARNYARD: LAND OF NIGHTMARES – Santa Clarita
Although a fundraiser hosted at the Gentle Barn, this will not be a tender experience. The one-hour immersive drive-thru will give you the scare of a lifetime in the “barnyard of doom,” transformed by a team that includes set dressers, costume designers and makeup artists from Knott’s Scary Farm. You’ll cruise past a multitude of ghastly scenes, including a Funhouse, Zombie Infested Graveyard, Insane Asylum, Haunted Woods, and Ghostly Maze. Your guide: spooky audio with sound effects in the safety of your own vehicle.
The experience was designed to be as COVID-safe as possible and prevent harm to the Barn’s rescued farm animals. Smoking of any kind is prohibited at all times on the property, inside or outside your vehicle. No pets are allowed, and even service dogs may get spooked. Snacks and soft drinks will be available for purchase at the entrance.
Weekends only, October 22-23; 27 – 31, and Nov 5-6. Tickets start at $28 per person. Connect a smartphone to your car stereo for the best experience. Recommended for ages 13 and above.
THE STRANGER THINGS EXPERIENCE – Downtown L.A.
The “Stranger Things” experience in Downtown LA will take 24 cars at a time back to 1985, and Hawkins venues like the Starcourt Mall and Russian Labs, where you will “witness some unforeseen and unusual occurrences.” This one-hour show isn’t advertised as scary, but it is not recommended for kids under 13. There will be live actors and “mind-blowing audio and visual effects” at each immersive station. Beware, “things can quickly turn uʍop ǝpᴉsdn.”
You will need to have least one smartphone to connect to your car stereo or Bluetooth speaker for the best sound. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time. No smoking, vaping, or non-service animals. Restrooms and food/drinks will be available for purchase.
Wed – Sun through November 1. Standard tickets are $59 per car (2-7 passengers), available online. VIP access gets you Fast Track Entry, a mystery box of swag, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, and a dedicated team to welcome you. Tickets are nonrefundable but can be exchanged. Recommended for ages 13 and above.
THE BITE LA HALLOWEEN FOOD CRAWL & CREATURE SAFARI – El Monte
The Bite L.A. is presented by Meyer2Meyer Entertainment, which was previously involved in creating the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride and Great Horror Campout. First, the food crawl winds through immersive environments, where costumed performers in booths will offer a variety of safely pre-packaged Bites, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Each person will receive 8 Bites of their choosing, with additional Bites for purchase.
Bring flashlights to hunt for the “shadowy and monstrous creatures that roam the abyss” around Legg Lake, then park around the virtual campfire to listen to scary ghost stories while enjoying a special campfire dessert and your choice of hot drink. Decorate your car to be automatically entered in a car costume contest.
Many of the $105, 2-person per vehicle tickets are already sold out, so get them quick. 3-person per vehicle tickets are $141 (you could probably still attend with two people and eat the third person’s food!) The Bite L.A. runs Thurs – Sun, and every night on Halloween week. No age limit, but some of the creatures are scary.
NIGHTS OF THE JACK DRIVE-THRU – Calabasas
We always enjoy the artistically carved jack o’ lanterns at this event. This year the family-friendly attraction will be a one-mile drive-thru experience. Pumpkins will be carved with your favorite movie stars, sports heroes, and animated characters, plus there will be large installations. The drive usually takes about 25 minutes. There will also be a drive-in food court featuring seasonal food and beverage offerings from some of LA’s top food trucks.
Oct 1 – Nov 1, Thurs – Sun and every night Halloween week; $69 per car. No age limit, the experience is billed as not scary but a little spooky in a few places. During the trail walks in previous years I always saw plenty of happy toddlers.
HAUNT ‘O WEEN L.A. – Woodland Hills
If you have little ones, this all-ages family-friendly drive thru is for you! Keep the excitement of Halloween alive in a safe and fun way. Interactive activities include pumpkin “picking” (one complimentary wrapped pumpkin, with more available for purchase), and “door to door” trick or treating in a 10-12 home “neighborhood” where actors and special candy deliveries keep the activity safe. There will also be photo ops in a 90 ft jack o’ lantern tunnel; immersive installations; a “What We Do in the Shadows” tunnel; and photo backgrounds. Costumes are encouraged. If your windows are rolled down, masks are required.Oct 9 – 31, 3 – 9 pm, $70 per vehicle.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN L.A. – Pico Rivera
YOUR CITY SAFARI in partnership with Improving Lives Charity, has created this multi-zoned, themed family drive-thru in Pico Rivera’s Bicentennial Park. Billed as the largest drive through event in Southern California, visitors will marvel at more than thirty gigantic inflated dinosaurs and monsters, with a miles of zones with themes like Crazy Kid’s Carnival, Jurassic Adventure, and Dia De Los Muertos. There will also be magical illusions, Halloween themed music, packaged candy for kids, and cold water for the adults. There will be an online costume contest as well as a custom made drive thru photo booth for a memento of your visit. (I saw a preview, and they are GIANT bags of candy!). Th & Fri 4 PM – 10 PM, Sat & Sun 4 PM – 11 PM now through October 31st. $60 for a vehicle with up to four people, and a $10 add-on for additional passengers.