Say the “magic words” or you’ll never even get in.
That’s The Magic Castle for you, filled with unique and magical things throughout. I have been there a few times, but each time I think to myself, “I need to become a member!” This time was no different.
A friend of mine invited a few folks to enjoy the Saturday evening, which happened to be VERY crowded. We watched the main room show as well as a few smaller shows in the Parlour and at the bar. I didn’t get to spend any time with Irma, the ghost that plays piano. She’s my favorite part of the Castle…well also the Dummies that line the walls downstairs.
If you haven’t been to The Magic Castle, it’s a one of a kind experience that everyone should try to do at some point in their lives. I really do want to audition in January. I just think I’d have a blast with the folks in the magical community.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love going to haunted houses, even though I rarely get scared. I always have a blast!
Here are some of my favorite Halloween attractions this year:
SINISTER POINTE – (5 out of 5 stars) This choose your own adventure haunted attraction is one of the most creative and unique houses I’ve ever been too. Downfall…it’s only one house that’s all the way in Brea, but it’s different depending on the choices you make. We went through it 4 times and had a blast each time! The performers are also great and the staff friendly. I got “boo scared” a couple of times & I got truly scared at one point in the maze, not “boo scared” but actually terrified by my slight case of claustraphobia…but came out smiling that I overcame the small space. A definate must on your list of attractions!
HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD SPORTS
HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD SPORTS – (5 out of 5 stars) This paintball course gone haunted attraction is unique and fun. The sets are awesome and the performers are probably the hardest working out of all of the attractions I’ve visited. I saw some of the same monsters multiple times throughout the night in different locations as the run around from place to place scaring victim after victim. I actually got “boo scared” twice really good throughout the night. Once by a very patient ghoul that waited until the perfect moment and made me jump about 2 feet in the air. The second in a tunnel…the ghoul caught me offguard so much that I ran the opposite direction. They also had a freak show with glass walkers and such. There are a handful of mazes that all end up in the same exit. There are also 2 mazes that for an extra charge you can shoot zombie with airguns!!!! (I didn’t try it, but sounds like serious fun!!!)
REIGN OF TERROR
WEBSITE (5 out of 5 stars) This haunted house in Thousand Oaks is well worth the drive. It is the most detailed and elaborate seasonal single house in a strip mall that I’ve ever seen. It is a volunteer run house for charity. The ghouls are good, the price is fair and the set/lights/sounds are elaborate and detailed. I had a lot of fun and even got scared a couple of times.
RAISIN HELL RANCH
WEBSITE- (5 out of 5 stars) This “ranch” includes 2 incredible corn mazes with scares and one corn maze that is 2 miles of getting lost in the corn. I loved the 2 scary mazes. I bought the fast pass and since I was alone I asked to go through by myself. Luckily the folks working the mazes said yes, so I had an even scarier time since I wasn’t in a group!!! The monsters were hard working and fun. The actually designs and layouts of the mazes were great! Walking through corn and then onto a bus and then through corn and into a blackout maze made of plywood in the middle of corn, etc. It was AWESOME!!!! I especially loved the use of airbags at this venue…much more creative than I had seen elsewhere. The 3 maze of corn was fine if you like getting lost in corn, but was less than fun for me by myself since I had just done one the weekend before. They also had a pumpkin patch. It is really far from Los Angeles (4 hours or more)…but I was glad I went. Super fun! I even got boo scared by a Chupacabra at one point and by a guy shooting at me, both almost made me fall down…lol.
FRIGHT FEST – (4 out of 5 stars) Six Flags Magic Mountain really did an amazing job on their mazes this year. They were more fun than many of Universal Halloween Horror mazes as far as creativity and scares. Two of their mazes even out-did Universal in set dressing in my opinion. Also their 3D maze & blackout maze blew my mind. They were both mazes that require a small number to go through in groups, so the lines could get quite long, but totally worth the wait. The only maze I wasn’t really impressed with was the black widow maze. If there is no line then go for it, but don’t waste your time waiting for it. Also the rides stay open, which is cool. On the downside…their shows this year were a bit lame. They also didn’t have an opening ceremony of any kind, which I feel like they used to have a moment at 7pm where the clowns or demons would announce that they were charging the park and then run out into the crowd…maybe I am remembering wrong. The staff was not friendly or helpful, the guy that sold us our front of the line passes didn’t even know how they worked.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS – (4 out of 5 stars) Universal always does an amazing job with make-up, sets, costumes, and staffing. They have some of the strongest “scare-actors” hired at any event every year…and they even go through training. (I know because I’ve worked there.) I say Universal is a DO NOT MISS event every Halloween. I hold them to a higher expectation than most, so I would say most people would give them 5 stars…however, this year wasn’t as strong as the past few years in my opinion. The La Llorona is a great maze and was a bit different, but I think better last year. The 3D maze is always awesome and it really made me laugh a lot this year because of creativity. I thought one of the best mazes this year was Monster Remix which is the regular haunted house done over for the event. Both the Walking Dead maze and the Walking Dead tram tour maze were ok. They felt a bit more like an advertisement than a truly scary maze. Chainsaw was awesome. The scarezone were really good this year. I didn’t think the Silent Hill maze was anything to write home about. However, Bill & Ted show really made me laugh out loud A LOT this year (I am usually not a fan of the show to be honest). Transformers Ride is open through the night too, so be sure to check it out….it’s amazing!
LOS ANGELES HAUNTED HAYRIDE
WEBSITE (4 out of 5 stars) I just got home from this event (10/24/12) and boy was it cold out tonight. Now that it’s getting chilly be sure to wear layers and a hat…and the poncho they give you. You WILL get wet. Depending on where you sit and your luck, you could get very wet. That was the only downfall of the Hayride. Overall it was pretty AMAZING!!!! Love the effects, actors, adventure and uniqueness of this haunted hayride. It was really awesome! My favorite part was right after the grave yard, but my favorite performers were from the 80’s!!! Really really really fun!!!
It’s not just a hayride, there is also a maze and some fun stuff to do in the exit area from the ride.
I really liked the house of mirrors, even if it was a bit crowded and kind of small. I’d never been in one before. I also thought the face cut-out picture ops were fun. The backward dead horse carousel was really fun and kinda scary since it is portable, so not the sturdiest thing I have ever sat on….but that did add to the fun. The freak show was great! (I also saw them at Haunted Hollywood Sports this year.) The idea of psychics and tarot card readers was awesome too. And that was all included.
The finger/hand making tent was neat…$25 for full hand $6 for a finger…but I wasn’t really interested in making one. There is a tent selling t-shirts and a food truck as well. I really liked the ghouls in that area like the guy with carmel apples. They boo scared me when I was asking for bathroom directions…good job!!!!
(Now to the reason I gave LA Haunted Hayride 4 instead of 5 stars.)
The maze. It’s dark, which can be fun…but it’s not particularly disorienting or scary. I got squirted bad in the face by an actor with a water prop, which wasn’t fun or scary…just cold. It felt a little like something highschoolers might throw together for a Halloween fundraiser. It was not even close to the same quality as the hayride.
The only other thing I was bummed about…the psychic. We waited for over 30 minutes for a reading and she just asked questions and gave “advice”. She didn’t really do a reading. It was very dissappointing.
If you want a 5 out of 5 star experience, I say pay for the Hayride and skip the maze. It is a bit on the expensive side, but you won’t be dissappointed.
WEBSITE (3 out of 5 stars) These 2 mazes and a coffin ride in Oxnard are a really fun time. Unique to this haunted location: children actors. It always enjoy volunteers that really wanna scare you and this staff did…especially the kids. It is a homegrown, family run haunted house in a strip mall. The people are really nice and it’s super fun. The only reason I gave it 3 stars is that the sets are not nearly as elaborate or detailed as some of the other houses I’ve listed. It looks and feels much more like a small town haunted house than some of the crazy sets you walk into in the haunted houses in Los Angeles. But overall I had a blast!!!! I got totally lost in The Abyss. I laughed and jumped and enjoyed myself.
KNOTT’S SCARY FARM
KNOTT’S SCARY FARM – (3 out of 5 stars) Knott’s celebrates 40 years of scares! It’s worth checking out. The mazes are ok. The new witch maze was really great! But overall the performers in most locations don’t act like they want to be there. That ruins the fun. The shows are ok. The midnight witch show has really cool moments, but super short and leaves you wondering, “was that it?”, so I say skip it. It was much busier than last year, so harder to see everything. We skipped the 3D maze since it was the same as last year and you have to buy 3D glasses. The log-ride/Evil Dead maze was pretty neat, but you get really wet (which sucks!!!!). They have a new maze that has an additional price where you have to figure out puzzles to move through the maze…we didn’t do it, but heard from everyone it was the best!
WEBSITE- (3 out of 5 stars) First let me mention the drive here was scarier than any house I went to all season. We stopped at a random corner store that felt straight out of a horror film. Then long winding roads with no one on them and no cell phone reception. And it smelled like a farm…everywhere. SCARY!!!
I feel like I should rate these individually since each maze is sponsored and run by different folks. I really enjoyed Scarecrow Trail, the first maze in the field…it was a lot of open space but still super creepy. The scares are set up perfectly…almost every one got me. You also have a bit of a choice in which direction to go, but ultimately not really changing your course much. Lone Hill Manor was creepy and eerie in a sort of…do these have health/safety inspections sort of way. Not enough monsters in it either.
The other 2 houses (Chambers & Labyrinth) were creative and fun, but not particularly scary. I also don’t like going through in groups with a guide, although I understand the necessity for it in one of them. There were really cool props and effects in the houses, but not all were working. The little demon in the chapel was my favorite anamatronic of the entire season, though.
The hayride was cheesy and really made my allergies go nuts. The monsters worked REALLY hard, but overall not scary…except the kid. Kids always scare me. Oh and the wagons would sometimes break down on the hayride making it take a long time to get through it.
It was overall a fun time, with potential to be much more than it was this year. I look forward to seeing what they do next year.
EMPTY GRAVE – (3 out of 5 stars) It’s one haunted house in the middle of a shopping complex near Disneyland. I thought it might be lame, but I was wrong. It was actually quite fun. You are walking through a graveyard. The performers are VERY dedicated to their jobs. My favorite costume reminded me of the wheelers from Return to Oz. It has ghouls from all directions, which is cool. I also liked the dead end a lot!!! If you are in the area check it out!!!
PASADENA OLD TOWN HAUNT
WEBSITE (3 out of 5 stars) This maze is cool. They have neat effects and really fun boo-scares. There was a dinosaur that freaked me out. The crawling was a neat idea, but not really fun. Overall a good maze. My personal experience with it however…you only go through once so if you have a crappy group with you then it can ruin the experience…that’s what happened to me. The rude teenage girls screaming, “you’re so sexy” at the monsters and singing Justin Bieber songs RUINED the maze for me. The monsters seemed to work hard and were good, but the staff outside the maze was rude.
BLUMHOUSE – (2 out of 5 stars) I expected more from this attraction. The story didn’t really make sense. The end was odd. I felt unfulfilled when we left, like maybe I missed something. The actor playing Victor was annoying. The other actors were all pretty great! The idea is super cool. I loved the theatre and some of the effects, but overall not scary and not as well executed as I would expect. As far as scares go…I did however have a panic attack in the air-bag wall because the group stopped moving for whatever reason & I got stuck in there with a lot of pressure from the over-inflated walls making it very difficult to breathe and stay calm, especially since I am mildly claustrophobic. I left this experience with bad memories and less cash in my pocket.
QUEEN MARY’S DARK HARBOR
WEBSITE – (2 out of 5 stars) Last year was way better as far as the overall experience goes. This year the new maze was really great. The actors were great. The sets were great. BUT…you couldn’t enjoy any of it because there were too many people there. They sold more tickets than what could comfortably enjoy the event. You couldn’t get scared in the mazes because it was sooooooo crowded. I left early out of frustration and I usually try to do every maze more than once…I only did each maze once. I also got really annoyed by the odd boy band/rap group music that was blaring from the stage. My favorite maze was “Submerged” & second “Hellfire” this year. The cage maze would’ve been awesome if we weren’t literally so crammed in that we could see the entire path of the maze as people ahead of us stood waiting to walk slowly in a line through the fence walls. I hope they cut off ticket sales to a smaller group next year, or I won’t go back to what used to be my absolute hands down favorite Halloween Event.
PIERCE COLLEGE CORN MAZE
We went and only bought tickets for the Corn Maze. We didn’t realize that wasn’t scary, but rather a maze where you walk around in corn and try to locate points to stamp your card that you found them all. It took about an hour to accomplish. I was so tired and my back hurt from walking around int hte corn field in the dark stepping on uneven ground that I didn’t feel up to the other mazes when I finished. They had 3 other mazes, but I can’t say whether they were scary or not. They had other fun stuff like tents selling food and pumpkin decorating. It’s a mini festival. It was fun.
Will possibly still do BLACKOUT which sounds terrifying although I’m not sure that it sounds fun to be honest. Also still want to do Paranoia which got extended into mid-November except every time I try to get tickets, I can’t.
*boo scare – when someone jumps out and surprises you