Haunted Attractions

One area of themed entertainment that is near and dear to our hearts as fans has always been haunted attractions. Since 1994, Theme Park Adventure has devoted much of its time and energy on showcasing haunts, from yard displays to major theme park productions; we love it all, and always tell our readers that Halloween isn’t just a holiday for us – it’s a lifestyle…

Sinister Pointe 2016: Fear the Mark Serves up Terror in Multiple Ways

Sinister Pointe 2016 - Fear the MarkSinister Pointe, a company that is renowned throughout Southern California and beyond for its highly-detailed, interactive haunt attractions. This past summer, Sinister Pointe thrilled fans at Midsummer Scream by announcing that they would be unleashing a new kind of terror for the 2016 Halloween season: a walk-through experience called Fear the Mark.

In 2015, Sinister Pointe produced an escape room type of attraction, rather than the traditional walk-through experience they’re most known and loved for; it was fun and well-executed, but definitely was a big departure from the type of haunt the company had produced for years. The announcement that the group was returning to its walk-through roots was very well-received by everyone in the haunt community. Knowing what Sinister Pointe is capable of, and understanding the creative need to move forward and try new things, we were very curious and excited as well to see what Jeff Schiefelbein and his team were going to bring to the table for 2016.

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Rotten Apple’s Not So Enchanted Forest 2016

Rotten Apple 907 Not So Enchanted ForestFor the past 26 years, Halloween fans have flocked to Rotten Apple 907 in Burbank, California, to visit one of the most elaborate home haunts in Southern California. This year, the Rotten Apple team put its twisted spin on popular childhood tales, creating the Not So Enchanted Forest.

Entering the foreboding Not So Enchanted Forest through a storybook facade, guests stepped into a dark, heavily-landscaped woodland. A small footbridge carried folks over a babbling brook toward a small cottage in a clearing – but not before a spooky tree a la Snow White’s Scary Adventures or even the Haunted Mansion advanced menacingly! This set the stage perfectly for the family-friendly frights that waited ahead in the darkness of the Not So Enchanted Forest.

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VanOaks Cemetery Home Haunt 2016

VanOaks Cemetery 2016Each Halloween, Theme Park Adventure visits a lot of haunts and attractions around the Southland; everything from major theme park events to intense, theatrical productions. People often ask me what my favorite type of haunt is, and the answer is always the same: home haunts. In my opinion, home haunts are Halloween – the fact that someone has taken the time to spook-up their home with some decorations for the benefit of their neighborhood – it just doesn’t get better than that. VanOaks Cemetery is one of those home haunts (also referred to as “yard haunts” or “yard displays”) that captures the magic of Halloween – and our adoration each season.

Located in Sherman Oaks, California, VanOaks Cemetery is the creation of Halloween enthusiast Derek Young. During the off-season (for haunters, that’s the rest of the year), Derek is a creative director here in Los Angeles. He is also Co-Founder of SoCal Valley Haunters, a group of spook-makers that work year-round to create props and special effects for home haunts around Southern California.

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Screenshot Productions’ The Rope 2016

rope-2I’ve been buried, re-lived my birth, discovered fear and explored the afterlife. Screenshot Productions has managed to put me into various realms throughout the year, and all have managed to affect me differently. My experience with Screenshot’s latest production, The Rope, was quite different than the rest – it was interactive. I wasn’t walking through alone, I was with others. We ran around and interacted, and I was pleasantly surprised with this vastly different approach than what I’m used to.

10:00 PM, and I’m alone in downtown Los Angeles. I was thrilled for once to see others parked and standing around me. Traditionally, Screenshot produces shows that require the guest to walk through alone, offering a unique, personalized, intense and intimate experience. As little as I knew about this certain production, I was curious to see how this would play out with different audience members in one show.

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Midsummer Scream to Return in 2017

Halloween fans, rejoice! Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival has announced its 2017 return to the Long Beach in a teaser video this morning – the first treat of the day for fans far and near!

Presented by Creepy LA and Theme Park Adventure, Midsummer Scream is the West Coast’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror convention, taking place Saturday and Sunday July 29 and 30, 2017 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

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Knott’s Scary Farm 2016 Review

knotts-scary-farm-2016_19292016 has been a very interesting year for Knott’s Scary Farm. The grandfather of all theme park Halloween events, Knott’s presents a wide variety of attractions this season, giving the Scary Farm some interesting new tech, along with very familiar old-school vibes and experiences.

In all honesty, we were braced for a very tumultuous year for Knott’s. In the months leading up with the theme park’s biggest annual event, there were major changes internally that could have really disrupted (and did in some regards) the execution of this year’s Scary Farm. Several long-time Knott’s employees left the company during the critical ramp-up period before Haunt, including Lara Hanneman, who had served as Director of Entertainment Production at the park for many years. As summer began, Raffi Kaprelyan was promoted to Regional Vice President at Cedar Fair, and Jon Storbeck was announced as the park’s new Vice President and General Manager. Adding chaos to the mix, two long-time Marketing representatives departed just as the publicity machine for Scary Farm 2016 was getting fired up. In short, we were braced for a mess this season, figuring the infrastructure of Knott’s Berry Farm had reached the operational breaking point.

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The 17th Door 2016 – Gluttire University Delivers!

The 17th Door - Gluttire University 2016In 2015, The 17th Door took no prisoners as Southern California’s hottest Halloween ticket. After literally coming out of nowhere to create this massive haunted attraction, husband and wife team Robbie and Heather Luther assembled a master cast and crew, and created their hellish October home – the fictitious Gluttire University – in an up-scale outdoor shopping complex in Tustin, just minutes south of the Disneyland Resort in Orange County.

Almost immediately after opening, social media lit up with accounts of the extreme haunt featuring live cockroaches, real animal carcasses, characters shocking guests with hand-held devices and more; the effect it all had was amazing – people flocked to The 17th Door in droves, curious and excited to experience the attraction for themselves.

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Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain 2016 Offers Big Halloween Chills and Thrills

six-flags-fright-fest-2016_1463Most people on the West Coast know that Six Flags Magic Mountain is the place to be when it comes to world-class thrill rides and the best roller coasters. What Southern California fans are finding out more and more each year, is that Magic Mountain is also home to one of the biggest and best Halloween events in the country as well – Fright Fest!

Fright Fest isn’t new; it’s been taking place for more than two decades at the Valencia thrill park just a short distance from Los Angeles. Not only does the event encompass the entire park, Fright Fest features some of the most amazing character makeup we’ve ever seen at any Halloween event, courtesy of Scott Ramp and his ridiculously talented crew at The Scream Team.

This year, Fright Fest at Magic Mountain features 7 mazes, 7 scare zones with their own unique themes, and a high-energy stage show that features multiple performers and a DJ throughout the night in Full Throttle Plaza near the entrance of the park. With a lineup of this scale, Fright Fest finds itself on the same playing field as Knott’s Scary Farm, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. That said, Fright Fest simply doesn’t throw the same budget at its mazes that Knott’s and Universal do – very few parks to, honestly. Design-wise, I would say that the level of Fright Fest’s mazes are about on par with Dark Harbor – which is definitely nothing to dismiss.

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Wicked Lit 2016 Brings Haunting Theatrical Excellence to Los Angeles

Wicked Lit 2016 - Photo by Daniel KitayamaWicked Lit is extremely challenging to describe to those who haven’t experienced it before. You throw out adjectives such as “beautiful”, “haunting”, “immersive”… and then chase it with, “And they do it in a cemetery and mausoleum.” That’s usually where the record needle scratch comes in the conversation.

But it’s true. Wicked Lit (short for “literature”) is a stunning theatrical presentation that takes place each Halloween season at the Mountain View Mortuary, Cemetery and Crematory in Altadena, California. If you’re unfamiliar – and I would imagine most people would be – Mountain View’s mausoleum is stunning – ornate and gorgeous. The surrounding cemetery grounds are also very serene and well-maintained. Not to sound morbid, it’s the type of place you walk through and think, “Ending up here wouldn’t be half bad, I suppose.” That said, at some point, that’s exactly what members of Unbound Productions thought, too. And so, Wicked Lit found a home in the hills above Pasadena.

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Urban Death Tour of Terror 2016 Delivers Vignettes of the Disturbing and Bizarre

Urban Death Tour of Terror 2016 - Photo by Jana WimerYou know it’s Halloween in North Hollywood when the sounds of wailing, screaming, and the carnal slapping of flesh fills the air along Lankershim Boulevard; it’s time once again for Urban Death Tour of Terror, presented by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre!

As with most of the seasonal reviews/stories here on Theme Park Adventure, we are not going to get into specifics of this year’s Tour of Terror production; to know what lurks in the dark – you must go to the show yourself.

What I will say, is that we had a tremendous time checking out this avant-garde group’s horrific show. The gang at Zombie Joe’s never ceases to amaze and deliver. Tour of Terror is the annual pinnacle of the team’s most F’ed-up visions that manifest to sold-out audiences throughout the year in their modest Los Angeles theater.

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