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Halloween 2015 is well in our rear view mirror now, and some of you are experiencing major haunt withdrawals. Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks is here to help – and in turn, you have an opportunity to make a difference for kids in need through Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties.
Reign of Terror is one of the largest and most visually-stunning haunted attractions on the West Coast, and has long been a charitable contributor to multiple causes here in the Southland, where so many haunters and fans live, work, and play. Having this attraction open during the year on special occasions is a fantastic opportunity for enthusiasts and fellow haunters that may not have the chance to check it out during the Halloween season to come out and join in the fun for a few ghoulish hours.
In October, we brought you a detailed look and review of everything new at Knott’s Scary Farm, including Paranormal, Inc. and Dead of Winter. This past Halloween season was monstrous in scope for us, to say the least; with 46 stops along the way between mid-September and the beginning of November, the amount of images, video and content in general that we collected is completely nuts! Now that we’ve moved out of the Halloween season, we’ve been sorting everything out and presenting it to you bit by bit here on the site; most folks who have been Theme Park Adventure fans for any duration of time will tell you – around here, Halloween is the gift that keeps on giving! That said, it’s finally time to circle back to the granddaddy of them all, and finish our review of Knott’s Scary Farm 2015 with a look at the mazes and attractions that returned this year to Buena Park.
As the year comes to a close, we spend a lot of time reflecting on the past 12 months and the journey it’s been through 2015 with our friends and loved ones. During the year, we have hosted quite a few mixers at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, California. There’s no way we’d let the year end without taking a look back at that wild and crazy night on November 8th when fans and haunters alike came together to share their wild tales of the Halloween season, and to laugh the night away as a community.
Traditionally our largest mixer of the year, this November’s certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, the group that showed up for our Post-Halloween Bash was the biggest was the biggest we’ve ever hosted, with well over 200 people in attendance. Themed entertainment fans, haunters, and industry professionals – it was a fantastic group that filled the Hidden Village quite nicely at Don’s, mixing and mingling for hours!
Compared to the other large-scale haunted attraction events in Southern California, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is the new kid on the block. While there have been haunts hosted at the Queen Mary for quite some time, Dark Harbor and its very specific theme and character roster has only been there for 6 seasons. Aging like a fine wine, I’d have to say that 2015 was my favorite so far for Dark Harbor; it is maturing and coming into its own so nicely, that many fans are declaring it to be their favorite “theme park haunt” for numerous reasons.
The Queen Mary is, as I have said in the past, arguably the most unique setting for a large-scale haunt event anywhere in the world. With an established history of paranormal activity and ghoulish happenings, having some of Dark Harbor take place on the actual ship itself is worth the price of admission right off the bat. The more recent “dark carnival” element that has been added to the surrounding area – has been embraced and lauded by fans from far and near for the most part. The combination of haunted passenger ship and twisted carnival is so strange that it works – it works beautifully together, and is pulled off by an unparalleled cast of original characters; home-grown intellectual properties (IP) that have amassed huge popularity in just a few years; more so than any other haunt we’re familiar with here in Southern California.
Fans of Theme Park Adventure no doubt have noticed that we’ve wholeheartedly embraced the new technology of broadcasting via Periscope. We’ve used it to cover media events, take viewers around the world on virtual strolls around theme parks, have late-night nerdy conversation, and more recently, visited Halloween events and chatted in real-time with designers and haunters all over Southern California.
In the event you aren’t yet aware of what Periscope is, it’s an app for both Android and iPhone that allows people to broadcast – and watch live broadcasts – anywhere in the world, as well as interact with the host via on-screen messages and “hearts” – by tapping on the screen during any stream (live or replay), folks watching can express their approval or enjoyment, unleashing a torrent of colorful hearts that correspond with the background color each viewer is assigned when they “join” the broadcast. It can be viewed on computer screens, but for now, that’s only for viewing – all interactive elements are stripped; it’s best to use your phone for the full Periscope experience.
Each Halloween season, Boot Hill rises from the grave and brings Old West terror and mayhem to the otherwise-friendly streets of Woodbridge in Irvine, California. One of the most elaborate home haunts in the Southland, Boot Hill is a visually stunning mixture of high-tech spookery and good old-fashioned jump scares that is family-friendly and can be toned up or down on the fly, depending on the age of visitors.
I have a hand in the legacy of Boot Hill; I co-created it with Shea Foley more than 15 years ago, writing its back story and developing the look and directing the custom soundtrack that was done for us by my long-time pal, the insanely talented Andy Garfield. Back then, it was pretty much unheard of for home haunts to have custom scores written – however, it was something we all just wanted to do; it felt like the right thing to do, to support the story. In a lot of ways, I think Boot Hill was ahead of the home haunt curve, taking its cue from the legendary Hallowed Haunting Grounds that existed once upon a time in Studio City, California.
There are a very small handful of home haunts in Southern California that take on the daunting task of re-inventing themselves each Halloween season. Perdition Home in Yorba Linda is one of those – and we absolutely love this team of haunters.
By definition, “perdition” is a state of eternal damnation – punishment after death for sinners and evildoers. In the terms of this home haunt, that perdition takes on the form of a maze – nightmarish in content, with violent, really unsettling scenes that reveal themselves to guests traversing each twisted hall and corridor.
The New Orleans-based House of Shock Haunted House and Halloween Festival is back for its 23rd installment, presenting The Resurrection. Originally set to close the doors after the 2014 season, The House of Shock has been given new life thanks to a spirited response from the local community. The House of Shock is open through Halloween night.
For 2015, The House of Shock presents The Resurrection brings two new terror-inducing events to New Orleans. The Bordello of Freaks is an all new attraction in the style of old carny freak exhibitions with a House of Shock twist. Laff in the Dark is an all-out 3D clown assault: a nod to old school fun houses, specifically the Pontchartrain Beach Fun House of the same name. Clown-a-phobics beware, as Laff in the Dark has more scares per square foot than any other event of its kind. Additionally, The House of Shock’s main attraction has been carefully renovated to create a whole new experience that still holds true to the classics that made it unique. This may be best represented by the immense, brand new entrance constructed to pay homage to the infamous LeBeau Mansion – the Arabi plantation home that burnt down in 2013.
Rattling chains, haunting music and fearsome predators return for the annual Haunted Reef at Shark Reef Aquarium inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with decorations, pumpkins, costumes and trick-or-treating.
Community Day is Friday, Oct. 30, when children 12 and under who visit the aquarium in their Halloween costumes will receive complimentary admission and sweet treats.
United Blood Services will be on site during Community Day for visitors interested in donating blood. Guests 17 and older who give blood will receive complimentary admission. To make an appointment contact United Blood Services at702-638-7400 or visit unitedbloodservices.org and enter sponsor code: SharkReef.
For the past couple of years now, one of the most edgy, shocking haunted attractions in Southern California has been Zombie Joe’s Urban Death: Tour of Terror, in North Hollywood. A cross between a maze and theatrical production, Tour of Terror is unabashedly twisted adult in nature, and is at times too much for some folks to wrap their heads around.
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group is a really fun, low-fi production company that puts on multiple shows year-round here in Los Angeles that are all fairly adult in nature. The troupe at Zombie Joe’s consists of men and women of all ages – each of them obviously loving what they do as they constantly push the envelope with avant-garde performances in the small North Hollywood space not far from Hollywood, Burbank and the surrounding communities. Despite their small, bare-bones space and productions, every night is a who’s who when it comes to fans of Zombie Joe’s. Drawing from the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon to see players in the film and television business, as well as themed entertainment groups in the audience, or socializing on the sidewalk along Lankershim Boulevard at midnight.