ScreamFest, Scary Mary & The 17th Door
Halloween season in the southland is amazing—especially in LA. The land of eye candy becomes more festive than ever, with stunningly eclectic costumes filling the streets at the unparalleled WeHo Halloween Carnaval and the pool of brilliant talent and creative theatrics that infuse our many haunted attractions.
Among the longstanding staples in Southern California, such as Knott’s Scary Farm, Universal Studios and Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, it’s the famously haunted art deco cruise ship that stands apart from the rest this year. More than 250 awesome freaks and monsters roam the grounds, creeping up on you while you’re eating fried Twinkies or grabbing liquid courage in the form of an awesome absinthe concoction.
Three of the mazes are housed on the permanently moored cruise ship: Soulmate, B340 and the newest, Lullaby, featuring creepy little Scary Mary. Grab a drink in the new Side Show of Freaks and Oddities or sample the hookah before you head to the other crazy attractions, Voodoo Village, Deadrise, The New Anubis Paintball Adventure, and my all-time favorite, The Circus maze, which is packed with trippy psychedelic aspects. What I love most about Dark Harbor is that the attractions are inspired by the ship’s eerie mythology, making you wonder if what you’re seeing is actually real or just part of the attraction.
If you’re looking for something innovative and immersive, CreepLA is probably your jam. This freshman haunt is anything but a beginner’s experience—it’s inspired by the type of horrors real people inflict upon each other. Housed in a reputedly haunted warehouse in the arts district of downtown LA, groups of six are forced to navigate a twisted world of mazes, dark rooms and interactive scare games—for some, it delves deep into their worst nightmares, while for others, it pays homage to their nostalgic horror favorites.
Another notable immersive experience is the Escape Room LA, which truly tests your teamwork skills and ability to work under pressure. There are four rooms to choose from: The Cavern, The Alchemist, The Detective and The Theatre, which may be the most Halloween-ish, since your goal is to free the ghost of an old haunted theatre or get trapped there with it forever. The attraction is fun and mentally challenging—perfect for a group of friends.
If you’re Inland Empire-bound, the new attraction in Tustin, The 17th Door, is a twisted romp into depravity. The unique experience follows Paula, a young woman starting at Gluttire University who is thrilled to overcome her high school demons, only to find that this college is loaded with horrors beyond her wildest dreams. The production quality throughout the 17 rooms of psychological terror is absolutely stellar—it’s hard to believe it’s the haunt’s first year in business.
Located in Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride has made a serious name for itself among fans of the dark and dreary. This year’s theme was the Boogeyman, and while we felt that the Hayride itself lacked cohesiveness, the visuals were great and the experience is a lot of fun.
If horror films are what get you going, you’ll want to hit ScreamFest, Hollywood’s premier horror film festival. It takes place October 13 through 22 and always offers an insane amount of sick and twisted features that will get you completely in the mood for Halloween. Don’t miss the much-talked about Tales of Halloween on Opening Night.
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