The best haunted houses and attractions in Los Angeles
We've rounded up the best haunted houses and attractions across the city, from kid-friendly to truly terrifying. Get ready for a frightfully fun time.
What's Halloween without a few good scares? The best haunted houses in LA run the gamut from big-budget theme park productions to more homegrown horrors. Whatever thrills you, we've got it in our list of the city's best haunted houses and attractions.
RECOMMENDED: See more of Halloween in LA
Not quite kid-friendly, this year's hayride follows the story of a feral boy who preaches a dark religion in the woods, commits arson and, you know, murders people. It's an actual hayride—a long one—and you'll get wet, although ponchos will be courteously provided. There's a pumpkin patch and "scary-go-round" for wee ones (and 'fraidy cats), as well as a pitch black maze filled with "demons and maniacs," and probably lots of frisky teenagers.
Settle in at the (possibly haunted?) Barn for an evening of speakers recounting tales of Hollywood ghost lore, including Tom Ogden, author of Haunted Hollywood, and Richard Carradine, founder and president of the Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles. If that doesn't sound exciting enough for you, stick around to see a paranormal investigation team reveal the results of their own investigation of the Barn. Additionally, there will be screenings of classic ghost-themed shorts, a Hollywood horror-themed photo booth, as well as complimentary food and drinks.
The actors of the Guild of St. George present an evening of chilling drama, enacting some of the most haunting tales of Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Gorey, two masters of the macabre. Expect to see "The Pit and the Pendulum" (pictured above), "The Tell Tale Heart" (one of our favorites), and more. Arrive early for free cookies and hot cider, dress warmly and be prepared to walk—the vignettes take place across the sprawling Huntington Library grounds.
- Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens 1151 Oxford Road, off Huntington Drive
- Until Sat Oct 26
Creepy LA and Time Out favorite Hidden LA team up to bring you the most fun scavenger hunt of the year: Beginning Saturday the 13th and continuing for 13 days, Hidden LA will post a map, link or other clue to lead followers to one of 13 tiny coffins hidden in public places around the city. Each coffin is decorated by a different local artist and comes with prizes (passes to Paranormal Activity 4, tickets to haunted attraction "Delusion: The Blood Rite" and more). Those with an encyclopedic knowledge of LA history may have a leg up on finding the tiny caskets, but you can also get ahead of the clue curve by liking Creepy LA and Hidden LA on Facebook for additional hints.
This haunted house takes place in one of the oldest buildings still standing in Pasadena's Old Town. Descend, if you dare, into the basement of the historical Union Savings Bank building. Is it haunted? Perhaps: During the time the bank was open, reports of blood-curdling screams and odors of decay were reported with regularity. The basement has been sealed off for years... until now. If that isn't intriguing enough, as an added bonus the walk-through is decorated with sets from movies—such as House of 1,000 Corpses and Haunted Mansion—and TV shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, inexplicably, Crank Yankers. Enjoy!
- Critics choice
This is one of our favorite events, not just during Halloween, but of the entire year. Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts the largest Day of the Dead celebration in California, with art exhibitions, musical performances (we're especially excited this year for Ozomatli and Very Be Careful), children's arts & crafts projects and food vendors aplenty. You'll see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can opt either to watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest. This year, being 2012 and all, the festival reaches back to the pre-Aztec roots of Día de los Muertos and explores Mayan gods and rituals through dance, music and crafts. It's sure to be a spectacular display, as always. And there's something to be said for a Halloween event that respects and celebrates the very (and often forgotten) roots of the holiday.
This annual event includes spooky tales, puppet shows, pumpkin carving and up-close-and-personal interactions with some of the zoo's creepiest crawlers. On the Treetops Terrace, kids can meet friendly monsters, princesses and storybook characters. During Chomp and Stomp, watch animals play with and nibble on pumpkin treats and learn fun facts about the zoo's mammalian residents. Bonus: Children 12 years old and under receive a free candy bag at the front entrance.
- Critics choice
Relatives of wealthy Cyrus West gather for the reading of his will and spend a frightful night in his mansion, where they are stalked by “The Cat,” a mysterious escapee from the local asylum, who claws his victims like canaries. Directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, this 1927 classic silent film is accompanied by Clark Wilson on Walt Disney Concert Hall’s incredible organ for an extra eerie feel.
History buffs, make your way to the Heritage Square Museum this Halloween. On the first day of their annual two-day event, learn all about death and mourning etiquette during the Victorian era—including how even the intricate details on clothing played a role in showing the loss of a loved one. You'll also get the DL on the Spiritualism movement, and can have your fortune told, if you dare. Then, take place in a funeral held inside one of the Museum's historic homes. Role play time! On the second, more family-friendly day, children can play period games, make 19th century harves crafts and listen to (only slightly) spooky ghost stories. Added bonus: The Greasy Wiener food truck will be providing snacks on day two.
Also known as Knott's Scary Farm, and celebrating its 40th season this year, the Halloween Haunt goes all out with more than 1,000 monsters roaming 13 mazes, four "scare zones" and nine live shows. It's one of the largest (and oldest) Halloween events held at a theme park. If you don't think you'll last long enough to hit every single attraction, may we suggest Uncle Willy's Slaughterhouse maze (can you guess what kind of meat he serves at his BBQ?) and Delerium, which is essentially just a cacophony of screams and deeply disturbing nightmare visions. Tip: Skip Día de los Muertos in 3D—it's low on scares and not as visually interesting as last year's—head to Hollywood Forever's Dia de los Muertos if it's skeletons you're after.
The only thing better than a haunted attraction is a haunted attraction on a giant boat. You'll find all the usual horrors here—fog, mazes, and now with "33% more monsters!"—as well as food and drink. What sets Dark Harbor apart is its use of its surroundings; the dark, cramped confines of the Queen Mary are already pretty spooky even without monsters—just be prepared to climb a lot of skinny staircases. There's also an R.I.P. Lounge (see what they did there?) if you're looking for a first-class experience (read: fewer monsters, more booze and a made-to-order taco station).
More so than the city's other haunted attractions, the one at Universal Studios feels a bit over-branded. Many of its mazes are based on franchises, such as AMC's The Walking Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's even an Alice Cooper–designed maze, based on his 1976 concept album Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (it's called "the Alice Cooper maze," which seems a little unimaginative to us). They do make for some pretty fun walk-throughs, but there's something about that level of corporate partnership that ceases to be scary. So it makes sense that the attraction we're willing to give the biggest break to is "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure," a belly laugh–worthy musical comedy show that's a welcome break from all the overly-produced horror. Although sometimes on Halloween, that's all you're really looking for, and this place has it in spades.
Who better to create a haunted attraction than the producers of horror films such as Paranormal Activity and the recently released Sinister? Located downtown in the 88-year old Variety Arts Theatre (formerly The Playhouse, whose stage was graced with the likes of Laurel & Hardy and Dorothy Parker), this fully immersive haunted house tells the story of a twisted magician with a dark secret, and features more than 40 lurking creepsters. Note: If you're claustrophobic, you may way to stay away—sometimes it's a purposely tight squeeze.
Haunted Play, an interactive horror theater company, is a joint collaboration between stuntman Jon Braver and Neil Patrick Harris. This year's production, "Delusion: The Blood Rite" takes place in a historic old home in the neighborhood of Jefferson. The audience walks through the grounds and house in groups of ten, and is asked to participate in the madness to further the story. Snatch a key from the sadistic butcher's neck! Seduce and poison the evil and inexplicably horny granny! You know, just a regular Saturday night. The best part of the production by far are the stunts: creepy children descend from the attic and climb up the walls in ways you'll swear are computer generated. It might not be the most terrifying of haunted attractions, but expect a good mix of nervous laughs, snarky remarks, and, when you're least expecting it, a few good scares. Note: The timing is a little slow, so settle in for an enjoyable, if long, wait—there's a taco truck, themed bar area and wandering magicians (ask for Joel Ward) to keep you occupied.
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