Halloween isn't just about eating delicious candy, carving cool pumpkins, and dressing up in fun costumes. Originally, All Hallows' Eve was a means of celebrating the dead, and it's now grown into becoming the second-biggest commercial holiday in America (after Christmas).
One factor that undoubtedly contributes to Halloween's mass appeal is the haunted attractions. We visited a few popular attractions to get in the creepy mood, and here's our round-up of a few must-see Halloween experiences.
Knott’s Scary Farm in Buena Park, CA
Knott's Berry Farm, aka "the grandfather of haunts," is celebrating its 44th year of its traditional Halloween-themed re-brand to Knott’s Scary Farm.
This year's Scary Farm consists of 13 mazes and two scary and hilarious shows called "The Hanging" and "Elvira, The Iconic Mistress of the Dark." The 13 mazes include Dark Ride, Special Ops: Infected, Paranormal Inc., The Red Barn, The Tooth Fairy, Trick or Treat: Lights Out, Shadow Lands, Pumpkin Eater, and Voodoo.
Must Dos: Dark Ride, Paranormal Inc., and Special Ops: Infected. Dark Ride is what would happen if a carnival were abandoned and overrun by its creepy clowns and performers, while Paranormal Inc. features a haunted hospital where patients were mistreated by doctors and staff. It has a paranormal investigator spoof vibe but still delivers on scares. Special Ops: Infected delivers a slightly different experience. Not only does it have flesh-eating zombies, but you as the guest get to pull a Rick Grimes and shoot them with a laser gun.
Must See: "Elvira, the iconic Mistress of the Dark." This is your last chance to see the Queen of Halloween's show at Knott's Scary Farm. Cassandra Peterson has clarified she's not retiring the character completely, but this is the last time she'll put on a full nightly production at Knott's. Elvira's show takes you on a hysterical and sexy journey with music, dance moves, and lots of laughs.
Queen Mary's Dark Harbor in Long Beach, CA
Dark Harbor is the annual haunted event at the Queen Mary where ghosts aren't just played by actors; you might get the chance to see some real ghosts, too. Queen Mary is famously known to host ghosts of past guests who died during their stay. Dark Harbor features seven mazes, a 4D theater experience, live entertainment, spooky themed bars, and more.
The seven walk-through mazes are: Feast, Intrepid, Circus, Deadrise, Lullaby, Soulmate, and B340.
Must Do: Although we weren't cool enough to enter the hidden bar inside, Circus was definitely a standout among the other attractions. (That's right: Queen Mary is one of very few haunts that not only sells alcohol, but incorporates fun bars inside select mazes.) With disorienting magic tricks and plenty of fog mixed with creativity, Circus can be summed up in two words: vivid terror.
Must See: A great highlight from Dark Harbor that can't really be seen anywhere else are the Queen Mary Sliders. No, they aren't miniature hamburgers; they're a team of monsters who perform twice a night at Slider Alley, and they truly go all out. The performers (named Evil, Squeaks, Fido, Nails, Nemo, Looney, Killus, Gas Can, Stranger, Creep, Sparrow, and M.U.T.E.) deliver plenty of laughs, athleticism, and death-defying acts.
Confession time: I might have a minor crush on M.U.T.E. (which stands for Mime, Unearthed, Through, Evil). Actor Brandon Brooks, who plays the character, conveys so much emotion through his facial expressions and actions without saying a single word. Dark Harbor and the Sliders have crafted a well-thought production.
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood, CA
For 2017, Halloween Horror Nights (HHN to hardcore fans) has a Jabbawockeez live show, three scare zones, and eight mazes based around popular horror shows and films.
The eight mazes include: FX's American Horror Story: Roanoke, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, SAW: The Games of Jigsaw, Ash vs Evil Dead, Insidious: Beyond the Further, Titans of Terror, The Purge, Happy Death Day, and Sinister in The Horrors of Blumhouse and AMC's The Walking Dead's permanent year-round walk-through.
Must Do: One of the best highlights from HHN is the Titans of Terror Tram, hosted by the killer doll Chucky. Every Halloween, the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour gets transformed into the Terror Tram. This year's theme, Titans of Terror, coincides with the maze of the same name starring horror juggernauts Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Leatherface. After stepping off the tram and venturing on the backlot, you can pass by the famous Psycho house and Bates Motel. Something about walking around at night on Universal's famous backlot creates genuine goosebumps.
The only downside: HHN is known for getting really busy and super crowded. Plan to arrive early in the evening -- and if you can, try to attend early in the haunt season to avoid crowds. With a general ticket, the wait in line can be over two hours just for one maze -- and not all the rides are open at Universal Studios Hollywood during HHN. Definitely hit the attractions you want to see the most first, in case you can't see everything.
How do you plan to celebrate Halloween this year? Have a spooky and Happy Halloween!