Here is a revised list of places to visit this weekend for Halloween:
World's Largest Haunted House - San JoseA massive haunted maze that is easily the longest single Halloween "scare" attraction in the Bay Area this year. This is a haunt that actually started in San Jose (at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, same place where they are today) and has spent the last few years in Gilroy and Morgan Hill. Hopefully they're back for good as this is the scariest Halloween attraction in the Bay Area. The cost is $18 per person ($16 if you get the coupon off their website here).
Halloween Haunt @ California's Great America - Santa Clara
The largest Halloween event in Northern California by a mile. Knott's Berry Farm was the first amusement park to throw special events for Halloween, and now that Great America is owned by the same parent company (Cedar Fair Parks) we get to share in the action. The third annual Halloween Haunt is on par with last year. They claim to have the exact same 6 haunted mazes from last year, but Carnevil (the clown one) is 90% new and vastly improved. The also have a haunted ride called Black Widow's Cavern (Logger's Run) which is completely new this year (it used to be Camp Gonnagetcha). There are also 4 Halloween shows, 3 are unchanged from last year but unfortunately the musical "Fangs" replaces a very entertaining Ed Alonzo Show (his magic show got moved to Knott's Berry Farm). I hate to say it, but Fangs is definitely worth skipping to focus on the other attractions. An added bonus is that all rides worth going on are still open and the roller coasters are being run with all the lights turned off. The cost is between $25-40 per person, but it's a lot of bang for your buck. Also for 2010, Halloween Haunt has been expanded to be open on Sundays in addition to Fridays and Saturdays.
Pirates of Emerson - Pleasanton
The preeminent Bay Area Halloween event for almost 2 decades is returning this year with an expanded event. There are 5 haunted mazes this year, a Halloween Carnival (perfect idea for Halloween in the Park), and several other attractions such as a 3 story mobile home from Burning Man. This is MUCH MORE intense than Great America, so don't bring your young children to this one. You'll get scares from every angle, including above and below you. The haunts are extraordinarily well done, and they only let in small groups... so you'll get what you pay for. The cost is $20 per person, but this year they are also selling "Monions" while let you access the carnival games and some of the special attractions. Expect to drop $25-30 for a full experience. If anyone from Pirates is reading this, please have a look at the SJ Convention Center or one of the many empty parking lots in Downtown San Jose next year ;)
Swank Farms - Hollister
This actually features 2 different main attractions. The first is a massive cornfield maze + treasure hunt, that could easily be a multiple hour excursion. The second is a very long haunted maze that is supposed to be quite good this year. Last year they actually had 2 different mazes, but they've been combined into one mega attraction for 2010.
The cost is $25 per person.
The Scotts Valley High Haunted House - Scotts Valley
A high school production may seem out of place on this list, but I assure you that this one is 100% worthwhile. I've attended this the past two years and each year it has been my single favorite haunt. As opposed to your typical maze where you have people randomly popping out at you, each year there is a unique story with hundreds of actors, making you truly feel like you're immersed in a horror movie. You can also forget the saying "don't touch the actors and they won't touch you." Last year's hospital theme included surprises like receiving fake shots and other miscellaneous medical experiences. There was also a part where they separated EACH person in your party and sat you in a small dark room by yourself. Insanely scary and much more interactive than any of the major venues. Plus the money connected is donated to charity. One caveat, due to how awesome this haunt is there may be a 2-3 hour wait. At least you'll have the high school dance team dressed up as zombies entertaining you while you wait (and performing Thriller in its entirety every 15min).
The cost is ~$10 per person. Oct 21-23 only, starting at 7pm. 555 Glenwood Dr., Scotts Valley.
ON HIATUS FOR 2010:
Gyro's 4D Fear Factory - San Jose