Wondering which events to go to this Halloween season? The San Jose Blog has got you covered. This year we have more local haunt attractions then ever before, and the quality has also been taken to a new level. The full list is below, but I would like to highlight the Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights, Shadow Hills, and Pirates of Emerson for really being exceptional this year.
Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights - San Jose
The single most impressive haunt attraction in the Bay Area, and it happens to take place in and around what may actually be a real haunted house. There are two components of this event, a self-guided flashlight tour of the mansion itself and an epic 40 minute haunt with props and design elements straight out of a Hollywood movie. If you just plan on doing just a single event this year, you can stop reading and buy your tickets for this one.
Dead Time Dreams - San Jose
New for 2012. Last year they were a part of the World's Largest Haunted House below, but this year they have created their own event just down the street from their former partners (next to a giant pumpkin patch). There are two really well done mazes here along with a midway containing props, a tarot card reader, some scare actors, and Halloween items for sale.
World's Largest Haunted House - San Jose
This one is another really long maze with seemingly never-ending black corridors that break up the scares. This year they also added a short haunt right before you get to the line of the maze, a pretty neat idea.
Shadow Hills - Los Gatos
This was the biggest surprise of the year and one of the best haunts I have ever done. The groups are limited to only 2 people, there is quite a bit of acting and storytelling, you have interactive elements like hidden doors, and finally there is one scare prop (think chain saws and air guns) that will blow you away.
Pirates of Emerson - Pleasanton
The preeminent Bay Area Halloween event for almost 2 decades is returning this year with an another great event. There are 5 haunted mazes this year, a Halloween Carnival, and several micro-attractions. 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.
Halloween Haunt @ California's Great America - Santa Clara
Still the largest Halloween event in Northern California. Now in its fifth year, the word has gotten out on Halloween Haunt and the park is packed even on day 1. There are now 7 haunted mazes, a single haunted ride, 3 scare zones, and various shows. Most rides worth going on are still open for this event and the roller coasters are being run with all the lights turned off. Only one of the mazes was new this year, Madam Marie's Massacre Manor, and it also happened to be the best one. The quality of the actors did not seem as good as in previous years with the exception of this new maze where they really excelled. I would say overall this is now the least scary of all the events and I'm hoping they can pick things up next year with a few new mazes.
Swank Farms - Hollister
I didn't do this one this year, but I heard it was great. Instead of doing 2 haunts they have one very large maze. The haunt should take 15+ min and incorporates part of their cornfield maze.
Scotts Valley 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. 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 the script. You can also forget the saying "don't touch the actors and they won't touch you." Past events have included surprises like receiving fake shots, being completely separated from your party, and even wet hands touching the back of your neck while you are in pitch darkness. Insanely scary and much more interactive than any of the other events. 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 (and performing Thriller in its entirety every 15min). The cost is $8 per person. Oct 25-27 only, starting at 7pm. 555 Glenwood Dr., Scotts Valley.