Thursday, October 27, 2011

San Jose Halloween Attractions 2011

Wondering what to do Halloween weekend? This year we are fortunate to have more Halloween attractions than ever before in the area. Below is a summary of all your major options (click the names to go to the website):

Easily the most impressive haunted attraction that I have every been to in the Bay Area. It is the only haunt in a location that is creepy in and of itself. Not only does the maze wrap around the world famous Winchester Mystery House, but it incorporates a real pet cemetery as well as various authentic buildings on the property. The props seem like they are straight out of a Hollywood movie and the scares are impressive and unpredictable. The finale in the seance room will blow you away! It may be worth getting the VIP pass because you'll want to do this one more than once. The cost is $20 per person ($30 per person for VIP with multiple entries).

A massive haunted maze that is actually 2 haunts back to back. The first one is a little bit tame but has great ambiance. The second seems to go on forever and is downright terrifying. Everything is pitch black in the second maze, which gives the staged scenes a lot of extra pop. The cost is $20 per person for both mazes.

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 (perfect idea for Halloween in the Park), and several other attractions such as a mini-maze and a substantial cornfield maze. 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... you'll get what you pay for. The cost is $20 per person, but they are also selling "Monions" which let you access the carnival games and some of the special attractions. Expect to drop $30-35 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 ;)

The largest Halloween event in Northern California by a mile. This is the fourth annual Halloween Haunt and maybe the last given the sale of the theme park. There are 6 haunted mazes (only one is new) a single haunted ride, 3 scare zones (one less than last year), and various shows. Most rides worth going on are still open and the roller coasters are being run with all the lights turned off. I hate to say it but this was a huge disappointment this year. Even on opening weekend it was completely packed, they were not spacing out entrances properly so none of the attractions were able to provide good scares, and they really didn't even try to make it bigger or better than last year. The cost is between $25-40 per person.

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 (seems to be becoming a trend). The haunt should take 15+ min and incorporates part of their cornfield maze.  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. 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." 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 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 27-29 only, starting at 7pm. 555 Glenwood Dr., Scotts Valley.

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