As the people in our country gradually return to life as we knew it before Covid-19, 2021 is gifting us with the return of Halloween-themed attractions. For those of us who favor the spooky season above all others, this year has truly caused a rebirth of our spirits! This writer has already had the pleasure of attending several local haunted attractions in order to report back to the good souls who read Irvine Weekly, and now that Halloween is just a couple weeks away, the report is ripe for delivery. Please enjoy this list of recommended local haunts and Halloween-themed attractions!

Pumpkin Patch at Tanaka Farms

Irvine’s Tanaka Farms is a great start for wholesome, family Halloween fun. First off, they are one of the only farms in Orange County with a genuine pumpkin patch. Beyond that, they offer wagon rides, mini ATV rides, a straw bale maze, storytime with children’s author and psychologist Dr. Antoinette Corley-Newman (on select dates), and other activities. Check their website for Covid-19 protocols and parking, admission ticket, and activity package prices: https://www.tanakafarms.com/pumpkin-patch-2020

Tanaka Farms, 5380 ¾ University Dr., Irvine 92612

Various Events at Pretend City

Another one for the family, Irvine’s nonprofit children’s museum has got several spirited events lined up on its October calendar. On Oct. 23, the OC Ghostbusters will be making an appearance to bust some ghosts and goblins; Oct. 27 29 is the museum’s traditional Costume Week, which includes discounted admission with a costume; Oct. 28 is Family Autism Halloween Night, which will feature sensory-friendly Halloween-themed activities, including costumed trick-or-treating around the museum; Oct. 29 will be Frankenstein Friday, featuring activities inspired by the monster from Mary Shelley’s classic novel; and on Oct. 31, there will be a host of ghostly activities, including storytime, trick-or-treating, dancing, arts and crafts, and more. As usual, all activities at Pretend City are aligned with various educational goals, and special event activities are included with basic admission cost of $13.95. For further details about these and other events, as well as info about discounts, visit their website: https://www.pretendcity.org/

Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine 92618

Irvine Park Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch

One more for the kiddies! Irvine Park Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch features a plethora of wholesome fun. There’s a pumpkin patch, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, a moon bounce, face painting, cookie decorating, a pumpkin ring toss, a haunted house, and many other fun activities. Parking ranges from $3 $7, but admission is free. Each of the activities generally ranges in price between $6 and $12. For more details, visit their site: https://www.irvineparkrailroad.com/events/pumpkin-patch/

Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange 92869

Pirate’s Cave: Curse of Calico Jack

Next up, we’ve got a couple of home haunts for you; the first is Pirate’s Cave. On Fridays through Sundays, from Oct. 16 Oct. 31, guests can visit this haunted attraction which centers around a legend about a haunted mine, where miners claim strange things have been moving about — perhaps it has something to do with an ancient pirate curse. Best to check it out and find out for yourselves! The haunt is free, and you can reserve a front of the line pass by visiting their website: https://piratescavehaunt.wixsite.com/piratescavehaunt

Pirate’s Cave, 2548 E. Garfield Ave., Orange 92867

Gershon Dungeon

This next one won’t be available to visitors until Oct. 30-31, but it is a local fave. The Gershon Dungeon is one of the largest and oldest home haunts in OC; mind you, this year, the free event will consist of two smaller walk-through mazes and a yard display with a mask requirement for all guests, per Covid-19 precautions. Visit their site to learn the details of the treacherous tale of 17th century slave owner Guinivere Holt, who has returned as a tormented spirit to wreak havoc upon the living, and say hello when she rises! http://www.thegershondungeon.com/

The Gershon Dungeon, 13861 Gershon Pl, Santa Ana 92705

Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Temecula Terror

To get to some next-level scary stuff, we’re going to have to take a little drive. This first one is brand new. Temecula Terror has three haunted mazes, which reside next to a humble fairground at Galway Downs. Each of the mazes has its own uniquely twisted story, including a Halloween house owned by a madman; an asylum haunted by the spirits of crazed prisoners, who were forced to work on the railroad and went mad working in the oppressive sunlight; and a crypt that has a tendency to swallow visitors up! The fairground includes a few quality diversions for kids as well as adults. Temecula Terror is open from Thur. Sun. until Halloween. Ticket prices range from $10 $35. Check their site for more lore and the list of fairway entertainment / musical acts which change per evening. https://www.temeculaterror.com/

Temecula Terror, 38801 Los Corralitos Rd., Temecula 92592

Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Coffin Creek

While we’re in the car, we might as well check out this time-honored labor of love, out in Corona. Taking place at the Riverview Recreation Park, Coffin Creek is comprised of no fewer than five haunted mazes. Each maze is owned and operated by a different team, so there is always great variety in style here. For Coffin Creek’s 14th year, the mazes include: The Brimstone Asylum for the Criminally Insane, The Catacombs and the Raven Cult, The Curse of VooDoo Bayou, Shady Hollow Hayride, and The Dark Realm. If you are afraid of the dark, Coffin Creek is a great place to confront your fears — as well as confronting orcs, zombies, SCP monsters (any Creepypasta fans in the house?), and a colorful collection of other odd, amusing, and sometimes dangerous characters. Parking is $5, and tickets are $15 for a single maze, $45 for all five mazes, or $65 for all five mazes and fast pass. Visit their site for more lore! https://coffincreek.com/

Coffin Creek, 14600 Baron Dr, Corona 92880

Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Knott’s Scary Farm

A fave in the neighborhood, Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween-themed evenings are quite spectacular. In addition to eight glorious, brilliantly-produced haunted mazes, Knott’s has five expansive, uniquely stylized scare zones, wherein monsters, ghosts, and evil clowns respectively torment guests. Additionally, several of the park’s rides have been decked out for the season; there are live musical and magical acts; great food and sweets befitting the season; and, one of this writer’s faves, the return of Puppet-Up!, an adult puppet show created by Brian Henson. For more details on the attractions and for ticket prices, visit their site: https://www.knotts.com/

Knott’s Scary Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park 90620

Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

Like Knott’s, this one hardly needs mentioning, as it is routinely a beacon of haunted energy during this season. However, it is so much fun that it simply must be included on this list. Including the delightfully Purge-themed tram ride, this theme park includes eight mazes. Several of these are essentially walk-through experiences of well-known horror films / shows, including: The Exorcist, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Walking Dead and The Haunting of Hill House. However, there is also a maze called The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and one called The Curse of Pandora’s Box, which are, more or less, completely original concepts and are, in my opinion, the creme de la crop. The decorative scare zones in between mazes are a little dialed back this year, but there is still plenty to overwhelm your senses within and beyond the mazes. Be sure to bring your walking shoes because there’s a lot of it to be done! For dates, times, and ticket prices, check out their site: www.hollywood.halloweenhorrornights.com

Halloween Horror Nights, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City 91608

Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Escape Halloween

Talk about shoes, those with an itch for dancing to EDM must not miss the return of Insomniac’s Halloween-themed electronic music festival. Known for elaborate stage designs, brilliant art installations, and a sensually spooky immersive environment, Escape Halloween is where ravers go, dressed to the nines, to dance their souls away. This massive event in San Bernardino features four large stages, and an extensive line-up of DJs for each of its two days, Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. For more details, including the line-up and prices, visit their site: https://escapehalloween.com/

Escape Halloween, NOS Events Center, 689 S. E. St., San Bernardino 92408

 

Well, that’s it for this year’s round-up. Obviously, there are many more events we couldn’t fit in, including the Prism Haunt and Haunt of Halloween (Mission Viejo), The 17th Door (Fullerton), the various scary escape rooms of Crossroads Escape Rooms (Anaheim), or several Halloween parties that you can find at Eventbrite, but for now, you should have a very good notion of how you’re going to get your scare on for the season. Happy Halloween!