It’s that time again when we start seeking out ways to scare ourselves for fun. Halloween in L.A. brings out some of the most creative and wild experiences of the year–and the chance to be anybody (or anything) you want to be for a night. Make the most of the month with L.A.’s best haunts, parties, and other Halloween events.
Haunted Houses and Mazes
Whether or not you believe the Queen Mary is actually haunted, there’s no doubt you’ll see some spooky stuff at this annual Halloween attraction. The scale might be the largest of any haunt in town, with 200 different monsters and ghosts in six different mazes (a new one this year has a drowning-ship theme), plus secret chambers, a 4D “panic experience,” a haunted hookah lounge, live entertainment, hidden bars, rides, and more. You can even book a stateroom to stay on the ship overnight. September 26-29; October 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27; and October 31-November 2; from 7 p.m. to midnight. 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; tickets from $34.
This will be the eleventh–and biggest-ever–year for the annual haunted hayride in Griffith Park. Hop aboard for a ride through the creepy Old Zoo area (abandoned after a 1926 flood and mostly closed off), transformed for the season with eerie fog, sound effects, and ambience. As you roll, actors and monsters will pop out, chase you down, and startle. Almost everything has been overhauled for 2019, with new ride themes and whole new attractions, so even if you’ve been before, this might be the year to go again. Fridays through Sundays in October at 7 p.m. 4801 Griffith Park Dr.; Griffith Park; tickets $35.99-$59.99.
This year’s production by the avant-garde theater troupe behind CREEP is an all-new concept with a satirical edge: Think Instagram pop-up “museum” but instead of photo-ops, you’ll find scares. While you may be expected to crawl, be touched by actors, and explore hidden areas, the organizers don’t want it to be seen as a haunted house, per se, and more of an immersive, multi-sensory experience. Performances through November 3. ROW DTLA, 777 Alameda St., downtown; tickets $69.
Family-Friendly Halloween Events
Fun for families or adults, Pumpkin Nights sets up at the Pomona Fairpelx for a fun, super Instagram-worthy fall experience. Stroll through a “pumpkin land” constructed of more than 3,000 carved gourds, cuddle up for nightly outdoor movie screenings, grab some festive fall treats, and explore. October 10-November 3, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. 1101 W. McKinley Ave, Pomona. Tickets $14-$60.
For the Halloween season, Roger’s Gardens has converted its space into an immersive ode to tthe mad world of Alice in Wonderland, where the Red Queen’s dark and whimsical ways create a backdrop for fun photo-ops, custom products to buy to decorate your own home, and a pumpkin patch. Daily through Halloween, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar; free.
Decorative gourd season is in full effect. Thousands of hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins are on display along a half-mile trail. Expect to see squash of all shapes and sizes, decorated with images from pop culture, traditional scary motifs, and some creative interpretations of the form. Vendors will be on hand with seasonal snacks and drinks to sustain you during the self-guided walk. October 13-November 3; from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Hwy., Calabasas; tickets $22.
Haunted pirate ships moor in Marina del Rey for this event that mixes elements of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. The Ballet Folklorico Ollin from Veracruz and Danza Mexica Cauauhtemoc will perform traditional dances, and there are costume contests, food trucks, mazes, and trick-or-treating. Note: Tours of the “pirate ships” get freakier after the sun sets; nighttime sessions are only recommended for ages 13+. October 26 and 27; 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey; free.
For a safe and fun trick or treat experience, let the kiddos loose at the Original Famers Market. There will be chocolates and candies to collect from vendors and other surprises. While you’re there, stop in for some pumpkin ice cream at Bennett’s, pumpkin doughnuts at Bob’s, or pumpkin pie at Du-Par’s. October 31; 6333 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove; free.
Walk though this special attraction at wax museum Madame Tussauds featuring Halloween-ed up vignettes and spooky (or occasionally silly) reimaginings of celebrity wax figures in horror-inspired settings. They’ve carted out lots of classic horror figures too, so you can snap a selfie with Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, and more. Through October 31; 6933 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Tickets from $16.99.
Theme Park Haunts
This theme park haunt features over 30 attractions, including roller coasters and carnival-style rides, magic shows, art installations, and tons of mazes and environments, all populated by a cast of 1,000 costumed characters. New concepts this year include “Wax Works,” and a bawdy puppet show, “Puppet Up: Uncensored.” Through November 2, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; tickets from $43.
Each year, Universal Studios creates attractions based on its horror movie and television properties, but this year is said to be the biggest and best ever. Look for environments based on Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, Jodan Peele’s Us, and more. One special attraction throws it back to the Old Hollywood monster movie days–and has a custom soundtrack composed by Slash. Thursday nights have a throwback, ’80s horror theme, complete with Beetlejuice dance party. Through November 3. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; tickets $65-$97.
For a Halloween that’s more cute than creepy, Disneyland is a perfect choice. You’ll find festive touches around the park, drawn from Nightmare Before Christmas and other properties. There’s a pumpkin festival, “Villains Square,” trick-or-treating, and a special parade. The “Oogie Boogie Bash: A Disney Halloween Party” requires an additional ticket, but the after-hours access will be worth the upgrade for hard-core fans. Through October 31. 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; tickets $97-$299.
If you thought there was nothing scarier than riding roller coasters operated by high schoolers, you were dead wrong. Magic Mountain’s annual Fright Fest has scare zones and themed haunted mazes, which this year include a Sewer of Souls and a maze based on the movie Hell Fest. But the best part? Riding roller coasters (operated by teenagers) in the dark. Through November 3. Six Flags Magic Mountain, 2601 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia; tickets from $55.79.
Spooky Tours and Historic Sites
Guides from Esotouric–the experts in L.A.’s underbelly–will take you on a tour of the creepy secrets of the neighborhoods once known as the “streetcar suburbs,” Echo Park, Angeleno Heights, Elysian Park, and Silver Lake. Learn about the crimes, mysteries, and murders behind the historic architecture, and pay an inside visit to Sister Aimee Semple McPherson’s famous parsonage. Not spooky enough? Esotouric will also offer a Black Dahlia murder-themed tour on October 26. October 12 at 11:30 a.m. Departure from 661 Industrial St., downtown; tickets $64.
This year, Heritage Square Museum’s Halloween tours focus on a few of L.A.’s most notorious crime stories, from a Victorian love triangle that ended in murder to a Roaring Twenties speakeasy party gone terribly wrong and beyond. You’ll learn about poisons and weapons of the past and more. October 26 at noon. Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., Montecito Heights; tickets $8-$20
Performances and Screenings
We’re not sure when bands playing one-night-only cover sets became a Halloween tradition, but it’s certainly here to stay. Otik Records puts together this showcase of local bands and ad hoc super groups embodying their idols. Costumes are encouraged, and will earn you a discount on admission. October 29 at 8 p.m. The Hi Hat, 5043 York Blvd., Highland Park; tickets $8.
What better way to celebrate Halloween than with masked Mexican wrestlers, burlesque dancers, and comedians? This special performance is a fiesta of all things dark, spooky, and supernatural. October 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. Mayan Theater, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown; tickets $40-$55.
Each year, the Gothic Theatre at Ace Hotel selects an eerie film from yesteryear to bring out from the vaults for a screening with a live orchestra performance, followed by a dark dance party that goes well into the night. For 2019, the film is the all-time classic, Psycho. L.A. Opera oversees the screenings and concerts nightly from October 26-31; on the 26th, stick around for the spooky after-party. October 26-31 at 8 p.m. 929 S. Broadway, downtown; tickets $29-$124.
The Scottish play gets a frightful update in this Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production. Designed by Chris Runco, a longtime Disney “imagineer” who worked on iconic attractions including Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, and directed by Royal Shakespeare Company director Kenn Sabberton, this version is an immersive, 360 spectacular. Saturdays and Sundays, October 12-November 3 at 8 p.m. Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, 1238 W. 1st St, downtown. Tickets $49.
If you loved Us on the big screen, wait until you sink into a seat at the Microsoft Theater and take in this version. Accompanying the screening will be a full orchestra and live choral performance of the film’s score, arranged by the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. October 26 at 8 p.m. Microsoft Theater, 777 Chick Hern Court, downtown. Tickets $50-$195.
Halloween Parties for the Grown-Ups
WeHo’s annual costumed shindig is in a league of its own. The estimated turnout has been known to number in the hundreds of thousands–but it’s hard to know for sure, given the free-for-all block party atmosphere of this sprawling open-air street party. The main drag is Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheney Drive and La Cienega, and the wild scene is legendary. October 31 from 6 p.m. West Hollywood; free.
For six years, events producers Minimal Effort have thrown some of the best Halloween (and NYE) parties in L.A. This year is no exception. You’ll be dancing past the witching hour to music from Bonobo, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Jimmy Edgar, Michinedrum, and others. October 26 at 4 p.m., location disclosed upon purchase, downtown; tickets from $69.
For a party that’s festive (but not too freaky), stop by the L.P. Rooftop Bar. Costumes are encouraged and the place will be decorated for the occasion. Show up early for an open bar and complimentary passed apps between 8 and 9:30. October 26 at 8 p.m. E.P. & L.P. 603 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; tickets $65-$500.
If you’ve partied with the Hollywood elite, you may have been invited into private Sunset Strip dance club Giorgio’s once or twice. For this haunted disco-themed Halloween dance party, the team has expanded downtown to take over multiple floors and spaces at the supposedly-actually-haunted Hotel Fig. October 26 at 8 p.m. Hotel Figueroa, 939 S. Figueroa St, downtown; tickets from $35.
For those who like to mix a little bit of spooky imagery in with their all-day dance-fest, HARD Day of the Day returns with performers including Dog Blood, TokiMonsta, Elohim, and many more. You might spot a creepy mask or two on revelers in the crowd, but don’t worry, they’re only hungry for bass, not brains. November 2 from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Los Angeles State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St., downtown; tickets $69.99-$159.99.
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