Well, it's finally here. The end of the Haunt Season.
Sad Face ...
As a site, this was our fifth year covering Halloween and we've had an absolute blast.
Below are our site awards for 2018!! Some of these events still have some nights coming up this weekend so be sure to check them out if you haven't already.
If you missed ANY of our Halloween Updates be sure to check them out.
Also this year, we opened up the voting to you, our loyal Park Journey readers. So you'll not only see our staff picks, but yours as well.
Best Theme Park Haunt
Staff Pick - Knott's Scary Farm
With the addition of new mazes and the freshening up of some previous years mazes it was another banner year for the amazing Knott's Scary Farm.
Reader Pick - Knott's Scary Farm
It was a clean sweep for the original Halloween Event, although Halloween Horror Nights Orlando and Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest did gather a tying second place vote.
Check out our Knott's Scary Farm 2018 Review
Best Non Theme Park Haunt
Staff Pick - Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
This was a tough category as there were so many amazing Non Theme Park Events that could have claimed this spot. Very close second would be ... see below.
Reader Pick - Tie: WB Horror Made Here and Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
In just it's second year, WB's Horror Made Here managed to tie one of the best and biggest events around, and for good reason. If it weren't for the readers calling this a tie, we may well have in our Staff Pick above. Congrats to WB and Dark Harbor. We hope you continue to duke it out for years to come. =)
Check out our Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2018 Review
Check out our WB Horror Made Here 2018 Review
Best Independent Halloween Event
Staff Pick - Ghost Train
Reader Pick - Ghost Train
Another clean sweep in our Independent Haunt Category!! Congrats to the Ghost Train which manages to not only be fun for all ages, but thrilling for even the most extreme Haunt fan. Coming in second place in our Readers pick was The 17th Door, which continues to grow each year.
Best Year-to-Year upgrade of a maze location
Sewer of Lost Souls - Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain
We thought about opening this category up for the Reader Vote, but weren't quite sure how to word it. Basically, the maze that has been in this location the past few years, let's face it, kind of sucked. But not this year!! Totally revamped, no more black walls or vines everywhere, a truly unique and innovative maze was to be found.
Best Family Friendly Halloween Event
Staff Pick - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
Reader Pick - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
It's really hard to top Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and for good reason. Unlike most family events, Magic Kingdom gets to use their park at night for their Family Halloween event vs having nights reserved for scary stuff.
Check out our Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018 Review
Best Home Haunt
Staff Pick - Beware The Dark Realm
This was our second year visiting this haunt near Magic Mountain, and it won't be our last. Truly ambitious and thrilling, the team at this Haunt puts on a great event, for a great cause.
Reader Pick - Backwoods
So let's say you go to some imaginary "Haunt Graveyard" and get animatronics and sets that basically tells the history of Southern California Scary Events and put them all in your house. And then it all works in an amazing way. That's what Backwoods is and it's amazing. It's no wonder our Reader's picked this as their winner.
Staff Pick - Universal Monsters at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
Truly the toughest category we had to figure out, this could have gone to any number of 5 or 6 mazes at 4 or 6 different events. But for thrills, fun, effects and talent, none was better than Universal Monsters
Reader Pick - Stranger Things at Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
This was easily the most popular maze at two different parks 2500 miles away. Stranger Things is truly epic in every way and it's not hard to see why fans loved this maze.
Best New Maze
Tie: The Depths at Knott's Scary Farm and Sewer of Lost Souls at Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest
We typically exclude Halloween Horror Nights from this category as they don't tend to repeat mazes, but that's not to take away anything from these two amazing mazes. One (The Depths) a fantastic idea with a mix of great talent, technology and fun and the other (Sewer of Lost Souls) a true upgrade for Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest.
Staff Pick - Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The staff at Fright Fest has been together for years, has the freedom to hone their craft and create their own characters. And it shows. Despite some truly busy nights at the park this year, the staff was on top of their game all season.
Reader Pick - Knott's Scary Farm
Ghost Town, Carnevil, The Hollows ... names synonymous with amazing scares. Throw in the all new Forsaken Lake and 9 mazes and it's not hard to see why the talent of this event always gets high marks.
Best Scare Zone
Vamp 85 at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando
We all agreed, this was the scare zone to beat this year, and it's not very hard to see why. Great talent, great atmosphere and a killer soundtrack.
Special Runner Up to Holidayz in Hell at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, which we hope comes back as a fully realized maze in 2019. Especially the Thanksgiving part.
Check out our Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando 2018 Review
Best Year to Year upgrade of an existing maze
Staff Pick - Paranormal Inc at Knott's Scary Farm
Reader Pick - Paranormal Inc at Knott's Scary Farm
This one wasn't even close, almost a clean sweep for Paranormal Inc. The new ending breathed new life into the maze and it's better than ever. Even with huge upgrades to some other mazes, none came close to having the impact of Paranormal Inc.
Related Updates: +
Today we're back with another holiday update, this time from the Zoo Lights at the Los Angeles Zoo.
In it's 4th year they've made a few changes to the event and the holiday cheer is evident all around.
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to the Zoo Lights!!
Monkeys are awesome!!
Some of the new lights for 2017
Aww, they were tired. =)
More new lights
Two Swans a-sleeping ...
For some reason this looked like celery to us
The Tunnel of Lights!! Always a highlight
These are new, snowflakes with different animals
The Flaming-O Musical notes. Not new, but in a new location.
The water show was back, check out a video and slideshow of it below. It's a lot of fun
Overall it was another great year for the Zoo Lights. It's a great family evening in Griffith Park.
We will say though, it's probably time for them to change some things up next year. 4 years and most of the lights were the same as year 1. We'd love to see them expand this deeper into the zoo as well as it can get quite crowded. But overall a really fun family event that we look forward to every year.
We go to a LOT of Halloween events. This is, without a doubt the busiest time of year for us when it comes to events that we cover.
So it takes a LOT to impress us sometimes, it's just the nature of the season. But Saturday night we had our first visit ever to the Ghost Train at Griffith Park and it's easily one of our favorite events of the year so far.
Photo's by Coastermatt
Video and Words by Gregg Condon
Before we get started we wanted to give you some info on the Ghost Train. You can find all the information about the event here. It's strictly run by volunteers and it is a $15 donation. But it's TOTALLY worth it. You can read more about where the donations go and the causes they support on their website.
The event is also a family event, so don't go in expecting to get scared, but do go in expecting to have a tremendous amount of fun on the ride which is about 25 minutes long.
Our suggestion, get to the event early or towards the end of the evening, it get's busy. And there are families who know how to do this event. We saw people with folding chairs waiting in the line eager to do the ghost train.
We'll start off with our video of the train ride, which even with cutting down a few things is about 18 minutes long. We also had to cut out a couple of songs due to copyright but hopefully it's not TOO noticeable. ;)
The entrance to the Ghost Train
The loading area, very well done and starts the fun off with a great little song.
Get off my lawn!!!
Feed me Seymour!!
Awesome graveyard scene near the load/unload. You get to pass by this twice.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Dia De Los Muertos
Lots of great lighting, which is no surprise as this is the same group that does the lighting at ScareLA.
Clever play on words ...
Awesome Tesla Coil!!
Blocks should say "Creepy Bear".
Clowns selling fireworks, always a good idea
Hi everybody, can you pick me up on your way back around? I've been here awhile
Is it just us or does the guy in the picture look like Neil Patrick Harris?
There's only 2 weekends left to experience the awesomeness that is the Ghost Train, so be sure you head out to Griffith Park and have a great time. You won't be disappointed. Grab your kids, nieces/nephews, brothers/sisters, whoever.
Just remember, this is a family event, so go expecting to have a great time, don't go in expecting to get scared. But it's definitely a can't miss event. We can't wait to go back next year!!