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: +
In just it's 3rd year, Midsummer Scream has taken it's place as one of the most organized, fun, stress free and amazing conventions of the year. Last weekend we were on-hand all weekend to check out all of the amazing panels, the Hall of Shadows and just a fun time with all our haunted friends.
Let's head into the fog ...
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Midsummer Scream 2018!!!
First up was the Knott's Scary Farm panel where they talked a lot about their process and announced an all new scare zone Forsaken Lake
The Hall of Shadows was bigger and better than ever
We can't wait to check out these full events in October!!
No Midsummer Scream would be complete without a visit to the Black Cat Lounge
Six Flags Panel where the monsters came out to play
Girls, Girls, Girls!!!
Queen Mary Dark Harbor Panel is always one of the highlights of the weekend
Nice photo-bomb Big Mike!!
An all new panel this year from Warner Brothers and their Horror Made Here event
The excitement for this event is palpable, the room was very full for a first year panel
We also had a chance to talk with Jon Braver from Delusion
The last panel of Midsummer Scream was a unification of Halloween Horror Nights on both coasts. No big announcements, but the 90 minute chat was amazing!!
Had a great time talking with John, Chris and Michael where we talked about non-IP mazes, non-existent fights and kick ass shoes.
A behind the scenes look at how the magic happens.
Thanks Midsummer Scream for another amazing year, already counting down the days until next year.
Happy Wednesday dear Park Journey readers. Today we've got a look at one of our favorite places to visit, the Winchester Mystery House. Over the past few months we've experienced all 3 major tours of the house and today we're going to talk about each one.
We hope you enjoy!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Back in May we did the Mansion Tour, you can find that entire report here.
And this past weekend we did the Candlelight Tour and the extended Explore More tour. All three are definitely worth doing and below we're going to tell you why.
Your tour begins in the waiting area, a nice shady area to enjoy a refreshment and prepare for the wonders you are about to see.
One of the many bizarre rooms and walkways in the house
Because the house has undergone so many changes through the years, some rooms are dedicated to showing off what was in rooms that no longer exist.
Some really tight squeezes
Some rooms remain un-repaired from the 1906 Earthquake
Explore More Tour
Next up is the Explore More Tour. I think this is probably our favorite of the three tours that we've done. Not that the other two aren't amazing (because they are) but this one takes you deep into the belly of the house (literally) and is a much more intimate tour which we appreciate.
The grounds are simply beautiful
At the beginning of the Explore More Tour you get to actually walk through the front door. A rare treat.
Our amazing tour guide
During the Explore More tour it seemed we got to spend a lot more time in individual rooms just exploring, exploring more. =)
One of my absolute favorite rooms in the house
Last and certainly not least is the Candlelight Tour. This truly unique experience isn't anywhere close to a traditional "haunt" (in a good way), that's because there is nothing traditional about Sarah Winchester's House.
The house looks amazing all lit up for Halloween
Ghostly shadows on the house ... I mean "Greggly" shadows on the house. =)
You all see her up there right? =)
The Candlelight Tour really is exactly what the title says. It's a tour of the house, by candlelight. But instead of showing you the bizarre nature of the house like the other tours, this one concentrates more on the paranormal residents of the house.
There are a couple of "scares" throughout the tour, but nothing extreme or in your face. Which for us was a nice change of pace.
At day or night you can explore the rest of the grounds
We've loved our three visits to the house this year, and we will definitely be back for more exploring soon. It's quickly becoming one of our favorite places and when you visit you'll see why.
Make your plans to visit this Halloween season before it's all sold out, because it's selling out fast.