Well, it's finally here. The end of the Haunt Season.
As a site, this was our third year covering Halloween and we've had an absolute blast. We attended more Haunts this year than any other year, and it still was just a drop in the proverbial bucket.
Below are our rankings, this is by no means a complete list of everything that is out there. 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.
Best Theme Park Haunt - 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.
Small improvements like the Skeleton Key rooms and new effects in mazes made the event seem fresh. The moving of Infected from Camp Snoopy to it's own maze not only made the overall experience for Infected that much better but freed up Camp Snoopy for an all new Scare Zone.
Best Independent Haunt - Motel 6 Feet Under
This was a tough category as there were 3 amazing Independent Haunts that could have claimed this spot (we'll touch on those below). But this event works in every way, not because it's extreme, not because it's gory, but because it's just a FUN Haunted House.
Motel 6 Feet Under is open this weekend (November 2 through 5) so if you missed this you still have a chance.
Best Home Haunt - 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.
Best Maze - The Exorcist (Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood AND Orlando)
Yep, this maze was our favorite at two separate events 2500 miles apart. And for VERY different reasons. The Hollywood Maze edges out the Orlando maze EVER so slightly but this maze had the perfect blend of storytelling and amazing effects.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Unviersal Orlando are both open November 4 and 5
Best Scare Zones - Fright Fest - Six Flags Magic Mountain
This is now the third year SFMM has taken this award from us and for good reason. SFMM is HUGE but they manage to pull off filling almost every inch of their park with monsters and the best make-up team in the business.
We will say that there were a few dead spots this year (namely on the back side of the park). We are pretty sure this was because the area around Riddlers was supposed to close prior to Fright Fest and then they decided to keep it open. The Suicide Squad scare zone was great and we hope we'll see the expansion of the DC Universe Scare Zone into Metropolis for next years event. We'd also like to see the expansion of The Ruins near Apocalypse.
Best Talent - Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
This category wasn't even close. The talent at Dark Harbor has so much freedom it's really hard for the other events to compare.
Not tied to any corporate structure they are free to interact with the guests as they see fit, free to do things that other parks would freak out about while still maintaining safety for themselves and guests.
Best New Maze - (tie) Shadowlands - Knott's Scary Farm and Aftermath 2 - 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 (Shadowlands) a completely original idea that we've never seen before and the other (Aftermath 2) a resurrection of a previous maze but on steroids.
Best Returning Maze - Reign of Terror
If you've never done Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks you are really missing out. This event is on par and in some ways exceeds even the biggest and baddest theme park haunt maze. The talent here is amazing and the size of the haunt is staggering. It takes a good 20-25 minutes to get through the entire event. And something we've never seen before, in-maze line control that totally works.
While this is the best "Returning" maze, they change it up enough each year to keep it fresh and exciting and you shouldn't miss Reign of Terror in 2017.
Best "First Year" Event - Gorlesque
With so many existing Haunts in Southern California you'd think there wasn't room for anything new. You'd be wrong. But you've gotta be different to make a splash, and Gorlesque found that happy place between interactive, scary, sexy and amazing. One of the most talked about events for 2016. We can't wait to see what they come up with for 2017.
Best Haunted Ride: Crash Test Zombies - Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
How do you make awesome bumper cars even better? How about adding Zombies and naming it after an obscure Canadian band from the early 90's with a hit song that still doesn't make any sense (not sure if that last part is actually true ... well, MmmmMmmmMmmmMmmm still doesn't make any sense).
Best Family Event: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Haunted Events are getting better every year, but so are the family events. But there's something about this party at the Magic Kingdom that's just so special and fun each and every year.
Best "New To Us" Haunt - Sinister Pointe: Fear The Mark
There are SO many events to cover that we only get to see so many each year, which is why we hadn't been to Sinister Pointe before. And now I'm sad because we had such a scary good time at this event and their 4 realms. To be fair, some of us on the staff had experienced Sinister Pointe before, but we'd never reviewed it as a website.
Sinister Pointe is open the next two weekends (November 4 and 5 / November 11 and 12) so be sure to get your "Mark" before it's too late
As we begin to wrap up our 2016 Halloween event coverage it's always nice to take a look at a fun family event that those of you with smaller kids can check out over Halloween weekend.
Today's update is just that as we have a great look at Rise of the Jack O Lanterns in New York.
Written by Renée Girard
(Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version)
Having some Halloween fun in NY today for Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns at Old Westbury Gardens
Tonight we'll see over 5,000 hand carved jack o'lanterns. In the pre-show area is just a sample of some of the pumpkins.
While waiting for your time slot to be called, you can watch some of the artists at work carving pumpkins.
Let's go check out some pumpkins!
Some sections along the trail have different themes. Here's Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.
The detail in the pumpkins is incredible!
Some of your favorite horror movie characters are carved into pumpkins too.
Disney's newest animated film, Moana, on a pumpkin.
The stars of the Disney Pixar movie Finding Dory.
Disney appeared quite a bit along the trail, including an impressive Frozen display.
It looks like someone set up a proposal earlier. What a great way to ask!
I don't know how they did it, but there are hundreds of jack o'lanterns in a tree!
No surprise that our President and the nominees were made into jack o'lanterns.
As a NY baseball fan, I enjoyed seeing both the Mets and Yankees (and Piazza and Jeter) on the trail.
Editors Note: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! ;)
The dinosaur jack o'lanterns were one of my favorites to see tonight!
A set of pumpkins carved to remember those we lost this year.
The final scene of jack o'lanterns were all from the Star Wars series.
More Star Wars pumpkins! The detail continues to amaze me. I can't imagine how long one of these takes to complete!
Had a fantastic night at Rise of the Jack O'lanterns. A truly unique Halloween event that can be enjoyed by all ages!
For more information about attending Rise of the Jack O' Lanterns this final weekend be sure to click here. There are events in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Pomona (Los Angeles).
The spectacular walk through "Rise of the Jack O' Lanterns" is back in New York for 2014 and makes it's Los Angeles debut.
Below you will find all of the info you need if you plan on attending in either LA or NY. But be sure to get tickets ASAP as this event does sell out. This event is sure to be fun for the whole family.
Los Angeles (La Canada Flintridge)
RISE OF THE JACK O’LANTERNS Coming to Los Angeles in October
– A Unique Halloween Event for the Entire Family
Lighting up the night this October in Los Angeles is a unique all-ages nighttime Halloween extravaganza – RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns. More than 5,000 hand-carved jack o’lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors are arranged in artful displays throughout a 1/3-mile scenic trail within Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge (1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011). Set against a backdrop of the Rose Garden, spectators are invited to discover intricately carved images of favorite celebrities and sports figures as well as other large-scale displays based on popular themes. The entire family-friendly 45-minute stroll through the grounds is a multi-sensory experience that is sure to be a
lasting annual family tradition.
Tickets are available for advance purchase only at www.therise.org. Ticket prices vary from $18-28 depending on date and time. Discounts are available for kids 3-17 years of age and seniors 65 and older. Kids under 2 get in for free.
The event is held for 23 nights beginning October 3 through November 2, 2014 during varying evening hours ranging from 5:30pm – 10:30pm. The RISE is a rain or shine event. Parking is available for free and refreshments and merchandise are available as well on site. The surface of the trail is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Some of the themes that will be featured at The RISE this year include: Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Kids Section featuring popular movie characters and child-friendly images, Sports Stars, Pop Culture such as the Kardashian sisters, Pre-Historic Dinosaurs, TV Shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Walking Dead, Wizard of Oz, and other popular iconic Halloween images.
RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns’ first event was launched in Old Westbury, New York in 2012 on the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens set against the backdrop of a historic mansion. The RISE will once again be in Old Westbury and is introducing Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles as its newest venue.
What is The RISE?
RISE of the Jack O' Lanterns is a 45-minute walking trail filled with 5,000 hand-carved illuminated Jack O' Lanterns artfully displayed in the Rose Garden of Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles. The entire family-friendly stroll through the grounds is a multi-sensory experience that is sure to be a lasting annual family tradition.
A little Bit More About The RISE
New York (Long Island)
LONG ISLAND’S #1 FALL EVENT RETURNS TO OLD WESTBURY GARDENS
5,000 hand-carved illuminated Jack O’Lanterns is Fun For the Whole Family
Lighting up the night once again this October on Long Island is a unique all-ages Halloween extravaganza – RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! More than 5,000 hand-carved jack o’lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors are arranged in artful displays throughout a 1/4-mile scenic trail. The entire family-friendly stroll is a multi-sensory experience that is sure to be a lasting annual family tradition.
Imagine seeing thousands of carved jack o’lanterns arranged within a variety of exciting themes. Visitors will see a re-creation of the New York City Skyline, favorite sports stars from all of New York’s professional teams, amazingly carved images of famous TV stars, a giant graveyard made of jack o’lanterns, and a pre-historic arrangement of life-sized dinosaurs made entirely out of lit jack o’lanterns! The variety of themes are sure to impress visitors of all ages.
The event is held for 14 nights beginning October 16 through November 2, 2014 during various evening hours ranging from 6:00pm – 10:30pm (See TheRISE.org for Dates/Times). The RISE is a rain or shine event. Refreshments and merchandise are available for purchase at the event. The surface of the trail is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Tickets are available for advance purchase only at www.therise.org while supplies last. Ticket prices vary from $18-28 depending on date and time. Discounts are available for kids 3-17 years of age and seniors 65 and older. Kids 2 and under get in for free. The best time slots for The RISE sell out each year so it’s important to get your tickets early.
RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns first event was launched in Old Westbury, New York in 2012 on the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens in Nassau County on Long Island. Located just minutes off the Long Island Expressway, The RISE is easily accessible from all five boroughs of New York City, upstate, and of course Nassau and Suffolk counties. The RISE will also be making its west coast debut in 2014 at Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles.
Below is a gallery of some of the great Jack O' Lanterns you will see during the event. All pictures courtesy of RISE.