Halloween Fun for Tweens: Terror Time

By Michael Berick

haunted houses in los angeles

You won’t see jolly jack o’lanterns on The Haunted Hayride. PHOTO COURTESY THE SCAREZONE

For young kids, Halloween revolves around cute costumes and trick-or-treat candy. Teens’ interests often shift toward more frightful fun. With that in mind, here’s a guide to Southern California Halloween attractions that are a real scream.

The Queen Mary (www.queenmary.com) in Long Beach is said to be haunted, making it spooky enough on an average day. Its Dark Harbor event Sept. 28-Nov. 1 intensifies the fright with menacing mazes and monstrous characters including Samuel the Savage, Half-Hatch Henry and Scary Mary. This isn’t for the faint of heart. The ship’s website warns: “We DO NOT recommend children attend Dark Harbor.”

Griffith Park can also seem eerie at night, and The Haunted Hayride (www.losangeleshauntedhayride.com makes the abandoned Old Zoo area feel particularly perilous. No ordinary hayride, it takes passengers on a devilish journey through unsettling immersive experiences including the House of Shadow, the “Purgatory” village and not-so-sweet trick-or-treating. Organizers recommend the event, which runs select dates through Oct. 31, for ages 8-10 and up, but also warn folks that it was created for adults. Don’t let its clown theme fool you!

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights (www.halloweenhorrornights.com), running through Nov. 4, are all about mazes, most inspired by TV shows and films. This year’s eight mazes include new ones based on “The Shining,” the “Saw” movies, “American Horror Story” and “Evil Dead.” One with a slasher theme features Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. These aren’t things you’d see on Nick Jr., so it’s no surprise that HHN is recommended for ages 13 and older.

Knott’s Scary Farm (www.knottsscaryfarm.com), select nights through Oct. 31, provokes plenty of chills and thrills with its unlucky 13 haunted mazes, attractions and Scare Zones (including the legendary Ghost Town Streets). This year’s theme is “Where Nightmares Never End,” so the Scary Farm is sure to live up to its claim to be too intense for ages 12 and younger.

Six Flags Magic Mountain hosts The Fright Fest (www.sixflags.com/magicmountain/special-events/fright-fest-night) after dark, and the rides become haunted, the entertainment gets spookier, the mazes are nightmarish and there’s something or someone ghoulish everywhere you turn. The park suggests that only those over 13 years old stick around after 7 p.m.

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