If you’re like a lot of us, you were ready for Halloween as soon as it was gone last November! Even when the pumpkins get rotten and the spice doesn’t taste so nice anymore, spooky season remains beloved in Los Angeles. In fact, it really never goes away. Horror conventions, screenings and cosplay events ensure it. When the real deal dark delights of the season are here, our city goes HAM for Halloween. Especially after the Halloween Quarantines of 2020, screaming our heads off, losing ourselves in a spooky story and getting in touch with our wicked side by dressing up and partying with others, feels like a celebration of life as much as it does death. Here are the best places to do just that. Most run through Oct. 31, but check links below for info on dates and times.
Before we survey the latest theme park offerings in LA this year, we have four words for you: “Get a Fast Pass!” The alternative is truly scary with wait times running 1-2+ hours for the newest mazes, haunts and rides.
Disneyland does Halloween in a way that is always magical. Mickey turns into a pumpkin with pumpkin ears and the decor throughout the park gets a bit darker and creepier, led by imagery from the Tim Burton Disney classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s no wonder “goths” love this land of princesses and evil villains, which conjure some of the scariest imagery of our childhoods. Disney’s ominous side gets highlighted during Halloween to great atmospheric effect. New additions this year include a bespoke gingerbread house inside Haunted Mansion’s Holiday edition and “bewitching new outfits” for Mickey and the gang. If you’re looking for somewhere special to eat, we recommend Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel, which this year features characters dressed in Halloween attire backdropped by fall décor and themed desserts. Día de los Muertos is repped in the Plaza de la Familia experience at Disney California Adventure Park through Nov. 2, and with tributes at Disneyland featuring characters from Pixar’s Coco and more. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim. disneyland.disney.go.com/
It’s the 50th anniversary of Knotts Scary Farm and that means some fresh blood in the maze department. After a visit on media night, our favorite is Cinema Slasher, which takes over the theater that used to house the carnival-themed Dark Ride. (It also used to be called “Cloud 9,” a place many Gen-X Angelenos surely remember as an actual dance club). It’s now a movie house with three theater scenes representing different slasher movies. Patrons “walk though” the movie screen to the next horrific experience. We also enjoyed the new Room 13, which features a prohibition-themed haunting with gorgeously attired ghosts and deco touches throughout. New live shows include “Dr. Cleaver Returns” in the Bird Cage Theatre, “Music, Monsters & Mayhem” at the Walter Knott Theater and “The Hanging: Uncancelled” at the Wagon Camp outdoor theater. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. knotts.com/events/scary-farm
Chucky’s back! So are Universal Monsters, The Stranger Things kids, and other fearsome past faves at Halloween Horror Nights. The Chucky maze has always been one of Universal’s best, and this year they offer the devil doll’s “Ultimate Kill Count” recreating his best bludgeonings in films and the new TV series. Other ominous offerings include Evil Dead Rise with necronomicon-driven scenes from throughout the Evil Dead franchise; “Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America” featuring chupacabra and other creatures from Latin folklore; The Last of Us based on Playstation’s award-winning post-pandemic video game/Max show; and The Exorcist: Believer featuring the fight to save possessed girls as seen in the new movie. “The Terror Tram” is still running, too, on the Universal backlot, this time in the middle of an insect uprising. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. universalstudioshollywood.com/hhn/en/us
Six Flags Magic Mountain also celebrates an anniversary this year — 30 years of its horror transformation as Fright Fest. This year, two new haunted houses make debuts, while older ones return as the expansion of a popular scare zone takes center stage. There’s seven scare areas plus zombies lurking on rides — sometimes they even turn off the lights leaving riders in darkness. Mazes inspired by The Conjuring and SAW X bring movie macabre to the mix alongside more wicked walk-thrus. Monsters break free in the “City Under Siege” at 7 p.m. nightly while “Sliders of the Night” clown around with sparked slide performances. Also expect an alien experience with DJs, interactive games and more. Dates still open include Oct. 12-15, 19-22, 26-29, and 31. 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia sixflags.com/magicmountain/events/fright-fest-2023
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group has made some improvements to Haunted Hayride for its 15th anniversary. There’s brand-new wagons with seating options, plus updated effects, new horror set-ups and a new maze titled Hellbilly Halloween. Other new attractions include Midnight Falls Axe Throwing, Zombie Splat – A GellyBall Experience: which is like paintball but smaller, using colored water balloons; The Monte Revolta Show, a theatrical experience an undead lounge singer and his band; Midnight Mortuary: Scorched Earth: an open house production; and Trick or Treat, a maze of ghoulish residents and free candy. 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Griffith Park. losangeleshauntedhayride.com
Shaquille O’Neal’s Shaqtoberfest has proven to be a killer night with family friendly time early and terror-ific elements in later hours, all in the spirit of the past Queen Mary Halloween haps like Dark Harbor. Shaq says this year’s event will be bigger and scarier with more horror-themed attractions and interactive experiences such as the Grey Ghost haunted trail (they’re inviting visitors back into the belly of the ship), live entertainment, carnival rides, themed bars and cocktail lounges, and trick-or-treating on the last three Sundays in October (guests are encouraged to come in costumes). 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach. shaqtoberfest.com
The best part about Halloween time in LA? The creative, immersive, theatrical stuff that lets actors, production designers and weirdos here really go wild in pursuit of scaring the crap out of us.
If you’re looking for something completely fresh and freaky to do for Halloween, Angel of Light should top your list. This theatrical experience inside the historic Los Angeles Theatre features an original storyline created by Chris Anastas and Mark Binder (produced by Buck Mason), which transports guests back to Old Hollywood in the 1930s. The eye-poppingly beautiful landmark that is Los Angeles Theatre is used in the most atmospheric ways here — it’s the backdrop to a stage show by Rota K. Preston. But all is not what it seems. The ancient Angel of Light curse is somehow revived during the show and guests are warned not to let Rota sing! A walk through never before seen parts of the theater weaves the storyline as the tale unfolds and possession clearly occurs before our eyes, ending with a sinister climatic spectacle. The 60-minute experience uses Dolby Atmos sound, projection mapping, fog and strobe to unnerve and chill, as it includes walks into the underground catacombs and theater dressing rooms of the actual haunted building. 615 S. Broadway, Downtown. angeloflight.live/enter-the-light
Demonic Dragway plunges you into a flamboyant fiend scene at The Beckett Mansion in the West Adams District of LA. A spooky excursion featuring drag-driven performance, the event also has cocktails, dance music, photos ops, and a drag costume contest. “Drag queens from the darker realms” are promised, haunting the old mansion as they lip-sync for their lives and yours. Dates on Oct. 26, Oct. 27 and Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. 2218 S. Harvard Blvd. eventbrite.com/e/demonic-dragway-at-the-beckett-mansion-tickets-723736233557
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group always produces uniquely eerie and twisted shows this time of year. This season they present Dark A.S.M.R. (a sonic Halloween experience designed to appeal to fans of “autonomous sensory meridian response” meshing whispers, shrieks and various forms of triggering audio or visual stimuli, conceived and performed by V Cate). There’s also Cabaret Macabre Halloween, a sexy spooky choreo-au-go-go. And finally, the show that put ZJU on the menacing map: Urban Death, an extrasensory overload of weird, scary, funny, bizarre imagery and sound. 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. zombiejoes.com.
Haunted Soiree: A Macabre Cocktail Party is similarly interactive with a free-roam setup and two-hour cocktail party inside a haunted house. Music, magic, macabre and menace collide with in-your-face drama and intrigue during Theatre Du Vaurien — a tale of tormented spirits loosely based on the Cabaret d’Enfer, historical hauntings and Fall-flavored folktales. Select dates through Oct. 31. 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. hauntedsoiree.com/los-angeles
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group is also behind Delusion, running through Nov. 19, at the historic Phillips Mansion in Pomona. Guests get enveloped in an hourlong interactive nightmare that blurs the line between reality and make believe. This year’s experience concerns “Nocturnes & Nightmares,” about a mysterious figure called “The Author,” whose chilling words come to life. In addition to the immersive storyline, Delusion offers on-site dining and drinks in its garden bar and Marion’s Chamber Lounge. Check out the various packages available offering different levels of access and interaction, with the “Spectral Soiree” touting intimate moments in a wicked puppet bar, a Dark Arts Theater hosting mystical artists, and a visit to the mansion’s attic where you’ll summon the dead. 2640 Pomona Blvd., Pomona. enterdelusion.com
Film and opera come “alive” at the beautiful theater at the Ace Hotel with LA Opera’s presentations of Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein (with live orchestra). The Boris Karloff 1931 masterpiece and sequel get reanimated by composer Michael Shapiro, who fills in the void by creating original new soundtracks, which he’ll conduct with the LA Opera Orchestra. A moody and majestic music experience, for sure. Oct. 27 – Oct. 29. 135 N. Grand Ave., Downtown. laopera.org/performances/202223-season/frankenstein/
Madmann Playground’s Production brings a sexy twist to Van Helsing’s Dracula, with its immersive circus dinner theater premiering on Oct. 21 at Vatican Banquet Hall. An original sapphic spin on the gothic tale of vampires and vampire killers, it features an all-female cast of accomplished circus performers, dancers and actors, plus a three-course meal curated around the show’s narrative. Show dates include Oct. 21, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, Nov. 18. 6913 Van Nuys Blvd. eventbrite.com/e/van-helsings-dracula-tickets-656309819337
Hotel Who? offers an immersive experience for Halloween in October and November taking place at Ivar Castle in Hollywood. Solve the mystery of Roman Ivar’s death by collecting clues as you enjoy cocktails and an Autumnal feast. More info at thehotelwho.com
Tim Burton‘s The Nightmare Before Christmas In Concert has become a Hollywood tradition, welcoming both the Halloween and Christmas season with music and fanfare. The inimitable Danny Elfman performs the soundtrack with a live orchestra and special guests including Halsey, Ken Page, Fred Armisen and Riki Lindhome. There’s a Nightmare costume contest before the show and a trick-or-treat adventure for kids of all ages, too. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave. Oct. 27, Oct. 28, Oct. 29. hollywoodbowl.com/events/performances/2856/2023-10-27/disney-tim-burtons-the-nightmare-before-christmas-in-concert
A returning favorite for All Hallows Eve, the Phantom of the Opera with live organ music at Walt Disney Concert Hall offers the classic tale of love and horror starring Lon Chaney as Erik the Phantom. The iconic creature feature is amplified and embellished by organist Clark Wilson. 151 S. Grand Ave. laphil.com/events/performances/2399/2023-10-31/halloween-organ-film-music-the-phantom-of-the-opera
LA screening events are some of the best ways to get into the spooky season spirit. Here’s a partial list of the horror and Halloween time classics each screening event is offering this year. See their websites for specific dates, times and locations.
Rooftop Cinema Club: Coraline, Hocus Pocus, Scream, The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, Bride of Chucky, Get Out, Halloween, American Psycho, The Descent. rooftopcinemaclub.com/los-angeles
Electric Dusk: Friday the 13th, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Child’s Play, The Craft, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Beetlejuice, Hellraiser. electricduskdrivein.com
Alamo Drafthouse: The Exorcist Believer, Frankenstein, The Thing, Dracula, The Others, Ghostbusters, Psycho, Poltergeist, Little Shop of Horrors. drafthouse.com/los-angeles
Melrose Rooftop: Scary Movie, I Know What You did Last Summer, M3gan, Halloweentown, Silence of the Lambs, Shaun of the Dead, Rocky Horror Picture Show. melroserooftoptheatre.com
American Cinemateque: Witches and vampires from all around globe are featured in the “International House of Horrors” screening series, including José Mojica Marins’ A Praga, George Melford’s Spanish version Dracula, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host and Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos. americancinematheque.com
Tropicana’s Spooky Movie Night has Halloween movies under the stars at the haunted Roosevelt Hotel Pool including The Addams Family, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hocus Pocus and The Shining. Movies are complimentary to guests and available by advance ticket purchase eight hours prior to showtime for non-guests. Dress up in the theme to get a free cocktail or candybar at concessions. thehollywoodroosevelt.com/events/los-angeles/tropicana-spooky-movie-nights
Rooftop Screams’ October edition at The Montalbán screen has Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday with a special appearance by its star, Kari Keegan in Oct. 28. themontalban.com/rooftopmovies
Cinespia will host the ultimate Hollywood Forever Cemetery screening of John Carpenter’s Halloween… and of course it’s already sold out. But there’s still tickets available for The Ring, Harry Potter and Rosemary’s Baby (with Halloween party scene). Dress to express the characters and storyline in each film and immortalize in Cinespia’s famous themed photo booth. cinespia.org
Haunted at Home
Don’t want to go out among the ghouls and freaks of the night? Stay home and watch scary movies, creepy classics and new programming just for this time of year.
Freeform 31 Nights of Halloween features all the nostalgic biggies for its 25th anniversary all month long, from Hocus Pocus to The Nightmare Before Christmas to The Addams Family, along with new titles such as Encanto, Zombies and Zombies 2 freeform.com
AMC Fearfest has almost all the Halloween movies (eight to be exact), the bulk of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, a lot of the Friday the 13th flicks, most of the Hellraiser and Final Destinations, and a hell of a lot more. amc.com/shows/fearfest
AMC’s sister streamer is also part of the blood bash: Shudder FearFest serves up all the carnage you crave, plus new content from our recent interviewee Joe Bob Briggs at The Last Drive-In and former LA Weekly cover ghouls, The Boulet Brothers, who debut a new season of demonic drag competition on Dragula. shudder.com
Hulu’s Huluween 2023 features new series Living for the Dead, American Horror Stories Season 3, and a mass of movies from the darkside. hulu.com/huluween
Disney+‘s Halloscream offers its new Goosebumps reboot arriving on Oct. 13 and other dark fare. We recommend anything with a villain in it, too, starting the creepiest witch of our childhoods in Snow White. whatsondisneyplus.com/tag/hallowstream/
The Netflix Halloween Collection features all of Jordan Peele’s films (newly added), plus lots of serial killers, slashers, ghosts and ghouls. New titles include the Mike Flanagan adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and the end-of-times chiller Leave the World Behind. netflix.com
Max’s House of Halloween collection digs into HBO’s library, with “Sweet Treats” for kids — Coraline, Harry Potter and the reality competition Halloween Cookie Challenge; “Scary, But Not Scary-Scary” highlighted by The Last of Us and True Blood; and “Haunt Your Dreams” super-spookers like Annabelle and the It films, The Nun and The Exorcist, celebrating 50 years of nightmares. Max.com
See LA Weekly’s Arts Calendar for more Halloween happenings in LA.
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