Haunts and frights return for 2021

Halloween is back. Perhaps not as large as it once was, but after the annual spookfests took an unplanned hiatus last year, we’re not complaining.

Here’s what our Northern California parks have planned this year.

California’s Great America

Halloween Haunt is back after last year’s pandemic-related cancellation, running select nights from Sept. 24 through Oct. 31. This year’s iteration is scaled back a bit, most notably to five mazes compared to its previous eight.

Returning mazes are:

  • Backwoods: A resort overtaken by werewolves and other sinister creatures.
  • Madame Marie’s Midnight Masquerade: The formerly named Massacre Manor is host to a voodoo queen and her wicked experiments.
  • Roadkill Roadhouse: A gory labyrinth of blood and guts.
  • Tooth Fairy: A twisted nightmare of dental tools and minions.
  • Wax Museum Blackout: A small, too-dim flashlight is your only way to navigate the creepy labyrinth.

Not returning this year are Cornstalkers, Zombie High and Chaos House. Shadowlands, a maze from Knott’s Berry Farm that was announced as a new attraction for 2020 before the event got cancelled, is also missing.

Shows such as Nytewalkers and Blood Drums return, as do the various party zones, in lieu of scare zones, scattered throughout the park.

California’s Great America is already well on its way to decorating for Halloween Haunt. | Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Reservations are required. For information, visit cagreatamerica.com/events/haunt.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six classic mazes return to this year’s Fright Fest, which runs Sept. 25-Oct. 31.

  • CarnEvil: Evil clowns lurk under this haunted big top.
  • Demon’s Lair: Try not to fall victim to the demon in the catacombs.
  • Nightmare Manor: Mysterious murders plague this Victorian mansion.
  • Scrapyard of the Dead: Loud music from the undead workers hide the screams of their victims.
  • Shipwreck of Horror: A haunted pirate ship.
  • St. Hades Hospital: What horrors lurk in this medical ward?

Fright Fest also has a sizable collection of scare zones throughout the park, such as Arachnid Alley, Sawmill Pass and Scarecrows Hollow.

A hypnotist, freak show and more entertainment is also on tap.

Expect to see fire juggling and other exotic acts during SFDK’s Fright Fest. | Photo: Nicholas Laschkewitsch

For information, visit sixflags.com/discoverykingdom/events/fright-fest.

Smaller events

Gilroy Gardens: Day and night Halloween events return to the gardens in October. Live musical shows, trick-or-treating, the “Boo Train” and other spooky festivities are a staple of this family-friendly event. For more information, visit gilroygardens.org/halloween.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Halloween at the Boardwalk (Oct. 31) will be filled with trick-or-treating and a costume contest. Also, don’t forget the year-round Fright Walk Under the Boardwalk, a walk-through attraction upgraded in 2017 that features some wild special effects and an unnerving atmosphere. For more information, visit beachboardwalk.com/Halloween.

ACE members pose in front of the Fright Walk Under the Boardwalk following a behind-the-scenes tour during Beach Boardwalk Bonanza on June 10, 2017. | Photo: Struthers Murray

About Erik Chalhoub

Erik Chalhoub is the Magazine Editor at New SV Media in Gilroy (and a roller coaster fanatic!). He is also the proud recipient of the 2016 ACE NorCal Richard Tuck Spirit Award.

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