13 Spooky Season Happenings Not to Miss in Southern California

Friday the 13th Sign With Stormy Background

Photo: ronniechua / iStock / Getty Images

It's that spooky time of year, and what better day to celebrate it than on Friday the 13th!? Ahead of THEE most important day, Halloween (31 October)!

As your resident spookmeister, I have 13 suggestions for activities you can partake in and places to get into the festive spirit - in no particular order.

Theme Parks & Resorts:

1.) Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA - September 1 - October 31, 2023

Not only are Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and the Disneyland Resort Hotels decked out for the spooky season, but Downtown Disney is also the place to enjoy Pluto's Pumpkin Pursuit, and the Resort is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with decorations, food, and activities along with dedicated Dia de Muertos festivities and observances.

2.) 50th Anniversary Knott's Scary Farm and Knott's Spooky Farm in Buena Park, CA - Select Nights, September 21 - October 31, 2023

Knott’s Scary Farm is Southern California's longest-running and most haunting Halloween theme park event. With 50 years of nightmares, unimaginable scares, and innovative thrills, Knott’s Scary Farm has left no tomb unearthed, no crypt un-rattled, and no fear untouched."

You can also check out my podcast celebrating this milestone, or gravestone year - as it were, for the Farm. ---> Scary Farm 50: Behind the Fog at Knott's

"Knott's Spooky Farm" Daytime, Thursdays-Sundays, September 28 - October 29, 2023, plus Halloween

Enjoy the Halloween season at Knott’s Spooky Farm, a family-friendly falltime celebration. Little ghouls can trick-or-treat around the town of Calico’s shops and buildings to collect sweet treats from the friendly townsfolk, plus enjoy even more kids' Halloween activities. Families can join in on the Halloween fun as the park is transformed with themed décor and spooky surprises.

3.) Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights in Universal City (Los Angeles), CA - Select Nights, September 7–October 31, 2023

"Southern California’s Scariest Halloween event - legend has it you should 'never go alone.' Summon your scream squad and you might survive."

Please take a few minutes and catch my interview with John Murdy, USH HHN's creative director and executive producer, here.

4.) 30th Anniversary Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest in Valencia (Santa Clarita), CA - Select Nights, September 8 - October 31

Fright Fest, presented by Snickers®, unleashes eight bone-chilling haunted houses that will transport guests to a world of nightmares and seven dare-to-enter scare zones with nightmarish zombies lurking around every corner.

5.) SeaWorld San Diego's Halloween Spooktacular - Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, September 15 - October 29 and Howl-O-Scream near Mission Bay in San Diego, CA - Select Nights, September 29 - October 31, Friday & Saturday - 7:00 PM - 12:00 AM, Thursday & Sunday - 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM

"Family Halloween Fun in San Diego - Kids love trick-or-treating during SeaWorld San Diego's Halloween Spooktacular daytime event as they explore our decorated trail and meet all sorts of colorful characters. And that’s just the beginning! From a Halloween dance party to a pumpkin scavenger hunt and more, this is engaging family fun you’ll only find here."

" Howl-O-Scream will once again arrive to transform the peaceful SeaWorld San Diego park you once knew into something sinister. When night falls and a carnival of horrifying creatures surrounds you, try to put on a happy face. Evade angry haunts as they rampage through scare zones. Seek shelter indoors, only to find you've entered a house of horrors. Quench your thirst for fear with fiendishly delicious cocktails, beer, and spirits. Feel the monstrous electricity of live entertainment. Dance the night away and deepen the thrills with a nighttime coaster ride."

6.) Legoland California Resort's Brick-Or-Treat in Carlsbad, CA - September 16, 23, 30 + select Saturdays & Sundays in October

"Our signature Halloween event is better than ever! LEGO® Monsters are taking over the kids’ Halloween celebration at LEGOLAND® California Resort. The Brick-or-Treat Monster Party transforms the Resort into a fun-filled Halloween escape with tons of candy, not-so-scary new shows, and silly monster LEGO characters. PLUS, all frighteningly fun festivities are included with general admission."

Immersive Experiences:

7.) Boney Island at the Natural History Museum | Los Angeles County at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA - September 28 - October 31, 2023, Thursday–Sunday, plus October 30 and 31, Entry Times: 6–8 pm and 8–10 pm, Doors open at 6 pm. All guests are welcome to stay until 10 pm; Event hours may vary by date.

Get ready for a bone-chilling adventure like no other! This Halloween season, don’t miss Boney Island’s immersive, interactive, and illuminated experience at the Natural History Museum’s beautiful Nature Gardens, transformed into a wonderland of fun and frights!

8.) Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum | Los Angeles County at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA - September 17 - November 26, 2023

This one-of-a-kind seasonal pavilion gives you a rare glimpse into the secret life of spiders. Stroll through the open-air pavilion to see hundreds of orb weavers and their impressive webs all around you. Then, enter the spider den to peer into enclosed habitats that house different species, from tarantulas to jumping spiders. Along the way, you'll hear amazing stories and get answers to all your arachnid questions from our Museum Educators.

9.) Fearplex presents Lights Out! at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, CA - October 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-31 | 6 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Welcome to Fearplex, where everything your imagination doesn’t desire is unfortunately within reach – the dead become the undead, monsters are real and the fun of a county fair morphs into a gory carnival of carnage!

Here, darkness reigns, and the nightmares you feared at bedtime come to life with heart-pounding intensity. Open your eyes…or don’t. It doesn’t matter – the terror of the night will penetrate your mind like the bloody pick of a madman.

You’ve reached a destination of incomparable horror – welcome to Fearplex Presents LIGHTS OUT!

10.) The Witching Hour - Halloween Boutique at Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA

Deep within the mist-enshrouded gardens, a timeworn manor casting long shadows looms. The very bones of the building seem to moan and sigh with each whispering breeze, and its windows dance to a ghostly rhythm.

Massive iron gates, tarnished with age, ward off the faint-hearted. As you step inside, the thick scent of age-old herbs hangs heavy while the feeble glow of candles unveils walls lined with potions and mysterious books filled with incantations.

Scattered relics, a cauldron's sinister bubble, and a solitary wand hint at the occupant’s talents. A cozy hearth beckons visitors to stay a while, perhaps seeking a special salve or tincture. Yet, beneath the inviting glow, this dwelling remains a haven of spells, secrets, and magic.

11.) Delusion: Nocturnes & Nightmares at the Philips Mansion in Pomona, CA

Since 2011, guests have played their part in the world's most visceral, captivating, and unique live experience. A living, breathing world of fantastical horror where stories come to vivid life, and guests become integral actors in the unfolding narrative. Yet this tapestry of terror is more than simply shows.

With Nocturnes & Nightmares, we learn there is more to the Delusion saga than meets the eye. A mysterious figure known only as The Author has apparently penned every Delusion story since its inception. Bringing words to life. Ink to reality. It is more a curse than a gift, as The Author plays with fire.

Devoted fans (our guests) will be swallowed into various stories and connect with characters both dire and beloved as they track down the mysterious author behind the Delusion series and learn of a disturbing agenda.

Pumpkin Patches & Haunts:

12.) Frosty's Forest Pumpkin Patch and The Haunted Harvest at Frosty's Forest in Chino, CA

"Welcome to Frosty’s Forest! We hope to see you at the Pumpkin Patch this October. This year’s theme is Willy Wonka. Our patch is like no other- full of rides, activities, FREE photo opportunities created by local artists, corn mazes, and so much more. The Haunted Harvest will be back this year + bigger and better than ever!"

"The Scariest Harvest Around. Streaming killed the video store. It's 1997. You work at Hauntbuster Video. You just charged late fees to the wrong guy. Now you're trapped in the store after hours- but not alone... Stalking you in the darkness is the Notflix Killer, who will show you what he thinks of late fees. Our newest theme is the fictionalized story of how streaming killed movie rentals! Bathed in the nostalgia of '90s video stores, there will be themes of liminal space, backroom horror, and VHS slashers all wrapped up in one big analog nightmare! It will also be joined by the other five haunted houses from our 2022 season in a sprawling corn maze! Don't miss "No More Late Fees" - One of our most ambitious haunted house themes ever this fall @ Frosty's Forest. At 2-acres, The Haunted Harvest is one of the largest haunted experiences in Southern California."

13.) Stanley Haus' Nightmare Before Christmas in Aliso Viejo, CA, and The Haunted Mansion Haunt in Trabuco Canyon, CA


Email me with your favorite Halloween Haunts and Happenings at nicholaspagliochini@iheartmedia.com or nick@brickhouse.llc; check out more Spooky Season content on Instagram @NickPagliochini and @ThisWeekendWithNick.

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