It’s technically still summer, but that doesn’t mean California amusement parks aren’t ready for the Halloween season. In fact, the Golden State’s largest theme parks kicked off their Halloween festivities right after Labor Day. Although this seasonal party has already begun across multiple parks, crowds will be much larger next month. Indeed, it’s likely you’ll see the biggest crowds as you get closer and closer to October 31. Whether you’re looking for a fall vacation or amusement park close to home, here are 10 California attractions to visit for the Halloween season. After all, you don’t even need a mask, whether it’s for Halloween or not.
LEGOLAND California Resort
One LEGOLAND Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Dates: Saturdays, September 17 to October 29 and Sunday, October 30
Legoland California Resort is hosting all sorts of family friendly attractions this Halloween season. For example, there is Monster Party, featuring a costume party, live entertainment, the Great Monster Chase 4D show and more. If that’s not enough, the Dragon Coaster will have a Halloween theme as well as many trick-or-treat opportunities. That’s not to mention Lego characters your children can greet. Your Legoland California Halloween ticket includes entry to the Brick-or-Treat Monster Party. However, other ticket packages are available, including admission to Legoland and Sea Life and hotel packages. At the Legoland Hotel and Legoland Castle Hotel, there are separate sleeping area for kids in every room.
3146 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109
Dates: September 9 to October 31, 2022
Historic Belmont Park is already celebrating the fall season with its own assortment of events. This popular California seaside amusement park will be a great attraction to visit, especially since parking and admission is free. What’s more, there will be free trick-or-treating every Sunday in October. With this in mind, you can also enjoy free live music on Friday nights and seasonal attractions like the Pumpkin Plunge. Coupled with a family friendly Pumpkin Patch and seasonal treats, you and the family will have a great time in the Mission Bay neighborhood. Lastly, if you are a thrill seeker, consider going on the park’s signature ride, the Giant Dipper roller coaster.
Related: What To See In Salem For Halloween
Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355
Dates: Select Nights September 10 to October 31, 2022.
Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park will host not one, but two events with a Halloween theme. For example, during the daylight hours on select days, you’ll have the family friendly Kids Boo Fest. To put it differently, you and your children can go trick-or-treating, enjoy family friendly rides and have “ghoulish grub”. However, the main event is Fright Fest, which is not recommended for children under the age of 13. Indeed, Fright Fest will feature scare zones, riding roller coasters in the dark and 14 haunted houses. Additionally, Magic Mountain will have evening Halloween entertainment and Halloween theme dining at West Picnic Pavilion.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
In Vallejo, California, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park will also host is own Fright Fest and Boo Fest. These events will be held on select nights from September 24 to October 31, 2022. Discovery Kingdom is among the top amusement parks in Northern California.
San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Dates: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October (except Sunday, October 30)
The San Diego Zoo isn’t a theme park nor is it an amusement park. However, it’s hard to ignore, especially during the Halloween season. After all, it’s one of the world’s finest zoos and America’s most visited. If that’s not enough to convince you, there is no admission fee for children ages 11 years old and younger. The top attraction in October is HalGLOWeen, when much of the zoo is lit up with neon lights and colors. In light of this, there are other attractions to enjoy at the zoo, like the Skeleton Band, the Boo Crew stilt walkers and the animated singing group the GLOW-Gos. Of course, there are many more things to see and do, including the Bubble Dance Party and Dr. Zoolittle’s Tricks & Treats.
Halloween at the Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Date: October 30, 2022
The world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is celebrating Halloween with a trick-or-treat event and costume contest. The trick-or-treat package is $12 and includes a collectible Boardwalk candy bag and $10 MyBoardwalk Card for games on the midway or the arcades. The costume contest will be held for four age groups and a group costume. MyBoardwalk gift cards will be given to the top three winners in each category, in addition to a grand prize winner. Although Fright Walk will be popular during October, the scariest ride might be the Giant Dipper historic wooden roller coaster. If you visit this popular seaside amusement park, you should purchase trick-or-treat packages in advance.
Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
Dates: Select Nights September 8 to October 31, 2022
You don’t have to wait until October for Halloween Horror Nights. In fact, it’s happening right now at the studios known for classic horror films like “Dracula” and “Frankenstein”. What’s more, you can visit eight haunted houses and a newly expanded Terror Tram. Among the haunted houses are The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare and The Horrors of Blumhouse. In case you’re not familiar with Blumhouse, it’s company that has produced recent films like “The Invisible Man” and “The Black Phone”. If that’s not enough, there is an expanded Terror Tram featuring Jordan Peele films “Nope” and “Us”. In addition are other attractions like scare zones and hip-hop dance performances. Please note that Halloween Horror Nights is not recommended for children under 13.
Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort
1313 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
Like Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland already has a Halloween theme at its famous amusement park. However, in this case, the fear factor at Disneyland is far more family friendly. In detail, you can see Halloween Screams, a visual display with fireworks at Cinderella Castle and Main Street Pumpkin Festival. That’s not to mention Haunted Mansion Holiday, featuring Halloween decorations and a few surprises. Of course, you can also enjoy Disney characters dressed in Halloween attire at this popular theme park. Equally important are the Halloween festivities at the California Adventure theme park.
Disney’s sister theme park in Anaheim is also joining in on the Halloween festivities this year. In fact, the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween party is already sold out. On the other hand, there are still many other fun things to see and do this season. For instance, you can see the towering Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark thrill ride and Halloween décor across California Adventure. For this reason, you’ll also want to see Cars characters in costume in Cars Land. Similarly in Cars Land are Mater’s Graveyard and JamBOOree and entertainment at Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween.
Sea World San Diego
500 SeaWorld Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
Said to be San Diego’s premier haunted Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream is not for kids under the age of 13. Indeed, this fright fest caters to a “mature audience”, that enjoys scary rides, attractions and other night frights. On the other hand, children under 18 are still able to attend. Not far from the seaside amusement Belmont Park, Howl-O-Scream features five haunted houses and eight scare zones or scare areas. Likewise, there will be select rides that you can ride in the dark, like Brave Electric Eel.
In addition to the terrifying attractions for Howl-O-Scream, there will also be the Sea World Halloween Spooktacular. Held on Saturdays and Sundays from September 17 to October 31, Spooktacular is completely kid friendly. Held during the daylight hours, there is a Trick-or-Treat Candy Trail, a hay maze and even a Halloween dance party. Moreover, are additional attractions, like a chance to meet a mermaid and Spooktacular Pumpkin Hunt. Lastly, another event worth seeing at Sea World is its Día de los Muertos celebration.
Knott’s Scary Farm/Spooky Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620
Dates: September 22 to October 31, 2022 on Select Nights
Knott’s Scary Farm in Buena Park says it’s the “largest and most haunting Halloween event in Southern California”. In other words, if you want to visit a theme park with a scarier edge, this be the one. After all, this Cedar Fair theme park says Scary Farm is not for children under the age of 13. For one thing, there are scary mazes with creatures at every corner, like Pumpkin Eater and Wax Works. To be sure, there are other attractions, like scare zones, creepy live acts and Timber Mountain Log Ride with a Halloween theme. That’s not to mention the Halloween Boo-fet dinner that comes with a souvenir bottle. Knott’s Berry Farm will also host Knott’s Spooky Farm during daylight hours this Halloween season.
3050 Hecker Pass Highway
Gilroy, CA 95020
Dates: October 1 to October 30, 2022.
With so many options this fall season, it might be easy to overlook Gilroy Gardens, south of San Jose. On the other hand, it might be nice to visit someplace new and for people of all ages. In this case, Gilroy Gardens will have a lot to BOO. Take for instance, the Great Big BOO live musical show, a BOO Train and BOO Town Hall. Of course, you’ll also see some unusual characters at The BOO. For instance, Wolfgang Werewolf, Wendella the Witch and Princess Priscilla will all be on hand. Located off Highway 152, Gilroy Gardens is an exceptionally park with over 40 rides and attractions. In fact, the entire theme park covers 536 acres and even features a private lake.
Tricks and Treats
California’s Great America
4701 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Select Dates September 23 to October 30, 2022
The best amusement park in Northern California will have a new look for this year’s Halloween season. In recent years, this popular park next to Levi’s Stadium has held Halloween Haunt, which wasn’t family friendly. Although Halloween at Great America will be over the top as always, they’re approaching it a “no fright” event. In other words, you won’t see scary people dashing out from the shadows or terrifying special effects. Instead, all events at this California amusement park are suitable for children of all ages and everyone else. At the same time, you will see characters in Halloween costumes and two theme areas. Of the two, Land of Tricks might be the most entertaining, featuring a slimy Ickyville and Spooky Spires. On the other hand, when you get hungry, visit the Land of Treats for festive food, drink and sweets.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.