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Mapping the Bay Area’s scariest haunted attractions

A curious attraction indeed

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Haunting is big business in the U.S. today.

The professional association American Haunts estimates some 1,200 haunted attractions—loosely defined as haunted houses that employ live actors in place of or in addition to animatronics, dummies, props, and visual effects—in the country, bringing in up to $500 million in ticket sales each year.

If you’re still trying to dig up some plans for Halloween night, the Bay Area features a buffet of hallowed haunts ranging from the charmingly amateur to Hollywood grade.

All of the attractions listed below are open Halloween night, and some have a couple of extra days of business on either side of the big one.

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1. Blind Scream

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1100 Valley House Dr
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 795-3550
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Blind Scream in Sonoma County is advertising two different haunts, the Funhouse and Horrortorium, but possibly more intriguing is the Last Ride, a trip for particularly brave (and non-claustrophobic) guests sealed inside a coffin.

2. Six Flags Fright Fest

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Six Flags claims that its annual Halloween haunt is “San Francisco’s most terrifying” horror experience, which is quite ambitious given that it’s in Vallejo.

New to the package this year are the Demon’s Lair and Scarecrows Hollow haunts, the latter of which is presumably even more effective if you happen to be a crow.

3. The San Francisco Dungeon

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145 Jefferson St #500
San Francisco, CA 94133

The Dungeon features murder, ghostly doings, and some deliciously harrowing overacting for the entire year, but for Halloween the waterfront tourist trap has added a 19th-century seance to the usual tour, in which “spirit guides” summon up some unexpected specters.

In a weird publicity stunt, the Dungeon advertising also threatens that people over the age of 60—”faint-hearted fossils,” as they’re dubbed—are banned without a doctor’s note for fear they’ll drop dead of fright.

This is an old trick from the days of B-movies, but in this age it seems tasteless to stigmatize seniors.

4. Terror Vault

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88 5th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 608-2220
Visit Website

Other than Alcatraz (which will sadly never happen), there’s no more ideal or unnerving a setting for a haunt than the long decommissioned SF Mint.

The bulk of the action in Terror Vault takes place in a space behind the old vaults, including an unforgettable segment where guests are free/forced to wander the old brick corridors for themselves. Of course, they’re not alone down there.

5. Fear Overload Scream Park

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15555 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA 94578
(510) 357-6000
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Now in its tenth year, Fear Overload at the Bayfair Mall advertises two back to back haunts, the Washroom and Amnesia Ward.

The Washroom is admittedly a bit of a weird theme for a haunted attraction—and in truth the two spaces are so visually similar to each other that it’s hard to tell them apart from the inside—but the industrial, Silent Hill-esque vibe is good fun.

The big creative addition to this haunt is that guests are stuck finding their own way through dimly lit corridors with only a flashlight—modified to provide only a tiny pinpoint of illumination. Happy trails.

6. Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park

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Valley Ave
Pleasanton, CA 94566

After 27 years, Pirates of Emerson at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the longest tenured haunt to moor itself in the bay. This year the place packs fives haunts back to back to back to back to back, and although usually only a weekend excursion they’re open for some extra midweek dates the nights before and of Halloween.

7. Three Skulls Funeral Home

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593 Printy Ave
Milpitas, CA 95035

Silicon Valley features two purported ghostly funeral home haunts this year. Three Skulls in Milpitas was MIA last year but is rising once again to greet Halloween night 2018 with “voices of the deceased” and “strange figures roaming the halls.”

Three Skulls is free of charge, but the haunt also collects donations for the American Diabetes Association.

8. Great America Halloween Haunt

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Getting haunted can be murder on your budget, but Great America actually allows you to buy seasonal haunt tickets on an installment plan. The lineup features eight different haunted houses ranging from a wax museum to a homicidal corn maze.

9. Winchester Mystery House

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525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 247-2101
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The Winchester House is spooky all year long, of course, but it’s no surprise that business picks up in the month of October. House management offers a special, extra ghostly candlelit night tour this time of year.

Note: the candle is actually electric—can’t risk damaging the historic assets—and the ghostly additions in the past have sometimes been a little cheesy.

But this year features a new show titled The 13th Door, and the house is a reliably spooky Bay Area treasure in any case, so you can’t really go wrong.

10. Rebel Yell

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1577 Rebel Way
San Jose, CA 95118

Those looking to get haunted on a budget can dig up a trip to the Rebel Yell funeral home haunt in San Jose, allegedly the home of Doctor Von Braun’s experiments on the dead since the haunt’s premiere in 2000.

Entry is free, but they ask for a $5 donation if you’re in a giving mood. The haunt is advertised as PG-13, which means “undead creatures,” “corpses,” “blood,” and “laser beams,” but “no one will chase you around with a chainsaw.”

1. Blind Scream

1100 Valley House Dr, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Blind Scream in Sonoma County is advertising two different haunts, the Funhouse and Horrortorium, but possibly more intriguing is the Last Ride, a trip for particularly brave (and non-claustrophobic) guests sealed inside a coffin.

1100 Valley House Dr
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

2. Six Flags Fright Fest

Vallejo, CA 94589

Six Flags claims that its annual Halloween haunt is “San Francisco’s most terrifying” horror experience, which is quite ambitious given that it’s in Vallejo.

New to the package this year are the Demon’s Lair and Scarecrows Hollow haunts, the latter of which is presumably even more effective if you happen to be a crow.

3. The San Francisco Dungeon

145 Jefferson St #500, San Francisco, CA 94133

The Dungeon features murder, ghostly doings, and some deliciously harrowing overacting for the entire year, but for Halloween the waterfront tourist trap has added a 19th-century seance to the usual tour, in which “spirit guides” summon up some unexpected specters.

In a weird publicity stunt, the Dungeon advertising also threatens that people over the age of 60—”faint-hearted fossils,” as they’re dubbed—are banned without a doctor’s note for fear they’ll drop dead of fright.

This is an old trick from the days of B-movies, but in this age it seems tasteless to stigmatize seniors.

145 Jefferson St #500
San Francisco, CA 94133

4. Terror Vault

88 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Other than Alcatraz (which will sadly never happen), there’s no more ideal or unnerving a setting for a haunt than the long decommissioned SF Mint.

The bulk of the action in Terror Vault takes place in a space behind the old vaults, including an unforgettable segment where guests are free/forced to wander the old brick corridors for themselves. Of course, they’re not alone down there.

88 5th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

5. Fear Overload Scream Park

15555 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

Now in its tenth year, Fear Overload at the Bayfair Mall advertises two back to back haunts, the Washroom and Amnesia Ward.

The Washroom is admittedly a bit of a weird theme for a haunted attraction—and in truth the two spaces are so visually similar to each other that it’s hard to tell them apart from the inside—but the industrial, Silent Hill-esque vibe is good fun.

The big creative addition to this haunt is that guests are stuck finding their own way through dimly lit corridors with only a flashlight—modified to provide only a tiny pinpoint of illumination. Happy trails.

15555 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA 94578

6. Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park

Valley Ave, Pleasanton, CA 94566

After 27 years, Pirates of Emerson at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the longest tenured haunt to moor itself in the bay. This year the place packs fives haunts back to back to back to back to back, and although usually only a weekend excursion they’re open for some extra midweek dates the nights before and of Halloween.

Valley Ave
Pleasanton, CA 94566

7. Three Skulls Funeral Home

593 Printy Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035

Silicon Valley features two purported ghostly funeral home haunts this year. Three Skulls in Milpitas was MIA last year but is rising once again to greet Halloween night 2018 with “voices of the deceased” and “strange figures roaming the halls.”

Three Skulls is free of charge, but the haunt also collects donations for the American Diabetes Association.

593 Printy Ave
Milpitas, CA 95035

8. Great America Halloween Haunt

Santa Clara, CA 95054

Getting haunted can be murder on your budget, but Great America actually allows you to buy seasonal haunt tickets on an installment plan. The lineup features eight different haunted houses ranging from a wax museum to a homicidal corn maze.

9. Winchester Mystery House

525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

The Winchester House is spooky all year long, of course, but it’s no surprise that business picks up in the month of October. House management offers a special, extra ghostly candlelit night tour this time of year.

Note: the candle is actually electric—can’t risk damaging the historic assets—and the ghostly additions in the past have sometimes been a little cheesy.

But this year features a new show titled The 13th Door, and the house is a reliably spooky Bay Area treasure in any case, so you can’t really go wrong.

525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128

10. Rebel Yell

1577 Rebel Way, San Jose, CA 95118

Those looking to get haunted on a budget can dig up a trip to the Rebel Yell funeral home haunt in San Jose, allegedly the home of Doctor Von Braun’s experiments on the dead since the haunt’s premiere in 2000.

Entry is free, but they ask for a $5 donation if you’re in a giving mood. The haunt is advertised as PG-13, which means “undead creatures,” “corpses,” “blood,” and “laser beams,” but “no one will chase you around with a chainsaw.”

1577 Rebel Way
San Jose, CA 95118