It rained a little bit over the weekend, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back. That can mean only one thing...
IT'S TIME TO START PANICKING ABOUT HALLOWEEN.
Los Angeles is a company town, after all, and we are damn good at hair/makeup, wardrobe, and dressing a set. And honestly, I think part of the reason Angelenos love Halloween so much is that we spend the entire year playing dress-up according to the breakdowns; this is the time of year when we get to apply all our hard-earned skills in the service of WHATEVER COSTUME WE WANT.
I had really high hopes of doing a ton of field research for y'all, and doing a whole series of posts that reported on things to do on Halloween, my favorite shops, etc. Unfortunately, Chance is still recovering from knee surgery and it requires a lot more nursing than I expected, so I've been more or less homebound. But that doesn't mean I can't whip up a mean listicle based on my 15 Halloweens in LA (ugh it's depressing to think about it like that).
So in this post I'm going to cover things to do around town (all involve purchasing a ticket except for one, but as of right now, none of them are sold out). I'll get to costume shopping suggestions and party advice in the next couple of posts!
One caveat--I hate haunted houses, haunted mazes, scare rooms, all that shit. HATE. So I haven't been to most of this shit. On purpose. Sorry, I am the worst tour guide.
- Haunted Hayride at Griffith Park
I've heard from a few people that this is super fun. And honestly, if I were going to go to ANY haunted thing where actors covered in fake blood take out their life/work frustrations by screaming in my face, this is probably the one I would do. Check the hours before you decide to go, because exactly when they're open varies by the day and as it gets closer to Halloween. You'll drop $30 for the hayride only, $43 to include attractions, and $59 for front-of-line VIP pass.
- Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
Again, I don't know why you people like this stuff. This one boasts "movie-quality mazes," a stage show, a Terror Tram, and scare zones. ISN'T EVERY PARKING LOT AFTER DARK A SCARE ZONE?! This runs Thursday-Sunday from 7pm-2am, but check the calendar because you can save money based on the day you go if you buy your ticket online (which you'll want to do because it looks like the base ticket price is $85 WHY WOULD YOU PAY FOR THIS).
- Knott's Scary Farm
This sounds just like the one at Universal Studios, only you ALSO have to drive to Anaheim. This one, however, has a website that apparently autoplays some gruesome slashing/gasping/grunting/stabbing sounds. I know this because I opened the website to get the link, and didn't navigate away fast enough, and I'm just sitting here minding my own business and trying to type and all of a sudden I'm being serenaded by a symphony of dying. SERIOUSLY WHY WOULD YOU PAY FOR THIS. Oh good, now there's sounds of bugs skittering around. Jesus Christ.
- Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary
OH!! OH!! I'VE BEEN TO THIS ONE!!!!!! It was one of the most miserable nights of my life!!!! It POURED that night, so the mazes kept flooding while we were in line waiting to go in and then they'd shut them down. Then we decided to screw the mazes and just go into the "nightclub" that was on the ship. While we were waiting in line for that, ten police officers swarmed inside. Then they shut that down, too. I was soaking wet, freezing, and then one of those STUPID FUCKING ATMOSPHERE ACTORS thought it would be funny to stalk me as we tried to make our way to the exit and I almost punched him. If you go to this, go early, because if you don't go early enough, you'll wait in your car for 45 minutes as you crawl closer to the entrance, only to be turned away, directed back into Long Beach to park at an overflow lot, then get shuttled back to the Queen Mary. I'm not even including ticket information because unless they're paying you to go, they're charging too much.
- Ward 13
OK honestly, this one looks like something I would do, too. You know why? Tickets are only $17 ($15 if you buy in advance online), it lasts 15 minutes, and the theme is "haunted asylum." THAT sounds MILDLY interesting. Unlike whatever the hell Knott's Scary Farm's theme is (Squishy Death? Things You'd Rather Not Find in Your Apartment?). Also it's just in South Pas. Convenient.
- Creep Los Angeles
This one is for anyone who's all "but what I REALLY wanna do is spend Halloween in a warehouse downtown!" Enjoy, I guess: "SET IN AN ABANDONED WAREHOUSE IN THE ARTS DISTRICT OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, CREEPLA PROVIDES A FULLY-IMMERSIVE AND INTERACTIVE HAUNT EXPERIENCE. GUESTS CAN BE EXPECTED TO WALK, RUN, CRAWL AND HIDE IN DARK ROOMS." Tickets are $20-30.
Performances (Costumes Optional)
THIS is the kind of stuff I love to do on Halloween. I'm all about a themed performance, where I can wear a costume but I don't need to worry about getting rubbed up on by a prosthetic'd actor.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl with Danny Elfman
This is a crazy-expensive option, but if you're looking to impress someone who's a big fan of Jack Skellington, look no further. The Bowl is always a good time (especially if you spring for box seats), and obviously The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the best movies of all time.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the Walt Disney Concert Hall accompanied by live organ music
One Halloween I saw The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari here with a friend and it was one the BEST Halloweens I've had in LA. It's fun 'cause you can dress up if you want, it's chill so you can actually connect with whoever you're hanging out with, and when have you ever seen a silent film accompanied by a live organ? It's fun, and you can get tickets for around $40. Then you can go get dinner or drinks afterwards and if someone jumps out from an alley screaming at you, you know you're supposed to run.
- Día de los Muertos at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
This one is the Saturday before Halloween, so don't screw that up. I've never done it, but it looks like a LOT of fun. Goes all day--noon to midnight--and tickets are only $20. It's a full-on festival, too, with performances, vendors, and food.
- Dracula with Philip Glass & the Kronos Quartet + Black & White Ball at the Ace Hotel
OK, really though, THIS is the event I think you should go to. It's the best of both worlds--awesome, themed performance conveniently followed by a costume party! They're going to screen the 1931 version Dracula accompanied by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet, and if you haven't heard them, THEY ARE AMAZING. That bit starts at 8pm, and is followed at 10pm by a black-and-white-themed costume dance party. Only catch--"creative black-and-white attire is required" and they invite you to "get inspiration" here. But hell, that's what Halloween's all about, right?? As they put it: "Let’s face it—an eerie 1920’s style movie palace and dance party in an old Hollywood style lobby is a pretty epic backdrop to your Halloween shenanigans." Tickets are $20-$160.
- "Haunted Tales" at Downtown LA Walking Tours
You could go really low-key and take the regularly-offered "Haunted Tales" walking tour of DTLA on Halloween itself. Tickets are only $15, and the tour lasts 2 hours.
- Wicked Lit at the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery
This show is selling out FAST so hurry and snag your tickets soon! Get your theater on in an unsettling environment with Wicked Lit: "Audiences will experience three short plays as they are led through the grounds of the mausoleum and cemetery by Storyguides. Wicked Lit is a walking show – patrons must be able to comfortably walk a minimum of 2,000 steps and climb stairs in order to experience this production. Wicked Lit 2015 contains mature themes, theatrical violence, and sexual situations – the production is recommended for audiences ages 16+. The running time will be approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes including two intervals."
- Illuminated Halloween at Wanderlust
For something COMPLETELY different...how about starting your Halloween party off with a yoga class? If you don't feel like working out, you can go straight to the party. I honestly can't describe it better than the website: "The inaugural Wanderlust’s Illuminated Halloween is coming to drive the demons away and invoke a world of magic for the LA yoga community! Your future will be revealed to you in the sake sanctuary, swim in the haze of WineDerlust as you sweat your prayers on the dance floor. Come in early for a heart opening yoga class in The Greatest Place. Celebrate with crystal ball soothsayers, tarot card readers and bhindied faeries. Dressed in WHITE we’re ready to bring it down from the heavens with you on Halloween night!" Yoga starts at 7pm, the party's at 9pm; tickets are $20-40 depending on when you buy and whether you, y'know, wanna take a yoga class.
- RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns
For some family-friendly fun, head out to either Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge or Santa Anita Park in Arcadia for this display of over 5,000 intricately-carved jack o' lanterns! Apparently they're arranged along a 1/3-mile scenic walking trail. Could be romantic maybe??
- Finally, obviously...the WeHo Carnaval
Look, if you've NEVER gone to this, you absolutely should. NO ONE does Halloween like West Hollywood. You will see the most amazing costumes and the friendliest drunks this side of Burning Man. That being said...it's an utter clusterfuck, and don't try to park ANYWHERE IN HOLLYWOOD on Halloween. Uber? Lyft? I honestly don't know what to tell you, because I have NEVER done it right. I always want to cut my feet off by the end of the night. But I've also had some great Halloweens at the Carnaval. So, y'know, that's the price of admission (because otherwise, there isn't one, it's free).