The Best Southern California Halloween Attractions in 2023

Halloween is a blast for our family. My husband gets obsessed with finding ways to scare our teens and I love taking the little ones to the fun more family-friendly Halloween events. That being said, we have gone on a search to find the best Southern California Halloween Attractions in 2023.

Best Spooky Theme Park Events for a Fright

Having teens for Halloween is a ton of fun! Even though they tend to roll their eyes at another trip to the pumpkin patch, they do love several Halloween traditions. One tradition we have incorporated as our kids have gotten older is an annual spooky night with their dad, where they head to a couple of the more frightening Halloween events around Southern California each year.

Here are a few of their favorite stops!

# 1 – Universal Halloween Horror Nights

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is definitely the best event to give you scares and thrills.

Why We Love Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
  • Most Intricate and Well-Designed Mazes– Universal definitely has the best-themed mazes coming from your favorite shows or movies. The teens say it is an awesome experience.
  • Tons of Attractions & Shows– The quantity of experiences is also great as most of the major attractions are open (except the tram), plus a ton of mazes and shows.
  • Great Food- Universal does serve up some of the better food of all the parks serving up frights this Halloween Season

What Could Be Improved

  • You are going to walk…. a lot– Universal opens up their backlot to create some of the mazes. That being said, you have to walk quite a ways to get to that back lot. Even my teens were tired of walking after a night at Universal
  • It’s the most expensive Halloween Horror Event– Tickets start at $79 and can go as high as $300 with front-of-the-line Passes. We found some great discounts luckily which you can snag here!
  • Wait Times are Extremely Long– The waits hit the triple digits. If you can afford express passes…. get them!

You can check out my full review of Universal Halloween Horror Nights here!

#2 – Knott’s Scary Farm

Knott’s Scary Farm is still the premiere Halloween Haunt of all the theme parks when it comes to getting scared, in our opinion.

Why We Love Knott’s Scary Farm

  • It is the most frightening while simply walking around the park– Everywhere you walk you feel like someone can jump out at you at any time and frighten you. The characters jump out at you and slide on their knees causing sparks. Others have elaborate tricks to scare you.
  • It has the most mazes– Knott’s does have the most mazes of any theme park. It definitely takes a full night to get through them all unless you have a VIP Fright Pass
  • It is affordable– Tickets start at $50, much more affordable than some of the other theme park events. Pro Tip – you can get discounted Knott’s Berry Farm Tickets – here is where to snag them
  • Awesome Rides– Knott’s also has some intense rides, the GhostRider and Accelerator will definitely get your heart racing.

What Could Be Improved

  • Break up the lines better – One of the things about Knott’s is they let too many people in a maze at one time so it is harder to get scared if you are following a huge group. *Pro Tip* Walk Slow and Create a Gap. My husband loves to get scared so he walks slowly at first through the maze to create space so he doesn’t see who is going to scare him.
  • Long Lines – The lines at Knott’s can get quite long. Get there early and head to the back and then work your way backward or, if you can afford it, buy the Fright Lane Pass which will let you skip all the lines for rides and mazes.

# 3 – SeaWorld Howl O’ Scream

Next on the list of best events for teens is SeaWorld’s Howl O’ Scream which opened for the first time in 2022! You wouldn’t think Sea World could be transformed into something scary but they sure know how to do it.

What we loved about Sea World’s Howl O’ Scream

  • Entrance into Mazes is broken up by party– this made the mazes a lot scarier as you didn’t know when monsters would pop out
  • Short Wait Times– The park was pretty quiet, which made it all that more creepy
  • On-Point Theme– Walking through the park, they did a pretty amazing job transforming SeaWorld into a haunted environment.

What Could Be Improved

  • Food– The park lets you in at 6 p.m. but there is nowhere to purchase food til 7 p.m. Also, there are only 3 small stands that serve a few food items.
  • # of Mazes – Right now there are only 3 mazes and 3 rides, so you can finish this event quite quickly.


To be perfectly honest this event wasn’t our favorite. I would skip it entirely if you are just coming for the fright fest.

Best So Cal Halloween Events for Littles (and those who don’t want to be scared)

#1 – Disneyland’s Oogie Boogie Bash

Disneyland basically has two separate events going on during Halloween. You can enjoy with regular theme park admission Disneyland’s Halloweentime. This is simply the park decorated for Halloween (which is incredible) with the main attraction being a giant pumpkin on Main Street. Then, there is a special nighttime event at California Adventure, the Oogie Boogie Bash.

Why We Love the Oogie Boogie Bash

  • Incredible Parade– The parade at the Oogie Boogie Bash is a ton of fun. You will see the headless horsemen and all your favorite Disney characters dressed up in their holiday best.
  • Themed Trick or Treating– The trick or treat trails are well-themed with a Disney villain appearing somewhere along the trail.
  • Redwood Creek Trail Transformations– The Redwood Creek Trail is transformed into an incredible spooky experience that is one you have to see to believe.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy After Dark- The transformation of this ride is a ton of fun and worth a ride.
  • Short Wait times for rides– You can enjoy short wait times for your favorite Disney rides which is ah-mazing!

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s pricey– This is one of the most expensive Halloween events in Southern California with tickets going from $129-$169. Although this won’t change because….
  • It Sells Out Fast- If you don’t buy tickets for this event in the first couple of hours it is on sale you will find yourself out of luck.
  • Entry into the parks is a bit slow– If you come in early then it is not too bad, but if you enter at the time the event starts or anywhere near there getting through the ticket and wristband line takes 30-45 minutes.

#2 – SeaWorld’s Spooktacular

SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacularv

While Sea World might have a haunted event at night the daytime event is a ton of fun as well. Sea World’s Spooktacular is fantastic.

Why We Love It

  • Kids can trick or treat through the park at fun stations where you will see workers dressed as flamingos and other SeaWorld characters.
  • Some of the shows are adapted to have a Halloween twist. Our favorite is Clyde & Seymour

# 3 – Legoland’s Brick or Treat

Fall Festivals and Halloween Activities in Temecula | Global Munchkins

Legoland’s Brick or Treat is great, especially for kids ages 3-9

Why we love it:

  • The park is set up with adorable Lego-built Halloween Decorations.
  • The ticket includes a full day at the park unlike all the other theme parks

What can be improved:

  • The shows are a bit lackluster especially when compared to the Oogie Boogie Bash
  • Limited Dates

Take Halloween to the High Seas on a Cruise

Disney Halloween Cruise

You can take a 3-night Halloween on the High Seas Disney Cruise out of San Diego this year! The best part is a ton of these cruises are having huge sales.

During Halloween on the High Seas, you can get dressed up and see some amazing costumes, and the kiddos can go trick-or-treating all over the ship. It truly is a great event.

If you book with our friends over at Tinks Magical Vacations – mention our site Global Munchkins and you will get a stateroom credit on top of the discounted cruise price.

More Southern California Halloween Attractions

Looking for a smaller, more traditional fall event? Here are some additional Southern California Halloween Attractions!

Dark Harvest Corn Maze

Head through a frightening corn maze in Chino Hills where you will definitely have quite a few jump scares to get your Halloween Scares going.

Coffin Creek Corona

Enjoy 5 Haunted attractions and a Dark Shadow Marketplace in one spooky location!

LA’s Haunted Hayride: Griffith Park

The terror we’ve come to know and love is back – with mazes, trick-or-treating, plus the haunted hayride.

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park is a stroll you will never forget. As you walk the mile-long Trail, spine-tingling sights and sounds will leave you trembling.

The Best Pumpkin Patches in Southern California

Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm is as classic as it gets, which is to be expected because they have been in business for over 50 years. Everybody gets to grab a wheelbarrow and head out to the field to find their perfect pumpkin. There’s great BBQ, food trucks, and tons of different activities.

Check out their family fun packages to get the most out of your day. 

Tanaka Farms

Do you want to take your pumpkin picking to the next level? Tanaka Farms in Irvine (which was famous for its Hello Kitty-themed farm experience a few years ago) offers festive activities including wagon rides and a petting zoo.

Please keep in mind that this themed patch is very popular on weekends, so parking reservations are required in advance. Plus, if you’re looking for something other than pumpkins, the U-pick veggie garden is open every day for your picking pleasure.

Keep an eye out for the launch of a sister patch in Costa Mesa, which promises a more laid-back experience.

Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

The Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch is located near the little mountain hamlet of Ramona. Take some time to look for the perfect carving or cooking pumpkin, get lost in the massive corn maze, shoot an ear of corn out of a cannon, pet some farm animals, and fill the scrapbook with photos of the kids riding vintage farm equipment.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch

Head out to Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch for a true LA experience, where you can get a fleeting glimpse of a star or two while picking up a few pumpkins.

Check their website for the most up-to-date information; they occasionally close for private parties.

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