With a haunted hotel, a walking trail, and the “Scream Zone,” there is plenty to choose from.
The Haunted Hotel
Located in the heart of downtown, at 424 Market St., the Haunted Hotel features a variety of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, as well as more than a few chainsaws. With room after terrifying room, the hotel definitely packs a punch.
The hotel is open from September 25 to October 31 (but is closed every Monday and Tuesday, except for the last week of October). The hotel’s hours of operation are 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The cost of admission is $14.99 and tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
The Haunted Trail
Next on the list is the Haunted Trail. This destination, which is located just east of 6th Ave and Juniper Street in Balboa Park, is no ordinary walk in the park. Participants meander their way through a trail full of frights and have a chance to experience Balboa Park in a whole new light.
The trail is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. Like the Haunted Hotel, the Trail is open from September 25 to October 31, but is closed every Monday and Tuesday (except for the last Monday and Tuesday in October). And, like the Haunted Hotel, the cost of admission is $14.99. Tickets can be purchased either online or at the door for this event too.
To get to the trail, take Laurel Street to the stop sign right before the Laurel Street Bridge. Make a right turn at the stop sign and follow the road. This street is a cul-de-sac, so park anywhere along this stretch and there will be signs directing event-goers to the right spot.
And, don’t forget about the “Carnival of Carnage” clown maze. For five more dollars, thrill seekers can enter a black light maze chock full of clowns. This maze is not for the faint of heart or those who experience coulrophobia.
The Scream Zone
Last, but certainly not least, is the “Scream Zone.” Located on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, better known as the “Scaregrounds” throughout the months of September and October, the “Scream Zone” consists of three attractions in one. There is a haunted hayride, a maze known as “The Chamber,” and a “House of Horror.”
To keep it interesting, and to keep the regulars coming back, new scares are added each year. This October, the House of Horror features a New Orleans Crypt and Graveyard as well as a “Dinner Party Gone Mad.”
The Scream Zone is open on a more limited basis than the Haunted Hotel or the Haunted Trail. The dates of operation are as follows: September 25-26, October 2-4, 8-11, 15-18, and 22-31. The hours of operation are 7:00 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on all other days. Free parking is available in the Scream Zone lot only. For more information about parking and directions, please see the Haunted Hotel website.
In addition to being open on a more limited basis than the other attractions, the Scream Zone is also a little pricier. For a Triple (Combo) Haunt, the price is $27.99 while it is $18.99 for a Double Haunt and $14.99 for a Single. And, there is a Fast Track pass available for an extra $10.00 to allow those on a tight schedule to go to the front of the line.
Safety Issues and Bringing Children to the Events
While those who own and operate these venues take a number of precautions to ensure the safety of the guests, it is important that event-goers exercise caution and discretion. Attendees are asked not to touch the actors as the actors will make their best efforts not to touch the guests. Any articles that may be considered weapons or may pose a hazard to others (knives, guns, lighters, etc) are prohibited. The website information about the Scream Zone notes that all actors are background checked and that each actor is provided with a panic button in case of an emergency. While these precautions are admirable, it is important to note that safety issues may still arise.
With moving floors, strobe lights, fog machines, and actors in a variety of costumes carrying frightening props, participants are advised to know their limits and to exercise caution when bringing children to these events.