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Behold, mortals: The scary season has arrived. The nights are growing longer and there’s a definite chill in the air as Halloween draws inexorably closer on the calendar. The signs are everywhere, from the array of kitschy decorations covering your neighbor’s house to the nonstop lineup of horror movies playing on TV.
And then, there’s the host of haunted houses and horror-themed attractions that are now operating around the Valley. Each will utilize a variety of scare tactics (as well as a rogue’s gallery of costumed characters and freaks armed with roaring chainsaws) to get hearts pounding and pulses rising.
A lot of people love a good fright this time of year, which is why local haunted attractions like Fear Farm, Scarizona Scaregrounds, and Sanctum of Horror will welcome thousands of patrons from now until Halloween.
“People love to watch their friends get scared, and they like to get scared themselves,” says Zack Busse, general manager of Fear Farm and 13th Floor Haunted House. “It just goes along with horror films, scary TV shows, or just Halloween in general.”
These commercial haunted houses don’t have the market cornered on giving folks thrills and chills. The Valley is teeming with numerous DIY haunts that die-hard Halloween fanatics create at their homes.
You can find both kinds featured in our rundown of the 15 best Halloween attractions and haunted houses in the Valley. Some are free; others will cost you around $25 to $30 to visit (along with a good chunk of your sanity). Each will be open at various times from now until Halloween or even early November. All offer the chance to be traumatized by teenagers dressed up like the Grim Reaper, zombies, or even Freddy Krueger.
Read on, Halloween fans, and get ready for a good scare.
One of the creatures on display at Phoenix Dead Rising.
Phoenix Dead Rising 8611 North 30th Drive
Nick Chryst is crazy for Halloween — and exhibit A is the spooky walk-through display he creates every year with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, Aspen, at their north Phoenix home. A legion of decorations (including skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and other ghostly figures) make up the ominous display in the front yard and garage, which is shrouded in stage fog and is lit with an eerie purple glow.
“I’ve lost track at how many decorations we use,” Nick says. “It’s gotta be a couple hundred or more.” There’s also an army of jack-o’-lanterns located throughout the display and even a slime fountain, which we’re certain you won’t find at your average haunted house.
Hours and prices: On display nightly, dusk until 10 p.m., starting October 17. You can walk through from October 30 through November 3. It’s free, but donations are appreciated. Check out Phoenix Dead Rising’s Facebook page for more info.
The House of Haunts 8325 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale 480-607-4402
Like the other members of his family (most notably his younger brother Chris), Steve Birkett has an obsession with Halloween, so much so that the Arizona native transforms the exterior of his split-level Scottsdale residence into a nifty home haunt every October. It boasts a massive thunder and lightning show in the front yard and a mockup of a Wild West-style abandoned mine in the side yard that’s inspired by a bygone Valley relic.
“I’ve always been in love with the old Legend City [theme park] and its Lost Dutchman Mine,” Steve says. “So I made my walk-through [haunt] themed after that.” It’s populated by a dearly departed prospector, some mummies, and a variety of pop-up animatronics. If you’d like to get in some spooky spelunking, be prepared to get a little dirty. Patrons will have to get down on their hands and knees to crawl through a tunnel.
Hours and prices: Open nightly, 6:30 to 10 p.m., from October 27 through 31. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. More info can be found here.
Humans are what’s for dinner at UZA MysCreation Haunted Attraction.
Sydoney AA Banks/Synyster Syn Photography
UZA MysCreation Haunted Attraction 2935 West Libby Street (and other locations)
MysCreation is fairly unique among Valley haunts; it’s a traveling attraction that will appear at a few different spots around town throughout October and into early November.
The setup consists of two themed spectacles, each featuring costumed actors, animatronic creatures and devices, and three different levels of thrills. One is called CHASM and involves people exploring a dark fissure that will take them “deep into the abyss of all the unforeseen monsters and vermin far below.” The other is known as Crazed Cannibal Cavern, where you hunt for a missing family and help them escape from a pack of flesh-eating fiends.
Hours and prices: MysCreation is scheduled to appear at from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Halloweencon on Saturday, October 12, at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street in Mesa. General admission is $19.99 to $25, VIP tickets are $35. The attraction will also be set up at 2935 West Libby Street from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on October 31, and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2. Admission is free. See the UZA MysCreation website for more details.
The Halloween House of Gilbert 2265 East Mallard Court, Gilbert
If the array of kitschy, kooky, and spooky decorations outside of this Gilbert home seem eerily familiar, you’re not going crazy. As it turns out, they used to be a part of the original Halloween House of Gilbert, which was located a couple of miles away. Local couple Jay and Tanya Ortiz purchased the display and its myriad and macabre elements from its previous owner and have it up in front of their residence. And it’s just as fantastic as ever, with skeletons, sarcophagi, dozens of tombstones, a black-light room, a tunnel equipped with lasers and props, five fog machines, and more than 10,000 lights synced to music.
Hours and prices: On display 6 to 9 p.m., from October 18 to 30, and 6 to 10 p.m. on October 31. There’s no cost to view the display.
One of the many dour denizens of Mount Mayhem.
Mount Mayhem 1740 East Purdue Avenue602-507-7160
North Phoenix’s Mount Mayhem has been put on annually by a local family since 2009. Folks from across the Valley have flocked the popular attraction to partake in its mix of “malevolent clowns, foreboding fortune tellers, wicked games, torturous mazes, and freak show gore.”
Family members spend an estimated 150 man-hours creating props, sets, and costumes with neighborhood kids and teens portraying its cast of characters. There’s a different theme each Halloween. This year involves hordes of escaped mental patients roaming the night who’ve been infected by the Enfermedad virus. You better make sure you have all of your shots if you plan a visit.
Hours and prices: Runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on October 25 to 27 and 30 and 31. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
Terror Nights 511 East La Donna Drive, Tempe 480-276-7054
Axe-wielding scarecrows and brain-eating zombies are a few fearsome fiends you’ll interact with at this popular home haunt in Tempe, which has been operating during the Halloween season for more than a decade. It includes such sinister scenes as The Boogeyman Room, Zombie Alley, and Maniac’s Revenge, as well as a possible encounter with legendary slasher film villain Michael Myers. Be prepared to be scared, and to wait a bit, as hundreds turn out at the haunt.
Hours and prices: Terror Nights will be open 7 to 10 p.m. October 26 to 30. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated, with partial proceeds benefiting Tempe Community Action Agency.
There’s something sinister lurking out in the corn at Tolmachoff Farms.
AZ Field of Screams 5726 North 75th Avenue, Glendale602-999-3276
For 11 months out of the year, Tolmachoff Farms in Glendale is a homespun slice of bucolic tranquility. On weekend nights in October, one of its five-acre corn fields becomes a refuge for vile and evil beings. They dwell within the haunted corn maze that’s the centerpiece of Field of Screams, stalking visitors through the dark and twisting paths or inside a few gloomy-looking structures.
The attraction lives up to its name. Owner Bill Tolmachoff says that the frightened cries of patrons pierce the night air after they encounter the leather-faced freaks, evil clowns, and other costumed terrors lurking about. “You can hear the noises coming from across the field,” Tolmachoff says. “Some people will hear the screams and they just refuse to go in.”
You can’t blame them. It’s often a disorienting and claustrophobic experience wandering along the milelong route in almost total darkness while the corn stalks seem to close in around you. If that’s too terrifying a prospect, there’s a more benign and family-friendly corn maze available. It’s quaint and maybe even a little corny (pardon the pun), but at least you won’t need counseling afterward.
Hours and prices: The haunted corn maze operates from 7 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Halloween. Admission is $15 on October 31, $20 every other night. The family maze runs from 7 to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, until October 31, and is $12. A $25 combo ticket gets you into both.
Halloween Christmas House 1001 East El Freda Road, Tempe
Back in 2017, local couple Francis and Jessica Brown had their Tempe residence adorned with a cute and colorful display paying tribute to the beloved stop-motion animation film The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was a big hit, bringing thousands of visitors to their doorstep.
Dubbed Nightmare Town, it features multiple characters from the film and a mix of both Christmas and Halloween-style elements, like monstrous wreaths and a spooky-looking Toys for Tots donation box. The entire front of the house resembles an enormous beast, with second-story windows that look like eyes and the porch resembling a toothy maw.
It’s both frightening and festive, just like the film that inspired it. Jessica says it’s one of the reasons they put up the display. “Our main reason for [doing it] is that my husband and I love both Halloween and Christmas and that the two holidays can collide,” she says.
Hours and prices: The Halloween Christmas House operates nightly from sunset to 10 p.m. through Halloween. The display then transforms into more of a Christmas theme and will run through January 1. It’s free to check out the display.
Terror in Tolleson 8609 West Preston Lane, Tolleson602-486-5888
Terror in Tolleson is not only big on scares, but it’s just big, period. The enormous haunt encompasses a majority of the area surrounding Isaac Pacheco’s three-bedroom home, including the garage, side yard, and a portion of his neighbor’s property. It’s gotten even bigger this year, expanding to 4,100 square feet, with a multitude of frights contained within its labyrinth-like halls.
“We’ve enclosed the driveway, added more twists and turns, more scare zones, and a cemetery at the entrance,” Pacheco says. “We’re definitely amping things up.”
The 2019 version of Terror in Tolleson also will feature an asylum staffed by doctors conducting unnecessary experiments like injecting patients with toxic waste. Visitors may also cross paths with insidious clowns armed with evil intent. “We’re still going to play around with phobias, because a lot of people like that sort of thing,” Pacheco says. “We also like to turn your nightmares into reality.”
Hours and prices: Friday and Saturday nights, 7 p.m. to midnight, October 4 through November 2. Admission is $14 per person online ($16 at the door), $28 for couples, $45 for a season pass, or $55 for a group of four.
A victim of The Breach at Sanctum of Horror in Mesa.
Sanctum of Horror 6555 East Southern Avenue, Mesa480-200-8163
Shawn Kaul and his family have one goal for their haunted house: They want to scare the crap out of anyone who rolls through. “When you walk through our haunt, we’re going to try to scare you as much as we can,” Kaul says. Over the next month, they’ll be trying to do just that via the two attractions that make up Sanctum of Horror, which is located in the parking lot of Superstition Springs Mall in Mesa.
The first haunt, The Breach, involves a case of science running amok. “It’s a giant bunker where scientists and the military are doing crazy experiments on these quarantined creatures that escape and begin attacking everyone,” Kaul says. “There’s all these sirens going off, constant noise, and infected characters that jump out at you. It gets absolutely nuts.”
The main haunt, Sanctum of Horror, dates back to 2006. Visitors journey through the squalid, blood-soaked home of Lenore, a deranged mental patient who escapes from an asylum and wreaks havoc upon her family and the doctors who tortured here. “Ultimately, you’re going through her house and seeing all these horrible acts of revenge on her family and doctors, like making stew from her mother’s remains,” Shawn says. It’s pretty twisted, to say the least.
Hours and prices: Sanctum of Horror runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on October 4 and 5, 13, 20, 24, and 27; and from 7 to 11 p.m. on October 11 and 12 and 29 and 30. It will then operate from 7 p.m. to midnight on October 18 and 19, 25 and 26, and Halloween night. General admission is $22 per person and a fast pass is also available for an additional $10. A special “blackout” event takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. on November 1 and 2. Tickets are $20 and $25; a fast pass is included.
Haunted Graveyard 8414 East Valley Vista Drive, Scottsdale
Chris Birkett has been completely swamped with Halloween-related activities lately. He wouldn’t have it any other way. Aside from assembling a large outdoor display at McCormick-Stillman Train Park in Scottsdale, the 44-year-old wedding DJ been turning his house into the Haunted Graveyard, a Halloween cavalcade of lights, decorations, gravestones, skeletons, and creepy creatures.
For Birkett, it’s an annual tradition that stretches back three decades to when he decorated his childhood home. These days, it yields an attention-grabbing and interactive multimedia experience that occupies his front, back, and side yards of his house.
It’s also as ambitious as hell. For example, his garage will host a maze resembling a haunted mansion that Birkett says will be a “total mind trip” for those walking through its hall.
“I guess the best way I can describe it is that it’s going to be like a demented world of possession,” Birkett says. “The first room looks like you’re getting sucked into this porthole of your insane mind. And then you’ll come into this Victorian library and maybe you’ll view something from a past-life regression, like witnessing how you possibly died in another life.”
It’s a bit heady for a home haunt, to say the least. The maze will also boast brain-bending visuals that will “screw with people’s perceptions and fears.”
Over in his backyard, a bayou-like creepy swamp with voodoo practitioners casting curses await. The front yard will have Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a graveyard with animatronic headstones, some singing pumpkins, and a large fire-breathing dragon.
“I always like to go all out during Halloween,” Birkett says. Ain’t that the truth.
Hours and prices: Open nightly, 6:30 to 10 p.m., from October 27 through 31. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Frankenstein’s Monster and other classic horror film characters can be found at 13th Floor.
13th Floor Entertainment Group
13th Floor Haunted House 2814 West Bell Road602-456-2250
This ultra-popular haunted house, which has been around for a decade, has undergone some updates for its 2019 edition, according to general manager Zack Busse. “We’ve brought in a new production team with a fresh set of eyes and a new vibe,” he says. “There’s new lighting, new audio, and a new vibe.”
They’ve also created new themes for each 13th Floor’s two attractions inside its 6,500-square-foot location in north Phoenix. One is Creature Feature, which pays tribute to old-school horror characters like Frankenstein’s monster and the Mummy.
“We went in and renovated some of the areas inside that have been there for a while and made room for some of the monsters that everybody knows and loves,” Busse says. “We also turned one of the mansions into a vintage Halloween night scene with trick or treaters and jack o’ lanterns.” Meanwhile, the post-apocalyptic cityscape next door will host the new Rise of the Dead attraction that will be teeming with zombies.Despite all the changes, many of 13th Floor’s hallmarks are still around, like its famed tilt room and claustrophobia-inducing crawlways and tunnels.
Outside, several new characters will be roaming about, including an evil clown that’s not unlike Pennywise from the modern-day It series. Fittingly enough, actor Jackson Robert Scott (who played Georgie in both films) will make an appearance on Friday, October 25, to sign autographs and pose for photos for an additional fee. Check out the haunt’s website for more details.
Hours and prices: Scares will be served up at13th Floor from 7 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday from October 4 to 26. It will also be open 7 to 10 p.m. every Sunday starting on October 6; 7 to 10:30 p.m. on October 24 and 27 through 30; and 7 to 11 p.m. on Halloween night. Admission is $27.99 to $32.99. A fast pass (which offers limited wait time) and a skip-the-line pass (which gets you inside even quicker) are an additional $10 and $20, respectively.
You may or may not get the business end of that ax at Scarizona Scaregrounds.
Scarizona Scaregrounds 1901 North Alma School Road, Mesa480-444-2590
Organizers of Scarizona Scaregrounds describe it as a “haunted theme park,” owing to the fact it has a mix of rides, vendors, live entertainment, and (of course) haunts.
Located in a quarry in Mesa along the edge of the Salt River, Scarizona’s five attractions include Startled Darkness, a lights-out haunt containing Paranormal Activity-like jump scares, and Epic Fear, which stars a variety of iconic Halloween characters like zombies, evil clowns, and witches. There’s also Slayer’s Slaughter House, a gore-adorned home of a serial killer that’s decorated with rotting corpses and rancid flesh, and Operation Zombie Storm, where you can blast the walking dead with paintballs while riding around on a wagon.The newest addition to the lineup is Virtual Terror, a VR-based interactive experience where you can walk through a virtual haunted house.
Beyond these horrific offerings, the Scaregrounds routinely features an eclectic cavalcade of activities each weekend, including zombie trivia games, live music, and sideshow entertainers. If nothing else, it allows patrons to chill out for a bit while they try to get their hearts back into their chests.
Hours and prices: Scarizona Scaregrounds opens at 7 p.m. on October 4 and 5 and October 10 through 31. A fall festival takes place on October 26 and 27 that runs from 8 to 10 p.m. Blackout nights will also happen on November 1 and 2. Single admission for a specific attraction (Startled Darkness, Epic Fear, and Slayer’s Slaughter House) is $21.95; two attractions are $25.95, and $31.95 for all three. Operation Zombie Storm is $15 and Virtual Terror is $10. An all-inclusive package is $37.95. Tickets and other info is available at the Scarizona website.
The Plague Scarecrow is one of the creepy characters you’ll encounter at Fear Farm.
13th Floor Entertainment Group
Fear Farm 2209 North 99th Avenue623-866-5378
Fear Farm towers over the local Halloween scene for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the longest-running haunt in the Valley, as it’s been frightening folks for 20 years now. And second, it’s also the largest, covering more than 50 acres.
It’s got five different areas located around the property that feature big scares and big production values. The newest one is The Plague, which general manager Zack Busse says will center around a community that’s been infected by a virus similar to the Black Death. “There are all these sick and infected people stumbling about and interacting with everyone,” he describes.
Fear Farm is also bringing back its 15-acre haunted corn maze for 2019. “It was a fan-favorite thing for a long time that we wanted to have again,” Busse says. 1300+ Best Halloween Caption for Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp. Tap To be Tricked
Elsewhere, there’s Slaughterhouse, a longtime mainstay of Fear Farm that’s populated by chainsaw-wielding maniacs. There’s also the alien-themed attraction The Bunker. which is an homage to the infamous Phoenix Lights incident back in 1997. If you’ve still got some gumption left over, you can check out Legends of the Pumpkin Witch or Fallout, a post-apocalyptic experience that Busse describes as “Mad Max meets Waterworld.”
Meanwhile, Fear Farm’s courtyard area will have a mix of food trucks, concession stands, music, games, rides, and a Junkyard Drive-in Theater screening movies. It will also host an appearance by Jackson Robert Scott from It on Saturday, October 12 (visit the Fear Farm website for more details).
Hours and prices: Fear Farm runs from 7 to 10:30 p.m. every Thursday in October, 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 7 to 11 p.m. on Sunday. It will also be open from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. every Wednesday from October 9 to 30 and every Tuesday from October 22 to 29. Hours on Halloween are 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $27.99 to $32.99 per person, depending on the night. A fast pass (which offers limited wait time) and a skip-the-line pass (which gets you inside even more quickly) are an additional $10 and $20, respectively.
Benjamin Leatherman is the clubs editor at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
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