The 10 Scariest Haunts in Southern California

If Horror is your thing, Southern California is a great place to get your scare on. With a variety of haunts that go from skipping a beat, to stopping your heart completely, SoCal has something for everyone. We’ve listed our favorite haunts in order of slight fright, to unescapable terror. Do you dare visit one of our Top 10 Scariest Haunts in Southern California?

Top 10 Scariest Southern California Haunts

Bride at Haunted Hayride(Photo Credit: the Haunted Hayride Website.)

10. Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is a unique haunt experience, the main event being a hayride through several scary scenes, with monsters coming at the cart. The event also features a maze, two haunted houses, and a macabre theatrical show called “Purgatory.” The website recommends guests be 8 or older due to it being a “high scare, high startle content experience.” This year’s theme is “Clown,” so um…have fun with that.

(Photo credit: Photo by Fred Greaves, ©Fred Greaves 2011)

9. The Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Scream Zone is San Diego County’s largest haunted experience. features four exciting attractions in one location. This year’s haunts include: The House of Horror, with room after room of frightening and surprising visual and visceral experiences; The Haunted Hayride, filled with terrifying “hallucinations” including Wicked Alice in Horrendous-land and a trip through the Rabbit Hole; Karnevil, a carnival and freak show that includes a weird and surreal trailer park of clowns and a death spiral that leaves visitors disoriented and terrified; and The Running Dead, a 30,000 square foot unique obstacle course challenge that will have you literally running for your life from brain-eating, blood-sucking Zombies. Scream Zone is not recommended for guests under the age of 10, and parents who prefer not to participate can head to the free Scream Zone compound to wait for their children to return alive.

Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain(Photo Credit: Fright Fest Website)

8. Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Park goers can spend the day at Six Flags, and then enjoy the transition to Fright Fest as night falls. Included with regular park admission are several scare zones to keep you on your toes all night long with nowhere to hide. Guests can also enjoy their favorite Six Flags coasters in the dark. To experience the mazes that are scattered throughout the park, a maze pass is required, but can be purchased either together with an admission ticket, or separately if you already have tickets or season passes. According to the website: “Fright Fest is not recommended for children under 12 or those who scare easily.”

Halloween Horror Nights(Photo Credit: Halloween Horror Nights Website)

7. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, Hollywood. Halloween Horror Nights brings some of your favorite horror movies and television shows to life in their six mazes. The park also features eight terrifying mazes, a new Jabbawockeez show, Terror Tram and scare zones. Since Universal Studios has a big budget, the costumes and makeup are very well done. They recommend that guests be 13 and older.

Haunted Hotel Doll Island(Photo Credit: Haunted Hotel Website)

6. The Haunted Hotel in San Diego. The Haunted Hotel, located downtown in the Gaslamp, is the longest running haunted house in San Diego It was named as one of the top 13 haunts in the U.S. by and was featured on The Travel Channel’s show “America’s Scariest Haunts.” The Haunted Hotel features attractions such as the Hellevator, the zombie infested alley, the Clown Subway, and the Hillbilly Swamp. Actors may not touch you, but they may accidentally brush against you and you may get wet. According to their website, it is not recommended for children under 10 years old.

(Photo Credit: Angela Bishop)

5. Knott’s Scary Farm in Buena Park. Knott’s is a must when it comes to haunts in SoCal. While it may not be the scariest of haunts, it’s definitely thrilling. There aren’t many safe places in the park aside from bathrooms and restaurants, and even then there might be someone lurking outside and waiting for you. This year Knott’s Scary Farm has nine mazes, four scare zones, two shows, and monsters lurking around every corner. And of course lots and lots of fog. While there is no official age minimum, the general consensus is that it’s probably best for 13 and older.

Read our review of the 2017 Scary Farm lineup here!

The Queen Mary Dark Harbor(Photo Credit: Dark Harbor Website)

4. Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach. Another unique haunt experience in Southern California, Dark Harbor features something that many local haunts don’t; it takes place in an authentic haunted landmark. This year’s event is said to be the scariest yet, with more mazes and monsters than ever before. There are no age restrictions, but per the site: “We do not recommend children attend Dark Harbor. Dark Harbor can be extremely frightening and may contain images not appropriate for young guests.”

Read our review of the 2017 Queen Mary Dark Harbor lineup here!

(Photo Credit: 17th Door Website)

3. The 17th Door. The 17th Door is back for the 2017 haunt season with ALL NEW room themes and scares. Paula isn’t such an innocent college kid anymore… “Our Paula has committed a heinous crime. It’s now time to pay the price… A lengthy sentence to be served in the most gruesome and hellish of prisons. Much worse than the troubled and miserable life of our depressed college sophomore. Welcome to Perpetuum Penitentiary.” 17th door is over 30 minutes of psychological terror, making it one of the longest haunts in SoCal. This is also easily one of the most scary haunts in Southern California, utilizing a safe word if it becomes too much to handle. It is not recommended for guests under 13, and all patrons must sign a waiver prior to entering. According to the website “You may be exposed to or come in contact with: the ground, electrical shock, claustrophobia, touching, insects, liquids, foul scents, dizziness, fog, strobe lighting, food products, loud noises and extreme temperatures.” So just let that sink in before you decided to head over there…

(Photo Credit: High Desert Haunted House)

2. High Desert Haunted House. This popular Apple Valley haunt kicks off the 2017 season on Friday October 13th. Consistently ranked as one of the top 5 scariest haunts in Southern California, the High Desert Haunted House features the Victoria Manor Insane Asylum, Deadwood Ghost Town, and the Dead End Clown Maze. They also have an “extreme night” where only guests 18 and older are allowed.

Read our contributor’s review of High Desert Haunted House here!

(Photo Credit: Reign of Terror Website)

1. Reign of Terror Haunted House. At over 23,000 square feet, Reign of Terror is the biggest indoor haunt in Southern California. It features 8 terrifying attractions with a total of 100 rooms. The attractions are connected, so as you exit one attraction, you immediately enter the next! Each attraction is designed to target – and maximize – a different part of your deepest fears! They do not have any age restrictions, however, they strongly discourage bringing babies and young children or forcing terrified children through the haunted house. There are no refunds…even for those who are too scared to enter.

Read our review of Reign of Terror here!

What’s your favorite Southern California Haunt?

About Angela Bishop

Angela is a Florida transplant who has been living in Orange County since 2004. She loves music, driving on the freeway (even in the SoCal traffic), trying new foods, and traveling near and far. When she’s not covering local events, she’s traveling around with her crazy family and writing about it over on


  1. Natalie Carter says:

    Reign of Terror is a great place. Nothing else like it! I recommend it to all Haunt fans. Get a group of friends (like we do every year)and have a blast walking through this place! Great scares and just a fun time.

  2. awesome list!!!

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