The 10 Scariest Haunts in Southern California (UPDATED for 2018)

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?

(This post was updated October 9th, 2018. Questions or comments? Leave them below!)

Top 10 Scariest Southern California Haunts


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

10. The Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Scream Zone is San Diego County’s largest haunted experience. It features three terrifying haunts and several other “monstrous 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, a crazy ride where every turn is a new challenge for survival; and Karnevil, where Fairy Tales have been turned into blood curdling “Scary Tales” featuring a giant flesh-eating rabbit, an entire pack of teeth-gnashing wolves and an evil witch who preys on unsuspecting victims. Scream Zone is not recommended for guests under the age of 10, and those guests or parents who prefer not to participate can head to the free Scream Zone Compound to wait for their family or friends to return alive.

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

9. 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, such as Witches Lair, Condemned – Forever Damned, Sewer of Souls, The Shadows, or Hell Fest (based on the new movie of the same name,) 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.”

(Photo Credit: Halloween Horror Nights Website)

8. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, Hollywood. Halloween Horror Nights brings some of your favorite horror movies and television shows to life in their EIGHT mazes. The park features quite a few new attractions this year, including a Poltergeist haunted house and an immersive a new Stranger Things maze. Guests can also traipse through five different scare zones, enjoy a Jabbawockeez show, ride the Terror Tram, and enjoy all of the terrifying theatrical excellence they’ve come to expect from Universal Studios. They recommend that guests be 13 and older.

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

7. 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 featured on The Travel Channel’s show “America’s Scariest Haunts” and was recently named #1 Scariest Haunt in America. The Haunted Hotel features attractions such as the Hellevator, the Zombie Infested Alley, the Hillbilly Swamp, the Mutant Mine Shaft, the Morgue Autopsy Lab and the Chaos Hallway. 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)

6. 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 goriest of 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, three shows, monsters lurking around every corner, and of course lots and lots of FOG. This year, two new mazes join the lineup; The Depths, an ominous underground journey, and Dark Entities, an extra-terrifying extraterrestrial adventure. 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)

5. 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 has been designed to disorient fans with an entirely NEW park footprint along with new maze designs, interactive alternate paths, and thrilling live entertainment. 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: Sinister Pointe Facebook)

4. Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place. Sinister Pointe is the #1 Independent Haunted Attraction and Halloween production studio in Orange County, California, and Scary Place is 3 floors and 150,000 square feet of terror in Laguna Hills, CA. It features three nightmare-inducing mazes, several scare zones, nightly performances of music, magic and mayhem as well some really great vendors too. Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place is not only creepy, but it’s also a great place to hang out with your haunt-loving friends in South Orange County.

(Photo Credit: 17th Door Website)

3. The 17th Door. The 17th Door is back for the 2018 haunt season with another new theme: Crybaby. “At Perpetuum Penitentiary the madness continues. As Paula continues to serve her time, she continues her decent into darkness. An unseen side of Paula is now coming into focus. A thought or mention of her dead child torments her soul and brings forth a psychotic rage aimed at those around her. The prison psychiatrist has prescribed Art Therapy, inflaming her rage and suffering. As a last resort, he has given her an unorthodox tool…” The 17th door is over 30 minutes of psychological terror, making it one of the lengthiest haunts in SoCal, time wise. This is also easily one of the most scary haunts in Southern California, utilizing a safe word if it becomes too much to handle. The 17th door is definitely not for the faint of heart. 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 is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 scariest haunts in Southern California. The High Desert Haunted House features scares such as the Victoria Manor Insane Asylum and Deadwood Ghost Town. They open Friday, October 12th 2018, and we love how they give back to the community by offering guests a discount for donating two cans of food with their ticket purchase.

Read our contributor’s review of the 2017 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. Each year they add new and exciting features, and for 2018, each of Reign of Terror’s 8 separate attractions have been expanded or updated with new special effects, new scenes and new fear inducing characters. Included in the updates is an entirely new attraction, called “Inbred”, which features a group of strange and creepy family members living in a ramshackle shack in a forgotten corner of the countryside, and “The White-Out Experience,” located inside Reign of Terror’s Fun House attraction, which gives visitors a uniquely unsettling sense of time and place. This year, the haunted house contains 105 separate rooms, marking it as the largest production with the most rooms in Reign of Terror’s 19-year history. The attractions are connected, so as you exit one attraction, you immediately enter the next.

On November 3, Reign of Terror will host its first-ever “Lights OUT” event. Visitors to “Lights OUT” will walk through all 105 rooms in total darkness, lit only by one small glow stick per person. This will allow guests to experience Reign of Terror like never before. The minds behind Reign of Terror seem to be always looking for new and innovative ways to thrill and terrify visitors, and that’s what makes them our number one scariest haunt in Southern California.

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 the 2017 Reign of Terror lineup 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!!!

  3. Scare Valley Farms is a newish haunt in Big Bear, CA. Designed by the folks who do the Queen Mary and Universal Studios- and set on a 30-acre farm- it’s a contender for one of the most terrifying SoCal haunts. Runs mid-September through Halloween.

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