Guests at California’s Great America theme park can wind up as patients in Fear VR, a new virtual reality maze where helpless participants are strapped to a wheelchair in a hospital ward. Moving through the scene sequence, the patient senses a paranormal influence through the presence of a demon who could be responsible for the bloody massacre among hospital staff. Maybe the wheelchair-bound patient can escape. Or maybe not. Stories don’t necessarily have happy endings at Halloween Haunt, currently running on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings until Oct. 30 at California’s Great America. Fear VR is one of many features in this year’s Halloween Haunt, which opened on Sept. 23.
“Halloween has become what I believe is the biggest holiday spend second to Christmas and Halloween Haunt provides what are some of our largest attendance dates of the year,” says Roger Ross, public relations manager of California’s Great America. “There’s a sector of the audience- teens and adults- who are too old to go trick or treating and as they’re looking for something to do during the Halloween season, Halloween Haunt can fill that role.”
This year’s Halloween Haunt spooks out guests with five new Skeleton Key Rooms, such as Bone Crusher, Dominated, Vanity and Hoarder House. In Sorority Slaughter, also a Skeleton Key experience, guests enter a sorority house as pledges. A sorority girl divulges that a fellow sister had died in the bathroom. On a dare, the pledges follow this sorority girl into the bathroom and chant “bloody Mary” several times in front of the mirror. The lights flicker off and a bloody visitor stops by.
Returning attractions are eight haunted mazes, including Zombie High, Wax Museum Chamber of Horrors, Roadkill Roadhouse, CornStalkers, InSanitarium and Toy Factory. At the maze Dia De Los Muertos, spirits roam a house decorated with bright and colorful images of skull art. (Dia De Los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that honors the dead.) The maze Madame Marie’s Massacre Manor is a haunted house where deceased members of a Louisiana household, cursed by voodoo, still torment those who step foot inside.
Halloween Haunt also features four live shows, including an acrobatic show by the Nytewalkers. Starting on Oct. 7, the Haunt Boofet will offer all-you-can-eat fried chicken.
“Halloween Haunt is intended for people ages 13 and up,” Ross says. “Halloween Haunt is not warm and fuzzy. But the Great Pumpkin Fest, for younger kids, is considered warm and fuzzy.”
The Great Pumpkin Fest, taking place at the theme park in the daytime during October weekends (but closed Oct. 2 and 23 for 49ers games, according to a theme park press release) will spotlight Charles Schulz’s Peanuts Gang and child-friendly activities, such as pumpkin decorating. This year’s display of a thousand-pound pumpkin will prove that the Great Pumpkin truly exists.
Visit https://www.cagreatamerica.com/haunt and https://www.cagreatamerica.com/the-great-pumpkin-fest/things-to-do for more information about Halloween Haunt and the Great Pumpkin Fest, respectively. The theme park’s web site reminds prospective visitors that “California’s Great America will be closed during 49ers home games.”