I have always loved Halloween. Sure, as a kid it was great to dress up and go trick-or-treating. But it was more than that. I remember one of our neighbors would decorate the front of his house and yard like an old cemetery. He would then lie in an old coffin all night, sitting up slowly just to spook the kids. We loved it! And of course we kept coming back for more. Maybe that was the spark, or possibly it only heated the existing fire, but Halloween became a rather big deal for me growing up.
When I was old enough, I began venturing out to each and every haunted attraction I could find. We went in packs to Knott’s Scary Farm (safety in numbers), Halloween Horror Nights (Universal Studios), Halloween Fright Fest (Six Flags Magic Mountain), Mickey’s Halloween Party (Disneyland) and the big Ghost Ship (Queen Mary). We would hit large independent haunts as they sprung up as well. During one trip, I survived the Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary as well as countless haunted walking tours through the streets of New Orleans.
I am a hard one to scare and was not really frightened at any of the above attractions. Lines are long and the scares are obvious – you’ll see them coming several people away at the crowded attractions. Detail? Not a whole lot. But to each their own. A fun time can still be had, especially if you are with friends. I particularly like the spots that come with history, but that doesn’t necessarily make them spooky, just interesting. What I really
enjoy is finding the little guy, the gem that really out does himself. The one that goes all out for the pure joy of it and not for the profit.
In 1999 when Bruce Stanton staked his front yard full of corn stalks, no one knew what that little kernel would become, growing and expanding with each passing season. The first year was spooky. But what began as a very elaborate front yard decoration soon extended to a walk-through haunted house – taking guests past the family room, down the hallway and out the master bedroom. The tour continued around the back and side yard eventually returning you to the front drive with a big scare as the sendoff. How do I know all this? Because at the time I lived next door and watched it grow larger each year.
Mr. Stanton’s house became so popular that people began lining up around the cul-de-sac most of the night just for a tour. It wasn’t just the fact he turned his home into a haunted house for one night a year (although you have to admit that is pretty darn cool), it was his attention to detail that had them coming in droves, coming back for repeats and calling their friends.
The work to create this masterpiece would begin in August. Come September a façade covering the entire front of the house would be erected, and the Reign of Terror would take up residence on an otherwise quiet suburban street in Thousand Oaks, CA. So popular this attraction became that Mr. Stanton opened up his house on multiple nights Halloween weekend. Neighbors came to expect the mayhem, and some of them even got involved with organizing the crowd or running scares in the house.
Knowing a good thing when they saw it, in 2008 the city sponsored the Reign of Terror by offering to move it to its first public location. A big move that took things to another level. In fact, proceeds from the event now go to the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. Mr. Stanton has continued to do all this work simply for the love of it and now for the youth. Everyone who helps with the sets and scares volunteers their time.
Today the Reign of Terror haunted house has a permanent address at the Janss Market Place on Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks, where the sets are left up in their indoor location all year, making it easier to add new thing each season. This year introduces
a new section to the walk of terror. Now you get three “houses” for the price of one admission. You’ll find the traditional Haunted Victorian, the Insane Asylum, and for the first time this year Blood Manor. A total of 45 rooms and 8500 square feet. Reign of Terror’s attention to detail is truly an art form.
If you love a good scare and relish the attention to detail…like I do… I highly recommend this attraction located just outside of L.A. Share the information with your friends and family. The more scare, the more fun to be had. And as an added feature I’ve not seen offered by other haunted attractions, Reign of Terror offers two “Lights On” tour events for small children and true enthusiasts. This is a MUST if you like this kind of stuff. I highly recommend it, so check their site for times and pricing.
Of course, I realize not everyone is in the area to hit this gem of a haunt, so I did a little Sam and Dean work on the internet and this is what I came up with…
The San Diego area has some real jewels worth a look. Check out Monster Manor, Shantung Slaughter House and The Scream Zone. In Orange county, worth a serious look may be The Haunting or The Empty Grave haunted house in Anaheim, or possibly Sinister Pointe in Brea.
If you are near Lancaster, PA then Jason’s Woods looks ready to go all kinds of horror film on you. Or you might find one of the largest haunted houses with Erebus 4-story attraction in Auburn Hills, MI. Among the top 20 is Scream World in Texas. There’s all kinds of great terror from haunted hayrides to full on houses in the New Jersey and New York area found here. Haunted Attractions made their list of 25 must-see places across the USA for 2011, and HauntWorld Magazine made a list much the same with the top 13. So check them out.
I apologize for all the areas in and out of the USA I didn’t cover. Especially if that is the area you are looking for. If you know of any great Halloween haunts that aren’t coming up on search engines, please share. The big boys always pop to the top, but they aren’t always the best. So show the love to the ones that deserve it!
11 thoughts on “Reign of Terror * Top Notch Halloween Scare”
You are braver than I am! If I went to a haunted house, I’d probably have nightmares for the rest of the year. Something about being startled, I guess. But if I weren’t such a coward, the one in the video looks like a scream.
Glad to see another person who actually knows who Sam and Dean are. Supernatural is the ONLY scary thing I watch (although some weeks I’ve had to pass because it was too scary). It’s worth the occasional bad dream to admire Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. 🙂
Well then maybe the lights on tour would be the thing for you. 😉 No scares, nothing jumping out at you, just a chance to see all the amazing detail that went into the making of it. Something completely missed when you are screaming your way through in the dark. LOL
Ah, Jensen. There is the reason to tune in every Friday right there. 🙂 Sure wouldn’t want to live their life though. Way too much ugly! Thanks for stopping by Kristy!
Now THAT I would enjoy. There is a house in a nearby town where the owners go all out on decorations. They have a very tiny yard but it’s the highlight of Halloween. There have even been news crews out to film it. Pretty cute! 🙂
WOW – that was so informative and I am totally blown away by how big Bruce’s set up is.
Thanks! I tried. Missed a lot of areas but you can only do so much.
It is amazing how much Bruce’s set up has grown, when given the space and support isn’t it?
You are one brave woman! I can’t even look at the pictures, never mind the video and I have no problem admitting I don’t know who Sam and Dean are. I like Halloween, but the fun, sparkly kind of spookiness. Glitter ghouls, you know?
We like all kinds of Halloween here Tameri! Sparkly and spooky. We used to do a haunted house ourselved but now we do more of the sparkly. Stopped when we moved and no one knew us and expected anything from us. I think you’ll like this weeks craft.
Sam and Dean are the guys from CW’s Supernatural.
I grew up in SoCal, spent my teens and early 20’s roaming Knott’s Scary Farm! Do you remember when they used to hire the football players to dress up, scoop up the unsuspecting and carry them off? FUN!
Congratulations on the Versatile Blogger Award! Very well deserved! Nice to ‘meet’ you through WANA and I really enjoy your postings.
Sorry for the late reply! The message got lost in my email. 🙁 I DO remember! Those were fun times! Then they changed everything for fear of lawsuits. It’s sad what our world has come to.
Thanks Serena! I have been working on my post off and on all weekend. It’s hard with the kids to find the time. Hopefully I will get mine out today. lol
I love writing about, reading about and watching haunts (on screen ;)) but a total baby when it comes to in-person ghouls and goblins…cheesy, authentic or not… “get me outta here!” Have a fabulous Halloween, Debra!
Thank you August! You have a fabulous Halloween as well! May you avoid any personal contact with ghouls and goblins, cheesy or otherwise. 😀