Whether it’s the familiar sound of the Friday the 13th theme or the eerie sounds of a child’s laughter, we all love a good scare. But why do we want to be scared as entertainment? Psychologists tell us that when we get scared we go into fight or flight mode. However, when we see a scary movie or visit a spooky haunted house our very smart brains know that we are free from real danger, so we actually enjoy the controlled fear and get a big dose of dopamine.
If you are looking to up the fear factor and hauntings this October beyond seeing a frightening horror movie, you can visit a haunted house. Are you looking for the scariest haunted house? Or perhaps something more family friendly? In the San Francisco Bay Area there are a few Bay Area haunted houses you can visit, but how do you choose?
We’ve got you covered with a list of the top 5 haunted houses in the SF Bay Area to visit this Halloween season in the San Francisco Bay Area. And we thought it would be fun for you to decide based on your favorite scary movie genre. So turn out the lights, pop some popcorn and read on for screams and thrills all October long! Here is our list of the best haunted houses in the SF Bay.h
#1: So You Love a Haunted House
Is your favorite Halloween movie set in a creepy old mansion or haunted house like The Haunting of Hill House, Crimson Peak or Amityville Horror? If so, Winchester Mystery House’s Unhinged event is for you. There’s even a movie you can watch to get yourself prepared.
Located in San Jose in one of the most haunted homes in the world, the Unhinged Halloween haunt offers brave visitors the opportunity to self guide through the 160 room mansion in the dark. Terrifying set designs, props and scare actors abound but what really sets this part is the fact that it is located in a haunted location!
Unhinged is a nighttime theatrical haunt – so don’t expect to be able to take in too much of the creepy mansion. Even longtime fans of the house will get turned around in the dark. Because this haunt inside the labyrinth-like house it will take about 45 minutes to make it through, with a 20 minute pre-show in the gardens. This year’s theme amps up the fear factor – with a backdrop of a creepy turn of the century carnival ala Something Wicked This Way Comes. Too scared to come at night? Try one of the daytime tours.
Unhinged: Nightshades Curse
Winchester Mystery House
Starts September 30 for 16 Select Nights
#2 Drink Up Ye Mateys
If the Pirates of the Caribbean, Goonies and Hook are some of your favorite movies then you will love Pirates of Emerson. Located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds this haunted pirate-themed experience offers multiple haunts. Scare actors, ghosts, ghouls and excellent set designs make this a stand out attraction for the Tri-Valley. Expect lots of screaming teens as it is a fun night out for the 13+ crowd. Estimate around 15 min per maze not including time in the que.
Pirates of Emerson
Alameda County Fairgrounds
#3 Vampires From Beyond
Dracula or Twilight fans may love the Terror Vault show – which offers a vampire themed bar and event. Located at the SF Mint, this haunted and horrifying experience is headed by Into the Dark productions and Peaches Christ. The theming is definitely more on the adult side and offers multiple private bars and club like atmosphere. Great for the 21+ crowd, though they do offer a matinee performance that is billed as PG-13. The experience should be around 1 hour and is billed as a theatrical immersive experience and not a traditional haunt.
Terror Vault, SF
The SF Mint
San Francisco, CA
#4 Abandoned Theme Parks, Clowns and Zombies
Any good zombie movie involves a ferris wheel or theme park right? Dark Ride or Zombieland fans will want to spend the evening at Six Flags Vallejo’s Fright Fest. This event offers visitors the opportunity to ride coasters and hit up the scare zones, see all the monsters, phantoms, witches, warlocks, werewolves, demons, devils, specters and apparitions they can stomach, enjoy the haunted attractions and take in a creepy show. This event would take up a good portion of your evening so be prepared.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
September 24-October 31
#5 Slasher Flicks – Fear Overload Scream Park
Do cheesy slasher films like Scream or Friday the 13th give you the thrills? Then the nightmarish Fear Overload, a pop up haunt located in the Newark Park Mall may be the right fit for you. The haunt features scare actors in two walk through haunt experiences. Expect creepy clowns, fake blood and more at this fun (but short) haunt experience. The haunt should take around 20 minutes with two mazes to explore.
Newark Park Mall