A few months ago, we were driving around Woodland Hills when we passed a black van with a couple of zombies clinging to its roof. The sides of the van were emblazoned with the magic words “Valley Fright Nights,” and we almost rear-ended the car in front of us as we strained to get a closer look. We soon learned that this ingenious marketing campaign was indeed tied to a very intriguing new haunt concept: a summer haunt.
Summer-time haunted attractions are popular in Japan, where it’s believed that the “chills” one gets while walking through a haunted house can help cool you down in the seasonal heat. It’s also the time of year when, purportedly, the line between the dead and living is at its thinnest, allowing spirits to enter the living world. But here in America, haunted houses are, of course, a Halloween/October thing. OK, except for some of the “big” haunts, like Halloween Horror Nights, which opens September 8 this year (or September 2 in Orlando!). Still, a midsummer haunt is a new idea around here.
But opening a new haunt in summer makes all kinds of sense. The Southern California haunt and Halloween scene is hugely competitive, including giant players like Knott’s, Universal, and Disney as well as brand-new, home haunter–run attractions like Bones Gulch. By opening their haunt in July, Valley Fright Nights stands to pull in more visitors because they don’t have to compete against any other attractions. A smart move, indeed. It almost doesn’t even matter whether the quality of the haunt is good…they’ll be attracting haunt fans who’ve had to go nine long months without a haunt and will take anything scary they can get. The run of Valley Fright Nights also conveniently overlaps the Midsummer Scream convention weekend, which could attract horror fans from out of town looking for something scary to do after the show.
The attraction is being built on the outdoor grounds of Pierce College, near the Equestrian Center. This site was previously the home of “Fright Fare Scream Park,” which included a pumpkin patch and a couple of mid-level mazes. It’s sat empty for the past decade, so the return of a haunt is a welcome sight. We drove by the haunt location this week and noticed a couple of very large tents on the grounds, as well as what looked like some pretty long long mazes constructed out of plywood. We also saw some other construction/excavation going on nearby (not related to the haunt), with piles of dirt very close to the haunted house area. But we hope this won’t affect the Fright Night atmosphere.
Valley Fright Nights will have three mazes plus scare zones. The mazes include “The House of Horror,” “Cave of Darkness” and “3D Killer Clown House.” The clown maze was originally billed in their marketing as the “first ever 3D clown maze,” which was surprising to those of us who walked through a whole bunch of 3D clown mazes in the early 2000s (including Knott’s, Queen Mary, and Universal). Their ads are now claiming it’s also the “biggest clown haunted house in the world,” and yes, we’re very interested to check out this claim.
Valley Fright Nights will be open Thursdays through Sundays, July 21 through August 28. (We also wonder whether a successful summer run could translate into an extended opening into Halloween season…but no word on that yet.) Tickets start at $49, with VIP options available. There’s even a “summer pass” for $109. Their website claims that opening night is almost sold out, so don’t delay in getting tickets if you want to be the first to experience the first ever/world’s biggest clown maze.
Scare Zone will be attending the haunt in the first couple of weeks, so be sure to check back for our complete review!