So you've already been to the pumpkin patches, and you're ready to take Halloween to the next level; you're ready, in fact, to put it in motion. Well, we know seven deadly ways to take this haunt on the road – or the sea – with everything from an old-fashioned train ride through fields of pumpkins, to a spooky tour through the bowels of a haunted ship, to a scream-filled hay ride through fields of zombies. Whatever Halloween means to your family, you can make it a ride at one (or more) of these vehicular annual haunts. After all, the family that guns down armies of zombies together stays together.
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Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch
Daily September 17 - October 31, 2016
Admission free; Each activity $5
1 Irvine Park Road
Irvine, CA 92862
This train isn't haunted, but it spends 12 minutes meandering autumnally among the pumpkins. In addition to the Pumpkin Train, kids can jump in a moon bounce, go on a hay ride, play carnival games, get their faces painted, and pick pumpkins at Irvine Park Railroad (most activities $5). Be sure to check the coupon page before heading over.
The Pumpkin Patch is located just behind the train station, and admission is free, but the County of Orange charges a gate entrance fee ($5) to drive into Irvine Regional Park.
Zombie Hunter Train
Weekends October 16 - 30, 2016
$49; Ride only $25
351 Santa Clara Street
Fillmore, CA 93015
If you've done a wholesome, moderately spooky Halloween train ride at Fillmore and Western in the past, you can get that one right out of your head; the Zombie Hunter ride is just what it sounds like. Board the train, grab a paintball gun, and be prepared to gun down zombies for 90 minutes. Snacks and – wait for it – Bloody Marys are available on board. Children must be at least 10 years old to fire the paintball guns. Younger kids can ride without firing, but, honestly, anyone younger would probably be happier on the Pumpkinliner instead.
Every Sat & Sun in October
Adults $22; Children (ages 4-12) $15, (ages 2-3) $10, Infants in lap free
Another offering by Fillmore and Western each October is the Pumpkinliner, a daytime family ride on a vintage train to the railway's own pumpkin patch. There's nothing spooky about this ride at all - just a family outing on a Halloween-themed train to a pumpkin patch that feels wonderfully far from town.
Haunted Hayride Family Dinner Train
October 22, 2016
Adults $49; Children (ages 4-12) $34 (ages 2-3) $26, infants in lap free
With a creep factor somewhere between the Zombie Hunter and the Pumpkinliner, this final offering in Fillmore's terror train trifecta offers a BBQ dinner en route to the pumpkin patch, where families hop onto mildly haunted hayrides for an evening of Halloween fun.
RELATED: Halloween Festivals & Theme Park Haunts
Photo courtesy of OERM
Peanuts: The Great Pumpkin Patch Express
October 15-16 & 22-23, 2016
Adults $25; Kids $15
Linus is basing his search for the most sincere pumpkin patch at Orange Empire Railway Museum this year. The good news is your kids are guaranteed to find it on this train, and once they do they can join the whole Peanuts gang for photos, pumpkins, a maze, a hay ride, and plenty of other Halloween fun.
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
$30 and up
Thu-Sun (+ some Wed) October 1-31, 2016
Griffith Park (Old Zoo)
4730 Crystal Springs Ave.
LA, CA 90027
This is not your mama's hayride. The Haunted Hayride, a vehicular source of thrills and chills not for the faint of heart, causes adult screams through Griffith Park each year. This is an event best shared with teens and no one younger – but boy will your teens think you're cool. If you have kids of different ages, the Halloween carnival set up at the ride's starting point offers options for family members not ready to be scared witless.
Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
Weekends October 1 - 31, 2016
$20 and up (best prices are online)
1126 Queens Hwy
Long Beach, CA 90802
The motion here is only side to side - or perhaps straight down to the ocean floor depending on which maze you're in. There is no young kids' version of this haunt, but kids 12 or older who like to be scared will love braving the ghosts and zombies of the deep with their cool, slightly freaked-out parents. The historic, purportedly haunted Queen Mary hosts this Halloween Terrorfest on board ship in its Long Beach port, featuring several spooky mazes that wind their way through the hull and bowels of the ship. There is even an add-on tour through the art deco cruise liner's most famously ghost-infested sections. More mazes and fun spill over into the area around the ship, including the adjacent event dome, with oodles of food and drink options, too. Costumes are not permitted.
Note that the popular Griffith Park Ghost Train is not running in 2016
5202 Zoo Drive
LA, CA 90027
We're hoping the Ghost Train will be back up in Griffith Park in 2017!
Originally published October 2, 2012
Top photo by Henry Burrows via flickr