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 hayride 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 19 - October 31, 2015
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 17 - 31, 2015
$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. This year sees the debut of the Zombie Hunter ride, and it's just what it sounds like. Board the train, grab a paintball gun, and be prepared to gun down zombies for two hours. 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 $20; Children (ages 4-12) $12, (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 17, 24, & 31, 2015
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
Weekends October 16 - November 1, 2015
5202 Zoo Drive
LA, CA 90027
Families with young kids looking for spooky rides through Griffith Park line up annually to ooh, aah, and eek on the Los Angeles Live Steamers' Ghost Train. The unique, seven and a half gauge ride-on train gets a big dose of witches and goblins for the season, as well as flashing lights, creepy skeletons, and eery tableaux. Kids must be at least 34" tall to ride; brave kids of three, uncynical kids of ten, and grown-up parents of everyone in between squeal with glee as the train spirits them away.
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
$30 and up
Thu-Sun (+ some Wed) October 2-31, 2015
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 - November 1, 2015
$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.
Originally published October 2, 2012