Hauntoween: a Halloween Drive-thru Trick-or-Treating Pumpkin Patch in the Valley
A pandemic Halloween season needs creative solutions, and Los Angeles has met that challenge head on. We know trick-or-treating this year is iffy at best, parties are taboo, and theme park haunts are all canceled; but Halloween promoters and enthusiasts have hit October running with a variety of drive-thrus, drive-bys, and socially distanced Halloween activities. Most of these COVID-era Halloween experiences are new for 2020, and the highest profile of the bunch is the Hauntoween Drive-thru in Woodland Hills. We made a journey on opening night to give this celebration a test drive, find out how a rolling haunt works, and see if Hauntoween is worth the price of admission.
Make sure there's room in your trunk for a pumpkin!
What Is Hauntoween?
Imagine a ghost train that you drive yourself. Or maybe a car wash that instead of washing the car entertains everyone in the back seat. Hauntoween is kind of like that: a driving journey around a parking lot that features scores of Halloween decorations, some wandering characters, a drive-up pumpkin patch (be prepared to pop your trunk to bring home a big orange party favor!), and in-car trick-or-treating.
For COVID safety, no one leaves the vehicles, and opening car windows requires wearing masks. Pumpkins are put directly in the trunk, and trick-or-treat candy is passed into the car via a long-handled basket (though if that doesn't feel comfortable, you can also request the trunk—we did).
Decorations include light-up tunnels, skeleton scenes, and a drive-through faux neighborhood called Hauntoween Town, where characters from movies step forward to offer candy.
Driving through Hauntoween takes about half an hour.
Is Hauntoween Scary?
If wholesome family haunts like the Griffith Park Ghost Train and Boney Island don't scare your kids, neither will Hauntoween. Heck, even if the ghost train does scare your kids, I still think Hauntoween won't. The decorations are cute and flashy, and about as frightening as a drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. There are some plugs for TV shows and movies, plenty of reminders of our favorite Halloween candy, and various pumpkin and skeleton filled scenes. Some days, there are even live performances by the Beat Buds on a drive-by stage.
The Halloween decorations are all wholesome and kid-friendly.
Where Is Hauntoween and What Does It Cost?
Hauntoween is in Woodland Hills, in the parking lot of the old Promenade shopping center, accessed from Erwin Street. The price is $70 per vehicle. Tickets should be purchased in advance.
Depending on the night, plan on waiting in line for at least half an hour before getting to the jack o'lantern tunnel that is the entrance. Driving through the takes about half an hour, what with trick-or-treating, and pumpkins, and pausing to take photos out the window.
If you've got big kids looking to replace their annual trip to Knotts Scary Farm, this isn't going to do the job; but if you can fill the car with little kids, they'll have a fun evening and head home with a decent haul of candy and pumpkin. And anyone who enjoys a few good skeleton scenes will find exactly that.
Halloween TV shows get some tunnel time at Hauntoween.
So is Hauntoween worth it? That depends. It seems likely that this year, the festive neighbors who usually decorate to the hilt for Halloween might not, since extravagant decorations can lure inadvisable crowds. In the absence of good neighborhood haunts, a holiday experience like Hauntoween offers a fun way to keep the magic alive. There is no question that the target audience skews young, and getting one's money's worth means filling the car with as many little ones as you safely can. But for many kids, putting on costumes to drive through a pumpkin patch and collect candy from a friendly witch might be just the Halloween memory Dr. Fauci ordered.
Hauntoween is good, clean fun!
All photos by Mommy Poppins