SHAQTOBERFEST has found the solution to the age-old mystery of appeasing both the thrill-seeking haunt fanatic and the family friendly attraction-goer. How often have we seen theme parks that have both their regular daytime Halloween program such as Knott’s Berry Farm and their Halloween Haunt at night? Hardcore fans of the season may want to do both but each require its own admission plus there’s a 2 hour break between the two events so they can reset for the next program; meaning you’ll have to exit the daytime portion and come back later at night. SHAQTOBERFEST takes care of all that by having their very kid-friendly walk-throughs and attractions from 5 PM to 7:59 PM. Then, “The Witching Hour” begins at 8 PM where SHAQ’s minions come out to terrorize the festival. Though this isn’t technically a theme park, it sure offers all the elements of a theme park haunt: walk-throughs, photo-ops, performances, great food, bars and rides. Each attraction, billed as “haunted trails” by the big man himself, offers trick-or-treating and a non-scare walk-through until 8 PM. Below, we will detail the scary “Witching Hour” portion.


Shipwreck Graveyard was more of a display than a scare zone or haunted trail/walk-through. We were only able to interact with a couple of scare actors when we walked through both times. Expect to find here what the name suggests: wreckage that was lost at sea. Located at the entrance right after the glowing “SHAQTOBERFEST” marquee and photo-op; this area served as a sample of what’s to come and what is expected.

Deadman’s Wharf for lack of a better description reminded us of an Ikea showroom display. That is not to make it sound negative at all; it is to compliment them on how they were able to make use of a small area and make it seem much bigger than it actually is. This walk-through allows you a glimpse of what happens when mythical sea creatures come ashore. With a good number of twists and turns, there’s no telling what creature to expect at the next turn.

Pirate’s Cove was definitely another favorite at SHAQTOBERFEST. With a very impressive large pirate ship facade, we entered the side of the ship into a very convincing hallway of the ship’s interior. We encountered pirates onboard before braving the seaport village and cove full of even more pirates and characters you’d find at sea. We had a lot of trouble figuring who is real and who is just a mannequin thanks to the thick and perfectly-timed mist and fog. Since pirates are all about hidden treasures, see if you can find Captain SHAQ’s hidden hideaway bar to get your shot of rum punch. That might be just the liquid courage you need to get through to these gnarrggghh-ly pirates.

Midway Madness like the title suggests is a circus/carnival themed walk-through. This short but fun walk-through contains mild scares that weren’t too scary for the young adult. Unlike other similar themed mazes where you deal with carnival freaks trying to come after you; you end up in a carnival game: the shooting gallery.

Lost City Boardwalk is a 20’s noir-themed walk-through mixed with Louisianan vibes. The saxophonic soundtrack playing throughout the fun-filled cartoonish Roger Rabbit like building facades created a vibe where Frank Miller’s “Sin City” clashes with American Horror Story’s “The Axeman Cometh”. To top it all off, we encountered a Papa Legba/Baron Samedi type figure that stared at us and followed us. Can you tell we are geeks?

Diesel’s Pumpkin Patch is one of those sleeper haunts where you don’t think it’s scary until you actually start to walk through it. This one is primarily out in the open. If you’ve walked through it during the day, you would ask how can this possibly be scary at night? Because of clever usage of hay bales and fog; they were able to strategically hide their scare actors and give you what you expect during “The Witching Hour”. This was one of the most enjoyable walk-throughs at the event and it was reminiscent of the classic Cornstalkers maze at Knott’s Scary Farm.


With zero expectations for a first time Halloween event; this was a very impressive function and a nice surprise. There was a lot of confusion during the weeks prior as to what to expect since there didn’t seem to be any information anywhere. SHAQTOBERFEST is a breath of fresh *sea*air, that gives the multi-haunt category new life in a year where the major theme park haunts seemed to be lacking in all areas. One should remember, this is billed as a “Halloween Festival” and not a “haunted house” or “scary attraction”. Though there are haunted walk-throughs starting at 8 PM; it isn’t as scary as the theme parks and that is perfectly fine. Because there are more than enough pro haunts out there that provide slightly more extreme scares: L.A. Haunted Hayride, Delusion, Coffin Creek, etc. SHAQTOBERFEST is a festival where you can enjoy family friendly Halloween things, amazing themed fair foods and drinks, a sample of carnival/fair rides and attractions and the full-on scare haunts at night which felt more like spooky fun than anything. This event really has something for all ages and as we mentioned at the very top it felt like a theme park. Most of all, the tickets for both general admission and the full VIP experience are very affordable in today’s economy and compared to theme parks and other multi-haunt attractions. We’d never thought we’d see Big SHAQ with another Slam Dunk!


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