Local haunted houses have always had a general rule when it comes to interacting with patrons: no touching, ever.
This year, that one’s practically written in stone. So are several others, thanks to COVID-19. Visit haunted houses in the Phoenix area this October, and you’ll find characters and cast members serving up scares while maintaining a healthy social distance. They’ll be wearing face coverings — both of the costume and PPE variety. Some will even have to get their temperatures checked prior to being handed a chainsaw and reporting for their graveyard shifts.
“It’s just the cost of doing business if you’re going to be open right now,” says Scarizona Scaregrounds owner Allan Thompson.
A handful of commercial haunted houses in the Valley — Sanctum of Horror and The Crypt/The Vault in Mesa — are taking the year off for pandemic reasons. But other popular commercial destinations, like Thompson’s Mesa operation and Phoenix’s Fear Farm and 13th Floor Haunted House, are already up and running with safety measures in place (those rules go for the patrons as well as employees, so bring a mask). Several DIY haunts and home-based displays for Halloween fanatics — a few of which rival the pro operations — are also open and determined to scare the public safely.
Here’s a guide to the Valley’s Halloween haunts, including details on what frights they’ve got planned and how they intend to keep guests clear of any and all airborne viruses. Happy haunting.
Terror Nights’ Pumpkin Hollow
511 East La Donna Drive, Tempe
This popular DIY home haunt in Tempe, which has been operating during the Halloween season for more than a decade, is switching things up this season to become COVID-19 safe. In lieu of doing a walk-through display, they’ll instead host the “Pumpkin Hollow” yard display featuring a graveyard and previously used set pieces from the haunt. Characters from The Exorcist might even make an appearance and sanitized bags of candy will be given away.
Hours and prices: Takes place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on October 30 and 31. The display is free to check out.
One of the displays from Terror in Tolleson this year.
Terror in Tolleson
8609 West Preston Lane, Tolleson
Terror in Tolleson owner Isaac Pacheco has been in a last-minute rush lately to get a DIY display up and running in time for the Halloween season. He’d originally planned to utilize the entire exterior of his Tolleson home, but due to COVID and other issues, Pacheco is instead setting up a series of six or eight large scenery boxes depicting famous horror flicks in his front yard.
“We’ll have scenes from Jeepers Creepers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Nun, and a few others,” he says. “Halloween is such a big thing in my family and one of my favorite times of year. There’s no way we couldn’t do something.” Pacheco adds that more boxes may be added throughout the month, including scenes involving evil clowns, witch doctors, the zombie apocalypse, and other popular Halloween tropes.
Hours and prices: Operating nightly from October 10 to 31. It’s free, but donations are appreciated.
Eddie Shriner’s Halloween Display
11020 North 79th Avenue, Peoria
A word of warning to anyone suffering from coulrophobia, better known as a fear of clowns: Eddie Shriner’s vast collection of hundreds of Halloween-style characters outside of his Peoria home features several dozen freaky-looking harlequins, including Pennywise from It (both versions) and Twisty from American Horror Story: Freak Show. “I wanted to have all the evil clowns, so I’ve been going out and buying them,” Shriner says. “I spent more than $25,000 in new stuff this year. I bought pretty much everything that Spirit [Halloween] and Home Depot had for sale, plus a lot of stuff from Party City.”
He’s also got hundreds of insidious-looking pumpkins, dozens of spooky scarecrows, and a rogue’s gallery of slasher flick villains, including Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers. So big is Shriner’s collection that he volunteered to decorate his neighbor’s house, too. “My collection has gotten bigger and bigger, so I thought, ‘Why not?'” he says.
Hours and prices: Open nightly, 6:30 to 9 p.m., through October 31. Admission is free.
A character from Mount Mayhem.
1740 East Purdue Avenue
For more than a decade, a local family of Halloween fans has designed and built Mount Mayhem in north Phoenix. Each year, an estimated 150 man-hours are spent creating and building props, sets, and costumes for the popular home haunt, with neighborhood kids and teens portraying its cast.
There’s a different theme each Halloween, and this year’s is more than a little meta. As the story goes, residents of Mount Mayhem who were infected by the toxic (and, thankfully, fictional) Enfermedad virus have returned from the dead, but will be wearing masks and other PPE to keep from infecting others while attempting to “scare safely.”
In a case of life imitating art imitating life, the staff will be doing temperature checks at the door and requiring masks, the use of hand sanitizer, and only allowing small groups to attend.
Hours and prices: Runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on October 23 through 25 and on October 29 through 31. Admission is free but donations are accepted. Patrons are required to make reservations through the Mount Mayhem website as no walk-ups will be permitted.
One of the creatures on display at Phoenix Dead Rising.
Phoenix Dead Rising
8611 North 30th Drive
Nick Chryst is crazy for Halloween, hence the elaborate display outside of his north Phoenix home. A legion of decorations (including skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and other ghostly figures) ominously litter his front yard, which is shrouded in stage fog and lit with an eerie purple glow. You’ll also find an army of jack-o’-lanterns and even a slime fountain. He’s increased the size this year, though you’ll have to admire Chryst’s collection from afar, as he’s asking visitors to stay socially distanced on the sidewalk for pandemic reasons.
Hours and prices: Viewable nightly, dusk until 10 p.m., starting October 13. It’s free, but donations are appreciated.
The scene at Haunted Manor in San Tan Valley.
37868 North Bonnie Lane, San Tan Valley
Every day is Halloween for Brandon and Alina McCaslin, which is why the interior of their three-bedroom San Tan Valley residence is decorated with skeletons and life-sized statues of freaky creatures year-round. Many of these props have decorated the annual haunted house the couple has built at their home since 2015, and they’re now part of the massive Halloween display they opted to do in their front yard this year because of COVID-19.
A macabre menagerie of characters populate the eerie scene, which resembles a glow-in-the-dark cemetery. A 12-foot-tall skeleton with animated LED eyes towers over the display. A ghoulish child clutching the creepy doll from Annabelle sits atop a tombstone. An enormous animatronic demon covered in gore spews smoke. Every Saturday night, the McCaslins pump up the spectacle with choreographed light shows set to spooky tunes like Alice Cooper’s “This House is Haunted” that also include pyrotechnic effects. “We figured, if people are going to drive all the way out here, we might as well give them a show,” Brandon says.
Hours and prices: The display will be viewable from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays. It’s free, but donations are appreciated.
Southern-fried frights await you at Hellbilly Holler in north Phoenix.
Elena and Jim Thornton
14601 North 40th Way
Hellbilly Holler is a grisly slice of Southern horror in north Phoenix, a homespun haunt that’s equal parts Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance, and The Hills Have Eyes (with a dash of True Blood). Every Halloween, with the help of her teenage niece, local artist Michaela Nastasia transforms her house into this bizarrely bucolic display, which features a cabin-like facade and buckets of severed limbs and other (fake) gore.
A trio of banjo-plucking hillbilly brothers — Jethro, Bocephus, and Vincent — sits on the porch along with Lucia the Swamp Witch. “It’s got this backwoods, creepy feel with crazy things like cannibals and [the supernatural] added in,” Nastasia says. And if you stop by the holler for a spell, you won’t have to worry about any sort of jump-scares. “It’s totally not the kind of haunt where anyone is going to touch you or leap out at you,” Nastasia says. “You can always go elsewhere and get that sort of thing.”
Hours and prices: Viewable from 6 to 11 p.m. on October 23, 24, 30, and 31. It’s free, but donations are accepted.
One of the creepy scenes at the Halloween House of Queen Creek.
Courtney and Jason Myers
Halloween House of Queen Creek
27213 North Brenner Pass Road, Queen Creek
The array of kitschy decorations, lights, and other elements making up this DIY display have changed hands twice in as many years, having been sold to a series of local haunted house aficionados. Originally owned by Gilbert resident Robert Cox, they’ve since become the property of Queen Creek couple Courtney and Jason Myers, who consider them to be more than just another Halloween hand-me-down.
Courtney Myers tells Phoenix New Times they’re planning to combine everything they purchased — including fog machines, sarcophagi, and dozens of tombstones — with their own collection of Halloween items to create something new at their sprawling rural property. They’ve constructed an enormous walk-through haunt with enough room to contain their multitude of props and safely social distance.
Hours and prices: Halloween House of Queen Creek will be open from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday to Sunday, through October 31 except October 24. Admission is free, but donations to the Arizona Burn Foundation and other charities will be accepted.
Russ Dehlinger and Blanca Real go all out every Halloween with House of Fear.
House of Fear
16029 West Poinsettia Drive, Surprise
You’ll find more than just ghouls and goblins in the walk-through display created by Surprise couple Russ Dehlinger and Blanca Real (although they’ve got plenty of those, too). “It’s fun for us to create something different, crazy, and unique every year for Halloween and we love doing it,” Dehlinger says. That includes such themed areas in the display as “Scary Snow White and the Killer Dwarves” or “Alice in Horrorland.”
This year, the couple’s display, which winds its way through their backyard and RV garage, will feature more open space, larger scenes, and few (if any) actors in order to keep things safe because of COVID-19. Dehlinger says they’ve added portions inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar. “We’re going to be keeping it more kid-friendly instead of super-scary this year,” he says.
Hours and prices: House of Fear will be open from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturdays; and 6 to 9 p.m., Sundays, from October 23 to 31. Admission is free.
There’s something sinister lurking out in the corn at Tolmachoff Farms.
AZ Field of Screams
5726 North 75th Avenue, Glendale
If it feels like you’re being stalked by someone — or something — while wandering in the “haunted corn maze” at Glendale’s Tolmachoff Farms, it’s only because that’s exactly what’s happening. Costumed terrors like evil clowns, chainsaw-wielding freaks, and insidious vampires lurk in the shadows of this five-acre Halloween attraction, waiting to leap out and cause hearts to pound and people to scream. (Don’t worry, they’ll be staying a respectful distance away this year.)
Patrons navigate a darkened, mile-long dirt path through the corn with numerous twists and turns along the way, all of which add to the disorienting experience. If you’d prefer something less panic-inducing, Tolmachoff Farms also offers a friendlier maze where you won’t be accosted by demonic hellspawn.
Hours and prices: AZ Field of Screams operates from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings through October 31, and it’s $25 per person. The farm’s family-friendly maze is open noon to 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 11 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, until November 1 and is $15 per person. A $30 combo package gets you into both attractions.
One of the miscreants of MysCreation.
Sydoney AA Banks/Synyster Syn Photography
UZA MysCreation Haunted Attraction
2935 West Libby Street
MysCreation packs twice the scares into one horrific haunt, as it consists of two differently themed attractions, each with a mix of costumed actors, ghastly props, animatronic effects, and twisted creatures. The first is Ravbies, which depicts the aftermath of a zombie outbreak at an underground dance party. (Picture an episode of The Walking Dead starring kandi kids and ravers.) The other is known as Crazed Cannibal Cavern, where visitors must escape from a tight-knit clan of freaks with a taste for human flesh. Sounds intense.
MysCreation’s organizers tell New Times they’ll have a number of precautions at their haunt. Each patron must have their temperatures taken before entering and are required to wear masks and avoid touching cast members or props. Anyone flouting the rules will be 86’d immediately.
Hours and prices: Operates from 7 to 9 p.m., October 30 through November 1. Admission is $5 per attraction or $10 for both.
Chris Birkett of Scottsdale invests thousands of dollars into his Haunted Graveyard.
8414 East Valley Vista Drive, Scottsdale
Chris Birkett sinks plenty of dough into the fantastical Halloween display adorning his family’s Scottsdale home every October, and this year is no exception. The local wedding DJ estimates he’s spent at least $6,000 so far, mostly on new props and lighting for the Haunted Graveyard, which encompasses the front of the residence and winds through its garage and side yard.
Birkett has added a few homages to Disneyland’s legendary Haunted Mansion — that’s just one of the many inspirations for his display — including a re-creation of its famous hitchhiking ghosts. He also splurged on a life-sized statue of the late Joe Casella, the owner of a popular Scottsdale deli who died in 2019, who will become the graveyard’s watchman.
Birkett’s dropped a grand or two prepping his display for the pandemic as well. He invested in an Air Guard AG-800 antimicrobial fog machine to disinfect the place every day; widened the inside hallways for social distancing; and installed an illuminated sign outside that states, “If you don’t wear your mask, this may actually be the scariest haunted house ever.”
“We’ve put in a lot of thought and effort behind the scenes about what to do this year, including creating that sign,” Birkett says. “It’s just poking a little fun at people who aren’t doing the mask thing but should.”
Hours and prices: Open nightly, 6:30 to 10 p.m., from October 27 through 31. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group
13th Floor Haunted House
2814 West Bell Road
Social distancing rules won’t stop 13th Floor’s resident monsters from dispensing frights to anyone who dares to enter the popular local haunted house. “If you think we can’t scare you from 6 feet away, just try us,” its website states. You can put this to claim to the test inside 13th Floor’s two attractions: the zombie-filled Dead End District or Deadly Reflections, which is inspired by the legendary Bloody Mary ghost story.
Other safety rules include requiring patrons to wear face coverings at all times while on the property and follow spacing markers on the ground inside the haunted house. Dispensers for hand-sanitizers will be everywhere and groups will also be limited in size and spaced out.
Hours and prices: 13th Floor operates nightly through November 1, except for October 13 and 19. Hours are from 7 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 7 p.m. to midnight on Fridays; and 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays. Admission is $27.99 to $32.99. A fast pass (which offers limited wait times) and a skip-the-line pass (which gets you inside even quicker) are an additional $10 and $20, respectively.
You might encounter a zombie at Scarizona Scaregrounds’ new “Haunted Drive-Thru.”
1901 North Alma School Road, Mesa
Want a dose of Halloween-style thrills and chills from inside the safety of your car? Scarizona Scaregrounds will offer a “Haunted Drive-Thru” with family-friendly areas inspired by aliens, zombies, and the Wild West. (Alternate routes offering gorier scenarios for mature audiences will also be part of the mix.)
Scarizona’s regular haunted attractions — such as Startled Darkness, Epic Fear, and the serial killer-themed Slayer’s Slaughter House — will operate with a variety of COVID-19 safety rules. According to Scarizona Scaregrounds owner Allen Thompson, employees will check in patrons at their vehicles before escorting them through each attraction. There will be 10- to 20-minute gaps between each group, which will be limited to six people or fewer. Patrons also won’t be allowed to congregate in large numbers outside the attraction while waiting in line or participating in the zombie paintball shooting gallery.
Thompson says Scarizona’s cast will also stay at least 6 feet away from patrons when jumping out or staging other scare-inducing stunts. “Most of them will already be wearing masks, so it should be alright,” Thompson jokes.
Hours and prices: Scarizona Scaregrounds will be open 6:30 to 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through October 30; and 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday from October 15 to November 1 and on Halloween night. Admission includes access to all indoor attractions and is $34.50 for one person, $69.95 for two people, $133.95 for a group of four, and $179.95 for a group of six. Tickets for the Haunted Drive-Thru must be purchased separately and are $50 per vehicle.
There’s plenty of space to be scared inside 13th Floor and other haunted houses around metro Phoenix.
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group
2209 North 99th Avenue
There are haunted houses, and then there is Fear Farm, the Valley’s largest Halloween attraction. Spanning 50 acres, it boasts themed areas, a corn maze, and more costumed fiends than a Spirit Halloween store. It also offers more COVID-19 safety measures than most other local haunts this year, which are touted on a large array of signs throughout the property.
Masks are absolutely mandatory from the moment you step out of your car. Capacity is limited, groups are kept to smaller numbers, and everyone’s adequately spaced. Staff (including cast members) have their temperatures taken before starting work and are wearing face coverings. All attractions and common touch-points are sanitized at the beginning and end of every night.
All three of Fear Farm’s themed areas — the post-apocalyptic Fallout, the alien-inspired Bunker, and a regrettably named experience called The Plague — are mostly located outdoors in the open air, which dramatically lessens any chances of infection. Physical distancing of 6 feet or more between patrons and characters is stringently enforced, so there’s no need to freak out if some masked maniac starts chasing you around while revving his chainsaw.
Hours and prices: Open nightly through Halloween night, except for October 12, 13, and 19. Hours are from 7 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 7 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $24.99 to $32.99. A fast pass (which offers limited wait times) and a skip-the-line pass (even faster) are an additional $10 and $20, respectively.