How to save big on Halloween haunt scary thrills and chills

2017-09-29 | The Orange County Register

Sept. 29--Halloween haunts might be fun, but the price tag of these thrills and chills can be downright scary. The good news is that you really don't have to pay full price. Here are my best tips for saving money across the board, followed by some specific deals:

Buy online before you go. These days, you're crazy if you don't check online before you head to the theme park, because you can nearly always save a considerable sum by buying your ticket online. Occasionally, you'll need to buy a few days in advance for the most savings, sometimes you can buy just before you go.

Go on a weeknight. You're going to save as much as 30 percent by getting your spooks during the week, instead of a weekend. And it's going to be less crowded, too.

Go early in the season. The closer you get to Halloween, the more the price often goes up. For example, the Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest bundle that includes admission and unlimited mazes costs $86.99 for Saturday, Oct. 7, but the price goes up to $106.99 if you want until Saturday, Oct. 21 or 28.

Go early at night. Some haunts give you a discount if you arrive at opening, and you'll have the added benefit of not having to fight traffic. It will also be less crowded when you get inside. Universal Studios will even let you arrive at 5 p.m. at no extra charge, and some mazes open at 5:15.

Visit on Halloween itself. Most parks drop the price on Oct. 31. For example, Magic Mountain's Fright Fest costs $76.99 on Halloween night, versus $86.99 on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Get a ride. Parking can be pricey, so take the bus, Uber, mooch a ride or arrange to carpool. Average parking is around $25. Note that the free Passport bus from downtown Long Beach will take you to the Queen Mary Dark Harbor and back for free.

Eat before you go. You'll save money on theme park food and have more time for mazes.

Belong to the Auto Club of Southern California. AAA has discounts to lots of theme parks; check the website for details. In fact, you may save enough to make an annual membership worthwhile, since you get so many other benefits as well. For example, you can buy a weeknight ticket right now to Knott's Scary Farm for $35, which is $40 off the front gate ticket booth price of $75. A basic AAA membership costs $49 a year (plus a one time enrollment fee of $20.) Learn more:

Look for coupons at fast food restaurants. They often have Halloween haunt deals, since they're heavily populated by young people. Right now, Subway is offering discount coupons for Knott's.

Get a group. If you have 10 or more people, you may be able to get a group rate.

Buy a season pass. If you really like to be scared, you can typically buy a pass to go for the entire season for 2-3 times the cost of a one-night ticket. Happy haunting.

Go after Halloween. Some parks are extending their haunting to a few days after Halloween, so check their online calendars to see. Generally, you can save a good chunk of cash. Universal for example costs $95 on Saturday,. Oct. 28, but $85 on Saturday, Nov. 4, and weeknights are even cheaper. Queen Mary Dark Harbor is offering a Dia de Los Muertos haunt allowing costumes on Nov. 1 for $24.

Check Goldstar is an entertainment discount website that's free to join. You can find excellent deals here, however the site does charge fees when you buy the tickets, so make sure the final price isn't the same or more than you'd pay just by buying on the attraction's website. Check the offerings at At this writing, Goldstar was offering Queen Mary Dark Harbor tickets for $12-$19, but then added $4 in fees per ticket. It also was offering discounted VIP admission to the Haunted Hayride and Knotts Scary Farm. Note that you have to join Goldstar to see the offers, but it's free. This website is offering some very cool "Passport to Fear" events that include admission, backstage tours and even food for an awesome price. I'm sure these will sell out, so grab 'em if you want 'em. Learn more and buy:

Watch your wallet. My son was pickpocketed last year on the Queen Mary Dark Harbor, so keep in mind those dark, crowded events are the perfect place for someone to lift your wallet!

A smattering of Park deals:

Disneyland Mickey's Halloween Haunt

I'm only mentioning this in case you were wondering, but, sadly, Mickey's Halloween Haunt has been sold out for some time. Next year, start looking on the Disneyland website around August to buy, because this event is limited capacity and always sells out early.

Knott's Scary Farm, Buena Park

AAA deal. Buy a weeknight ticket right now to Knott's Scary Farm for $35, which is $40 off the front gate ticket booth price of $75. Learn more:

Go to a Subway restaurant. Subway has coupon offering as much as $35 off regular full price Knott's admission, redeemable only at the main gate ticket booths. One coupon can be used for up to six tickets. was offering discounted Scary Farm tickets for $30-50, see if they're worthwhile once you add in the fees. These do sell out.

Legoland Brick or Treat, Carlsbad

Designed for younger children with costume contests and trick-or-treat stations.

AAA deal. If you belong to AAA, you can buy a park hopper ticket in advance for $85 that includes one-day admission to Legoland, Sea Life aquarium and water park, plus same night admission to the Saturday night Brick-or-Treat party nights on Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14, 21 or 28. Learn more:

Hotel and park package. If you buy a Legoland Vacations hotel package, you save on resort park hopper tickets, plus admission to the Halloween party. Only good on Saturday nights.

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, Los Angeles Zoo

Online tickets. Regular admission ranges depending on the night, around $40-50 average. You can save $5 if you pick a Super Saver night and buy online in advance online for the following nights only (and buy now because they're limited) Sept. 29-30, Oct. 19, Oct. 25, Oct. 25 and Oct. 31. was offering discounted VIP tickets for around $10 off the regular price. It's free to join.

Queen Mary Dark Harbor, Long Beach

General admission ranges from $24 to $39 if you buy online.

Go this Saturday. On Sept. 30 only, buy tickets online at and save 30 percent by using promo code FEAR30.

A season pass is $99, blacked out on Oct. 21 and 28.

Arrive early. If you're willing to go early between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. you'll save around $5 on Happy Haunting Hour tickets. However, if you're late, you can't get in.

Sign up for the email list and you'll be notified of additional special discounts. is offering Queen Mary Dark Harbor tickets as cheap as $9, plus a $4.75 fee. These will sell out, so buy now.

Save on parking. The free Long Beach Transit Passport Bus connect downtown Long Beach with the Queen Mary. It typically runs extended hours for Dark Harbor, though I haven't seen the new schedule yet.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest, Valencia

Plan ahead. Buy your Fright Fest tickets online at least one day in advance to save money. Look for discounts until Oct. 1.

Go online. is offering a very cool VIP bundle for $105 on Oct. 7 that includes front-of-the-line access, backstage tour, food and more.

Arrive early. You can save $20 by going early, admission and mazes costs $86.99 on Oct. 7, but $106.99 on Oct. 21 or 28. And Halloween night is only $76.99.

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, Universal City

Warning: These tickets sell out, so don't wait, buy yours now.

AAA deals. Discounts of up to $31 if you buy online in advance, or you can buy at an AAA office. Discounted prices range from $64 to $95. Learn more:

Travelzoo. Discounted admission for $65 to $89 that also includes priority boarding for the Titans of Terror tram. Demand pricing means the earlier you buy, the more you save. You have to sign up to see the discounts at but it's free. Learn more at and then search for Universal Studios Halloween Horror.

Earlybird entry. You can get into the park as early as 5 p.m. on any night, so go early and skip the crowds.

Restaurant discounts. Some Universal Citywalk restaurants are offering discounts to ticket holders, check the list online.

Save on parking and traffic by riding the Metro Red Line to Universal City, but do check the schedule for late nights at

Got a deal I should know about? Email me at