COVID-19 can’t scare off Halloween

A variety of pumpkins for sale at a local Whole Foods. Chris Ramirez/Lariat 

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, festive Halloween events will still be happening in Orange county. Although residents may not be aware of the many spooktacular events that are being held in the local area, here is a highlight of the most exciting and scariest events coming up.

Urban Legends Haunts

The Urban Legends Haunt will be coming to the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, with a drive through immersive experience that will thrill those who dare to attend. The four immersive show zones will feature story-telling by a cast of characters, special audio and visual effects and monsters, this unique experience will be running from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1. Not only will they provide the scares but like all other events held at  OC Fairgrounds, there will be an abundance of food. 

“Fair food vendor favorites are available for purchase such as Mom’s Bake Shoppe cookie buckets and brownies, Olde Tyme Ice Cream bars, giant turkey legs and corn dogs, and much more,” a spokesman for the OC Fairgrounds said in an email. “Guests must order food online when purchasing an event ticket and it will be ready for everyone in the car at check-in on the night of your experience.”

Teachers, military, nurses and firefighters receive a special discount on Wednesdays. There will be several themes occurring throughout the month including classic car club night, employee appreciation nights, local college and non-profit nights and more. For those with kids or younger siblings they will also offer a “Little Legends Night” for families with children under 13 to enjoy a child-friendly Halloween experience on Oct. 31 from 5sp p.m. to 7 p.m.

Not only will Urban Legends Haunt bring screams and laughs but it will also ensure that all COVID-19 safety precautions are followed.

“Daily health screenings and body temperature checks, routine cleaning and sanitizing along with COVID-19 testing for all team members,” a spokesperson for the OC Fairgrounds said in an email. “All team members, including monsters, are required to wear masks and social distance at all times. Guests are also required to stay in their vehicles at all times during the experience and must wear masks if they choose to roll down their windows to fully enjoy the immersive experience.”

Costumes and candy are encouraged, and don’t be afraid to decorate your car to get into the Halloween spirit. Only online purchases will be accepted and there are limited reservations for each evening, admission is $49.99 per vehicle, up to five people, on select nights. There are also tickets for vehicles with more than six people, VIP tickets and a season pass for all 24 nights. Tickets are available online at the Urban Legends Haunt website. 

Tanaka Farms 

If you are looking for a pumpkin and want a more authentic experience than settling for whatever is at the grocery store, Tanaka Farms is the place to go. Their “U-Pick Pumpkin” with a wagon ride will be open on Sept. 19 to Oct. 30. Guests will have the chance to take a wagon ride through the scarecrow contest, sunflower field, vegetable picking and of course, choosing their very own pumpkin. 

“We limit the wagon rides to 16-20 per departure,” said Joni Newman, a Tanaka Farm’s representative, in an email. “We only sell a maximum of 16 spots per departure, but we don’t count children 2 and under as they generally sit on their parent’s laps. Our tractors pull 2 wagons, so it breaks down to 8-10 total per wagon. (Our normal capacity is 60-80 per departure, or 30-40 per wagon, so we have cut our capacity down by about 75%-80%.)”  

Book a spot on the Tananka Farms website. They also provide a curbside pick-up and drive-thru option on Saturdays and Sundays for those still feeling extra cautious about being in a wagon with other people.

“A leisurely 1.5 mile drive around our beautiful 30-acre farm, which also includes a pumpkin, samples, a barnyard educational exhibit with farm animals, lots of fun stuff to look at, a scarecrow contest, sunflowers (they are growing right now, should be in peak bloom late October), and more,” Newman said in an email. “Please note that this option is an in-vehicle only option, therefore you will not be able to exit your vehicle.”

Knotts Berry Farm

Finally, for those who miss theme parks, there is a third option. Although roller coasters and rides still aren’t available, Knotts Berry Farm is hosting “Taste of Fall-O-Ween” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s beginning Sept. 25 through Nov. 1. This event is their newest Halloween experience that is available to those of all ages. 

Knotts has also made sure they take the proper procedures to keep everyone safe during the event. 

 “Knott’s Berry Farm will continue to follow state, local and CDC health guidelines, these are the new safety measures and operational changes we are establishing to ensure the safety of our guests; temperature screening upon arrival, facial covering, spaced seating, separate entrance and exits, all associates will be screened and more,” a Knotts Berry Farm marketing representative said in an email. 

Although dressing up is encouraged, it is important to remember that face masks are required not just for associates, but for guests as well. Regular tasting cards (ages 12+) start at $35, which includes five food tastings, there will also be a junior tasting card (ages 3-11) starting at $20. Purchase them online, at the Knotts Berry Farm website.