Events & Attractions

The Highlights of Midsummer Scream 2018

This past weekend thousands of boils and ghouls descended upon the Long Beach Convention Center for a sold-out weekend of Midsummer Scream, which was anticipating upwards of 22,500 people.  The annual summer Halloween convention offered fans of horror, Halloween, and haunts a variety of entertainment options ranging from theme park panels and classes to abbreviated haunts and exhibitors.  We spent the entire weekend at the convention and took in as much as we could and here are some of the highlights from the event.

The Return of Boney Island

The popular Sherman Oaks residential haunt Boney Island has found a new home for 2018.  The popular haunt, which had been plagued by grumpy neighbors and oppressive city officials across its nearly 20-year run, shut down once in 2008 for a three-year hiatus and then again last year for what many believed was permanent.  The closure came after the city of Los Angeles wanted to charge haunt owner Rick Polizzi upwards of $100,000 in permits to cover public safety costs associated with the thousands of visitors the attraction drew.  But at Midsummer Scream it was announced that Boney Island had partnered with the Ghost Train in Griffith Park to give the haunt a new home.

The relocated Boney Island will live at the Los Angeles Live Steamers next to Travel Town and feature all of the haunts iconic elements as well as some new tricks from the infamous Boney Island skeletons.  Boney Island will open for the 2018 Halloween season on October 11, with the partnering Ghost Train opening on October 13.  For more information and ticket info visit

Knott’s Scary Farm

The Knott’s Scary Farm panel kicked off the conventions major panels and during the presentation, which was hosted by Jeff Tucker, Knott’s announced a handful of new happenings for their 2018 Knotts Scary Farm event.  During the panel, Tucker stressed the Knotts’ goal for 2018 was to make the event fully immersive from the moment you walk in the gate.  He stressed that the entire park “is the attraction.”  To help with the transformation Knott’s announced the addition of more “Atmos-Fear” characters at the event.  Atmos-Fear characters are unique characters that live in a moment in time at Knott’s Scary Farm and are a great photo-opp, but more than that they are a character with a deeper unique story that is there for guests to uncover and learn about.  While specifics weren’t shared on who the new characters for 2018 would be, it was hinted that guests should explore the area near the Saloon during their visit.

Knott’s also announced changes to Fiesta Village with the announcement of “Awaken the Dead” a new all-night dance party in the area that will feature Sugar Skull Go-Go Dancers and all new stilt performers.

Finally, Knott’s announced an all-new scare zone named “Forsaken Lake,” which is built on the idea of a flooded cemetery that is uncovered each fall when the lake recedes allowing for the waterlogged bodies of those buried there to rise from their graves.

Concept art for the Forsaken Lake entrance

Knott’s Scary Farm will run on select nights from September 20 – October 31, 2018.  Tickets are on sale now at

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor

Probably one of the funniest panels we’ve seen at Midsummer Scream was this year’s Dark Harbor presentation.  With the full cast of characters from the ship and MC’d by The Captain himself, Dark Harbor’s panel repeatedly went off topic but made for great entertainment.  Beyond laughs, audience members were also shocked to see former Knott’s Scary Farm designer Jon Cooke join the Dark Harbor team on stage as one of this year’s designers.  A veteran of Scary Farm for 13 years who created mazes like last years Dark Ride and classics like Paranormal Inc., Cooke had left Scary Farm early in 2018 to focus on his new venture MurderCo, an immersive escape experience and haunted attraction, so his involvement with Dark Harbor was a surprise to many.

With Cooke at the helm, (see what I did there) Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor has been reimagined with a focus on being “darker, more sinister, and more interactive.”  The whole event, as well as the various mazes, will have more of a choose your own adventure-like feel where guests will have different options available to them when exploring mazes and the various sections of the haunt.  While many of the names of this year’s mazes will be the same, guests will find that Cooke’s touch has modified many of the stories and show elements you have come to know.  For instance Intrepid will become a prequel to past versions of the maze, telling the backstory of The Iron Master.  Popular maze B340 has been completely gutted and will be totally revamped to be an all-new experience for 2018, where guests will retrace the footsteps of Samuel the Savage’s murdering spree.

Imagery related to the B340 maze on Queen Mary's Dark Harbor

In addition to the revamped mazes, I feel I would be doing Dark Harbor a disservice if I didn’t mention there would be bars…A LOT OF THEM.  So if you fancy a cocktail or two while getting scared, they’ve got you covered.  The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor will run for 23 nights between September 27 and November 2.  Tickets for the event are on sale now.

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

If you attended last year’s Halloween Horror Nights panel at Midsummer Scream this year’s presentation felt like much of the same, with the added element of Universal Studios Orlando’s Senior Director of Entertainment Development Michael Aiello along for the ride.  A large portion of the presentation was focused on questions submitted to Universal Studios Hollywood’s John Murdy about his career and how he got to where he was today, topics John spent quite a bit of time discussing last year.  For Midsummer Scream 2018, Murdy rehashed some of these topics and extended the question to Aiello as well as his partner Chris Williams.  The panel extended well past its scheduled hour and in the end the only “reveal” came from Murdy accidentally announcing a Trick R Treat scare zone at Universal Studios Hollywood to accompany this year’s Trick R Treat maze, based on the 2007 anthology horror film of the same name.  The panel also shared some behind the scenes looks at the work going into this year’s mazes at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando.  Details for both Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Orlando and Hollywood can be found at

Trick R Treat Werewolf Girl Make Up Sculpts
Trick R Treat Werewolf Girl Make Up Sculpts for Universal Studios Hollywood

Midsummer Scream 2018 was a blast, but this year was bigger than years past both in size and in crowds.   Theaters met capacity, queues for events were at times unmanageable and as a result, we wound up skipping both the live recording of the Shock Waves Podcast as well as the Warner Bros. Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights Presentation.  While it was clear Midsummer Scream was dealing with some growing pains in 2018, I think the production team and the White Bat volunteers handled it fairly well.  Considering the size of the crowd’s things felt crazy, but not unbearable and that is in part due to much more organized and clearly better-trained volunteers.

Midsummer Scream will return to Long Beach in 2019 on August 3 and 4 and we’ll definitely be going back for more.

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