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Pirates of Emerson

45031 Warm Springs Blvd., Fremont

Reviewed 9/27/08

After spending last year haunting Fremont and Santa Cruz, Pirates of Emerson is focusing solely on Fremont this year, and the folks in Santa Cruz had better plan a visit because this year’s haunting is not to be missed.

We almost did miss the entrance to the lot and the ticket booth, as they have a new layout that’s a little disorienting to those of us who attend every year and are on autopilot when it comes to entering. But after we got our bearings, it was time to enter the Pirates of Emerson and go back in time to the pirate-run 15th Century.

Our first stop of the night was the Haunted Harbor. Pirates is known for its attention to detail, which is apparent from the moment you enter the Harbor. From the wooden plank flooring to the rats and cockroaches, to the woodsy, stale water smell, this haunt transports you to a pirate-filled haunted harbor. The haunt makes excellent use of lighting, sounds, and fog. There’s real running water, excellently costumed actors who occasionally jump out at you or hiss at you, doors for you to push open, and a dark, spooky ambiance throughout. Authentic-looking lanterns guide your way here and there, but are just bright enough to show you the coffins, spider webs, and body parts that perhaps you didn’t want to see!

After what seemed like a very long time, we emerged from the Haunted Harbor only to go straight into the next maze, Pirates of Emerson. You start out by navigating a vortex tunnel, throwing off your equilibrium and serving to transport you to another dimension (like in Wayne’s World - do-do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do-do!). Pirates of Emerson changes layout from year to year, so each year’s experience is unique. Aside from the requisite pirates, this year there are monkeys taunting you along your journey. The haunt is dark and spooky and well decorated. Again, it’s the attention to detail that makes this a superior haunt. There are doors that you have to choose from and open to continue your voyage, as well as curtains and clothes to walk though, giving the haunt a very disorienting effect. As you walk through the haunt it feels like you are never going to escape. The path occasionally slopes up and then back down again, and in certain parts moves beneath you as you walk on wooden planks. Like the Haunted Harbor, Pirates makes excellent use of lighting, sounds, and fog, at times making it feel like you are actually on a ship that is moving through the sea.

After what seemed like a long time, but was actually about 5-minutes, we escaped from the pirates that were haunting us and emerged into the night air. We didn’t have the energy left to tackle the Bildge Rat Maze and navigate our way out of a strobe-light pulsating chain-link fence maze, but you’ll enjoy it. If you make it out.

These three attractions are located in a pirate village, so you can grab food at the Pirates Pub & Grub, watch movies at the Seadog Cinema, or have your fortune told by a fortuneteller.

If you’re looking for a professionally crafted haunted experience, we once again this year recommend Pirates of Emerson. The attention to detail and the immersive experience makes it worth the $20 admission.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar or our map of pumpkin patches and haunted houses to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area.

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion in our forums!

When Sept. 26-27, Oct. 3-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22-Nov. 2, 2008, Fri.-Sat. 7 pm-11 pm; 7 pm-midnight Halloween; 7 pm-10 pm the other days
Where 45031 Warm Springs Blvd., Fremont
Admission $20; $30 for speed pass avoids lines; $3 parking
Contact www.piratesofemerson.com

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