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Pirates of Emerson Haunted Theme Park
Alameda County Fairgrounds, Bernal Ave. and Valley Ave., Pleasanton
Reviewed 10/08/11 by Hauntmistress
Pirates of Emerson has successfully morphed itself from a haunt in Fremont into a Haunted Theme Park attraction at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. When you arrive, you will purchase your tickets and then enter a dimly lit outdoor compound that houses six indoor haunted houses, a huge pirate ship that spews fire, a snack shack, Seadog Cinema, “Carnevil” game area, small corn maze (a bigger one is outside the compound), a stand where you can buy a light-up hula hoop, and more. We, however, didn’t waste any time and immediately headed to our right to begin our journey through the haunts.
The first haunt we entered was Lockdown, which is a federal penitentiary with very bad people inside. It was pretty well decorated with “Wanted” posters on the walls, an inmate processing area, bloody cafeteria, electric chair, and more. There are a few surprises that caused me to scream like a school girl. The actors were good, as were the costumes and make-up.
We next found ourselves in a Doll Hostel. This place was wickedly fun and one of our favorites. It’s just awful what they did to that poor Cabbage Patch Doll on the wall, not to mention the stuffed animals and other dolls. As you travel through the hostel don’t be tempted to stop and play, even though the crazy actors will be imploring you to do so. You’ll wind your way up and down an uneven path going from a bedroom through a closet, and other rooms trying to get out. There are great surprises at the end but and I won’t ruin it for you.
Wicked Wild West
At Wicked Wild West it truly felt like we were transported back in time. This was one of the most well done and decorated of the six haunts. There’s certainly an Old West feel and the saloon area was one of my favorite scenes, with a skeleton at a table and a bar that I’m sure must have served whiskey in its time. I also enjoyed that this haunt takes you outside for a spell as you walk through a graveyard and an old mining camp. We also came across a disco ball. We weren’t sure how that fit the theme, but maybe it’s an 1870s meets 1970s thing… In any case, this haunt will have you trying to push open wooden doors that don’t budge and walk over uneven wooden floorboards that throw you off kilter. By the time we entered a bedroom scene and a cowboy hissed at us, “What do you think you’re doing in here?” we didn’t stick around to answer him. Lucky for us, the ending was a blast.
Pirates of Emerson
Following the Wicked Wild West, we entered the Pirates of Emerson haunt. It was very well-done, as usual, taking you on a journey through a pirate ship, complete with a tour of the bowels of the ship, the brig, and more. The wooden, uneven floorboards, moldy smell, water scenes, and bubbles all added to the effect of being in a ship or under the water. The actors were great, both the pirates and the chimpanzees! There is a great special effect that Pirates of Emerson has perfected of making it seem like the ship is rocking as if in a storm at a certain point on the journey. I never tire of that scene.
Habitat of Hags
Finally, we ventured into the Habitat of Hags. This was the weakest of the haunts. There were a few good moments and scenes, and the alligator was nice, but it wasn’t very memorable. On our visit it seemed like there were very few actors in the haunt.
I didn’t go through this outdoor, strobe lit, chain link fence maze, but my companion did and he was back in less than five minutes. He said others were still stuck inside, but he somehow didn’t make a single wrong turn. Show off. Previous visitors will remember this as the Bilge Rat Maze. It has never been my favorite but others say it is a good way to kill some time.
Fields Family Corn Maze
New this year is a corn maze. We did not venture in, but we were told there are a few actors inside that stalk you as you try to find your way out. This maze is a $10 extra. Tickets should be purchased at the front of of the Pirates compound.
As I mentioned, in addition to the haunted houses in the compound there are other attractions. Those are what the Monions are for. Monions are 10 for $5 and they get you re-entry to the haunts and are also used for the MisFortune Teller, Bone Ball, CarnEvil of Chaos games, and Bumpkin Patch. Although Monions are available for purchase inside the compound, they cost a bit more once inside, so if you’re interested, buy yours when you get your admission ticket. We did not partake in the fun offered by the Monions, preferring to spend our time on the haunts instead. But, we applaud that the Monions’ offerings are optional, rather than including the activities in the cost of admission and thereby needing to increase the admission price. We did walk through CarnEvil. There weren’t very many people in the area and no one was really playing the games so it was difficult to ascertain if they would be fun.
Also of note is that parking is $8. I hate paying for parking, but it’s typical to do so at fairgrounds. So including parking and excluding Monions, which we didn’t buy, we spent $28 each, which is still a pretty decent price considering the caliber, variety, and number of haunts.
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