It's the season for scares.
With Halloween right around the corner, various haunted attractions in the central San Joaquin Valley are ready to frighten local residents.
The Valley offers a handful of haunted destinations, from Madera to Visalia.
For fun, open this PDF and see if you find 13 Halloween icons – Answers at the end of this story.
This year, though, a few things have changed – like the popular Hobb's Grove, which has spawned two haunts after its owners parted ways, and a popular Clovis attraction that has a new name and look.
Here's a sneak peek at those venues, plus some other places waiting to put a scare into you:
The 5th Realm
Clovis' popular Fright Night Scream Park is no more. But its replacement, The 5th Realm, builds on Fright Night's success.
It includes five walk-through attractions (one more than Fright Night had). Some elements might look familiar, but much of the haunt – located inside the old Sierra Vista Mall movie theater – has been re-tooled thanks to a new scene designer and a new acting consultant.
"This place looks quite a bit different," says co-owner Brandon Wright, the lone carryover from the Fright Night days.
The new haunt is "Slaughterhouse," which has a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" feel to it, Wright says. It joins Nocturnal, Epidemic, Delirium in 3-D and Insanitarium as the 5th Realm's spooky options.
The 5th Realm operates Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 27-31. It opens at 7 p.m. each night and closes at 11 p.m. Fridays, 11:30 p.m. Saturdays and 10 p.m. all other nights. Tickets cost $8-$10 per attraction. Combo tickets are also available, ranging in price from $25-$40.
Details: (559) 475-9666, 5threalm.com.
Sanger's Hobb's Grove was a Valley Halloween tradition for years.
In 2010, it went dark as its owners divorced. Now, in 2011, it returns as just The Grove, with former Hobb's co-owner Lore Callahan in charge.
If you liked Hobb's Grove, then you'll like The Grove, too. The Haunted Hayride, Haunted Forest and Haunted House are there, as are its midway and Farmer Billy Bob's Pumpkin Patch.
The Grove, 14265 Goodfellow Ave., is open Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 25-30. It opens at 5:30 p.m. and closes at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m. otherwise.
Individual attractions cost $10-$12.50 for adults and $6-$9.50 for kids. Combo tickets range from $21-$32.50. Details: thegrovehaunt.com, (559) 356-3958.
The second product of the Hobb's Grove split is Parlier's Raven's Gate.
It's owned and operated by Mike Callahan, who has 18 years' experience in Halloween haunts.
He bought a plum tree orchard at 14295 E. Adams Ave. and created his vision of a family-friendly attraction with a carnival atmosphere – and, of course, the usual spooky stuff.
Raven's Gate has three main attractions: The Raven's Grove haunted forest ($15), The Haunted Hayride ($8-$12) and The Trick or Treat Forest for kids 8 and under ($5).
At the center is a carnival midway the size of a football field with food, games and various other activities such as a palm reader, clowns and a pumpkin patch. Admission to the midway is $5. There's an extreme pass that costs $23 and includes the forest, hayride and carnival. Raven's Edge is open Wednesdays-Sundays starting at 7 p.m. It closes at midnight Fridays and Saturdays and at 10 p.m. otherwise.
Visalia's Fear Factory Haunted House is a new haunt created and run by two guys who'd been talking for years about opening a Halloween attraction.
For Sean Elliott and Jeff Needham, the time was right this year. So they turned a two-story office space into a "mental hospital of horrors," where the doctors and nurses have turned on the patients.
It's a 7,000-square-foot haunt that employs 30 actors and aims to give people a "psychological scare." The whole thing takes about 15 minutes to go through.
"Unless you run," says Alex Elliott, Sean's wife and the spokeswoman for Fear Factory. "Some people run."
Fear Factory, at 525 E. Acequia Ave., is open 8 p.m.-midnight Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It's open 8 p.m.-2 a.m. everyday the week before Halloween. Admission costs $15.
It also hosts family nights from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 24-28. For that, the haunt is relaxed, the lights are on and there are family activities outside. Admission is $6 per person. Fear Factory and Raven's Gate also created a joint coupon – buying a ticket to one haunt gets you a $5 discount at the other.
Details: (559) 627-3327, thefearfactoryhauntedhouse.com.
Other Halloween attractions that might leave you shaking in your shoes – or just enjoying a happy night out with the family:
Haunted Fresno: This downtown Fresno attraction returns for its fourth season, offering six haunts to keep thrill-seekers busy. New this year is the "Hellavator." It's open Oct. 20-23 and 27-31. More info: hauntedfresno.com, (559) 498-0960.
Raisin Hell Ranch: The haunted cornfield in Madera never opened last year because rain drowned it out. But it's back this year with three different mazes. It's open Wednesdays-Sundays the rest of the month, plus Halloween night. Details: raisinhellranch.com.
The Patch: Last year, it was at First and Nees with a huge pumpkin. This year, The Patch moved to Old Town Clovis, at 533 Pollasky Ave. It's open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. every day and has a pumpkin patch, rides, food, games and entertainment. Admission costs $1. Games cost $1. Details: thepatchclovis.com.
The Farm: In Tollhouse, The Sierra High FFA program has been transforming its 320-acre farm into a haunted attraction for five years. It's open one weekend, Oct. 28-31, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $8 or $6 for kids 12 and under. Details: (559) 855-8311, ext. 427.
Halloween to-do list
Halloween is more than haunted attractions. Here are some spooky (or not so spooky, as they case may be) events to get you in the spirit.
Zombie Pub Crawl: The second Fresno Zombie Pub Crawl will take place Saturday in the Tower District. A loose group of costumed zombies will roam around Tower District bars after meeting up at the Me-N-Ed's parking lot at Olive and Wishon Avenues at 8 p.m.
Halloween on Van Ness: The First Congregational Church of Fresno hosts its annual Halloween on Van Ness Saturday featuring the church's choir and organist/musical director Scott Horton. There's spooky music, a dessert buffet and silent auction. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 at the door or $15 for students. Details: (559) 227-8489.
Bat-tastic Cabaret: The Gold Note Chorus a capella group hosts its fifth annual Bat-tastic Cabaret on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Building in Clovis. Tickets cost $30 for dinner and show. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. with the show following at 8. Details: (559) 225-7464.
Halloween Bash: Local bands get into the Halloween spirit Oct. 28 at Neighborhood Thrift, 353 E. Olive Ave., in a concert that doubles as a canned-food drive. Achievement House, Brother Luke, Bombs and Candy, Buffalo Guns, Glassland, Sahab and Touchdown Jesus perform. Tickets cost $5 or $3 with two canned food items. It's open to all ages and starts at 8 p.m.
Pooch Parade: Your dog likes Halloween too -- or maybe you like putting your dog in costumes. Either way, bring your pup to the annual Pooch Parade, Canine Carnival & Costume Contest at 1 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Tower Theatre parking lot. Prizes include best dog costume and best dog/owner costume combo. It's free to attend, $10 for contest entries. Details: towerdistrict.org.
Hallo-Teen Jam: Blackbeards hosts a teens-only Halloween party on Oct. 29, organized by and featuring local DJ D-Soto. It includes dancing, candy and prizes. Tickets cost $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Details: (559) 292-9000.
Spooktacular: Rotary Storyland & Playland hosts its Spooktacular 4-8 p.m. on Oct. 29, with trick-or-treat stations, pumpkin decorating, haunted train rides, games, two magicians and unlimited rides. Admission costs $13. Kids younger than 3, free. Details: (559) 486-2124.
Halloween Fun Ride: Costumes and bikes? It's a good combination if you ask the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition, which is having its third annual Halloween Fun Ride on Oct. 29. The free, guided bike ride -- where costumes are strongly encouraged -- starts at 6 p.m. at Tower Velo, 1425 N. Van Ness Ave. There's a three-mile ride for all-ages or an eight-mile advanced ride. Details: fresnobike.org.
The 13 Halloween icons
Werewolf, Frankenstein, ghosts, witch, headless horseman, bat, creepy crawler, spider, cat, mummy, skull and bones, vulture and an alien.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6479. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.