While it feels like the Halloween season has been in full swing for a few weeks now, many attractions patiently waited to open their doors for the first weekend of October. Among those to emerge from the fog is VENTURA COUNTY FEAR GROUNDS (VCFG), Southern California’s newest haunted attraction.
VCFG was created by CBF Productions and The Producers Group. Produced by Edward Marks (of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights), VCFG took over the Ventura County Fairgrounds and turned it into three open-air haunted attractions. Overall, VCFG provides a COVID-safe haunted attraction that could be a great way to introduce people into the world of haunts.
Prior to arriving at the Ventura Fair Grounds, my GPS took us on a wild hunt for the parking lot. It directed us to the back of the fairgrounds where I had somehow managed to drive onto the actual trail used for one of the attractions. After my own personal driving nightmare, we found the entrance. So, if you are using Google Maps or any GPS, double check that it takes you to the actual front of the fairgrounds. Once we found the proper parking area, we were ready to begin our journey into the unknown.
VCFG hosts 2 mazes and a train ride. Each attraction requires a ticket for entry. So, once you use your ticket, you cannot go through again unless you purchase additional tickets from the box office. The mazes consist of The Terror Trail and The Cage. They are standard walkthrough mazes with varying lengths. The Freight Train strays away from the maze concept and takes visitors on a ride to visit a few different horror scenes.
THE TERROR TRAIL
You are safe, as long as you stay on the trail. Or at least, that is what the monsters want you to think. Terror Trail took us on a long, meandering path through various spooky environments. Some set design aspects were creative. VCFG effectively utilized old vehicles, disorienting lights, and fun projections to help ramp up the atmosphere. Scares were few and far in between; however, cow bells and other fun noisemakers were an inventive change from your standard growls and miscellaneous loud noises. Creatures lurking in the darkness seemed to come from many different themed worlds but were outfitted with costumes that were simple, yet extremely effective!
The goal of The Cage was to essentially get out alive. Chain-link fences combined with camo-netting created winding paths and a great sense of false security and protection from the monsters dwelling within. VCFG successfully used the set design, dense fog, and trippy lights to land some fun scares on me. One standout moment included a clever illusion of a big fence being dropped on top of us as we maneuvered our way through the maze. The Cage ended up being my favorite attraction of the night due to those scream-inducing scares.
THE FRIGHT TRAIN
Oh, the Fright Train. The Fright Train was touted as a “wild ride through 100 fields of frights”. While the ride was indeed wild, 100 fields may have been a bit of an exaggeration. The Fright Train featured a great moment in one of the large structures where body bags were flying through the air and chainsaw wielding monsters came at us. I am always a sucker for chainsaws and was happy to see their antics in this format. While scenes seemed to be random at times, the attention to detail during certain moments was commendable. I enjoyed coming back through certain scenes to see different details than when we had first come through.
THE DEAD END
Neither scare zone nor maze, The Dead End boasted an autumnal hangout area where one can grab alcoholic beverages and a quick bite before entry to the main haunted attraction zones. Fun photo-ops, a stilt walker, and hula hoop twirlers livened up the space. We really enjoyed hanging out here before getting let into the park. I do recommend eating prior to arrival, as the food options are quite limited.
Ventura County Fear Grounds provided a COVID-safe outdoor haunted attraction that is perfect for those who are new to haunts and those not wanting to be too scared. While some moments were stronger than others, I look forward to seeing where this haunt grows from here. If you are in the Ventura County area and want an easy, spooky adventure, I would recommend VCFG. I would not recommend it for young kids, as there are some scary (and gore-y) moments.
Tickets range in price from $9-40, with individual pricing for each attraction. Parking is $20, so carpooling is recommended. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit: https://cbfproductions.ticketspice.com/ventura-county-fear-grounds#tix