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October 4, 2011 > Not just another haunt

Not just another haunt

By Mauricio Segura

It's eerily dark. Only shimmering glows of color and an occasional strobe light gives one a guess as to which direction to continue. Heaviness in the air and an uncertainty of what's ahead causes eye squints as if that will prepare you for the next turn. Screams in the distance ahead and behind magnify the volume of your heartbeat to where you're intensely aware of it. Three, maybe four baby steps forward, turn the corner, and in an instant a blood curdling scream shoots out of a meager three-inch speaker inside a scary faced sock puppet giving you a small fright. You compose yourself, laugh it off with your friends, and continue to the next room.

That's what most people think of when it comes to a typical Halloween haunted house. But some people demand more fright, more excitement. The Pleasanton Fair Grounds will be the place to be this Halloween season as the Pirates of Emerson invite you to set sail with them for an evening of utter terror in their haunted theme park.

What started as just a neighborhood Fremont backyard haunt 20 years ago has turned into acres of nightmarish fun. Gene Steiker of San Francisco says, "The Pirates of Emerson is incomparable to any other so-called haunted house anywhere. The way they build it, the actors, your senses are in such confusion, you truly step into a terror zone ghost ship where you have to keep telling yourself, this isn't real." Robert Meacham of Moraga adds, "I went in all manly, I came out wanting my momma. Ha ha, just kidding. But truthfully, Emerson makes even the scariest haunted house you've ever been to look like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. You're never sure what to expect. And the second you do expect something, they scare the &#!* out of you. I go every year!" With comments like these, it's no wonder why the travel channel featured the Pirates of Emerson as one of the scariest haunted houses in the country.

Aside from the fright factor, what puts the Pirates of Emerson ahead of the pack is that its not just one big haunted house. It's a Haunted Theme Park with six main haunted houses: Wicked Wild West, The Habitat of Hags, Lockdown, The Mental Maze, Doll Hostel, and of course the star, The Pirates of Emerson. Visitors can also get lost in the corn maze, play games in the Carn-evil, watch live shows from the stage, and enjoy great mouth watering BBQ.

The Fields family (Karl, Patty, and Brian) along with countless others, work all year long putting this together. They plan, design, build, and perfect year after year. This is their 20th anniversary, so be sure to go out and get scared like never before.

Children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult. High heels are not recommended and bare feet are not allowed. Also, no pets, service dogs or indoor photography. The entire area is wheelchair accessible.

Credit cards, checks, and ATM cards are not accepted at the ticket window but you can pre-purchase tickets through their website.

Pirates of Emerson
Through the month of October
Closed October 2-6, 10-12, 17, 18, and 24
7:05 p.m. - 10 p.m. (open some nights until 11 p.m. and midnight)
Alameda County Fairgrounds
Corner of Bernal and Valley Ave., Pleasanton
(510) 657-2121
General Admission: $20
Parking fee: $8

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