Pirates of Emerson

All Photos / Courtesy of Patty Fields / Pirates of Emerson

Ashley Matuszak

Halloween Scares in the East Bay


Looking for a good scare? Pirates of Emerson, located at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds, can give you a night of horror for just $20.

Pirates of Emerson first got its start 19 years ago in a small backyard and has since become a franchised Halloween Haunt seen on the Travel Channel and the Discovery channel. Known for being one of the scariest haunted house attractions in the United States, Pirates of Emerson takes their business seriously, using illusions, animatronics and fantastic actors to give you an experience like no other.

Pirates of Emerson has five walk-through scenes and one chain-link fence maze. Each of the five houses has a theme including a Pirates of Emerson Pirate ship, the Killybilly Kavern, and a hillbilly, backwoods house that has some interesting characters.

Each house takes only a few minutes to walk through, and you can take your pick on the order which you wish to proceed. Upon entering the fairgrounds, you are given a large ticket with the names of all the scare-houses.

Before you enter one of the six haunts, your ticket is punched over that name, allowing you to visit each haunt only once. Once inside the scare-houses will you be startled. The grounds around the scare houses contain refreshment booths, exhibits and fortune telling. Pirates walk around, taking pictures and entertaining anyone brave enough to approach.

One of the most disturbing scare houses, “Night Scare Before Xmas,” depicts a house that isn’t having a happy Christmas at all. Half of a severed body lay dead on the couch in a living room with a Christmas tree and presents. Just when you take your eyes off him, he comes to life and startles you! Santa Claus is in this haunt, too, but he’s not the jolly Saint Nick you’re used to.

Another haunt worth mentioning is the “Manimal Lab.” The “Manimal Lab” has crooked doctors and nurses conducting sick experiments on rabid looking creatures. There’s also the “Carn-evil” which is not a walk through house, just an area on the grounds where people can play games and win prizes while looking at some spooky displays.

What separates Pirates of Emerson from other walk-through haunted houses is the intensity. The costumes are very elaborate and detailed, and the hair and makeup are sometimes scarier than the costumes. Many of the actors at Pirates of Emerson wear red or white contacts and a lot of them appear to have rotting teeth and decaying flesh.

From the moment you walk into Pirates of Emerson, you are in a different world. The Pirates of Emerson crew does an excellent job at immersing anyone into the Halloween mindset.