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Spook-tacular SoCal Holidays: Your Guide to the Darker Side of Festive Fun

By James H. Carter II

As the holiday season descends upon Southern California, families are gearing up for a festive time filled with joy and merriment. Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott's Berry Farm, and even Pirates Dinner Adventure are set to transform into winter wonderlands, offering a plethora of holiday-themed events and attractions. However, hidden beneath the glittering lights and cheerful tunes lies a darker side to these holiday celebrations.


Image Courtesy of Disney

Disneyland: Unwrapping the Eerie

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort promises a magical experience for families, but lurking within the festive façade are elements that send shivers down your spine. While characters don new holiday outfits, the transformation of the Haunted Mansion into the Haunted Mansion Holiday adds a sinister twist, blending the ghoulish delights of Halloween with the cheer of Christmas. The collision between these two worlds promises an eerie adventure for those brave enough to enter.

As icicles and snow-capped turrets adorn Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, and faux snow falls in designated areas, one can't help but wonder if it's not just Disney magic at play. Could there be something more mysterious behind the snowy spectacle, casting a chilling enchantment over the park?

Event Date & Time:

  • Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: Nov. 10, 2023, through Jan. 7, 2024


  • Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

Ticket Information:


Image courtesy of Universal

Universal Studios Hollywood: A Grinch-y Holiday

Universal Studios Hollywood welcomes the holidays with the enchanting "Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" and the lively "Grinchmas." While the Wizarding World sparkles with festive lights and cheerful performances, the Grinchmas tree in Universal Plaza takes a festive turn. Standing at 65 feet tall, adorned with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of LED lights, this towering structure may hold more than just holiday spirit. Is there a hidden tale behind this festive behemoth, waiting to be unveiled?

As guests enjoy the festivities, they might catch glimpses of the Who-Bee Doo-Wops group rocking out to holiday classics. But is there something more to their musical repertoire, a melody that carries a haunting undertone? And what about the Grinch himself? Is his heart still two sizes too small, or has the holiday magic worked its mysterious charm?

Event Date & Time:

  • Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Grinchmas: Nov. 24, 2023, through Jan. 1, 2024


  • Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, CA

Ticket Information:


Image Courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm: Christmas, Calico Style

Knott's Merry Farm invites visitors into a winter wonderland adorned with twinkling lights and festive garlands. Yet, beneath the merriment lies the shadowy embrace of a reimagined Charles Dickens classic, "A Calico Christmas Carol." Will this melodrama unfold as a heartwarming tale, or will there be unexpected twists, echoing the spirits of Christmases past?

As Snow and Glow enchant the park with lights dancing to Christmas music, one can't help but wonder if the "snow" brings more than just a festive atmosphere. Does it carry whispers of holiday tales from a bygone era, or is it a veil for unseen spirits lingering in Ghost Town?

Event Date & Time:

  • Knott's Merry Farm: Select dates through Dec. 31, 2023


  • Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

Ticket Information:


Image courtesy of Pirates Adventure

Pirates Dinner Adventure: A Christmas Plunder

Pirates Dinner Adventure invites families to embark on a daring rescue mission in their holiday-themed dinner show, "Pirates Take Christmas." Santa and Mrs. Claus have fallen into the clutches of scoundrel pirates, threatening to extinguish the holiday spirit. As guests navigate the thrills and cheers, one can't help but wonder if the pirates have more up their sleeves than a three-course feast. Is there a darker plot unfolding beneath the jolly exterior, waiting to surprise unsuspecting revelers?

Event Date & Time:

  • Pirates Take Christmas: Dec. 1, 2023, through Jan. 1, 2024


  • Pirates Dinner Adventure, Buena Park, CA

Ticket Information:


Image courtesy of The Viral Group

Tinseltown LA Popup Christmas Bar: A Cheerful Facade

Amidst the seasonal celebrations, Tinseltown LA Popup Christmas Bar emerges as a beacon of holiday joy. Yet, as patrons sip on custom-created Christmas cocktails and revel in festive tunes, is there more to this Christmas-themed pop-up than meets the eye? Could the cheer be a mask for hidden stories and mysterious happenings, waiting to be uncovered?

Event Date & Time:

  • Tinseltown LA Popup Christmas Bar: Nov. 24, 2023, through Dec. 30, 2023


  • Pattern Bar, W 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA

Ticket Information:


Image courtesy of Annie Jeeves / Cinematic Red PR

Sinister Saloon: Night of the Krampus - A Spooky Western Holiday Experience

As Southern California gears up for enchanting holiday festivities at major theme parks, a darker and more immersive adventure awaits those willing to step into the eerie embrace of the Sinister Saloon: Night of the Krampus. This uniquely twisted theatrical cocktail séance unfolds within the haunted confines of Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood.

Krampus is coming to the Old West! Dive into the Sinister Saloon: Night of the Krampus, a twisted theatrical cocktail séance nestled within one of Hollywood's most haunted locales. Immerse yourself in interactive tales of wandering spirits and unsettling encounters as you navigate the enigmatic depths of this eerie saloon. Embark on a 2.5-hour journey through a world of themed elixirs, explore shadowed corners, witness the Madam's haunting cabaret show, and unravel the tortured secrets of lost souls ensnared within the Sinister Saloon. This holiday season, brace yourself for the arrival of Krampus, the yuletide demon, as he descends upon this Western saloon, adding a chilling twist to your holiday festivities.

Event Date & Time:

  • Sinister Saloon: Night of the Krampus: Sunday, November 19, 2023

  • Time Slots: 4:00 PM / 7:00 PM


  • Sassafras Saloon (Hollywood), 1233 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Ticket Information:


This holiday season, as Southern California transforms into a festive paradise, keep an eye out for the shadows that dance beneath the twinkling lights and listen closely for the whispers of tales that may send shivers down your spine. The holidays may be a time of joy, but in the realm of Creepy Kingdom, darkness lurks where you least expect it.


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