The big haunted houses like Fear Farm in Glendale and Scarezona in Mesa are frightfully fun, but did you know there are smaller-scale haunted houses across the valley that families put on for free or for a small donation? My family and I have been to most of these, and I can promise you, they are just as scary (if not more) than the large-scale haunted houses!
Happy Haunted Pumpkin Patch
18639 North First Avenue
Linus Van Pelts of the Valley in search of Great Pumpkins will want to visit Carl Jimenez’s cheery display outside. More than 100 plastic jack-o’-lanterns light up his front yard, including grinning gourds both large and small, as well as several decorated like various characters. Tune into 92.9 FM on your car radio and hear a 15-minute loop of spooky sounds choreographed to lighting effects programmed by Jimenez. Starting on October 15, it will switch over to a soundtrack of Halloween music.
Hours & price: Lights up nightly from 6:30 to 9:30pm through October 31st. Donations are accepted.
Keely Family’s Light Show
1851 South Brighton Circle, Mesa
The Keely family of Mesa covers their home with a collection of sparkling and twinkling lights and offers synchronized audio-visual displays set to rock anthems like Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” and the theme from Ghostbusters. There’s also an enormous inflatable dragon and a pirate ship.
Hours & price: Operates nightly through October 31st, 6:30 to 11pm. Free.
Nightmare Before Christmas at Halloween
2537 East Amberwood Drive, Ahwatukee
Like The Nightmare Before Christmas? You’ll love this tribute that Ahwatukee resident Steve Powers has created every Halloween for almost 20 years. The family-friendly display features hand-built versions of Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie, and other characters, as well as witches, ghosts, and talking skeletons. A 40-minute-long choreographed light and animatronics show runs hourly and includes a sing-a-long led by a trio of animated pumpkins. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs and watch the merry scene unfold.
Hours & price: The free display operates from 7 to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays through October 31st.
1721 West Villa Maria Drive
Binged every episode of Stranger Things? You’ll get a kick out of Kevin and Nicole Quenga’s display in north Phoenix mashing up the hit Netflix show with a zombie outbreak. To wit: A zombie containment zone occupies their yard and features undead creatures and characters from Stranger Things, including Eddie Munson playing “Master of Puppets” on the rooftop and a Walkman-wearing Max Mayfield being levitated by a 12-foot-tall Vecna. There are also animatronic creations, lots of black lights, and other frightening elements.
Hours & price: This free display will operate nightly through October 31st starting at dusk.
12905 North 147th Drive, Surprise
Halloween is a big deal for Krista and John Droski, who have decorated their two-story Surprise home annually since 2016 and pick a new focus each year. This year, they’re paying homage to Steven Spielberg with re-creations of the filmmaker’s most famous flicks. A Jurassic Park scene will be in the front yard with Indiana Jones taking over the porch and a Goonies tribute in the garage. Overhead, Elliot and E.T. will ride a bike in front of a giant moon hanging from the second-floor patio. “It’s totally a family-friendly thing with a couple of pop-out scares and a lot of attention to detail,” Krista Droski says.
Hours and price: On display nightly, dusk until 10 p.m., through Halloween. Free. They’ll host activities from 6 to 11 p.m. on October 28 to 31. Donations of nonperishable food items for Saint Mary’s Food Bank are encouraged.
The House of Haunts
8325 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale
Scottsdale resident Steve Birkett and his children offer one of the most gorgeous and intricate DIY haunted houses in the Valley. The walk-through experience features thrills and chills galore, animated props, special effects, and a synchronized thunder and lightning show. There’s a spooky graveyard occupying the front yard, an elaborate Lost Dutchman Mine, a laser-filled swamp, a hotel inspired by The Shining, and an area paying tribute to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
Hours and price: Open nightly, 6:45 to 10pm, from October 27 to 31st. A $5 donation is requested.