Pirates of Emerson Haunted Theme Park -- a Halloween attraction now in its 29th year -- opens in Pleasanton this Friday evening at the Alameda County Fairgrounds as a drive-thru attraction.
Although this year guests will stay in their vehicles, it remains a scary experience, say promoters, not for the faint of heart and not suitable for the young or impressionable.
"Our Themed Park is where your worst nightmares become real. As you enter the Adventure, you enter a world of suspense and terror. The only thing on your mind will be your survival," the website states.
"Most of our time building the Haunt is spent designing and decorating so that we can provide a unique and interesting environment for our actors to jump out and scare the &%** out of you."
Guests are warned to keep their windows up to keep out water as their vehicles creep through the haunted terrain and are surrounded by scary characters.
Pirates of Emerson had its beginnings 29 years ago when the Fields family -- Karl and Patty, with son Brian -- set up a haunted attraction in their yard on Emerson Street in Fremont to raise money for the Tri-City Homeless Shelter. Now Brian Fields runs the show.
The event grew and grew until 10 years ago it came to the Alameda County Fairgrounds, where the haunted houses and ghoulish characters now spread out over 10 acres, along with live music, mazes, a "misfortune" teller, a "frightmares" sideshow, nightly entertainment and more.
"We are looking forward to the fun and the scares that Pirates of Emerson has in store," said Angel Moore, business development vice president for the fairgrounds.
The Pirates of Emerson has remained dedicated to serving the community as much as scaring the community, Moore noted, and it partners with nonprofit groups in the area including the Northern California Special Olympics, Tri-City Volunteers, Fremont Police D.A.R.E. program, Boy Scouts of America and the Ohlone College Foundation.
"The Alameda County Fairgrounds is excited to be able to partner with Pirates of Emerson this year with the changes that have been made to get communities together safely," Moore said.
After a few months of attractions being closed, the Alameda County Fairgrounds began to reinvent its shows to make them available from fans' vehicles, so guests can safely gather to enjoy movies, concerts and live shows.
This 29th annual Pirates of Emerson was specially designed to scare people in their cars. The cost per vehicle is $94.99 with the maximum number of passengers that are within the legal limits when on the streets.
Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.piratesofemerson.com and printed out or scanned on a phone at the entrance. No pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, RVs, motor homes, trailers, golf carts, top down convertibles or passengers in bed of pickups are allowed.
The event, which runs until Nov. 1, is drive-thru only for this year. The organizers emphasized that they spend all year working on the show, and it has been well adapted to the new format, saying, "If you liked us last year, you will love us this year."