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Haunted Hotspot: Pirates of Emerson

If the fast approach of Halloween makes you crave your fear fix, one of the best-known attractions in the United States is found right here in the Bay Area.


Spine-tingling terror has taken up residence in Pleasanton in the spooky form of the Pirates of Emerson.

This ghostly attraction will haunt the Alameda County Fairgrounds from Friday, September 28 through Halloween, which falls on Wednesday, October 31.

The Travel Channel has listed the Pirates of Emerson as the No. 2 for favorite haunted attractions in the United States based on Facebook votes.

Pirates was rated No. 8 nationwide on the AOL CityGuide's 2006 picks for the Top 13 Haunted Houses in America and was featured on the Discovery Channel.

An East Bay tradition, the Pirates of Emerson had a humble start in the yard of Brian, Patty and Karl Fields over 21 years ago.

The Fields lived on Emerson Street in Fremont and used to charge a small admission fee to frighten and delight visitors. The family also collected canned goods back then and donated them to local food banks. After a seven year run on Emerson Street, the family moved the haunted abode to a field they leased from BART.

Three years ago, the Pirates of Emerson made the move up the I-680 to settle in the Pleasanton fairgrounds  and has taken the quintessential house of horror to a whole new level.

Brian Fields said the nationally-known haunted house boasts eight haunted attractions with unnerving names like Scareton, Fractured Fairytales, Archno, Dark Realm, Pirates of Emerson, Mental Maze, Bumpkin Patch and the Corn Walk, that change from year-to-year.

Fields says this year will be the first time a haunted house will offer a smart phone app that brave visitors can download so they can find pirate ghosts hidden throughout the "corn walk."

The Pirates attraction is staffed by a "skeleton" crew of about 70 employees and actors. Ten people are hired to build the attractions and Fields brings in five make-up artists to do make-up for the attractions and most of the actors are able to do their own make-ups for appearances outside the actual attractions.

Visit the Pirates of Emerson between Sept. 28 and Oct. 31, but check their calendar before you visit.

The cost to visit the Pirates of Emerson is $20 on the weekdays and $25 on Friday and Saturdays.

On October 13 and 14, the Monster Energy Freestyle Motorcross Exhibition will be performing in the parking lot of the Pirates.

Have you ever been to the Pirates of Emerson? Are you going to check them out this year? Tell us in the comments section below. Or upload pictures from prior visits.

karen griego September 30, 2012 at 12:48 AM
We've been going to the Pirates of Emerson for several years now. They have the best Haunted houses I've ever been in. The new location in Pleasanton is really nice and plenty of parking. Last year we bought the fast pass and avoided the long lines. The Pirates are the best people and will gladly pose for a picture with you. I look forward to going back every year.


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