There’s a CHILL in the air….

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Hard to believe that only 3 weeks ago we were going through haunts and trick o treating and now it’s time for the truly horrifying time of year… the holidays. Fortunately there are still a few haunted attractions open and many of the popular haunts have transformed into elaborate holiday playgrounds. We have to admit that with the almost never-ending warm weather here, it’s hard to get into the mood to listen to songs like “Let It Snow” or “White Christmas”. But Queen Mary is going to help us cool things down by adding a little ‘Chill’ to the air.

The terrifying spirits of Dark Harbor just sailed away and now the holiday spirit is taking over with the return of CHILL at the Queen Mary. CHILL offers seasonal fun with ice skating, ice tubing, sleigh rides, and visits with Santa. Southern California’s coolest holiday adventure will also unveil a new interactive and immersive experience, Alice in Winterland.

Light up the night and follow the Queen down the rabbit hole this holiday season with Alice in Winterland. The newest attraction at CHILL brings an inspired re-imagination of the classic Lewis Carroll story to life through the magic of an interactive and digitally immersive 14,000-square foot walk-through experience. Guests can unlock the hidden secrets of the adventure with RIFD technology to make each individual visit truly unforgettable. Alice in Winterland features stunning, larger than life lanterns as you follow Alice and her adventure into the Hall of Doors, the White Rabbit’s Kitchen, Mad Hatter’s Work Shop, the proverbial Tea Party, the Hedge Maze and visits from the Caterpillar and the new Queen of Diamonds.

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The fifth annual CHILL welcomes back Glacier Glide Ice Tubing with six lanes of glistening ice slides standing two stories tall and 100-feet long. Ice skate under the stars on the 6,000 square-foot ice skating rink with the backdrop of the picturesque Queen Mary ship.

Stroll through the North Pole Village and stop by the Queen Mary Village’s post office to send a letter to Santa. Take a spin on the Swinging Sleigh Ride, the Giant Rocking Horse or play Prancer’s Paintball for holiday thrills. A trip to CHILL is not complete without a stop by the Gingerbread House to make a festive edible creation, and a visit to Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Claus Cottage. The holiday fun is endless.

CHILL runs on select dates from November 23, 2016 through January 8, 2017. Pricing starts at $39.99 for adults and $29.99 for kids (ages 4-11), now available online. Tickets include entrance to Alice in Winterland, Ice Tubing, CHILL Village and access to the Queen Mary ship. Hotel and VIP packages are also available.

Sinister Pointe’s Holiday Haunt Returns

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Sinister Pointe is spreading a little Christmas Fear to all you horror fiends with our 4th-ish annual “NOT So Merry Holiday Haunt”.

Sinister Pointe will revamp their current Halloween attraction to bring you a brand new “Choose your own adventure style”, interactive, Rude, Crude, comical and terrifying XMAS nightmare! Which includes plenty of inappropriate behavior, language and insults. If you are easily offended then this specific holiday event is NOT for you.

This Event is NOT for children!

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ATTENTION:
This attraction breaks off at various points to give the guests a “Choose your own path” type of experience. Guests can experience all that the NOT so Merry attraction has to offer by venturing through the attraction 2 times as opposed to the 4 separate paths offered during our Halloween Event. This attraction is slightly longer than the Halloween experience and contains more INTERACTIVE elements.

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And YES! Everyone will get to take their picture with a NOT So Merry SANTA! (Photo Sold Separately)

Please buy your tickets NOW to avoid missing out on this special Christmas gone bad event.

Dates:
December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17

Times:
7:00pm – Midnight (Fridays and Saturday)

Haunt Review 2016: Creep LA

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About three-quarters of the way through 2016’s incarnation of Creep LA, we wondered, “Is this performance art disguised as a haunt, or is this a haunt themed to a piece of performance art?” And we also wondered, “Does the fact that we’re asking ourselves this question mean that Creep LA has elevated itself to a higher level than a standard haunted attraction?” And the answer is Yes. Yes, it does.

For 2016, Creep has moved from Downtown to Glassell Park, a better location with better parking. The exterior this year is once again a simple warehouse, with the words “CreepLA” projected on the outside of the building serving as the only indication there’s a haunt inside. Tickets are sold by time slots, and our group had only 5 people. When it was our turn, we were taken inside and lined up against the wall, where we met the first few creeps.

In this room, we signed a waiver, were strongly urged to use the restroom, and then were given a bit of the backstory by the actors. This year’s attraction features the story the “controversial artist” Erebus Burwyck who sought to explore “the dark side of humanity.” The first part of the haunt feels part prison, part art gallery, as Burwyck’s art is hung around on the cinder block–style walls. The actors portray creepy hipster artist types, which is perfect fit for this part of town.

The first part of the experience is a stop in a lounge–a medium-sized room containing works of art, couches, tables, and chairs, and different performers wandering around and interacting with the guests. While some might see this as an attempt to grab more dollars by offering alcoholic beverages before the actual haunt begins, we really felt that the lounge was part of the show and helped set the mood and tone. The performers fantastically engage every single waiting guest with their slightly uncomfortable and invasive conversations, all while providing small details of the backstory.  We actually wished our stay in the lounge could have been a bit longer, but our group was soon called, and we proceeded to the main attraction.

*Note: Slight spoilers ahead, but we never give too much away.

After receiving a bit more of the backstory and some of the standard pre-haunt warnings (for example, “You’re about to lose your mind, and by the way, don’t touch the creeps although they WILL touch you”), we were led to another warehouse where we entered the first scene. Here we were told to face the wall with our backs to the room. After a minute or so, each of us was led by the hand to a chair, where a lace cloth was placed over our heads. An audio recording of Erebus Burwyck was played while two cult-like Burwyck fans performed a strange ritual in the center of the room. Eventually, the lights go out, and we’re in the darkness. The scene builds suspense, closely follows and elaborates on the backstory, has some freaky performance art to witness, and even manages to get in some traditional scares. It was a very good opening to the attraction.

The rest of the haunt was similarly eerie, interesting, thoughtful, suspenseful, and even scary. We were extensively touched by the actors, and some of it includes very close contact that could make many people uncomfortable, so be warned. However, if you enter with an open mind and don’t take it too seriously, we definitely think you’ll have a good time. Each scene is a small vignette that varies between creepy and uncomfortable. The overall story of being immersed in a piece of performance art really shines through in the way CreepLA has structured the haunt, as each room feels like an individual piece of an “art” show while also serving the overall theme. Additionally, every single person in our group ended up participating in at least one (and for some of us, more) scene. Each person was also led away at some point to be alone with a “creep.” These experiences were unsettling but not overly intense.

We won’t detail each scene, but to give you an idea: we traveled through a demented, impressively choreographed dinner party; a creepy child’s bedroom; a couple of different erotic dance vignettes; a sparse room with a giant pile of sand; and the dressing room of an unhinged beauty queen. The level of detail in each set was different depending on the purpose of the story of the scene, but almost every room felt complete and well thought out.

SUMMARY

Over the years, we’ve come to recognize that the mark of a great haunt experience is whether or not you think about the haunt the day after you experience it. If it stays with you, and if your mind rehashes the experience in the following days, that haunt has achieved a rare level. This is definitely the case with Creep LA. We also witnessed a lot of people standing around in the parking lot after they had gone through the haunt, just talking and detailing their experiences, because the attraction will be different for each person. This is what has truly elevated Creep LA from being not  just another haunt but rather its very own work of art.

We’re lucky that in Los Angeles, we have the option of a few of these different types of haunt-theater events: Delusion, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, and Creep LA. Each has its own merits and is worthy of a visit. Although Creep LA is not as lush as Delusion, and it doesn’t have the same level of set detailing and stunt work, we think Creep LA is a little bit more interesting and intense. Creep LA feels like Delusion’s dirty little sister: she might not be as pretty or sophisticated, but in a lot of ways, she’s just more fun.

We’re also spoiled in Los Angeles by the level of acting talent here. In some other cities, when a haunt says they have “real actors,” they mean alive human beings rather than animatronics. In L.A., it often means the actors can actually act. There is no way working at Creep is easy, and the actors in the lounge are especially impressive in the improvisational way they interact with guests.

Altogether, we think Creep LA is a unique, demented, special experience that should be on everyone’s list during the Halloween season.

Ratings

Haunt Design:  5-skulls 

  Theming: 4-5-skulls

Scare Factor: 4-skulls   

Fright Value: 4-5-skulls

Overall Rating: 

4-5-skulls

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On a brisk October night—well, it was kind of warm, actually—we traveled into the dark of night guided by the light of a full moon, and the oncoming traffic headlights on the 5 freeway, to get to the far reaches of Griffith Park, where the L.A. Haunted Hayride resides.  When we arrived at our destination in the dark side of town, there was a parking lot filled with cars and a long line of people waiting anxiously to get in. From the size of the crowd, it was obvious that the L.A. Haunted Hayride has managed to become one of the more popular haunts in L.A..

It’s been a while since we’ve come here, as the hayride experience had started to become redundant and not very scary to us after going for a couple years in a row. So we decided that this year it would be fun to go back and check it out, since they now have two additional mazes and a new walk-through segment during the hayride itself. They also happen to be only a few miles away from another haunt we really wanted to see, CreepLA.

The atmosphere across the grounds of the hayride, which they call “Purgatory,” feels like a Halloween festival with food vendors, roaming performers, a “Boutique,”  pumpkin carving, light shows, psychic booths, and a “Sacry-Go-Round.”  It’s all well organized and fun. You’ll really feel the spirit of the season after spending a little time here.

We were surprised that they didn’t take credit cards anywhere, not even at the ticket booths, and guests were forced to used portable ATMs in order to get cash if they didn’t bring any. This was a little annoying and inconvenient. It seems that they’re trying to make every last dollar they can by not paying credit card fees and getting kick backs from the rented ATMS. Another interesting thing is all the food served at the venue is vegan, which for us isn’t a problem. In fact, the pumpkin donut holes were delicious.

Of course, before we spent any more time in “Purgatory,” we hit up the hayride and the two mazes.

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: Secret Society

img_6900This year’s hayride was promoted as being “brand new with the most innovative theme to date”. The story is we’re now part of a Secret Society of Halloween, and they’re going to take us, in our hay-filled cart, down a dark road where we’ll witness scenes of power and sacrifice, all to bring the night of Samhain to life. Before taking this journey, guests get rounded up like cattle in a chain-link fence holding pen and then corralled into the wagon. The wagon isn’t very comfortable, as instead of sitting on comfy bales of hay, you sit in a thin pile of hay that’s spread across the bed of the wagon.

We did notice a few minor changes in the hayride since we last visited but nothing that was truly “innovative”. Most notably is the section where you leave the hay wagon a few minutes into the ride and walk through an outdoor maze that has one or two startling moments. After the maze section, we were quickly crammed back into the wagon and continued on with the tour.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t experience anything else that was particularly scary on the rest of the hayride. There are some interesting and elaborate sets along the route and some talented performers who give it a theatrical edge, but we had a hard time following the storyline and understanding what was happening in some of the scenes. The overall theme was lost on us, as the ride begins with a giant Mayan statue telling us we’re doomed and then finishes in a tent where we get attacked by patriotic Purge-like  goons.

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All in all, the hayride is like a riding though an outdoor Halloween store, where you’ll see some cool costumes, makeup jobs, and props on display. It’s all fun, but we wouldn’t want to wait in a long line to check it out.

Haunt Design: 3-skulls
Theming: 2-skulls
Scare Factor: 1-skull
Overall Rating: 2-skulls

Ouija Origin of Evil: House of Shadows

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This is a true maze composed of black walls in almost complete darkness. From the name, it’s obvious that they’re promoting the new Ouija movie, so they also included a few rooms that feature scenes from the movie.  These scenes are not at the same quality of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights mazes, but they still were fun. In the rest of the maze, you have to find your way through  dark corridors with dead ends and monsters lurking in the shadows. This maze was actually pretty fun, and we found it to be a little scarier than the hayride. Overall, this was a fun attraction, but note that the line can get REALLY long. We suggest hitting this maze early in the night (before the hayride) to avoid the long lines.

Haunt Design: 2-5-skulls
Theming: 3-skulls
Scare Factor: 2-skulls
Overall Rating: 3-skulls

Trick Or Treat

img_6913This has to be one the best maze concepts we’ve experienced this season. This maze takes interactivity to another level, where guests have to walk through a spooky neighborhood and literally go trick-or-treating door to door. Each house has its own personality to match the forbidding residents inside. It’s suspenseful and fun when you walk up to a house and have to ring the doorbell or knock on the door, waiting for an encounter with what’s on the other side. If you’re lucky, the resident will award you with some candy before sending you on your way to your next frightful encounter.

This maze was so much fun. We liked the feeling of not being confined to a path and the ability to pick where were wanted to go to get scared. We also liked the different themed homes, which featured just about every kind of Halloween character you could imagine. Getting candy made the experience all that much more fun. For us grown-up haunt stalkers, this maze allowed us to re-create the nostalgic memory of going door to door on Halloween night and the nightmares we had afterward.

Haunt Design: 4-skulls
Theming: 5-skulls
Scare Factor: 2-5-skulls
Overall Rating:4-5-skulls

 

L.A. Haunted Hayride Overall Fright Value:

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Overall Rating of L.A. Haunted Hayride 2016:

3-5-skulls

*Videos courtesy of Theme Park HD

Get a LYFT into Your Own Horror Movie

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Halloween weekend is here Haunt Stalkers and there’s no better way to travel from party to party, haunt to haunt, or bar to haunt to party than in a Lyft.

If you’re haunt stalking in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami this weekend then you can also experience your five seconds of Horror fame.  Lyft is offering to get you where you’re going and star in a horror movie — all with the tap of a button. From 2 – 11 PM on Saturday, October 29, you can request an in-car film crew. When your driver arrives, simply hop in and let the magic happen.

During the ride, you’ll work with a writer and director on your very own spooky script. When you arrive at your destination, you’ll film it. While you go off to celebrate, our editors will be working on your mini horror movie and we’ll share it with you later that night.

If you’re not in Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, or Miami, you can still count on Lyft for safe, reliable rides all ‘Halloweekend’ long. Plus, open the Lyft app to see mummies, monsters, and more roaming the streets.

Learn more about how you can request an in-car film crew on 10/29 to write, shoot, and produce your own mini horror film this Halloween HERE.

Haunt Review: Sinister Pointe(less) 2016

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During its prime, Sinister Pointe ranked near the very top of our annual haunt ratings list. With themes ranging from Saw to Silent Hill, and an elaborate haunted house with annual Xmas and Valentine’s Day haunts, this was one of the premier haunted attractions in Southern California. The mazes were superbly designed with movie-quality sets, interactive elements, and suspenseful scares that had us screaming to go back year after year. In addition, the talented team behind Sinister Pointe were also the masterminds behind the creation of Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor and one of our favorite haunts at the Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights. So after they left their permanent location in 2014, we anxiously anticipated their return in 2016.

Earlier this year, Sinister Pointe had a Seance event that we found to be fun. With a few tweaks, it could have been a pretty epic experience. With that said, it seems that public opinion was that the Seance event was a waste of time and money. Making good on their commitment to customer satisfaction, Sinister Pointe sent out special invitations to all the Seance attendees, welcoming us all back as VIP guests to experience their new 2016 haunted maze.

cuypulkuiaaqgys We couldn’t wait to finally return to Sinister Pointe and see the next level of terror and fun they promoted. The maze is themed as a dark journey through a decrepit world where victims must choose different paths to get through four demonic dimensions. Unfortunately, the description is the most exciting part. The maze we went through (3 times) is mainly constructed from black painted plywood walls and hanging sheets.  There were hardly any props and limited effects. There actually was one section of the maze where we got stuck with other guests because we thought that the path through a curtain was taking us out of the maze and behind the scenes. It looked like an emergency exit. However, an actor told us to keep going and called us idiots for not knowing that was the correct path. We’re sorry, but when going through a maze, we’re not used to going behind the walls and walking over light cords, fans, past stacked chairs, and behind the audio speakers. We couldn’t believe it was part of the maze.  We all did feel like idiots for taking the time and paying to go through this maze.

We went through three times and didn’t find any of the paths to be significantly different. Every time we went through, none of the other people in the maze seemed to be impressed either.  It was really disappointing to realize that Sinister Pointe has regressed into being nothing more than an overpriced junior high school haunted house. We think that this was the first time that a haunt has left us feeling depressed, as it had very little redeeming qualities about it.

cuyrqpzueaqmv57What seems to have gone wrong is that the overall set design and talent has fallen far below the quality that Sinister Pointe has spoiled us with before. We give credit to a few scareactors who were giving it their all, but the rest seemed just as lost in the maze as we did. We understand that the haunt business is a tough one and requires haunters to make a big investment to produce a quality maze. Given their tenure and established name in the industry, we expected that Sinister Pointe would have both the creativity and resources to produce another high-end experience. Alas, all we got was a cleverly marketed but ill-conceived haunted house experience.

Our hope is that this year was just a fluke and due to circumstances beyond their control, they weren’t able to produce the haunt they had initially intended to make. However, we can’t make excuses here, and since they’re taking people’s money, we can’t in good conscience give them a good review.  Sad to say that this a a first-class haunt that has gone all the way back to coach. Sinisterly Pointless, indeed.

 

Ratings

Haunt Design: 1-skull        Theming:  1-5-skulls

Scare Factor: half-skull     Fright Value: half-skull 

Overall Rating: 

1-skull

Haunt Review 2016: Motel 6 Feet Under

Motel 6 Feet Under is located in a business park in Anaheim, not far from Disneyland, and we included it as a stop on our O.C. haunt itinerary.

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The backstory of the haunt focuses on Mabel, a little girl who haunts a motel and “has enlisted the help of the dead and undead motel staff to keep you in her tourist trap.” The haunt begins with a short wait in the hotel lobby, which is lavishly decorated with props to set the scene of an old motel. After a short wait, we were ushered into an elevator “experience” with a demented and funny porter. Once we exited the elevator, we traveled down a dark hallway, where we were accosted a few times by Mabel herself, a seriously creepy little girl. There are interesting animatronics and props along the way, as well as some good scares from the enthusiastic actors.

Everything seemed to be pretty standard at this haunt until we reached a dead end. We hesitated a few moments before turning back to see if there was an alternate path we missed. There wasn’t. Instead, the path of the maze had actually shifted behind us. This unexpected twist in the standard maze scheme was a great surprise and immediately put us on our toes. We encountered a few more instances of changing walls and paths, until we finally made it out into some “outdoor” scenes, including a giant spider and a train.

SUMMARY

If you’re going out to Orange County to see one of the other main O.C. haunts (including Sinister Pointe  and 17th Door), you should definitely add Motel 6 Feet Under to your touring plans.

It may be a small haunt by some standards, but there’s a lot to see inside. In many ways, it felt like a throwback to some of the more traditional haunted houses of several years ago. These days, a lot of haunts are turning to gimmicks and extreme measures to differentiate themselves from the competition, but by sticking to a more standard formula (with a few tricks thrown in), Motel 6 Feet Under was a refreshing change of pace for us. The theme and backstory have great potential for the haunt as it matures. We definitely got the feeling that the haunt designers are passionate and thoughtful about creating unique experiences and scares. We hope to see the haunt return and grow in the coming years.

Ratings

Haunt Design: 3-5-skulls    Theming: 3-25-skulls

Scare Factor: 3-skulls           Fright Value: 3-5-skulls

Overall Rating: 

3-5-skulls

Haunt Review 2016: The 17th Door Haunted Experience

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Last year, the talk of the Southern California haunt community was the 17th Door in Tustin. At the time, we were intrigued, but our packed haunt schedule in 2015 didn’t leave us time to visit the haunt during its inaugural year. And, in full disclosure, we’re typically not fans of the “extreme haunt” experience, so we didn’t make it a priority. But after great word of mouth, we put this one near the top of our to-do list for 2016.

And we’re sure glad we did.

About the Experience

The 17th Door promotes itself as providing “psychological terror,” and although many people have described it as “extreme,” after experiencing it, we wouldn’t put it in the same category as Blackout or McKamey Manor. We found the 17th Door to be a great mix of a traditional haunt, theatrical haunt, and an extreme haunt experience.  And for those who might be “extreme haunt curious,” the 17th Door could be a great choice.

Despite its location in a homogeneous, boring mall (typical for Orange County), once inside the 17th  Door, everything is elaborately themed. Even the ticketing/queue area is impressively decorated, and victims should remain on their toes because some of the most unsuspected scares may happen before you even get your hand stamped. The haunt does make all customers sign a waiver. Be sure to read it thoroughly to get a preview of what themes and experiences may await you, and some of the subject matter could be disturbing to sensitive people, such as depictions (implied, not graphic) of child sexual abuse, abortion, and infanticide.

The back story of the haunt is a continuation from last year. Our heroine Paula has survived the mental hospital and is back in school at Gluttire University, where she finds herself unfortunately pregnant by her abusive boyfriend.

The haunt is structured such that each room is its own individual experience. You must remain in the room until the light above the door (17 of them) turns green before you can move on. We were particularly  impressed by the fact that each room is very unique but also serves the overall story. Some rooms are simple and involve a typical haunt “boo” scare, whereas others are elaborate setups involving the actors playing out a scene to tell the story or lead into a scare. Other rooms–the most “extreme” ones, obviously–require guests to perform some task before moving on. Some may be easy, some uncomfortable, and still others might be completely unbearable depending on what you’re afraid of.

There’s always the option of yelling “Mercy!” to get out of a performing a task, but we definitely recommend that you push yourself and try to do as much as possible. We don’t want to spoil too much, but we will say that there are a few instances of electric shock, which is probably the worst thing we experienced in the haunt. You won’t have to eat any bugs or have any bugs put on you. You  might have to touch some gross stuff, including butchered animals. You might get sprayed with water or have water lightly spit on you. But most of it was pretty tolerable. The actors will touch the guests, but it was mild and infrequent.

The Haunt

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Your journey begins as a psychiatrist discharges you from the mental ward and releases you to the real world and Gluttire University. At least, we think that’s what happened. Our memory may have been erased! The first scene is an excellent introduction to the haunt, and the scares in this room are brilliantly used to set the level of fear for all the guests. We were instantly put on edge, and that feeling remained with us throughout the experience.

We progressed through various scenes, but we won’t describe them all here to avoid spoilers. But some standouts included a disgusting bathroom, a mini escape room experience, the outside of a fraternity house, a laboratory of insects, a McDonald’s “Play Place,” Paula’s dorm room, and the labor and delivery ward. Each room is fully immersive, and the scares and “tasks” build as you progress through the experience. The actors are also some of the best we’ve seen. They did a great job deciding on the fly who would be the best person in the group to pick on in a particular room, and they would also back off that person if they refused to participate, seamlessly moving on to the next “victim.” The actors at 17th Door have a particularly challenging task in striking the balance between psychological terror and fun, and they achieved it easily.

Summary

We loved 17th Door for its great mixture of experiences. It is definitely a step up from the traditional haunted house in terms extreme elements, but we think most of our haunt stalkers would be up for the challenge. If you’re bored of the “monster around the corner” type of scare, you should definitely visit 17th Door to see what the hype is about. It is definitely one of the best themed, unique, and fun haunts in Southern California right now.

Our Ratings

Haunt Design:  5-skulls

Theming:  4-skulls

Scare Factor:  4-skulls

Fright Value:  4-5-skulls

Overall Rating:

4-25-skulls

Haunt Review: Halloween Horror Nights (Hollywood) 2016

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at Universal Studios Hollywood continues to put out the scares and pack in the crowds.

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This year’s buzz about HHN has reached an all new high with a lineup of mazes featuring some of the most popular movie and TV franchises in horror history. It’s slashers gone wild in mazes featuring Michael Myers, Leatherface, Jason, and Freddy. Demonic destruction in “The Exorcist”  and “Krampus” mazes. You will also experience terror vision in mazes based on TV’s top rated horror series “American Horror Story” and “The Walking Dead”. Plus murderous clowns roam the backlot and Purgers have taken over the rest of the park. With all of this horror greatness we have to agree that Universal Studios Hollywood’s HHN is a blockbuster Theme Park Halloween event.

Freddy, Jason, Michael, and Walkers are probably some of the biggest draws that keeps people coming back year after year (along with all their friends and family). People truly love being able to see their favorite horror icons and experience their terrifying worlds. On the other hand, for us, there is also the desire to have new experiences. While Universal has created new story lines for some of the repeat horror franchises they’re presenting  we have to  wonder where can HHN go from here and how can they continue to raise the bar if they remain locked into producing mazes solely tied to movie and TV franchises?

Listen, to their credit, unlike Knott’s and other parks that usually run the exact same mazes for three to six years straight, Universal seems to operate under a plan where they rotate the themes in and out over the years; freshening them up with new layouts, sets and effects when they come back. This makes every year somewhat different (expect for Terror Tram) and also allows for horror fans to have ongoing experiences with their favorite horror movies. It’s not a coincidence that sequels and remakes are popular in the horror genre as the fans can never get enough. Nonetheless, as frequent haunt stalkers who have experienced HHN at Universal Orlando where they also have a few unique mazes every year, we think if Hollywood included more original concepts into their mix then they would have the perfect collection of mazes in one park.

img_6824Overall, HHN continues to reign as the scariest Theme Park haunt in Southern California. In comparison to Scary Farm and Dark Harbor, we still rank the mazes at HHN highest in overall design, theming, and scare factor. The other parks may just have an edge when it comes to the park wide experiences and value.

We think that park operations have also improved slightly this year with early maze openings and easier security and entrance procedures but it still gets uncomfortably crowded as the park has small walkways and its over a mile to walk from the front gate down to the back lot where most of the mazes are.  We also believe that it will be nearly impossible to experience everything without paying the absorbent cost for a front of the line (FOL) pass. The sad reality is you are more likely to NOT have a have a good time if you don’t have a FOL but we also know that paying over $200 bucks for a haunt isn’t  the reality for most people either. We think if they opened up the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter and maybe even incorporated the Death Eater attack, like in Japan, then that would help further disperse the crowds. Of course we also would prefer if they would add at least two to three more mazes.

With a FOL we were able to see all the mazes and get on a few rides in just under 4 hours. We didn’t bother seeing the JabbaWockeez show as we still don’t get their connection to Halloween aside from wearing white masks and aren’t fans of watching shows when we can be going through mazes instead.

Now as Dr. Loomis said “It’s time, Michael” so let’s get to business and review all the mazes, Terror Tram, and Purge scare zone at HHN 2016 featuring videos from our friends at ThemeParkHD.

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 Reviews

The Exorcist

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Based on the “scariest film of all time” this maze takes guests inside the MacNeil house, where we get to witness firsthand the violent battle of a demon trying to take the soul of a little girl.  There are some cool animatronic and special effects used in this maze.  The settings are redundant as the path just goes back and forth between dark corridors  filled with demonic creatures to various recreations of the movie’s bedroom scene where we see lil Regan evolve into a demonic monster.

There are some pretty intense and startling scares in the maze but they pretty much stick to one scare tactic that gets used over and over again, though ever so effectively. We easily caught on to the rhythm of the maze a few rooms in. There was a  noticeable similarities  between this maze and last year’s “This is the End” maze that was in the same location and featured a demonic invasion using similar scare tactics.

The recreation of this movie is no easy feat and what they managed to do with The Exorcist was pretty impressive. We think that this is a not to be missed maze and is a good one to start with to get your heart pumping for the rest of the night at HHN.

Haunt Design: 4-skulls
Theming: 4-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-5-skulls
Overall Rating: 4-skulls

Krampus

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As a movie Krampus may not be one of the scariest. It’s fun but not scary. However, as a maze, Krampus offers a real treat of elaborate set designs and unique scares. It’s an early Christmas present to haunt fans. This maze has the best looking facade at HHN and as soon as you step into this holiday house of horrors the sweet scents of spice, pine, and gingerbread cookies fills the air.

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As guest make their way further into the home it doesn’t take too long for Krampus and his nasty little helpers to get into action attacking from every corner and angle imaginable. There are non-stop scares with the creatures coming out of the most unexpected places, above and below.  This maze does a great job recreating the best scenes from the movie and it truly stands out as one of the best designed mazes in recent HHN history.

Haunt Design: 5-skulls
Theming: 5-skulls
Scare Factor: 4-skulls
Overall Rating: 4-5-skulls

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Choose Your Fate in an All-New Experience at Sinister Pointe

It’s almost the weekend, so that means it’s time to preview a couple more haunted attractions! This weekend, Scare Zone is headed out to Orange County to experience a few of the excellent stand-alone haunts the region has to offer. Of course, the top of our list includes Sinister Pointe, one of the best and most highly rated attractions in all of California.

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As usual, SP is breaking new ground and going beyond the usual conga-line template used by a lot of the bigger haunts. Instead, this year victims will choose their own fate among four different paths in the maze:

Sinister Pointe has opened a portal between our world and the next. Upon multiple experimentations, we have discovered four separate dimensions within this dark and vast oblivion. Enter this world cautiously for the BRANDER lurks beyond the walls. If you are caught in his grasp, you WILL BE MARKED. Once marked, there is no escape! Your path through this dark and decrepit world has been chosen for you. Stray from your chosen path and you will be banished from the world we know for eternity.

We got a small taste of the new maze at Midsummer Scream this year, and we were impressed with some of the dark, demonic imagery.

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Sinister Pointe is known for being “interactive,” and this year looks to be no exception:

Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction contains interactive elements that may include contact with Ouija boards, tarot cards, crawling, total darkness, tight spaces, and possible moments of being alone. 

If you want to be able to experience all paths of the maze, SP is offering an “all-night” ticket so that you can go through the maze over and over.

We’ll also be checking out 17th Door and Motel 6 Feet Under, so be sure to follow us on Twitter for live updates and photos/videos!

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