New Haunt on the “Horizon” in Orlando

We all know that Halloween Horror Nights Orlando is the best theme park haunt event in the country. But is it about to get some real competition? From the people behind Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach, California, a brand new haunt called “Dark Horizon: Point of No Return” is coming to the Orlando area in 2019.

At this point, details are still scarce. The first round of auditions is being held as of this writing (July 11-13, 2019). The initial call for monsters says the event will “[feature] brilliant stage shows, sinister sideshows, creepy bars, and bone-chilling monsters that lurk around every turn,” which sounds pretty similar to the Queen Mary event. In other words, this won’t be just a single standalone haunted house, but rather a “screampark” style event with mazes, live entertainment, and alcohol. There will even be cabanas available to rent.

Information on the event’s specific location has not been released yet, only that it will be in Orlando. So could Dark Horizon be a true competitor to Halloween Horror Nights?

Until now, HHN Orlando has enjoyed no real competition in the surrounding area, aside from the year-round Mortem Manor, which—although a fun diversion—could never be a substitute for Horror Nights. The next major event is nearly 90 miles away in Tampa (Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream). We think that Dark Horizons might be able to reach haunt fans who are tired of HHN’s long lines and high prices. But by taking up residence in an area whose only haunt event is the best in the nation–Dark Horizon has an uphill climb. On the other hand, as we see in many other markets (Southern California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas), Halloween attractions are very popular, and many people go to more than one during the season. So instead of being a strict competitor, Dark Horizon’s success may lie in its ability to be a complement to HHN, enticing people who not only want to see Halloween Horror Nights as usual but ALSO want to be terrified in new and different ways.

Most importantly, Dark Horizon needs to come out strong in their opening year with good-quality mazes and a well-organized operation, or they run the very real risk of drowning in bad Yelp reviews, as locals will surely compare them with Horror Nights. But we know that the team is savvy. They completely turned what was once a “Shipwreck” (in name and reality) into a very enjoyable haunt event, so we’re hopeful that they can do it again. We may even book ourselves a flight to Orlando this year to find out.

We will continue to report on Dark Horizon: Point of No Return as more news comes in throughout the summer, so check back often.

4th of July Horror Movies – Let Freedom Scream!

We wish all our Haunt Stalkers, but mostly the American ones, a fun but scary Fourth of July!  Today we fire up the barbecues, fireworks, and some classic summertime horror flicks.

In the spirit of the holiday, and pure American Horror, we’ve picked off these 4 Patriotic, All-American, and July 4th holiday-themed terror flicks for your viewing (dis)pleasure. Of course, when we watch horror movies, we’re always looking to see if they have haunt potential. We see some of these flicks on this list as providing eerie settings and creepy characters that would be good for haunts.

4. 2001 Maniacs: Eight college students traveling to Florida stumble into a remote town in Georgia where they are set upon by the residents who are out to avenge their deaths by Union troops over 100 years earlier during the Civil War.

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This movie is campy, corny, gory with some over-the-top murder scenes that could make even the most hardcore horror fan cringe. The settings and characters lend themselves very well to a sadistically themed haunt but may be too explicit for a haunt.

3. Jaws: A Great White Shark decides to make the small beach resort town of Amity his private feeding grounds. This greatly frustrates the town police chief who wants to close the beaches to chase the shark away. He is thwarted in his efforts by the town’s mayor who finally relents when nothing else seems to work and the chief, a scientist, and an old fisherman with revenge on his mind take to the sea to kill the beast. 

Jaws

This is a classic horror film that takes place on the July 4th holiday. Jaws may be a difficult haunt to make but not impossible – perhaps if it was based on the town of Amity which is now cursed by the ghosts victims of Jaws. The finale of the maze can have these enraged spirits sending you into the depths of the ocean for a face to Jaws encounter with the Great White terror itself. Just a suggestion @HHN.

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer: It’s the fourth of July and four friends are celebrating along with graduation. On their way home, they hit a pedestrian walking down a dark and curvy road. After disposing of the body they make a pact to keep it a secret in hopes of saving their futures. The following summer it seems that he or someone who saw them is ready to put them back on the hook (literally).

i-know-what-you-did-last-summer

The movie’s killer fisherman with a hook hand has been featured in a few haunts we’ve experienced over the years. Most notably was Dead Man’s Wharf at Knott’s Scary Farm, which featured a maniac (with the fisherman’s rain slicker and hook) stalking victims in a fog-shrouded shipyard.

1. Uncle Sam: A Desert Storm vet who was killed in combat rises from the grave on July Fourth, to kill the unpatriotic citizens of his hometown, after some teens burn an American flag over his burial site.

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This is the ultimate Fourth of July themed horror movie. Uncle Sam was trying to be to the Fourth of July what Michael Myers is to Halloween but it turned out to be very campy and low-budget. You know, like how Leprechaun is to St. Patrick’s day. Nonetheless, Uncle Sam is extremely creepy himself with some patriotic murder tactics who we would be scared to see stalking us in a haunt… we actually think we have (?).

Honorable Mentions:

The Purge:  Election Year – Oh, it’s just Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam stalking and killing people they don’t like.

Return of the Living Dead – All the punk zombie shenanigans takes place during the early morning hours of July 4th!

Final Destination 3 – A killer fireworks scene

HHN Orlando is Ready for Yeti!

Last year Universal Orlando’s HHN Orlando grindhouse-themed house Slaughter Sinema featured Attack of the Swamp Yeti as one of the mirco-themes within the haunted house. For 2019 the mythical monster will be fully unleashed in a frightening new take on the fear-inducing folklore of the Yeti. But beware, because this experience will trade B-movie scares for bloodthirsty terror that will send you running in the opposite direction. The snow will be red with blood in the Yeti: Terror of the Yukon haunted house.

Story
Deep in the remote tundra of the Yukon, loggers, and trappers seek refuge from the frigid grip of an arctic blizzard. But out in the darkness, a terror lurks far more dangerous than the deluge of snow and ice. These unfortunate souls have intruded into a territory that is haunted by their worst nightmares. Enter a logging camp that’s been torn apart, floors caked with snow, bones and gore. Right outside, screams are frozen on the faces of those who fled the towering monsters only to succumb to the elements. But there is no escape from beasts as brutal as the winter.

The Yetis
Just when you thought the only thing to fear was the elements, an icy terror will descend over you. Cringe at the trail of blood leading to caves none have lived to see. As you enter the labyrinth of caves, you’ll hear the screaming echoes of those who couldn’t escape the inevitable. If you survive long enough to see the end, you’re likely to find the remains of those who came before you and meet their same demise. You’re in Yeti territory now. They’re stone cold vicious and will stop at nothing for a taste of blood. If the cold doesn’t get you, they will.

Event Details
Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios Florida on select nights from Sept. 6 – Nov. 2. This year, you’ll experience 10 haunted houses, 5 scare zones, live entertainment and more. Choose a night and get your tickets, vacation package and event extras now!

Stranger Things “Fun Fair” Takes Over the Santa Monica Pier, June 29-30, 2019

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Film and TV marketing isn’t just for billboards and bus bench ads anymore. Immersive experiences are the new entertainment marketing trend, and ahead of its season 3 premier on July 4, 2019, Stranger Things is time warping the Santa Monica Pier back to the 80s with a free “fun fair” event all weekend long.

The pier will be transformed to make you feel like you stepped into a carnival right in the middle of Hawkins, Indiana (just ignore that little ocean surrounding you on all sides). You’ll be able to visit the Hawkins Bike Shop to enter to win a replica of Max’s bike, play Stranger Things themed carnival games, watch performances by the Hawkins High School Cheerleaders, and grab an ice cream cone from Scoops Ahoy.

But of most interest to haunt fans will be the Curiosity House, which is likely to be filled with Demogorgons.

Admission to the pier is free, although we expect you will still have to pay to ride the permanent pier attractions and play the games. The special event runs June 29 and 30 from 11 am to 9 pm. So put on your most radical 80s attire and check it out.

And if you can’t make it to this event, don’t miss the return of a Stranger Things maze at Halloween Horror Nights this year.

 

Haunt Jobs: Open Hire Season Is Almost Here

As the weather heats up, so does haunt preparation! Theme parks and independent haunts are hard at work building their mazes in preparation for haunt season, which seems to come earlier every year. Although official opening dates for haunts in Southern California are not announced yet, some of these events are beginning to schedule their open hire audition events.

In addition to scare actor jobs, haunts will be hiring construction crews, managers, makeup artists and more.

If you’re on the lookout for a haunt job this year, here are some dates to keep in mind:

Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: June 21 and 22, 2019

Where: Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City

Auditions are early this year, so don’t miss out!


Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor: July 26 and 27, 2019

Click here to fill out the initial application.

Here’s a video from last year’s auditions:

Knott’s Scary Farm: TBD

Open auditions haven’t been announced yet, but previous employees have been notified of their rehire application dates. Open hire dates are usually near the end of July. We will update when we have more info.

However, they are currently recruiting for a “Scare Zone Cast Leader,” if managing actors is more you style.

 

Check back throughout the summer for more information on haunt job openings and audition dates!

A Spooky Spring: Upcoming Haunt/Horror Events in Southern California

April marks the halfway-point to Halloween season, and if you’re like us, you’re experiencing serious withdrawal from haunts while also starting to get excited for the 2019 season. But Fall is still so far away, so if you just can’t wait, there are a few events in the near future that may help tide you over.

Spring Haunt/Horror Events

April-June 2019

I Like Scary Movies (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)

Beetlejuice-horror-experience-scary-movies

This pop-up “experience” immerses guests into their favorite horror films, including IT, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Beetlejuice, and The Shining. The space boasts 25,000 square feet of Instagram-ready photo ops.

Although there are no scareactors, you’ll be able to pose with Freddy’s glove, sink into the carpet of Overlook Hotel, and pose with maggots in Chinese Food Box (a la Lost Boys). Tickets are $39 for an approximately 90-minute experience.

April 6, 2019

Spook Show 7 (Halloween Club, La Mirada)

haunt-convention-horror-vendors-spooky

Spook Show started out as a horror “swap meet” of sorts but has quickly grown into a must-attend shopping and entertainment event for any Halloween enthusiast. Put on by Halloween Club (which we’ve all seen on the way to Disneyland), the event includes more than 100 vendors, artists, musicians, and other spooky folks. Halloween Club will also be clearing out a wide array of costumes and props at a great discount. Live music, food, and spook shows by Doctor Zomba’s Ghost Show of Terror round out the event. And the best part? Tickets are free! But you must register ahead of time to guarantee entry.

Spook Show 7 runs from 12-7 pm; costumes are encouraged. To register, visit their website.

April 12, 2019

To Live and Di(n)e in LA (Drunken Devil, Los Angeles)

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Drunken Devil brings the debauchery back this spring with a new event called “To Live and “Di(n)e in LA.” This event is an immersive dining experience in which guests will encounter the spirits of some of LA’s most notorious criminals and victims, including the Black Dahlia, Charles Manson, and the Night Stalker.

Not only is each course of the meal paired with a themed cocktail, but it also ties in with one of these true crime figures. If you’ve ever wanted to sip some Mezcal next to a serial killer, here’s your chance.

Tickets are $200, which includes the 3-hour show and full-course meal and cocktails. You must be 21 or over to attend.

April 12-13, 2019

All Saints Lunatic Asylum: Rotten Egg Hunt (Apple Valley)

All Saints Lunatic Asylum is one of Southern California’s premier independent haunts, and they consistently put on off-season events worth the drive to Apple Valley. Their annual “Rotten Egg Hunt” returns in 2019, bringing the evil Easter Bunny and friends along with it.

This is the only Easter weekend haunt event in the area, so if you really need a good scare, don’t miss this.

Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, 7:00 to 10 pm. Tickets are $13.

April 12-14, 2019

Monsterpalooza (Pasadena Convention Center)

Before we had the behemoth of Midsummer Scream, Monsterpalooza was the horror convention in Southern California. Although it’s not as big as MSS, it definitely worth attending, because it attracts some serious A-list horror talent, from makeup artists, to sculptors, to film makers and actors (Bruce Campbell!). And of course, John Murdy will be there on Sunday heading up the annual Halloween Horror Nights panel. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Will there be another HHN maze announcement?”

Monsterpalooza runs Friday through Sunday, April 12-14 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Daily tickets are $30 online or $35 at the door.  Be sure to get their early as long lines can form, and there’s a lot to see.

May 24-June 1, 2019

Blood Alley (Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, North Hollywood)

Blood-Alley-Horror-Theatre

If you’ve never experienced a Zombie Joe production, now is the time. This spring, the Underground Theatre presents Blood Alley, an all new horror-theatre spectacular!

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly presents their All-New, Brutal and Razor-Sharp Horror-Theater Spectacular in the great Grand Guignol, Theatre of Cruelty and Butoh-Traditions, centering around the traumatic memoirs of a forgotten street-alley haunted by the longing, beauty and unspeakable events of its cold, diabolical past!

The show opens May 24 and runs on selected dates until June 1, with two performances each night. Tickets are $15, which is an incredible bargain for the theatre experience. Seriously, instead of going to another Disney or Marvel movie, get a ticket to Blood Alley for a night you’ll remember. We know the genie in the live action Aladdin looks frightening, but Will Smith will be no match for the horrors you’ll experience at Zombie Joe’s! Trust us.

Haunt Review: Halloween Horror Nights (Hollywood) 2018

HHN Hollywood sticks to its formula of cinematic themed mazes with a lineup featuring some of the most popular horror movies and TV series.

For 2018 there’s the unexplained and ghostly phenomenon in the “Stranger Things”, “Poltergeist” and “The Horrors of Blumhouse” mazes. Killers, slashers, and creeps in the “The First Purge”, “Halloween 4”, and “Trick r’ Treat” mazes. You’ll also come face to face with some of horror’s top movie icons in the incredibly fantastic “Universal Monsters” maze. Plus, the tried and true HHN attractions like “The Walking Dead” walk-through attraction, “Terror Tram”, and a few miscellaneous scare zones try their best to also thrill guests.

HHN  is still one of our top Theme Park haunts in SoCal and we continue to rank their mazes highest in overall design, theme, and scare factor. However, the redundancy and predictability are starting to become apparent to those of us who go every year. The pacing and design of all the mazes have become cookie cutter with very little variation in how they’re staged. While there are some great scares, the impact is minimized when the same tactics are used year after year, maze after maze.  This year there also was the increased over reliance on the black curtain transition rooms where a scareactor pops out of the darkness in nearly every maze.

The question we keep asking ourselves as the years go by is how can HHN be further enhanced to raise the bar and stay ahead of the haunt curve, which they’ve set themselves?  Should they remain locked into producing mazes solely tied to movie and TV franchises?

By all means, HHN is still a great time but as the years go on we fear that they may be painting themselves into a bloody corner with limited originality.   We know the team is creative enough to come up with a least a few new tricks every year to keep the HHN experience fresh. Having experienced HHN at Universal Orlando where they have a few unique mazes every year, we think if Hollywood included more original themes into their mix then they would have the perfect collection of mazes in one park. Plus with the successful launch of Warner Bros.’ own studio Haunt right down the street, which owns and now features big horror IPs such as The Conjuring, Pennywise (IT), Freddy, and Jason, Universal will need to do some more updating and diversifying to remain the top ‘final girl’ of Theme Park Haunts.

The overall park experience at HNN is as good as ever. They’ve improved on the operations and the staff was generally helpful. The layout of the park is still unwieldy with the mile-long walk, each way, from the front gate to the mazes at the bottom of the studio lot but we guess there’s no real way they can change that. It would be great if they would open up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section to disperse more of the crowds on the upper lot.

The early entry option is a must for those who purchase general admission as it allows you time to get through all the mazes with significantly reduced wait times. We used it and were able to go through a couple of the mazes twice which was a great bonus.  We wished they had an option where you could buy a one-time one maze front of the line pass. It may not be practical but after getting through all the lower lot mazes and then having to wait over an hour for the upper lot mazes it was something we wished we had at the end of the night.

Now, on to our maze reviews featuring videos from our friends at ThemeParkHD!

Mazes & Attractions Reviews

Stranger Things

Continue reading

“Zoe” Brings Escape Room Horror to the Las Vegas Strip

Photo Credit Sean Jorgensen

If you follow our site, you’ll know that Las Vegas is the home to our long-favorite haunt, Freakling Bros. For years, we’ve encouraged our Southern California haunt fans to make the trek out to Nevada to experience this awesome haunt for themselves. But with the recent demise of Fright Dome, and the buried skull of a haunt called Bonnie Screams, there has been a bit of an “empty grave” when it comes to other worthwhile haunts in the area. Which is crazy, because Vegas is such a prime destination for adult thrill seekers.

Fortunately, this year, a new horror-based escape room is looking to fill that gaping grave. “Zoe,” presented by Escaped Vegas, will debut at Bally’s Las Vegas on Saturday, October 27.

Zoe-Ballys-Las-Vegas-Escape-Room

Photo Credit Sean Jorgensen

Branching out from its original location in Southern California, where it achieved an impressive 5-star Yelp rating, Zoe is taking up residence on the Las Vegas strip, where it will be open not only this Halloween season but also year round. This 45-minute experience is described as “interactive live theatre” promising “frights, horrors, and fun.”  Like any good escape room, guests will work in a small group to solve puzzles and challenges as they make their way through a series of haunted rooms, with the goal of freeing the trapped spirit of Zoe. But you’ll really need to be on your toes, because the attraction includes live actors who will provide “startling surprises” and raise adrenaline levels.

In addition, the attraction offers two levels of scares: Between 10 am and 8 pm, the experience is suitable for those aged 13 years and older; but after 8 pm, the terror is elevated, and only those 16 years or older are permitted.

Ballys-Zoe-Las-Vegas

Photo Credit Sean Jorgensen

Tickets prices start at $45 and can be purchases at Ticketmaster or in person at any Caesars’ property box office.

We hope to make the journey out to Las Vegas to experience Zoe for ourselves soon; in the meantime, head over to our Instagram page to find out how you can win tickets for you and up to 5 friends to experience Zoe in Las Vegas!

 

 

Haunt Review: LA Haunted Hayride 2018

In 2009, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (LAHH) made a somewhat quiet debut at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas as the first large-scale hayride attraction in Southern California. Sure, there were a few local farms offering hayrides, but they just didn’t live up to standards set by the many famous East Coast hayride attractions (such as Headless Horseman or Bates Motel). After earning great reviews in their first year, LAHH moved to a more central LA location: the Old Zoo at Griffith Park. Their dedication to providing an excellent attraction combined with heavy marketing (and promotion of celebrity attendees) made their event one of the top “must-see” Halloween attractions in the area. 10 years later, they are still unchallenged as the only major hayride in California.

In addition to the hayride, the event also includes two walk-through mazes and event grounds (“Purgatory”) populated by roaming scareactors and shows. Now, let’s take a roll in the hay and get to the review!

 

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: 10 Years

The theme of this year’s hayride is, appropriately, “10 Years.” Instead of a single theme or backstory, this year’s ride plays like a “best of,” featuring scenes and characters from the past decade. This was a smart change in direction, because creating a coherent story line has proven to be difficult for many hayrides, not just LAHH. By abandoning the constraints of a single backstory and instead featuring stand-alone vignettes of horror, the hayride has become a lot more fun as well as more scary. The 10-year theme has also enabled them to feature all their best props, sets, and masks in a way that doesn’t feel forced. This freedom keeps the riders from having any idea of what might be coming next, increasing the suspense and surprise. And if you don’t like one scene, chances are the next one will have something to scare you.

The hayride begins with a journey through the fog. As you leave the grounds of the Haunted Village below, you are quickly bombarded by one scene after another, which vary widely from a spooky church scene, to an amusing  game show of death, to a terrifying tent full of demented clowns. We were struck by how well-choreographed the actors were in each scene, as some effects required very close synchronization to get the effect just right. The actors also used each other as distractions; while one actor terrified guests from the left, another silently snuck up on the other side for a scare. The energy level was high in nearly all scenes, with creatures running after the trailer, jumping on the rails, and leaning far into the crowd as guests scrambled to get away. This was the best group of actors we’ve seen on the LAHH to date.

Although the LAHH tried its best to conceal the actors in the shadows and use surprise tactics to elicit scares, we just didn’t find it to be that scary overall. This might be just us–maybe we find the confines of the twisted hallways of a walk-through attraction to be scarier than sitting in an open trailer. But with a hayride, the actors are limited to jumping on the sides of the trailer, and the suspense that is needed to create an effective scare is just really hard to pull off in this setting. However, the LAHH provides a great spooky, Halloween atmosphere with plenty of eye candy to make it well worth the journey.

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Trick or Treat

Treat or Treat returns this year as one of the most unique walk-through attractions at any Halloween event. Very small groups are let onto the trail, which resembles a rambling path through house-like facades. Guests have to knock on the doors, where they will get a treat (piece of candy) or a trick. The tricks are, of course, the fun part here, and these scares can be really effective. We definitely screamed more on this path than we did on the Hayride. Trick or Treat is not to be missed, and the long lines are a testament to its popularity.

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House of Shadows

This bare-bones walk-through has one unique thing going for it: it’s an actual maze. And you will get lost. The plain black walls and headache-inducing strobe light ensure you’ll be disoriented and begging for the exit before long. Monsters lurk in the shadows and behind walls, and they purposely lead you in the wrong direction. This maze is a fun distraction but is probably not be worth it if there’s a long line.

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SUMMARY

The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride continues to be a solid Halloween offering and is a great choice for anyone looking for something a little bit different than the standard walk-through haunted house. There’s plenty to do to fill up your evening, and the Purgatory grounds are full of Instagrammable spots. The vegan offerings at the food truck are delicious, and there’s plenty of free parking. We attended late on a Sunday evening and found the hayride line to be completely empty, although there was still a healthy line for Trick or Treat. Attending later in the evening or during the week is a good option if you want to avoid the lines and the need to buy a VIP ticket.

Los Angeles Haunted  Hayride Overall Fright Value:

General Admission/Fright Lane

 

Overall Rating of Los Angeles Haunted Hayride 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

LA Haunted Hayride is open through October 31. Tickets are now on sale 

Haunt Review: The 17th Door Haunted Experience: Crybaby (2018)

Walking up to the 17th Door Haunted Experience, the first thing you’ll notice is the abundance of signage warning you about the attraction. “This is a physically demanding and potentially dangerous attraction,” according to a giant sign on the chain-link fence that surrounds the queue area. “TRIGGER WARNING” shouts another sign, which warns you that you’ll be exposed to sexual assault, infanticide, insects, and small spaces, among other potential horrors. One small relief provided by these signs, however, is that the weapons used inside are only replicas. Phew.

And if that’s not enough, all guests (or victims) must sign a detailed waiver, acknowledging that you could be hurt, shocked with electricity, and even shot with projectiles that may leave welts and bruises.  Oh, and if you die, it’s not their fault.

In reality, these warnings are somewhat truthful, as 17th Door is currently the most extreme haunt in Southern California. But they’re also a clever trick to help amp up the anxiety and anticipation as you wait in line. While we do think 17th Door is suited for more advanced haunt stalkers or those looking for a more physical thrill experience, rather than first-time haunt visitors, overall, it’s not too extreme and can be handled by most people.

Here’s our review of 17th Door’s 2018 incarnation: Crybaby.

Location and Backstory

This year, 17th Door takes up residence in the back of a strip mall, which was actually the location of Sinister Pointe in 2016. This year’s story once again centers on Paula, the hapless young woman who was a raped and then found herself pregnant with a baby she didn’t want to, and couldn’t, care for.  Paula murdered her infant and is now locked up at Perpetuum Penitentiary, where the poor conditions have caused her to sink further into desperate madness as she sits on Death Row. As a new inmate of the penitentiary, you’ll get a first-hand look into Paula’s hell and experience it along with her.

In our opinion, Paula’s story is the most depressing we’ve ever encountered in the haunt world. Although the attraction paints her as “evil” and “perverse,” it’s hard not to feel bad for Paula, who seems to have fallen into her situation undeservedly. Not to mention the fact that the story also features a dead baby, whose face pops up continuously throughout the experience. We’re generally not that sensitive to topics of haunts and feel that almost nothing is really off limits when it comes to haunts, but the backstory here is so miserable that it actually makes the attraction less “scary.” However, it is effective in making you care about Paula as a character, which adds surprising bit of empathetic nuance to such an “extreme” experience.

The Experience

The first scene was (appropriately) the admissions room of the prison. We were given the rules and manhandled by some very good actors.  The attraction supposedly has 17 rooms, and hence 17 doors to go through (but we saw a door numbered “18,” but who’s counting?). Small groups go through the attraction room by room, and each scene is appropriately timed, with doors that can’t be opened until a green light goes on.

As we made our way through the attraction, we interacted with guards, (nearly naked) inmates, prison psychiatrists, and of course, Paula herself.  Paula, who isn’t adjusting well to prison life, carries a small doll that represents her dead son, Lincoln. We see her attempts at art therapy, which turns into a psychotic gallery when the lights go out. Other stand-out rooms include a putrid bathroom, an execution chamber complete with electric chair, the guard’s locker room, and the firing squad gallery.

Nearly every room had its own mini-story,  complete with either a scare or some kind of physical interaction. Despite the large number of rooms and characters, the scenes managed to adhere to the overall story very well. Although prison settings are nothing new in haunted attractions, 17th Door has made Perpetuum Penitentiary a fully immersive experience. We were impressed with the level of set detailing in each room, as well as with the variety of lighting, sound, and fog effects that seemed perfectly timed.

Although we don’t want to give away any of the big surprises, we will let you know about some of the “physically demanding” aspects of the attraction. First of all, if you have serious claustrophobia, this attraction is not for you. There are several moments that require squeezing into small, dark spaces. (However, if you’re a larger guest, don’t worry–they can accommodate you.) There is some mild electricity as well. However, the “surprise” of it is probably worse than the actual shock. They also warn you about insects, but we didn’t see any live insects in the attraction. There was a single scene in which an actor appeared to be throwing insects on guests, but it was dark and we couldn’t see what the objects actually were.

Is 17th Door Actually Scary?

As we drove to 17th Door, we actually found ourselves feeling a bit of dread. Not because we were scared, but because we weren’t exactly looking forward to being physically tortured. We’re actually not fans of extreme haunts. MacKamey Manor, Blackout, Alone–we don’t really consider these to be haunts. But 17th Door straddles the line in a very smart way. Their detailed sets rival some of the best haunts, and they do throw in a good number of jump scares to relieve the tension and elicit some laughs throughout. But the main draw is the physical stunts. Shocks, falls, pushing, getting “shot” at– you can’t do these things at just any haunt. But at the same time, we don’t find these things to be scary. exaxctly  But for those looking for something a little out of the ordinary and want to push their boundaries a bit, The 17th Door is perfect.

Haunt Design:
Theming:
Scare Factor:  
Overall Rating:  

 

17th Door Crybaby Overall Fright Value:

General Admission/Fright Lane

  

Overall Rating of 17th Door 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

17th Door is open through October 31. Tickets are now on sale 

17th Door also offers a VR experience for an extra charge ($13), which we did check out.

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