Our haunt adventure in San Diego continued with a stop at The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park. Here we found two haunt experiences: Carnival of Carnage and The Haunted Trail. We weren’t quite sure what to expect from this haunt, as there wasn’t too much information available about it, but it turned out to be a really good (and scary) surprise!
The Carnival of Carnage
This is a maze featuring “crazy carny folk.” You only can enter this maze with the VIP admission, and we were among the few who did dare to enter it. Before we went in, we overheard one worker telling another, “tonight must be extra scary, as we’ve had to escort 10 people out in the first hour.” We’re not sure if they were just staging us for the maze of if it was legit. Nonetheless, we did get a little nervous upon walking into this maze.
Once inside, we found the sets to be very simple, as it was just a labyrinth of painted plywood walls. The highlight was the fact that we were the only ones in the maze, so the monsters did come after us vigilantly. We also liked the fact it was a real maze with four different paths to take. This actually caused our group to get split up, leaving us to get scared alone. The maze has a memorable finale that will almost cause you to panic thinking you may never get out!
Our Rating: 2.5 Skulls
Trail of Terror
This haunt has the unique distinction of being completely outdoors and is a mile long trail through the woods of Balboa Park. After going through the Carnival, our expectations weren’t very high, but quickly we learned that the trail was going to be the evening’s main event. The first scene sets the tone for the rest of the maze, with a very unique scare tactic involving attacking zombies and a shotgun. From there, we traveled down the trail, which only became more and more terrifying as we went from scene to scene.
Other highlights of the trail include Freddy’s school bus (Universal: take note), the zombie kitchen, and the very dark and foggy house that ends with a chainsaw-wielding maniac in a hockey mask who attacks from a very unlikely location. What we really liked about this maze was the pacing of the scares. Victims… err guests, go through different haunted houses connected by the outdoor path. We also appreciated that there was continuity between the scenes. There wasn’t one continuous story per se, but all of the scenes seamlessly flowed from one to another, and they all had a consistent level of staging and effects. The setting also lended itself well to the authenticity of the horrors; we felt as if we really were lost on a trail of nightmarish terrors. We highly recommend that John Murdy and the Universal HHN crew come down and take some notes on how to stage an outdoor haunt, as this trail packs much more terror than their tram.