Author: Kendra (page 1 of 24)

“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.

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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.

Haunt Review: Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place

In the crowded Southern California haunted attraction industry, many haunts come and go from year to year. Besides the old stand-bys of the big theme park events (like Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm), there’s really only one other name that’s synonymous with Halloween in SoCal : Sinister Pointe. They’ve  earned their well-deserved reputation for haunts that are not only very innovative and original, but also truly scary. They’ve also boldly carried out completely new concepts in the haunt space, such as “Dark Markets,” Christmas-themed events, horror-themed parties, spirit lounges, and even a seance show that we loved.

Unfortunately, things seemed a little bumpy for Sinister Pointe over the past couple of years. In 2016, we were disappointed with their Halloween event, which felt put together at the last minute, and we didn’t feel it was up to their own (admittedly high) standards. With no walk-through attraction in 2017, we worried about their future. So when news surfaced this year that they’d be back, and bigger than ever, we put Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place at the top of our most-anticipated haunts list.

For 2018, Sinister Pointe has taken over three levels in an abandoned Macy’s in the Laguna Hills Mall. The event includes three haunted attractions (two walk-through mazes and one dark ride) as well as two scare zones. There are also vendors selling a wide range of horror-themed products, plus food trucks.

Mazes

Phobias

This interactive maze takes victims through representations of common fears and phobias. Each room is a stand-alone scene of a specific fear, and includes things such as dentist’s office, crematory,  a room full of exposed wires, and clowns. To get through the scene, your group will have to face their fears and push buttons, sit in the dentist chair, crawl through an oven, and so on. Our group was split up during this maze and we ended up going through alone during the second half, although this didn’t seem to be the case for everyone. Overall, this maze harkens back to Sinister Pointe’s previous attractions, such as SAW and Fear, but we felt that the scares were milder in comparison. Overall, this was a fun maze with a few good surprises and some really good actors. A solid return of Sinister Pointe’s trademark interactivity.

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Evil on 2

This maze tells the story of a creepy hotel. It started with us being led through the storage room, where we boarded a freight elevator helmed by a demented bellhop, who warned us about the evils on the hotel’s second floor. This was a great use of Macy’s actual freight lift, which was actually creepy enough that it didn’t even need extra lights or music to set the sinister tone. Upon exiting the elevator, we made our way through an abandoned hotel dining room and then through the halls of the evil hotel itself. The sets here were well designed, and we truly felt like we were snaking our way through hotel hallways and rooms. This maze used a good combination of static props and actors, and the effective lighting was distracting enough that it was sometimes hard to tell whether an actor was real or a prop. However, after a while, the scenes became a bit repetitive. The monotony was broken up by a security guard scene and a “behind the walls” path that made things interesting. Overall, though, we felt that a bit more variety in the maze would’ve livened things up a bit.

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The Boogeyman Express

Boogeyman Express is where Sinister Pointe gets truly interesting this year. Once again shattering expectations of what can be done in a haunt, SP has devised a completely unique haunted attraction they bill as a “dark ride.” The entire ride is hidden on the third floor, and you won’t have any idea what to expect before you actually board the vehicle.

This ride takes groups of 4 in a mine car, which is pulled behind a small golf cart-like vehicle. A tour guide takes you through a small town that has been overtaken by an evil presence. The scenes are highly varied, ranging from an old mansion, to a church, to a mine shaft, but the backstory is well crafted and the settings flow together. There are some good scares in here, and the mine car moves along at a good speed (sometimes even surprisingly fast!). We were actually blown away by the fact that this ride achieved a truly spooky feeling on the third floor of a department store.

Boogeyman Express was the true standout of the night, and the long lines reflected that. If you purchase general admission, you will need to obtain a timed ticket for this attraction and be prepared for a long wait. But it’s definitely worth it, and this attraction is not to be missed.

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Other Attractions

In addition to the mazes and dark ride, Scary Place also includes some really cool vendors and games, including a mini escape room (only $1!). A stage near the back of the space showcases live bands and magic shows. There are also plenty of free photo ops (including a free photo station). Two scare zones are fun to wander through while taking photos and videos. Roaming scareactors entertain the crowds and pose for photos.

Sinister Pointe has done a great job creating an atmosphere that makes you want to hang out. We attended on a Saturday night, and although the lines for the mazes were somewhat long (but not crazy), the overall space itself was large enough that it didn’t feel crowded at all. It had a great laid-back, fun vibe. We can’t help but compare Scary Place with HorrorWorld, which is also located in a mall and includes multiple attractions and vendors. While we loved HorrorWorld’s Into the Black attraction, we think Scary Place has the edge in being the event we wanted to spend more time at. We definitely recommend a visit to Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place this year.

We recommend purchasing the all-night VIP pass if possible. You’ll definitely want to go through the mazes and dark ride more than once. It will also help you avoid the long line for Boogeyman Express.

Sinister Point’s Scary Place Overall Fright Value:

General Admission/Fright Lane

 

Overall Rating of Sinister Pointe 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place is open Thursdays through Sundays as well as October 31. Tickets are now on sale 

Be sure to check Groupon for daily deals.

Haunt Review: HorrorWorld 2018

Into the Black burst onto the Southern California haunt scene in 2017, and it quickly shattered some of the long-running standards we’ve come to expect from haunts. Gone were the conga lines and large groups of people spoiling the scares, because in this maze, you had to walk through alone. And yet, it wasn’t an extreme haunt but rather one that packed plenty of scares but could still appeal to even casual haunt-goers. We were sure Larry Bones had found the right formula for something really unique, and we gave Into the Black a 666 rating last year.

This year, Into the Black makes up just one of three mazes in the newly expanded, multi-haunt event called HorrorWorld, located in the Puente Hills mall in the City of Industry. We were able to experience all three haunts during a media preview event before the official opening. Read on for our reviews.

Location

First of all, a word on the location. The Puente Hills Mall has certainly seen better days. Many stores stand empty, and if you’re so inclined, it would be easy to act out scenes from Dawn of the Dead or Night of the Comet here. Haunts all over the country seem to be taking advantage of the decline in retail, using abandoned stores as locations. Although this might be convenient and cost-effective, the mall setting does detract somewhat from the atmosphere as you wait in line. Gazing into the window of a Foot Locker while 90s music plays overhead just doesn’t get us into the haunt mood.

 

HorrorWorld occupies three storefronts on the second level near Macy’s. The main store houses the ticket booth; spooky vendors selling everything from t-shirts, to Halloween masks, to home decor; and food vendors, such as Morbid Cupcakes and Rad Coffee (try the Cookies and Scream coffee!). It’s also the location of the asylum-themed maze.

Mazes

Psycho Sanitarium

On the night we visited, this maze had its lights on. This actually might be the normal state of things, since it’s located inside the same room as the vendors and ticket booth, and we’re not sure how they could effectively dim the lights enough to work for both the vendors and the maze. Nevertheless, the actors were going full throttle inside. Demented asylum patients assaulted us around every corner and got right up in our faces. However, the overall set design did lack detail, as the walls were mostly just white with plastered papers and smears of blood. It was also a relatively short maze. But it serves as a good warm-up for the others, so if you get the all-access pass, we definitely recommend you check this one out first.

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The Fleshyard

The Fleshyard was previously located in Anaheim, most recently at a pumpkin patch, and over the years it’s earned a reputation as one of the best stand-alone, independent haunts in Orange County. This year, it’s found a perfect home at HorrorWorld. While we waited in line, we saw many groups run out of the exit looking terrified and/or exhilarated. We could tell from the guest reactions alone that this maze is special.

The beginning of the maze was a dark church scene, where a distraught young girl knelt at the altar while the priest provided the backstory of the doomed Kearny family. After hearing what befell the family, we were soon ushered out and began our journey through the Kearny house of horrors. As we traveled through the dilapidated farmhouse, we encountered various family members. Some of the scenes included the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. The maze also includes some “outdoor” scenes.

We found the sets to be impressively detailed with effective lighting and sound to set the frenzied mood. The maze uses unique scare tactics, and although it was a preview night, these actors had the scares down already.  There’s also a narrow hallway section that might have you turning sideways to get through (although there is an alternative, “easy” path for claustrophobic or larger guests). The finale scene was particularly impressive, and it’s what had some guests actually running out of the maze.

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Into the Black

The main attraction at HorrorWorld is still Into the Black. This maze takes up the largest space in the event and still requires guests to go through alone. However, the timed tickets from last year have been abandoned, and instead guests simply wait in line for their turn.

This maze relies heavily on darkness to set the mood. Although they’ve done a good job blocking out most of the mall’s harsh fluorescent lighting, we did find some light leakage coming through the scenes at the very front of the maze. But instead of being a distraction, it actually allowed us to observe the amazing detail in the sets and masks of the actors. However, this affects only a couple of scenes, and as you travel to the back of the maze, the darkness quickly envelops everything once again.

As we made our way through the crumbling Black family home, we encountered truly scary demons lurking around every corner (as well as in many other unexpected places). And these are no average demons…the amazing quality of the Bone Yard Effects masks gives them an extra unsettling, sinister appearance. Additionally, the maze uses a minimalist soundscape to heighten the suspense. The paths near the back of the maze are so disturbingly quiet, that any shuffling sound raises the hairs on your arm and puts you on full alert. The actors exploit this by moving nearly soundlessly until they are right next to you, or they may build the scare first by quietly scraping walls, finally letting out their terrifying shrieking growls right in your ear.

Into the Black remains one of the best mazes in Southern California right now. If you didn’t catch it last year, this should be near the top of your list for 2018.

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Summary

In its inaugural year, HorrorWorld has entered the Southern California haunt scene as major player, and we highly recommend a visit. Although you can buy tickets individually for each maze, the best value is the $45 all-access pass, which allows you to experience all three mazes. There is also a VR experience (we ran out of time and didn’t experience it this year).

HorrorWorld Overall Fright Value:

All-Access Pass

Overall Rating of HorrorWorld 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

HorrorWorld is open Fridays through Sundays in October, as well as October 29-31. Tickets are now on sale 

Experience a variety of Haunted Attractions at Southern California’s Most Anticipated Halloween Event. Not only do we offer the Scariest Haunted Houses, but Horrorworld has partnered with a team of terrifying vendors to create a Truly Frightening Experience.

Terror Tips: Maximizing Your Theme Park Haunt Experience

It’s haunt season again!

Many of the big theme-park haunts are creaking open their gates this weekend and we’ve carefully assembled some Terror Tips for getting the most screams and bang for your buck out of the night. As you begin your planning and preparation for the season of the witch, this list of tips will help you experience every maze, attraction, and maybe even the dumb shows at these mega-haunts. So pay attention, please. We don’t want you or your money to be left behind.

Trust us, we know how to Haunt Stalk.

1. GET THERE EARLY

This is the number one tip. Seriously, if you follow only one recommendation on this page, this should be the one. This will make or break your entire night. TRUST US. Get there before the haunt opens; we recommend at least a half-hour early. Remember you need to plan time for parking and to get through any security checks so you can queue up to get inside at opening. Some haunts will actually start letting people in before the posted official opening time. Universal has started opening some haunts as early as 5pm. If you get there early you might be able to go into a maze with almost no one else in it. Other haunts have “opening scare-amonies” that are worth watching and set the mood for the night (but skip them if you can get into the mazes ahead of the crowds). At Knott’s Scary Farm we’ve been able to get into three mazes within the half-hour before the haunt even opens, and we’ve never bought the early entry or “pre-scare dinner” option.

Related to this: Buy your tickets in advance if you can. Waiting in line for tickets wastes valuable time. Why add another queue to your night?

2. Go Early in the Season cal_right

Haunts get more crowded the closer it gets to Halloween. They hit their peak on the weekend before Halloween. We suggest attending as close to the opening weekend as possible. The actors are also fresh and ready to scare. We’ve witnessed “monster fatigue”  when we’ve gone near the end of haunt season, when we’ve noticed monsters talking to each other inside the maze or drinking a soda as they lean against a wall. The only downside with attending early in the season is that some scares might not be completely worked out, and actors might just be finding their groove. The second or third weekend of a haunt is usually the best time to visit.

3. Haunt Stalk on “Off Peak” Nights

From our experiences, you’ll find much shorter lines by going to haunts that are open on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Thursdays can be lighter earlier in the season. However, do pay attention to the local school holidays as those can have a significant impact on the crowds’ sizes during these “off nights” as the haunt will be filled with pre-teen brats who were dropped off by their parents so that the ghost and ghouls can babysit them for the night. The Sunday before Columbus day is especially risky.

4. Consider a Front-of-the-Line Pass on Friday and Saturday Nights

…if you insist on ignoring the previous tip. Perhaps this tip should have been titled “Avoid Friday and Saturday Nights,” but we know that’s not realistic for most people. Work and school get in the way of attending haunts during the week. Sunday night could be a good compromise—lines will be much shorter, and you’ll still be able to arrive early (see tip #1) to avoid more of the crowds (your co-workers are used to seeing you looking hungover on Mondays anyway). But if you absolutely must go on a Friday or Saturday night, we recommend upgrading your ticket to a “Front-of-the-Line” pass (don’t forget to buy in advance!). Time is money, however, we realize that these passes can be pricey, so if you follow the other tips, you might be able to bypass the upgraded ticket and still see everything. After all, there are a lot of great haunts to attend, and you don’t want to blow your budget on a single ticket.

5. Bone Up on the Rules

dsc_0023_6With the terrors of the real world growing rampant, the security measures at many of these haunts has increased significantly. With this increased security comes annoying policies and rules that can make it even more time consuming, difficult, or even preventative for you getting inside; even if you have no intentions of being a haunt evildoer. Therefore, bone up on the rules at the respective haunts before you arrive. You don’t want to be the one who has to go all the way back to your car to return your forbidden camera, spiked jewelry, or switchblade.  We also suggest that you travel light as there’s usually express lines for Haunt Stalkers who aren’t trying to enter with purses, bags, clothes (j/k), etc. Anyway, you’re just going for a night and not moving in… unless the haunts choose you to fill their residency quota.

6. Eat Before You Get There—Or Wait Until You Leave

Do you really want to wait in line for a crappy hot dog that costs $8? No, you don’t. As part of the “GO EARLY” plan, you should have an early dinner near the park. If you get hungry, grab a snack and eat in line. Don’t waste valuable time queuing up for theme park food. On the other hand, you could also wait and eat afterward. For example, Knott’s usually has a “midnight breakfast buffet” (12 am to 3 am) at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant next to the park that might be a good option.

7. Keep Your Group Small

“The More the Merrier” does not apply to haunts. Hitting all the mazes, scare zones, shows, and rides in a single, crowded night requires coordination, and the more people you have in your group, the less likely it is that consensus will be reached about where to go and what to do. Some people will want to go on the rides first, some will want to hit the mazes, some might be hungry and want food (see #3 above). We recommend keeping your group to no more than 6 people unless you’re willing to accept that you won’t get to do everything.

8. Tackle the Haunts Front to Back

Note: this works only if you’ve arrived early. You might think going straight to the mazes in the back of the park is a good idea, but you’re wrong. Sure, there will be no one in the back when you get there, but when you circle back to the mazes in the front of the park, they’ll be packed. Almost everyone else will be working from front to back, so as long as you’re ahead of the pack (by getting in early, see #1 above), this approach works best. If you’ve arrived late, forget it. You’re screwed, no matter what approach you take.

As a side, with Universal Hollywood’s unconventional layout they tend to allow early entry for the mazes in the lower lot, at the back of the park, so follow this plan doing the first mazes you encounter on the lower lot and then keep working your way to very back.  You’ll likely get through all those mazes, which is a majority of them,  with a significantly reduced wait time. Just be prepared to wait a little longer for the few on the upper lot.  However, your overall wait time for the night should be reduced with this plan.

9. Don’t Loiter in the Scare Zones 

Scare Zone Fog… well only if you’re talking about our website. You will most likely pass through the scare zones as you make your way to the mazes. This absolutely adds to the overall experience but don’t get caught up hanging in the scare zones until you’ve already been through all the mazes/houses. As while you’re busy running away from and taking #selfies with a ghoul, the crowds will be surging past you and filling up the #longlines. You can always go back later in the night and leisurely scream through the scare zones.

10. Go On Rides and See Shows Only After You’ve Been in All the Mazes

It’s Halloween season, and mazes/houses are the main attraction. These are open only 5 or 6 weeks at most during the year. You can go back and to get on all the coasters and E-Ticket rides some other time. And let’s face it, most shows at haunts are pretty terrible. Save all of these “dis-ttractions” for last, or at least until after you’ve hit all the mazes you really wanted to go through.

Most Importantly Remain Calm and Happy Screaming!

HorrorWorld 2018: Last Year’s Best Haunted Attraction Makes a Big Return

In 2017, buzz was strong for the freshman haunt Into the Black, which took up residence at the Pomona Fairgrounds. Created and executed by Larry Bones, the venerable owner of the makeup effects giant Bone Yard Effects, this haunt had so much promise. But it’s requirement that all guests go through completely alone was what made it a unique and nail-biting experience for even some of the most experienced haunt enthusiasts. We had high hopes for this haunt, and it did not disappoint.  But we wondered whether the single-person model would be lucrative enough to allow Into the Black to return in 2018.

That’s why we’re thrilled to report that not only is the haunt returning, but it’s expanded into a multi-haunt event called “HorrorWorld.”

For 2018, the event has moved into the Puente Hills Mall in the San Gabriel Valley and will include THREE haunted mazes, a virtual reality experience, a collection of vendors, and a blacklight horror-themed game area.

MAZES

Into the Black

Last year’s hit maze returns, and yes, you still must enter ALONE. (If you’re wondering how intense this is, be sure to read our review from last year.)

Discover the twisted history of the 19th century home belonging to the infamous, devil-worshiping, and occult-following Black family.  Are you brave enough to enter completely ALONE?

Psycho Sanitarium

Step inside the halls of the Psycho Sanitarium, a crumbling reminder of humanity’s ability to neglect and mistreat those deemed “unfit” for society…but what happens when the tormented fight back? Experience the chaos within the newest maze from Bone Yard Effects, Inc.

The Fleshyard

Abraham and Sarah Kearny had it all, a happy marriage, 5 children, and a successful livestock farm. Until they were found brutally murdered and their farm burned to the ground. The spirits of the violently butchered family cannot rest. They continue to haunt their land while they seek vengeance for their untimely demise. Can you survive?

 

HorrorWorld makes its debut on September 28 and runs select nights through Halloween. We highly recommend buying tickets in advance for this event as space is limited each night. For more information, visit their website.

Hunt for Jack the Ripper in New Virtual Reality Experience in Santa Clarita

Over the past few years, we’ve watched virtual reality become a growing part of the haunted attraction industry. From Delusion to Into the Black, more and more haunts are using VR to augment the  guest experience. So it’s only natural that stand-alone VR experiences are tapping into the market by creating horror-themed seasonal experiences to coincide with the haunt season.

The latest entry into this field comes from the award-winning Hollow Studios and their Jack the Ripper–themed virtual haunted house, which can be experienced at Mountasia Family Fun Center in Santa Clarita, CA. This immersive VR experience transports groups of up to 4 people back to 1888, where Jack the Ripper is on the rampage. Guests will have to work together while exploring the mysterious wax house to find clues to solve the mystery of the Ripper’s identity.

Coming this fall for a limited time only: Experience the latest in virtual reality technology in Jack The Ripper Virtual Reality Haunted House at Mountasia Family Fun Center in Santa Clarita, California. The brand new state-of-the-art multi-sensory virtual reality (VR) experience from Hollow Studios invites guests into one of history’s greatest mysteries. Guests in groups of up to four will be transported back in time to 1888, during what the newspapers of the time coined, “The Autumn of Terror”. A time when Jack The Ripper roamed the streets striking fear in the heart of Whitechapel, London. Before suiting up in VR headsets, guests first enter an old dark London alleyway where they are recruited as assistants to a Scotland Yard detective. Media based effects tell the backstories of Jack The Ripper and the mysterious Wax House. Once inside, guests search through the creepy old abandoned wax museum looking for items and clues in hopes of answering the same question that has been on the minds of many for over a century: “Who was Jack the Ripper?”

This multi-sensory virtual experience will be part haunted house and part escape room. Guests will have 30 minutes to explore the VR world, where they will have to search for clues (for example, by picking up and holding objects, opening drawers) with the goal of escaping before they become the Ripper’s next victims.

Jack the Ripper Virtual Reality Haunted House is open NOW through October 31 every Friday through Sunday. To purchase tickets, visit www.HollowZone.com. In the meantime, check out the trailer:

 

All HHN Hollywood Mazes Revealed!

When you run a website, you really have to be careful not to push that “Publish” button too early. Fortunately (for us), someone running the Halloween Horror Nights website had an itchy trigger finger and accidentally revealed the remaining four mazes in Hollywood, before the information was quickly taken down. But an observant reddit user was able to capture a screenshot, and now the world knows what horrors HHN fans will be experiencing in just a little more than a month!

The leaked web image shows the following as the entire 2018 HHN Hollywood lineup:

  • Stranger Things
  • Trick r Treat
  • The First Purge
  • Poltergeist*
  • Halloween 4*
  • Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter Two*
  • Universal Monsters*
  • Terror Tram: Hollywood Harry’s Dreamtime Stories

(*Not officially announced yet.)

As we reported yesterday, Poltergeist and Halloween 4 appear to be slated for the Orlando “1980’s” lineup, and it seems like Hollywood is also getting versions of these mazes. We’re incredibly excited about Poltergeist, as this movie haunted us as kids and made an entire generation terrified of clown dolls. Halloween 4 is a bit more random, but as serious Michael Myers fans, we’re not complaining.

It remains to be seen what will be covered in Horrors of Blumhouse Chapter Two. Last year, this maze covered the movies The Purge, Sinister, and Happy Death Day. We assume all of these will be replaced by new Blumhouse movies. With the Purge getting its own maze this year, Horrors of Blumhouse  might tap into Truth or Dare, Unfriended, The Belko Experiment, or maybe even the very popular Split.

Universal Monsters has been circulating as a rumored maze for some time, especially given recent construction of a facade sporting a replica of the tower from the Bride of Frankenstein:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We expect to hear more about at least one of these mazes at Scare LA later this month, as John Murdy has promised an in-depth look at a new maze. Given the leaks, though, Universal might decide to announce all mazes sooner than later, and more details might be confirmed soon.

What do you think of 2018’s HHN Hollywood lineup? Let us know in he comments or connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

Scare Zone’s Guide to Midsummer Scream

 

While most of your friends are planning their BBQs and trips to the beach, as a true haunt fan, you’re more likely spending your summer trying to decipher John Murdy’s Twitter hints and studying the line up for Midsummer Scream. Although we’re lucky to have two large Halloween/Horror conventions in Southern California, Midsummer Scream occurs first and is our own personal favorite. It’s truly a must-attend event for any fan of haunted attractions, spooky decor, and horror in general.  The event is jam packed with panels, vendors, mini-haunts, and demos, and it gets bigger each year, making it increasingly difficult to figure out how to see it all. Here, we’ve assembled some tips to help you get the most from your weekend.

Getting the Most From Midsummer Scream: Scare Zone’s Terror Tips

1. GET THERE EARLY (OR WAIT IT OUT)

This event gets more and more popular each year, and you can count on a huge line to get into the convention center for about an hour before it opens. But their staff is well organized, and the line moves fairly quickly. Our advice is to study the event schedule before you go: if there’s a panel or presentation at 11:30 am or noon, plan to get there early and wait in line to ensure you don’t miss it. Otherwise, if you arrive an hour or so after opening, the line will have subsided almost entirely, and you won’t have to wait. Parking, on the other hand, is another matter. The nearby lots fill up extremely quickly, so if you don’t arrive early, be prepared for a bit of walk to the convention center.

You should also buy your tickets in advance online to help shorten your overall wait time.

2. BUY SOMETHING

One of the best things about Midsummer Scream is the huge variety of high-quality vendors in the exhibit hall. Masks, costumes, purses and accessories, comics, amazing sculptures and props are all super cool to look at and completely Instagrammable. But remember: these vendors  aren’t there just for your entertainment. They paid a big chunk of money for their table, and their main goal is to sell. So BUY SOMETHING! Even if all you can afford is a $5 handmade magnet or a $20 t-shirt, plan to buy at least one item from a vendor at the show. Sales are what makes vendors return the next year, so to keep this convention great, budget ahead to spend some cash to support the haunt/horror community.

3. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AT THE HHN* PANEL

Nothing brings the crowds like the Halloween Horror Nights presentation (which is on Sunday this year). But unless this is your very first time at a SoCal haunt convention or you have a John Murdy poster hanging on your wall that you kiss every night before bed, there’s no real reason to wait in such a crazy long line for this presentation, especially if you’re short on time. Murdy tends to offer the same “behind the scenes” info and stories year after year, so if you’ve attended an HHN panel before, we suggest you skip it and spend your time in the Hall of Shadows or visiting exhibitor booths instead. After all, if a new maze is revealed during the presentation, 100 haunt bloggers will be broadcasting that info live on Twitter within seconds anyway.

But, we do want to note that joining the HHN panel this year will be Mike Aiello from HHN Orlando, which could change things up a bit.

*This advice actually applies to any theme park panel.

4. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE HALL OF SHADOWS

Hall of Shadows Midsummer Scream

Although the Hall of Shadows showcases “mini-haunts,” there’s nothing mini about some of the lines. It can take several hours to see all of the attractions within the space. If you don’t have that kind of time, prioritize the ones you’re most interested in and skip the rest. Also, just because a haunt has a long line doesn’t mean it’s the best.  Long lines typically mean pre-shows or some other feature that causes a bottleneck in queue flow.

But most importantly, be sure to thank the haunt owners/operators for their exhibits! Many of these mini-haunts are from home haunters, not professionals. These haunters have gone above and beyond to bring convention attendees a truly unique and amazing haunt experience. And they didn’t get paid to do it. In fact, it probably cost them a lot of money. We can almost guarantee you they’re frazzled and exhausted from the build. So tell them how great their haunt is and how much you appreciate it.

5. DON’T MISS ZOMBIE JOE

All the cool kids will be at Zombie Joe’s Urban Death. So don’t be uncool. Check out this amazingly creative and creepy show from a great group of performers. Performances are every half hour, so it will be easy to squeeze this into your schedule.

6. BRING THE KIDS

Returning this year is Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch, which has crafts, shows, and book readings perfect for the tender lumplings in your family. And kids 10 and under get into the convention for free! However, we do want to warn parents that even though we find the convention to be extremely family friendly, if your kids are very sensitive to monsters or scary images, this convention might not be for them.

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We can’t wait to see what Midsummer Scream 2018 has in store for us! We’ll be covering the event all day Saturday, so be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for pics, videos, and exclusive announcements.

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