Category: Haunt Reviews (page 1 of 11)

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:

2-5-skulls

Overall Rating of L.A. Haunted Hayride 2016:

3-5-skulls

*Videos courtesy of Theme Park HD

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: 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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Haunt Review: Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2016 Feels Lost at Sea

We recently re-posted our 2010 review of Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. That year, the event had turned itself around from being a complete “Shipwreck” (consisting of neon 3D-painted plywood walls, cheap masks, and mazes with barely any theme) to an impressive major player on the SoCal haunt scene that smartly put to use its location and history as leverage for a uniquely themed event. For the past 5 years, Queen Mary has been near the top of the haunt pack, serving as a legitimate challenger to Knott’s and Universal. However, we’re a bit sad to say that the 2016 version of Dark Harbor fails to live up to its previous standards and has slipped back into second-rate status.

So what’s changed? First of all, the event has undergone a bit of rearranging this year. Some of the attractions have been pushed out to the periphery (the main stage, the Hex Paintball attraction, Deadrise), and the footprint of the various lounges/bars has been extended. Overall, as we walked the Dark Harbor grounds, we got less of a feel of a coherent haunt event than a big carnival. The large Deadrise facade, which had been an impressive centerpiece in years past, now seems to be an afterthought. Instead, the focus seems to be more on the food and liquor stalls.

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Second, the more disturbing fact is that the new maze (Intrepid) was very weak. This is concerning to us because it’s never a good sign when the brand new maze is the worst of the event. This can be an indication of either decreased budget or change in talent/direction of the creative staff. Neither is good in the long-term, obviously.

So with those initial thoughts, let’s get to the review featuring videos from ThemePark HD.

Mazes

Intrepid (*New for 2016*)

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Sharing the dome space with “Circus” this year is the brand-new maze Intrepid, which features the new character of the “Iron Master.” The backstory involves a Scottish shipyard and a locomotive bound for hell. The steam train entrance to the maze looked promising, and upon entering, groups were immediately split into two paths: some people were directed upstairs while others went through a side passage and remained at ground level. We took the upstairs route. The opening scene was cool, but after exiting the train, there wasn’t a whole lot to look at. The entire maze has an industrial feel, with a lot of chain link fencing , dark passages with black or corrugated metal walls, characters in welding masks, simulated iron pouring into molds, and even metal tubes to crawl through. The maze lacked detail, and the story of the Iron Master didn’t really come through.  There was also a complete lack of scares.

Haunt Design: 2 Skulls
Theming: 2 Skulls
Scare Factor: 1 Skull
Overall Rating: 1.5 Skulls

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HAUNT REVIEW: KNOTT’S SCARY FARM 2016

 

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This year marks our 24th year of attending Knott’s Scary Farm, which adds up to  a lot of monsters, mazes, and Elvira shows we’ve experienced along with miles upon miles of walking (running) in the fog.

When we first went to Knott’s Scary Farm we were young, naive, and easily scared teenagers. Everything about Scary Farm was terrifying, fresh, exciting and new to us. Now as “adults” we sometimes ask ourselves “is there really anything more that they can do that will really wow and scare us after all these years?”. I mean,  we’ve pretty much perfected our haunt POV to the point we can easily detect where all the monsters are hiding in the mazes or predict what they’ll try to do to scare us in the scare zones. Plus we’ve toured the country and have expereinced all the different types of haunt scenarios you could imagine.

There even was a period when Knott’s had become  the dated “granddaddy” haunt that held a nostalgic value but very little else; especially when compared to the new renaissance of high production, ultra suspenseful, and personalized  haunt experiences that have emerged within the past ten years.  Add in Universal who got very serious about its Horror Nights events in the mid-2000’s and we saw the bar for theme park and local haunts get raised so high it seemed that Knott’s should just do like they do in Calico Square and hang it up.

14463157_963053570468030_2916029003104925387_nHowever, when you’re an originator that created the game you can redefine the rules. So not being unaware of the competitive changes, a few years ago the creative team at Knott’s Scary Farm embarked on a pleasantly dark path where they wouldn’t necessarily try to compete with what everyone is doing but instead move to further perfect what they’ve started. With this came the emergence of some incredible new maze themes and concepts that are designed the capture the imaginations and fears of today’s teenagers (and adults). In recent years we’ve watched as each season they’ve created unique maze themes and haunt concepts that showcase just about every frighting and fun aspect of Halloween. What Knott’s uniquely possess in comparison to other haunts is the soul of the Halloween Season.

To us they may no longer be the scariest haunt in town but for others, especially the new generation of haunt goers, they could easily hold the terror crown. We believe that it’s the wide variety of themes and enhanced story-telling that brings Knott’s Halloween Haunt to life. Where else can can you go Trick Or Treating in a witch’s house, investigate Paranormal activity inside a haunted hospital, battle zombies with laser guns in a post apocolyptic city, and try to escape from demonic Samurais or gun sling with cowboys and werewolves? It’s all pure Halloween season fun.

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This year we continued our tradition of visiting the Scary Farm and like Elvira it still hasn’t gotten old. This was the first year we’ve attended on their opening night. Usually we like to wait for a week or two to give the monsters and performers a chance to perfect their scares. While it was noticeable in some areas that they could improve over time, overall we are impressed by how well managed and produced this year’s Halloween Haunt is. The tagline for this year is “Whatever, you’re imagining is here” and trust us, there was a lot of imagination put into this year’s show.

Let’s take a closer with look with our 2016 review featuring maze videos from ThemeParkHD: Continue reading

Howl-O-Scream returns with an “Evil Encore”

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4912a4371d964f27b05762c0fae4a617_hos15_circus_housegallery02_550x350Howl-O-Scream returns to Busch Gardens Tampa with an “Evil Encore” from September 23 through October 30, 2016. With tormenting surprises and unexpected terrors around every corner, Busch Gardens makes escaping nearly impossible. Plus, roaming hoards, horrific haunted houses, chilling live shows and the chance to challenge Florida’s top thrill rides in the dark, including the all-new Cobra’s Curse™, will have guests spinning and screaming all night

To us  ‘Evil Encore’ is a marketing speak for not too many new houses but fortunately most of the returning haunted houses are worth a repeat.  We experienced a few of them during our last visit in 2012

Here’s the rundown of the 2016 Haunted Houses.

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NEW! The Black Spot
An infamous pirate has you marked for death and he has you right where he wants you. When Saw Tooth Silas, an infamous pirate, decides that one should no longer exist, he marks them for death. Victims are then sent to The Black Spot, where they meet their horrifying end. The trick lies within the dimly-lit corners of the mysterious hideaway, holding the secret to escape… or demise.

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NEW! Motel Hell
Nightmares become reality at this deserted motel once you realize why it’s conveniently vacant. Nightmares become reality at this deserted motel once you realize why it’s conveniently vacant. The paranormal presence of its former owners still lurks on the untouched property, mysteriously preventing the brave souls who have attempted to tear it down. Guests who dare to enter will find themselves face-to-face with their worst nightmares and inescapable fate.

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Circus of Superstition: The Last Laugh
It’ll take more than luck to survive Circus of Superstition: The Last Laugh. You’ve tried to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks, but all those years of bad luck have finally caught up with you! New demented fears make it impossible to survive the terrorizing surprises and startling scares that wait inside Circus of Superstition: The Last Laugh.

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Unearthed
A centuries-old house has been Unearthed, unleashing a vengeful demon seeking revenge. During maintenance at the park, an excavation crew uncovered a centuries-old house buried deep beneath the ground. Upon entering the house, a sinister force is Unearthed. The vengeful demon takes her revenge by collecting the eyes of all who enter the house.

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Death Water Bayou
Escape the depths of the Bayou before you fall victim to the Voodoo Queen’s spell. In the depths of the Bayou, the Voodoo Queen and her sadistic creatures transform wanderers into evil minions with dark magic. Descend into the swamps if you dare as you try to escape the evils that lurk in the shadows. Get out before you fall victim to her spell.

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Zombie Mortuary
Led by their queen, the zombies that infest this small town funeral home feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Led by their queen, the zombies that infest this small town funeral home feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Avoid the undead or you may find yourself six feet under.

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Coming Soon
We’re waiting for them to raise the curtains on a total of seven haunted houses coming to Howl-O-Scream 2016.

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Freaky Preview returns this year and will open Howl-O-Scream 2016 on Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24. The event then runs Thursday through Sunday nights, Sept. 29 – Oct. 30. Operating event hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Get your tickets early and save on a single terrifying night at Howl-O-Scream 2016. For a limited time with the Summer Deal, any single-day admission to Howl-O-Scream 2016 is $45, and includes early access to the park starting at 5 p.m. Plus, Busch Gardens Pass Members receive a limited-time exclusive discount on any single-day admission for only $35 and new this year for $50, Pass Members can get two visits to Howl-O-Scream 2016. *Restrictions apply

Howl-O-Scream 2016 is a separate-ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed. Stay tuned to HowlOScream.com for the latest terrifying details, or call 1-888-800-5447 for more information.

Krampus is Coming to Halloween Horror Nights

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CpIq7ccUAAAn_s5First there was Halloween and Friday the 13th, and now Christmas joins the holiday horror party at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights with an all new KRAMPUS maze based on the 2015 movie. We suspected that this would be one of the new mazes based upon pictures we saw of a facade being built on Hollywood’s backlot that looked identical to the home featured in the movie. This will be another shared property that will be featured at both the Hollywood and Orlando parks.

We’ve loved the Dark Christmas scare zone that was featured at HHN Hollywood the last two years. It seems that similar to what they did with La Llorona, the theme was tested as a scare zone before they fully committed to giving it it’s own maze.  This should be wicked fun as the Krampus movie features some terrifyingly bizarre holiday creatures and monsters that are sure to be as scary as a family Christmas dinner when they’re brought to life by the Universal HHN teams.

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The legend of Krampus was also used for a maze theme at least year’s ScareHouse. That maze provided guests with the rare opportunity to admire actual props, costumes, and practical creatures from the film before entering a highly immersive attraction that followed the legacy of Krampus, the iconic figure of dark folklore as old as Christmas itself.

Rsz_screencapture-www-hdmovieswatch-net-bluray-krampus-2015-movie-online-hdm-1457483878672At the Universal parks, the mazes will place guests right in the scenes of the holiday horror movie. The dead of winter will set the stage for the terror that unfolds one cold, dank and dreary Christmas Eve when the fabled anthropomorphic “half-goat, half-demon” horned creature emerges to terrorize those devoid of holiday spirit. In scenes lifted from the film, guests will navigate the dysfunctional Engel family home to encounter the evil ancient spirit of Krampus – the dark shadow of Saint Nicholas – and his band of Dark Elves and sinister Gingerbread Men, who cause the family to fight to see the light of day.

Say no more! We can’t wait to experience this maze. We really feel that this is shaping up to be one of the best years for HHN yet. Now we’re speculating as to what the remaining maze and Terror Tram themes for Hollywood will be. Our guess are attractions based on Universal’s The Purge Election Year, which will be releasing on DVD around that time, and Rob Zombie’s 31, which comes out in theaters this fall.

Additional details about Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.

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CreepyLA Announces the 2015 Cadavers (Southern California Haunt Awards)!

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Even with haunts extending their operation into the weekend after Halloween, this year’s haunt season seemed to have quickly past by. It also felt as if there were not nearly as many haunts operating this season in Southern California. Nonetheless, the mainstay theme parks continued to scare with their ever increasingly popular (and expensive) haunts. There also were some noteworthy newcomers like CreepLA and some others that failed miserably. Alas, for this year’s haunt offerings in L.A. it’s now time to reflect back and rate the best of the season.

For the first time, the haunt reviewers and fans of Southern California have come together to vote for the Cadavers: Southern California Halloween Attraction Awards. These awards were created and organized by our friends at CreepyLA and we’re glad to be able to contribute our votes.

Click their logo or keep reading after the jump to see the full coverage of the Cadavers Awards from CreepyLA. Also, check out their site for more year-round coverage of the supernatural, the scary, and anything Halloween related in the Los Angeles area.

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