Category: Haunt Reviews (page 1 of 11)

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.


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.


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.

Our Ratings

Haunt Design: 3.5 skulls

Theming: 3.5 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.


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.



The Exorcist


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



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.


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.


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.


Intrepid (*New for 2016*)


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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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.


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”


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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


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 for the latest terrifying details, or call 1-888-800-5447 for more information.

Krampus is Coming to Halloween Horror Nights



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.



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


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


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.

creepyla_throne_header Continue reading

Haunt Review: Creep Los Angeles

! creep

But I’m a creep

I’m a weirdo

What the hell am I doing here?

I don’t belong here.

These are the lyrics to the unsettling, slow choral version of the Radiohead song that plays while you wait your turn for the new Creep Los Angeles haunt. But don’t listen to those words—you do belong here, because Creep Los Angeles is a seriously scary, demented, and innovative new haunt experience that you should definitely put on your list this October.


Warning: Slight spoilers ahead.

Creep Los Angeles is located in the Arts District, only a couple of miles from another new haunt, Drunken Devil. The location is unassuming and bit deserted at night. The haunt is housed inside an abandoned warehouse, with the only indication there’s a haunt inside being the word “Creep” projected on the outside wall and the line of people on the sidewalk. We were unsure what to expect from this haunt as the website was deliberately vague on details, although it did tell us that we’d be forced to run and crawl. Some of the other people waiting in line with us were hoping the experience would be on the level of “Blackout” or “Alone.” We can report that it’s certainly not as intense as those two haunts, but it’s definitely more extreme than the standard theme park haunt experience. So for us, it’s a nice mixture of something a little more extreme without being too uncomfortable.

This haunt sends groups of six people through at one time, with groups going through every 8 minutes or so. We were forced to sign a waiver to enter the haunt, and we were warned that we’d probably be touched. After signing the form, we were ushered in a small holding area, where an older woman told us we’d meet her “creepy son” inside. Then she proceeded to stare us down for the next uncomfortable 5 or 7 minutes. Suddenly, a “creepy guy” burst out of the darkness and took one of us—alone—into the haunt. Immediately, this was different from most other experiences out there. We don’t really want to give away what happens if you end up being chosen for this “alone” experience, but we’ll say that it’s not too intense, but certainly helps to build suspense. Eventually, the group is reunited, and the haunt proceeds.

Overall, there’s not a very coherent story line behind the haunt; instead, there is a sequence of different scenes featuring actors who put on a bit of a performance where they might warn you about something, and then something scary happens (Bloody Mary, for example). The actors we thought of as the “creeps” are men and women who are mostly wearing masks that look like they’re from the The Purge, with the odd gorilla or scary baby mask thrown in. One of the more intense scenes involves hiding from a killer inside a dark box, with peep holes you can look out to see the killer stalking you.

Despite the fact that we didn’t gather a distinct story from the experience, we still felt that the scenes had a good flow and connection to them. The overall aesthetic is sparse, with an almost black-and-white feeling to the scenes. Some of the rooms have a surreal, “arty” quality. Lighting and effects are kept to a minimum, and the presence of a single actor in the room can sometimes be scarier than any scene full of monsters in a theme park haunt.

As for the running and crawling: yes, you will be doing these things. But no, it’s not that bad. You will most definitely be touched at some point, but it’s not too invasive. The actors occasionally pull people away from the group, but the separation doesn’t last long. Overall, Creep Los Angeles strikes a really good balance between something a little more extreme than the typical haunt without being over the top. You will feel uncomfortable, but not violated.

We definitely recommend that our readers check out Creep Los Angeles. The haunt is scary, unique, and good for haunt stalkers tired of the typical, “monster around the corner” scare. We also feel that the $25-$35 ticket price is a decent value, as the haunt lasted about 20 minutes, and with the small group size, everyone was guaranteed to get scared at least once.



Haunt Design: 4.5 Skulls
Theming: 3.5 Skulls
Scare Factor: 4.5 Skulls
Fright Value: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4.5 Skulls

Haunt Review: Drunken Devil’s Sinner’s Soirées


Last night we took a haunt crawl through downtown Los Angeles where we ended up on one of the darkest streets in the heart of skid row looking for the promise of a new haunt adventure at Drunken Devil’s Sinner’s Soiree. This new haunt previewed at ScareLA and we were looking forward to it especially since there’s an apparent drought of independent haunt operators in the Los Angeles area this year. Drunken Devil’s unique proposition is to combine a traditional haunted house experience with a venue where patrons can celebrate the spirit of Halloween. The concept really isn’t all that unique as there’s been many haunts in the past that have offered scares topped off with booze but Drunken Devil is one of the few places around this year trying to seduce the drinking dead.

The haunted house portion of Drunken Devil is set up to be a trip through the haunted streets and alleys of New Orleans. On the journey to the Sinner’s Soiree there are “demonic Mardi Gras clowns, scandalous can-can dancers, and sadistic voodoo witch doctors”.

Cutting to the chase, our journey through the dark side of New Orleans wasn’t very good at all. The maze is mostly comprised of black plywood walls with a few decorated scenes. We’ve seen many home haunts with far superior sets and designs. The talent was also limited in quantity and quality. The sparse attempted scares were comprised of the typical tactic of a monster sneaking up from behind, hiding around the corner or behind/in a prop. There also were a couple scenes of theatrics that never really paid off as the actors were hard to understand and their narratives fell flat coming across as pointless.

From the website and reading pre-reviews from other haunt sites that were invited to the open bar media night, the ‘buzz’ around the ‘horrors’ of Drunken Devil was promising. They hyped up Drunken Devil as being a new and ambitious haunt offering a night of scares and drunken debauchery. As supporters of the haunt community we really wanted to like this maze and see it do well but we have to call it when we see it and we just couldn’t find any value this haunt. It just left us feeling ripped off from our money and time.

Starting at $18 a ticket it’s way overpriced for a 4 minute haunted house experience. We paid extra for the front of the line pass, which wasn’t necessary as there was no line when we arrived. To add more to our disappointment, the bar selection was nothing more than a folding table selling beer, wine, and energy drinks whereas the online promotional art features a devil looking down at a martini glass. We know liquor licenses are hard and expensive to secure but when we think of New Orleans bars we think of drinks overflowing with bourbon, rum and other libations.  Even with a burlesque dancer and some Mardi Gras decor, the bar setup really isn’t a place we’d want to spend an evening at. They also charge $5 to park in a dark lot located behind a building across the street, that’s only slightly less sketchy than parking right on the dark streets of skid row.

Unlike haunts where it’s obvious that they are in it for a money grab, the intentions of the folks behind Drunken Devil seem to be more authentic. However, they just aren’t able to properly stage an interesting and scary haunt in a market that has already experienced far more sophisticated venues like Delusion, Blumhouse, this year’s CreepLA, or the Halloween spectacles at the nearby theme parks. We know the haunt business is a tough game and we can only wish them better luck if they try again in the future.


Haunt Design: 1 Skull
Theming: 1/2 Skull
Scare Factor: 1/2 Skull
Fright Value: Buried Skull

Overall Rating: 1/2 Skull

Haunt Review: Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2015


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Standing near the private cabanas, listening to the live show taking place on the main stage and enjoying the eerie red lights glowing from the swings above us and the sudden, atmospheric pulses of fire shooting out from the impressive Deadrise attraction behind us, it struck us how downright enjoyable Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor has become over the years. Each year, we write about the impressive mazes and the well-themed and immersive nature of the entire haunt. But one thing we noticed this year is the fact that Dark Harbor is one of the easiest and most relaxed haunt experiences in the area. The small footprint of the event means there’s not a ton of walking or riding escalators up and down all night. Food, drinks, and cocktails are all within easy reach. There are entertainment and food areas that promote an overall atmosphere of fun, but not in the frenetic, overwhelming way it can sometimes be at say, Halloween Horror Nights. And for this voodoo vals-4-2reason, Queen Mary is always one of our favorite events to kick off the season.


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Dark Harbor has a few new offerings this year, as well as several changes to existing attractions. There’s a new maze based on the legend of the little girl who drowned on the ship (“Scary Mary”), the addition of a paintball attraction, and a revamping of the sideshow area. Overall, we felt that the flow of the event was improved this year by the addition of the sideshow area with its own bar, which was the perfect space for lounging and discussing the mazes we had just been through.

Also of note was the addition of some “preshow” elements to the mazes. In Lullaby, the maze begins with a funeral for poor Scary Mary. In Soulmate, a video provides the backstory of Graceful Gale. The queue lines are also peppered with posters that tell the story behind the maze. We definitely love it when haunts really get into storytelling, because it improves the detail and immersive feeling of the mazes. However, the preshow scenes added a lot of wait time to the lines but also helped to give space between groups once inside the maze. Time will tell whether the preshow elements are good or bad for the event.

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Here are our review of the mazes and attractions for this year.

Lullaby (New for 2015)

Scary Mary heads up her own maze in the space formerly occupied by “Submerged.” The water theme returns, however; after all, she did drown in the ship’s pool. The maze begins with a freaky funeral for Mary given by a scary looking preacher;. Various versions of Mary run around this maze, popping up creepily behind walls of water and around corners. In the pool room, Mary called out to us from across the room, her creepy baby voice echoing off the walls. This is a natural progression from the previous theme of Submerged, but overall, we didn’t find Mary to be too scary.

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  • Haunt Design: 3 skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 3 skulls

Soul Mate

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Graceful Gale is the main character of “Soul Mate,” which tells the story of Gale’s gruesome search for the perfect dance partner, which seems to involve severing the various body parts of different men to create one perfect mate. The maze begins with a video that tells the story of Gale in a cartoonish sort of way. Although it was a cool idea to provide the backstory, the audio of the video was very bad and we could barely hear that narration. The narrow corridors of the maze were covered with fabrics in an attempt to make them feel more lush and also to cover up all the metal siding that runs throughout this area of the ship, but many of the scenes feel too sparse and lacking in detail. One exception is Gale’s dressing room, which reveals a creepy Gale gazing at herself in the mirror. There’s also a very impressive ballroom scene, where Gale’s men surround the entire perimeter of room…but which man will step forward for the dance? We got a few good scares in this maze this year, and Gale was looking more creepy (and sometimes more manly) than ever.


  • Haunt Design: 4 skulls
  • Theming: 4.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 3.5 skulls


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This maze features the story of Samuel the Savage, who was “locked away in room B340 after a violent outburst,” where he was later found torn apart. The maze takes you into the mind of Samuel, where we visit scenes from his past, involving nuns, and also scenes from his insanity, featuring a lot of clocks set to 3:40. They’ve thought a lot about creating a back story here, and it’s interesting and relatively easy to follow. We found this maze to be lacking in monsters this year. Perhaps they didn’t have a full staff on opening night, so we hope more monsters show up for work as the month goes on.



  • Haunt Design: 3 skulls
  • Theming: 3 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 2.5 skulls

Voodoo Village

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“Voodoo Village” is located on the grounds near the midway. Gypsies and Voodoo practitioners come out from the shadows to assault guests as they wind through this very long maze. The Voodoo theme is a smart use of already existing sets here–interior scenes are easily transformed into voodoo sacrifice altars, and outdoor areas that were already swamp/forest-like settings in previous years now fit the story better. As always, the actors in this maze are some of the strongest and most scary. This continues to be one of our favorites.

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  • Haunt Design: 4 skulls
  • Theming: 4 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4 skulls


This maze is located inside the dome and has been our favorite in past years. Small changes keep this maze fresh. “Circus” is Dark Harbor’s take on an old-fashioned, early 20th century circus, which makes it feel right at home in the overall theme of the event. There’s an aged feel to the sets, and the lighting casts an eerie, dirty glow over everything. The entrance is through a clown’s mouth, and from there you encounter typical but twisted circus scenes, such as an actual mirror maze you can get lost in and a spinning wheel of daggers. A new scene entailing a “ball pit” seemed very problematic to us. When we went through at the beginning of the night, the plastic balls were up to our knees, and it’s easy to lose a flip flop in here. We heard that by the end of the night, the ball pit was reduced to nothing more than a few balls scattered on the floor, so at some point they must have realized the potential for actual danger in here. It was a cool idea, but hard to execute with the level of crowds that come through every night. The scares were good, and they got us good as we were distracted by the awesome sets and detailed props.

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  • Haunt Design: 5 skulls
  • Theming: 5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls


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Located in the middle of the Dark Harbor grounds, “Deadrise” is a maze that takes you through an old, rotting ship that appears to be sinking right into the ground. The maze winds through the barracks and bowels of the ship, encountering half-dead sailors who loudly bang on metal barrels with pipes. This maze presented a few new twists and turns (including a choice of path at one point), and the monster are extremely enthusiastic. We actually found this maze to be the scariest this year, as a few tweaks to the lighting and fog effects had monsters startling us from left and right (and over our heads). This is a simple but excellent maze and one of our favorites this year.

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  • Haunt Design: 4.5 skulls
  • Theming: 4 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls

Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls 

The Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure (New for 2015)

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This upcharge attraction features a single room decorated in neon Egyptian style, with a few moving props and—hilariously—some live mummies running around the room. You get only 30 paintballs to shoot, so be careful not to spill your load too quickly. Honestly, we found this attraction to be cheesy and not worth paying extra for. The line also moves very slowly since you have to wait for each group to finish their round.


  • Haunt Design: 1 skulls
  • Theming: 1 skulls
  • Scare Factor: Buried skull

Overall Rating: 1 skull

Side Show: Freaks and Oddities

This is another attraction that’s an extra charge. Once again, the layout has been revamped. Once admitted, you find your way into a sort of courtyard that houses a bar area and small show stage, which is very nice and a great place to relax and have a drink in between mazes. The freaks reside in shipping containers that ring the bar area, and each one has its own entrance and exit. The Shadow Spirit was by far our favorite, as he taunted us from the exit and then scared the shadow out of us once we got inside. 5 skulls to that guy!

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  • Haunt Design: 4 skulls
  • Theming: 4.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 skulls

Overall Rating: 4 skulls


“Deadrise” rose to the top as our favorite Dark Harbor maze this year, winning almost entirely because of the great talent that scared the pants off of us. The new maze, Lullaby, fell a little flat, and the paintball experience is a throwaway in our opinion. The returning mazes remain solid, although we felt there weren’t a lot of monsters this year (which is concerning, since they are advertising “more monsters” in 2015). We definitely recommend checking out the side show area as well.

We found the lines to be very long on opening night, and the addition of the preshows is probably a contributing factor to this. You can always purchase a front of the line pass to help bypass the lines, but we suggest arriving early to beat some of the crowds.

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Overall Fright Value: 4 Skulls

Overall Rating of Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2015: 4 Skulls

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