Archive for the ‘Year-Round Haunts’ Category

Zombie Joe’s Blood Alley – A Horror-Theatre Spectacular

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Our fiendish friends at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group proudly births their all-new, evil red-haired step-child of URBAN DEATH…. BLOOD ALLEY. This is a seething horror-theatre spectacular in the great Grand Guignol, Theater of Cruelty and Buto-traditions, centering around the memoirs of a forgotten street alley haunted by the unspeakable events of its past; a cursed place of no mercy, inhabited by a hundred-year accumulation of apparitions, phantasms and sub-breeds that desperately await their next victim!

Zombie Joe’s produces unique, provocative, strange, and freaky fun haunted plays throughout the year. It’s the perfect date or friends night out in North Hollywood with many cool spots to eat and drink at before and after the show. Check it out!

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For Ages 14 and up. Directed by Zombie Joe.

(4) Weekends Only! Opens FRIDAY, MARCH 18 @ 11pm;
FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS @ 11pm,
MARCH 18 – APRIL 9, 2016

ZJU Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets Only $15.
For Reservations Call: 818-202-4120
Website: ZombieJoes.com
Advance Tickets On Sale for All Performances at: ZombieJoes.Tix.com }

The Dead Walk On And On At Universal Studios Hollywood

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

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The story of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by hordes of terrifying flesh-eating walkers is coming back to life at Universal Studios Hollywood this summer in a brand new year-round haunted attraction. After being part of the Horror Nights lineup for many years The Walking Dead will now walk on and on as part of the park’s permanent attraction list. The new attraction will be located right near the park’s entrance in a brand new facility that’s being built specifically for it.  This is a smart move for the park as this kind of attraction should have a high capacity intake that can help alleviate some of the herds of walkers… err tourists that will be attacking the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which entrance is also nearly adjacent to this new attraction.

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We also expect that this new attraction will be bigger, more elaborate, and scarier than any Walking Dead Maze they’ve made as now they have the advantage of utilizing  a dedicated space for the attraction. On the downside for us haunt stalkers and HHN fans, we know that this attraction will now be lazily counted as part of the HHN maze lineup every year as well. What we do hope is that they now move on and use other themes for the Terror Tram and Scare Zones which have been dominated by The Walking Dead in recent years.

This isn’t first year-round haunt at Universal Hollywood. In previous years, in nearly the same location, there has been The Mummy, Van Helsing, and Universal’s House of Horrors attractions. As with these attractions, the challenge Universal will have is keeping it fresh. While the former attractions were anchored in singular story lines the potential benefit of using The Walking Dead is they can modify the scenes and maze as the show continues on; if they choose to.

 

Here’s more info from Universal Studios:

Universal Studios Hollywood has worked collaboratively with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” for years as a signature “Halloween Horror Nights” maze. This newly enhanced venture will take the highly sought-after experience from a seasonal, limited time offering to an authentic 365 day opportunity, raising the bar for themed walk-through attractions. For a look at what to expect when the attraction opens this summer, please click here.

To further elevate the authenticity of this new attraction, Universal Studios Hollywood is partnering with “The Walking Dead’s” creative team, including visionary executive producer and director, Greg Nicotero and his special effects company, KNB Efx. Greg’s team, responsible for masterfully creating the show’s realistic decaying walkers, will construct prosthetics, utilize original molds and painstakingly apply paint and detailing to the attraction walkers. The integral involvement of the creative team will not only inspire the emotional connection fans experience, it will be among the attraction’s key distinguishing characteristics that will define it as a living version of the show. 

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“The Walking Dead” attraction will create a no-holds-barred experience that significantly intensifies any other iteration previously developed within the theme park. Coupled with authentic walker make-up effects, sophisticated animatronic walkers, substantially more detailed set design and costuming, and highly recognizable props replicated from the series, the attraction will deliver an uncompromised realistic environment that brings guests even further into the most watched show in cable television history. “The Walking Dead’ is a phenomenon that has successfully and consistently affected the psyche of viewers on a global basis, since its debut,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. “We’re taking its intensity to the next level by collaborating with the show’s award-winning production team to create an authentic living representation of the series that can only be experienced at Universal Studios Hollywood.”

“We’re so grateful for our longstanding partnership with the talented team at Universal Studios Hollywood. We’ve shared a successful three-year partnership at Halloween Horror Nights and now this permanent ‘The Walking Dead’ walk- through attraction takes the relationship and the fan experience to the next level,” said Charlie Collier, President of AMC and SundanceTV. “Along with our great partners at Universal, it means a great deal to us to continue entertaining — and frightening — passionate, loyal fans of ‘The Walking Dead’ for years to come.”

The “The Walking Dead” attraction will be located within an entirely new, custom built structure, situated within an expansive building complex just inside the theme park’s main entry.
The past five years have been a remarkable time for Universal Studios Hollywood as the destination embarked on an unprecedented revitalization that has substantially altered over 75 percent of its familiar footprint to effectively characterize it as an entirely new theme park experience. The introduction of the all-new “The Walking Dead” attraction continues the theme park’s unparalleled investment in an ambitious epic transformation.

Sinister Pointe’s “Séance”: Event Review

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Sinister Pointe’s “Curiosities” shop is a small space in a small strip mall in Brea, and we drove right by it on the way to experience their latest event, “Séance.” But although the footprint of the shop is small, the inside is huge on character and filled with fascinating objects and interesting merchandise. And behind the secret door inside the shop was a special space set up for the séance.

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When we arrived, we milled about the shop looking at the various trinkets and eyeing our fellow séance participants. We wondered what exactly was about to happen to us in the next hour. The Sinister Pointe website was purposely vague regarding event details, and the result was that we couldn’t really determine whether this was going to be played up as a “real” paranormal experience or whether there would be actors jumping out at us from behind the curtains. But since this was Sinister Pointe, after all, we didn’t think we’d be able to escape without being terrified in some way.

A creepy looking guy wearing a top hat and cape, and ominously carrying a black rose, chatted us up as we waited for the “show” to begin. He definitely played up the “it’s real” angle, letting us know that we were about to meet a real medium, who would not actually guarantee that anything would happen tonight. He asked us about our own paranormal experiences in the past, which got us into a good mind-set for the evening.

Finally, it was time for us to enter into the séance room. WARNING: From here on out, there may be mild spoilers.

The Experience

A secret door behind some shelving opened up, and the cape-wearing host purposely split the groups apart and took us two-by-two into the back room. As we entered, we passed underneath some burning sage. He asked us to breathe it in as a sort of “protection” against evil. In the room was a large, circular table with exactly 13 chairs. Each seat at the table had its own occult symbol carved into the wooden table surface (for example, an ankh, a pentagram, the star of Solomon, etc.). LED candles were scattered about. Temporary walls created a small, intimate space, and the room was decorated to look like the inside of an old house, complete with wallpaper, windows and curtains, pictures on the walls, shelves with various trinkets and items, old books strewn about the floor, and a creepy looking doll sitting on a chair. We eyed that doll suspiciously.

We waited a few minutes before the medium appeared. He was a friendly-looking guy with a beard, and he introduced himself. He then went around the table and asked us to recount any previous paranormal experiences we might have had. This was a bit awkward but interesting. He then had us join hands, and he began his first attempt to contact some spirits. Unfortunately, it failed, and nothing happened. Now we were wondering whether this really was some cheesy paranormal ghost-hunting gathering that wasn’t going to amount to much.

Next, our medium tried a few “experiments.” They involved opening a box with some old circus tickets and relating the story of a circus that burned down in the 1940s. Without going into detail, the “experiment” turned into a relatively obvious kind of magic trick that involved switching out some papers. After this followed distribution of some tarot cards, a story about the medium’s grandfather, and an “experiment” with old playing cards. Again, this was a card trick that resulted in an audience member creepily choosing three “6” cards (i.e., 666)—and oh no, did we just summon the devil to our séance?!

Things finally got interesting when the fake tree in the corner started shaking. Finally, we thought, here come some effects. Things happened quickly from there. Concerned for our safety, our medium had us grab hands, and he attempted to tell this evil spirit to leave us alone. Various objects in the room were thrown about. Yes, they were thrown. When they tell you at the beginning to keep your feet on the floor and make sure your chair is as close to the table as possible, make sure you listen! Or you could find yourself in the path of shattering glass or chairs being hurled across the room.

The lights went out, and our demon spirit began speaking to us. This was incredibly creepy and tense. After the intensity of some of the effects that happened with the lights on, we were pretty freaked out about what might happen in the dark. There were a couple of, let’s say, “fourth-dimensional” effects to experience, and then, fortunately for us, our medium was successful in driving the spirit away. The lights came back on.

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Our Thoughts

Because the website was vague regarding details, we were genuinely surprised with the direction of the event, and that was a good thing. Without knowing what to experience, our expectations were somewhat low. We think this was helpful because, overall, the event was fun and creepy but somewhat unsatisfying. The beginning was a bit slow, and if you’re not a paranormal “believer,” you may find some of the spiritual rhetoric hokey and laughable. The “magic tricks” were somewhat interesting but pretty transparent. There is a back story about the spirit who eventually assaults us during the séance, but honestly, it was a bit hard to understand. We found the climax of the event to be extremely scary and intense, but for all the build up, it could’ve used a bigger payoff. When the lights came back on, everyone remained seated until someone finally asked, “Is it over?” We feel that almost everyone was genuinely expecting something more. Maybe just that one final “scare” to take it over the edge. However, we do note that we attended the standard version of the show; the midnight version promised to be more “extreme,” so perhaps we should have stayed up late for that experience.

The séance set itself was lovely and well made. As veteran haunt goers, we were, of course, scanning the room for what the “effects” would be, but they were extremely well hidden. The medium played his part very well. And for an event in a confined, single-room space where all guests remain seated, the variety of experiences, the build up to the climax, and the scare factor were pulled off very well. Every guest was part of the story and experienced some kind of interaction.

Overall, Sinister Pointe’s Séance was creepy, scary, and most of all, fun. With a few tweaks, it could have been a pretty epic experience. We are very impressed with what they accomplished in the back room of their small shop, and we can’t wait for the next event.

Ratings

Haunt Design: 4.5 Skulls
Theming: 4 Skulls
Scare Factor: 4 Skulls
Fright Value: 3 skulls

Overall Rating: 4 Skulls

The Delusions Will Return in 2016

Monday, August 24th, 2015

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Over the years Delusion has created innovate and suspenseful haunts expereinces with unique challenges for it’s audience. This year, our friends at Delusion faced a unique challenge of their own as they worked to navigate the scary landscape of Los Angeles real estate. Alas they’ve found a new nightmare home for their moving theater productions. Unfortunately, it was’t in enough time for them to be open for the upcoming haunt season, however, they’ll back early next year in a home that’ll be able to host a year round production.

Here’s more on the story of the upcoming Delusion 2016 that Jon Braver shared this evening with his “loyal Delusionals” like us…

To our amazing, loyal and patient Delusionals,

We cannot even begin to count the strange, disturbing and exhilarating memories (and people) from the otherworld of Delusion over the last four seasons.
Last year, I recall a guest so into the story that he begged our protagonist to sign his Playbill! This intimate, theatrical adventure means so much to so many people and we want nothing more than to share this experience further.

As many of you know, we’ve been looking for a long term and non-residentially zoned venue for quite some time. I am beyond excited to announce that we’ve found a special place to call our cryptic home for years to come! But can Delusion exist outside of the Fall season? Damn right it can. It’s interactive theatre! And strange, intimate adventures, to places we cannot even fathom, should exist any time of the year!

So for limited nights, starting early next year, you will play your part once again. And beyond the play, we’ll have special screenings, parties, live music, magic and so much more at the new space!

Ok, I know what you’re saying, “That’s amazing! But will there be a play this fall season?!” This time around, having recently found the right space, we need to focus on building out our most spectacular show yet. Of course I’d be lying if I said we won’t miss falling down the rabbit hole with you this Fall. But never fear (or do), as we will dive into another psychologically disturbing journey before you know it!

You should know that this is all your fault! You made us do it! So from all of us who create Delusion, we can never thank you enough for your incredible support. It has, and will continue to be, darkly euphoric.

Playing My Part,
Jon Braver – Creator/Writer/Director – Delusion

P.S. You made it this far! You deserve a hint about our first play at the new space:
A misshapen figure sits at the piano, his fingers dance across the keys as the darker melodies of Chopin bring him further, blissful misery.
“Death is… whimsical tonight.” He whips around and faces us.

ScareLA Weekend is Here!

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

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This weekend the successful and scaringly popular ScareLA returns to kickoff Haunt Season in L.A. This year’s convention moves from Downtown L.A. out to the even larger Pasadena Convention Center.

ScareLA premiered in 2013 as the first Los Angeles convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween. Situated in the entertainment capital of the world it combines the city’s top talent and unique cultural setting with a twist! Drawing fans and haunt entertainment professionals, the event features top attraction designers and operators, manufacturers, artists, filmmakers and more. The weekend-long Halloween season teaser celebrates California’s hottest scary faire with attraction unveils, workshops and classes, top industry panels, haunt tours, screenings and activities. Share, inspire, play – ScareLA.

Here’s some of what you can expect to see this weekend:

  • Curated collection of exhibitors showcasing scary goods, services & job opportunities
  • Expert and celebrity panels on the haunt business, horror entertainment and more
  • Presentations of top and upcoming local haunts with sneak peaks and unveils
  • Performances by local horror themed theatre companies and musicians
  • Professional demos of makeup, set building, costume creation, animatronics and more
  • Hands-on workshops taught by top haunt industry professionals for all skill levels and ages
  • Screening room showing premiere attraction walk-throughs and local horror filmmakers
  • Interactive experiences, games, roaming monsters and more!

Of course we’re especially looking forward to the special panels featuring major west coast haunts including: Knott’s Scary Farm, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Six Flags Fright Fest, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. We expect that there’ll some announcements and reveals about this year’s maze and haunt offerings.

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There’s also special experiences from our fiends at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater and  SoCal Valley Haunters Workshops.

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Tickets are still available if you’re lagging behind and haven’t purchased yours yet. Buy them today!

We’ll continue to provide more tips and information through the week as we prepare to stalk ScareLA!

Here’s a look back at ScareLA 2014

 

Sinister Pointe Moving; “Lore Masquerade” Will Be Final Event in Current Location

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Sinister Pointe recently announced they would be leaving their current permanent location in Brea, California, and will be moving to a new address for the 2014 haunt season. But fans of SP shouldn’t be worried, as we think this will be a great thing for the haunt and will inject new life into its attraction. SP has actually promised “a brand new haunted attraction in 2014.” Although they’ve always added new “elements” to their current attraction each year at their current location, it hasn’t been quite enough to justify repeated visits for haunt stalkers who live far away or are looking for entirely new experiences with each haunt season. We know what the Sinister Pointe team is capable of, and we can’t wait to see something all new from them in 2014. 

There are no details yet on the new location, but SP promises it will be close by and maybe within even a few blocks of the current spot. Stay tuned for more details.

But in the meantime, SP will be presenting the final event in their current location, “Lore Masquerade,” on April 25 and 26, 2014.

Sinister Point Lore

Join us for two evenings filled with a variety of unique entertainment, creative arts, imagination, music and dance to celebrate the closure of this amazing chapter for Sinister Pointe.

Friday, April 25th 2014
General Admission $45.00
VIP Admission $85.00

Saturday, April 26th 2014
General Admission $55.00
VIP Admission $95.00

A portion of the ticket sales will contribute to the development of the long-awaited “Spirit Lounge” a haunt-themed bar in progress from the SP folks.

For tickets and more information, check out the website.

Bloody Valentine’s Haunts 2014

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The first haunt season of 2014 is arriving with some love and lots of fear for Haunt Stalkers. If you find it romantic to be stalked by spooks, frightened by freaks, and chased by chainsaws then check out this line up of Valentine’s Day Night haunts that promise to get your heart pumping.

It’s a known fact that being scared is physiologically arousing, so hold your loved one(s) by the hand and pray it stays attached to their body. As we always say, love will never do without haunts.

 

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Alabama

Warehouse 31 – Birmingham

Arx Mortis – Killen

California

All Saints Lunatic Asylum-Dark Hearts – Apple Valley

Talladega Frights-My Bloody Valentine – Bakersfield

Sinister Pointe-Battle Royale – Brea

Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror – North Hollywood

Horrors of Love” Valentine’s Haunted House – San Francisco

Colorado

The 13th Floor-A candlelit night of Horror  – Denver

Connecticut

Scream Acres – Covington

Florida

Legends Dark Amusements-A Haunting in Old Town – Kissimmee

Illinois

Fear City Haunted House Valentine’s Zombie Massacre Party – Chicago

New Jersey

Brighton Asylum-Dark Romance – New Jersey

New York

District of the Dead-Eat Your Heart Out – Buffalo

Blood Manor  – NYC – Scare Zone has visited Blood Manor on Valentine’s Day and had a bloody good time. Read our review here.

Times Scare – NYC

 

Oklahoma

The Asylum-Bloody Valentine  – Nowatta

The Sanctuary-Tunnel of Love  – Oklahoma City

 

Pennsylvania 

Castle Blood’s Valentine’s Show – Monessen

Valentine’s Ghost Tour – Philadelphia

The Scarehouse – Pittsburgh

Tennessee

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure: My Bloody Valentine – Gatlinburg

Texas

Chainsaw Massacre – Amarillo

House of Torment – Austin

Moxley Manor-Valentine’s Day Massacre  – Bedford

The Parker House – Denton

Cutting Edge-Twisted Love – Fort Worth SZ Review

Tayman Graveyard-Valentine Massacre – Midlothian

Dark Hour Haunted House-Love is Blind – Plano

13th Floor Haunted House – San Antonio

Virginia

St. Albans Sanatorium – Radford

We hope you have a horrifyingly Valentine’s NIGHT! 

 

Scare Zone’s Golden Skulls 2013

Friday, December 27th, 2013

As we creep out of the clutches of 2013 it’s time for us to reflect back at another year of Haunt Stalking that seems to of had quickly passed away. To close out 2013 here’s our rankings of the best (and worst) haunts we experienced in our 2013 Haunt Stalking adventures. We truly scared it up in 2013, which materialized into being one of our biggest years of fears yet. We visited numerous haunts across the country from California, to Texas, New York, Philadelphia, and beyond. For a list of all the places we visited and to read our full reviews, please click here.

As you all know, haunt experiences can be a highly individual and subjective experience; what may scare one person might not be frightening at all to another, and what scares you one night might fall flat on a return visit. Nonetheless, we are professional Haunt Stalkers and this year the Terrorspondents have combined our votes for Scare Zone’s Golden Skulls: 2013 Haunt Rankings. So these reflect want we found to be the best from our own 2013 Haunt Stalking experiences.

GOLDEN SKULLS

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BEST MAZE DESIGN/EFFECTS: Insidious: Into the Further (HHN Hollywood) 

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Runner ups:
Chambers of the Mausoleum (Corona, CA)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality (Los Angeles, CA)
Prison of the Dead Escape! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

 

 

BEST MAZE THEME: Black Magic (Knott’s Scary Farm)

 

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Runner ups: 
Insidious: Into The Further (HHN Hollywood)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality
Gunslinger’s Grave (Knott’s Scary Farm)

 

 

BEST SCARE TACTIC: 

Prison of the Dead Escape! (Shocktoberfest, PA) – Too many scares to name
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Runner ups: 
Coffin Creek Manor (Corona, CA) –  eyeball in wall distraction
Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA)  – best use of animated props
Circus (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor – hall of mirrors, wall of daggers

 

 

BEST SCENE IN A MAZE: 

Delusion: Masque of Mortality – Children’s bedroom scene
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Runner ups:
 The Purge: Fear the Night – Outdoor park scene
Black Magic (Knott’s Scary Farm) – Burning Theatre
Lock Down (Terror Behind the Walls) – Strobe Hallway of Freaks

 

 

BEST MAZE NAME: El Cucuy:  The Boogeyman (HHN Hollywood)

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Runner ups:
Detritus (Terror Behind the Walls)
Dr. Dark’s Black Spider Side Show (Headless Horseman)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality

BEST SCARE-ACTORS/MONSTERS: Nightmare NYC: Killers 2

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Runner ups:
Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror
The Purge: Fear the Night
The Empty Grave

BEST SCARE ZONE: Ghost Town (KSF)

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Runner ups:
Purge: Survive the Night (HHN Hollywood)
Walking Dead: Dead on Arrival (HHN Hollywood)
The Fog (Haunted Hollywood Sports)

MOST UNIQUE HAUNT EXPERIENCE:  Nightmare NYC: Killers 2

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Runner ups:
Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror
The Purge: Fear the Night
Delusion: Masque of Mortality

SCARIEST MAZE: PRISON OF THE DEAD ESCAPE! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

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Runner ups:
Insidious (HHN Hollywood)
Terror Behind the Walls (PA)
Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA)

BEST OVERALL MAZE OF 2013:  PRISON OF THE DEAD ESCAPE! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

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BEST VALUE HAUNT OF 2013: KNOTT’S SCARY FARM 

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TOP STAND ALONE HAUNT OF 2013: TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS (Eastern State Penitentiary)

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TOP THEME PARK HAUNT OF 2013: (TIE)

UNIVERSAL’S HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS & KNOTT’S SCARY FARM

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*We really don’t like having an uncommitted result but this year it really was a toss up for us between both of these parks. Universal’s mazes were full on sophistcated Horror Shows with some of the best effects, makeup, and talent, but we just didn’t find it to be nearly as scary as years past; mostly due to the park being overcrowded. In addition, the pricing has become too high with diminishing returns on our hard earned dollars. Oppositely, Knott’s is a great value and provides the best Halloween season environments throughout the park with unique themes, but the talent was amateurish (at best) and just like Universal the scare factor felt diminished this year. 

BURIED SKULLS

This is where we load up the cracked and broken skulls (the worse of the worse) and drive them off to the crematory. Of course, being in the world of horror, we’re aptly aware that not everything will die immediately or forever, but until they return here’s our call for the worse of 2013.

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WHO MADE THIS (WORST DESIGN)?

The Bog (Coffin Creek in Corona, CA)

WTF IS GOING ON (WORST THEME)?

The Cutting Edge (Ft. Worth, TX)

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB (WORST SCARE-ACTOR/MONSTERS)

Phobia (Pure Terror Scream Park)

THIS IS NOT SCARY! 

The Cutting Edge (Ft. Worth TX)

WHAT A RIPPOFF (WORST VALUE)

Pure Terror Scream Park (Monroe, NY)

JUST DIE  ALREADY (WORST MAZE OF 2013)

Phobia (Pure Terror Scream Park)

To understand the ratings please see our ratings guide.

Sinister Pointe’s 2nd Annual Dark Market – This Weekend

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

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Haunt Season is creeping closer to us and this weekend Sinister Pointe in Brea, CA. is going to give Haunt Stalkers a bloody taste of  what’s to come at their 2nd annual Dark Market.

This Saturday, June 29th, you can enjoy an afternoon and evening filled will dozens of vendor serving up the best haunt clothing, jewelry, oddities, props, masks, make-up and more. There will be food with the Sinister Pointe crew barbecuing and serving refreshments. They also will be holding contests and raffles featuring gifts from the vendors.

Most importantly to us, the Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction will be open at 7pm. The attraction is NOT 100% operational due to construction that has already begun for the 2013 Halloween season. However, they’re opening the attraction one last time to the public (and fans) to experience a little bit of what they got to experience during the 2012 season.

 
“DARK MARKET”

Hours:

1:00pm – 10:00pm

Cost: FREE (donations are appreciated)

HAUNTED ATTRACTION

Hours:
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Cost:
$10.00 General (per person)
$20.00 VIP Front of the line pass (per person)

**$5.00 OFF Attraction ticket with the purchase of any item $10.00 or greater from our vendors before 4pm.

 

Trip Report: HAuNTCon 2013 (Dallas, TX)

Friday, May 17th, 2013

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Scare Zone made the trek out to Texas in April to experience HAuNTCon, one of the larger yearly haunt conventions. We had a great time attending seminars, meeting professional and home haunters, and touring the tradeshow floor to see the latest and craziest offerings in the haunt industry. We did find the tradeshow floor be to rather small and sparse of vendors but the focus of the convention was the education sessions, most of which were free. So we still found the show passes to be a good value. More-so than the National Haunter’s Convention which we attended in 2011.

Of course, the top attraction for us was being able to tour the local haunted attractions. Each year, the convention travels to a new city, and one of the main reasons for this is to be able to take attendees to different haunts each year on its haunt tours. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has one of the largest concentrations of haunts, but we were still impressed to find out that the pre-show and weekend haunt tours would include approximately 16 different haunted attractions.

We will be providing separate, full reviews of the haunted attractions we visited that were also in full operational mode and open to the public during our visit. But our tours also included a private, behind-the-scenes look at many other haunted attractions, so we’ll be providing our thoughts on those in this post. We did miss one haunt on the tour–Zombie Manor. We have heard that this is a really great and well-themed attraction, and we’re sorry we missed it and won’t be able to provide our review.

Overall, we experienced some great attractions, some so-so attractions, and some kind of terrible ones. Our top 6 favorites are the following:

  1. 13th Street Morgue (located at Reindeer Manor) [will receive a full review in a separate post]
  2. Parker House
  3. Moxley Manor
  4. Hangman’s House of Horrors [will receive a full review in a separate post]  
  5. The Dungeon of Doom
  6. The Haunt House

Now here’s a look inside the haunts we toured during HAuNTCon 2013, from day 1 through day 2.

The Haunt House (Caddo Mills, TX)

Haunt House was voted as one of the best haunts in the country by HauntWorld in 2012. The haunt features an impressive facade that sets the stage for the detailed sets and intense scares inside. The attraction is very long, with winding paths that go up and down hill. The walls often close in on you, and the low ceilings promote a feeling of claustrophobia.  We really liked the great detail work they did on many of the sets, especially the interior rooms such as the library and the stairwell. Some of the “outdoor” scenes were more generic, but we saw many places for good scares. Overall, the theme didn’t come through to clearly to us, as their website provides a back story about a carnival dark ride gone awry. We didn’t see too much evidence of this theme. The owner of Haunt House is a long-time haunted attraction veteran, and he was on-hand to teach a few seminars at the convention. He has a lot of passion for his attraction and the industry, and this is one of the reasons why Haunt House will continue to be one of the best attractions in Texas.

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Fatal End, featuring “Dollz” (Downtown Dallas, TX)

This attraction changes its theme every 2 years. Currently, it’s themed to, as its name suggests, “dolls.” Specifically, “an old doll store and factory in an old abandoned warehouse in Downtown Dallas” in the early 1900s. The back story describes the dollmaker running out of doll parts and resorting to digging up bodies from the local cemetery. For the most part, this attraction sticks to its theme well. There are dolls and doll parts all over the maze, although more heavily used in some scenes than others. Sometimes the placement of the doll parts seemed a little haphazard. Our trip through the Dollz attraction was in show mode, but without actors. But we easily imagined actors in those creepy doll-face masks terrorizing guests. The flow of the maze was interrupted by some scenes that didn’t fit in very well, including an elaborate laboratory scene and a blacklight toxic waste scene with gas masks. In addition, the extremely loud industrial music piped throughout the maze definitely did not fit with the 1900’s time period at all (see our “Six Ways to Ruin a Haunt” article for our opinion about this). The maze was long and had some interesting scenes, but we’d like to see them work on the atmosphere and tighten up the theming.

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Slaughterhouse (Dallas, TX)

The slaughterhouse theme is very popular in haunted attractions, and it’s probably one of the easiest themes to pull off. Just hang a bunch of body parts/animal carcasses around, spread blood all over the place, and voila!–you’ve got a slaughterhouse haunt. So we were extremely disappointed to find that this Slaughterhouse attraction had almost no slaughter at all. We saw clowns, a child’s room, a grim reaper, werewolves, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and even Frankenstein. Really? Frankenstein in a slaughterhouse haunt??  Even more mystifying was the fact that we saw price tags remaining on some of the props (and yes, this was a lights-out tour in show mode with actors).  This kind of laziness makes us mad, honestly. The haunt also relied on a lot of loud noises, strobes, and firecracker poppers. We don’t recommend a visit to this attraction unless you get a very good discount coupon. As a “slaughterhouse” haunt, this attraction left us asking, “Where’s the beef?”

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Moxley Manor (Bedford, TX)

Moxley Manor is located in a small strip mall, and it’s glass storefront location isn’t as impressive as some of the facades of other attractions we visited. However, this smaller haunt packs a large punch. We were surprised by how long this haunt was once we were inside. The “manor” theming was  well done and consistent. There was  a good use fog, very dark areas, and disorienting lights to help increase the scares. It also had a high element of suspense where you’d see a ghoul in the distance who suddenly disappears behind the walls or into the fog only to reappear right in front or behind you. The actors were top-notch and got some scares from the veteran haunt crowd touring the maze that night. There were also actual maze elements, including a scene in which you have to find your way through a maze of white sheets. We think that this is one of the most frequently open haunts in Texas, as they’re always open for special events and holidays such as Super Bowl weekend, Valentine’s Day, ‘Scream Break’, Friday the 13th, and so forth. We thought it was fun and highly recommend checking it out whenever you can.

Parker House (Denton, TX)

This was one of the best attractions we experienced while in Texas. The theming, detailed sets, and actors were were top notch, and most importantly, the scares were excellent. The exterior facade sets the stage for the demented horrors inside the “Parker Funeral Home.” The first scene is a church-like interior, in which the deranged minister taunts the audience and also perfectly explains the important back story and also the rules of the attraction.  From the moment we entered the maze (through a very unexpected doorway), we were greeted with amazing sets and and innovative scares. There is also a large outdoor portion of the attraction, composed of a long trail through brush, trees, and eventually a graveyard. This outdoor section is littered with zombies and cannibal types, and a couple of nice sisters even invited us to “dinner.”  We were particularly impressed with the actors at this attraction. There were many who went way beyond the typical “boo” scare and took on a very interactive role with guests, remaining in character even as jaded haunters heckled them. They also did a great job pacing the groups through the maze, holding groups back if they got too close to the next group in front of them.

We also got a sneak peek of an all-new attraction currently being built for 2013, which looks like it will be pretty massive. Parker House should definitely be on your must-see list for 2013.

Milton’s Manor (Aledo, TX)

When we stepped into Milton’s Manor, we had an extreme case of Deja Vu—had we been here before? It turns out we had. This is the very same attraction that was featured at the Los Angeles County Fair from 2003 through 2006, then called “Scare at the Fair.” This attraction was developed by Shipwreck Productions, the team behind Queen Mary’s Shipwreck Halloween event (replaced by the current and superior “Dark Harbor“). Now retired, “Scare at the Fair” lives on in its new life as “Milton’s Manor,” located in an abandoned gas station. This 3D attraction has some well-done paintings and effects. There are plenty of hiding places for actors, and the 3D glasses further obscure guests’ vision. Although this sort of attraction is dated to us, it seemed to be a bit of a novelty to some of the locals on the tour. Perhaps this type of 3D maze hasn’t been as overused as in California. Regardless, it is a good 3D maze and worth checking out if you’re in the area.

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Creekside Manor (Midlothian, TX)

This is a brand-new haunt for 2013. We were lucky to get a preview of what’s in store for Texas locals this Halloween season. The owners have been hard at work building their new haunt from the ground up. This haunt has a great facade set amid tall trees. The interior is a typical haunted manor type of theme, and the sets are well done and very detailed. It was very obvious that they were inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor attractions. Even the opening spiel takes its cues directly from the former’s storyline. The hallways are extremely narrow, so if you have any type of claustrophobia, you might be a bit uncomfortable. We saw a lot of expensive (but impressive) animatronics used throughout the attraction. There were scenes with organ-playing skeletons, possessed children, and man-eating plants. Even without the scareactors inside this place , it was somewhat creepy to walk through, and we can only imagine how scary it will be when fully loaded with wall-to-wall creeps. At the finale of the haunt, guests venture into a short outdoor portion that we expect is pretty spooky at night.

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Tayman Graveyard (Midlothian, TX)

This haunt features three attractions: Tayman Funeral Home, Tayman Mines, and Fappy the Clown’s Theatre of Wonders.

Tayman Funeral Home is the best of the three and is the “main attraction.” This maze begins with an “insult” actor, there to tell you the rules and make jokes at guests’ expense. We suppose this is for comic relief, but the jokes felt pretty flat and lame. We’d prefer something to set the mood of the haunt instead. He also warned us that we’d have to crawl. The maze itself was well themed to an old haunted house, and yes, we did have to crawl through one section (which went on a bit too long). There were some interesting scenes and set design thoughout the house. After you make your way through the house, there’s a brief trail called Gravediggers Hollow that goes through the backwoods, where you’ll encounter some rogue zombies who didn’t make the proper final arrangements to get inside the Funeral Home. We could imagine it being rather freaky out there at nighttime.

Tayman Mines is a dusty and dry trek through wooden walls with minimal props. We went through during the day, so we can’t say how scary it might be at night (the owner’s dogs did provide a unstaged scare from behind a fence). There wasn’t much to look at during the day, so any scares will probably depend on a strong actor component and the darkness of the evening.

Fappy the Clown’s Theatre of Wonders is your standard 3D clown maze, with scenes we’ve seen many times before, such as black walls with neon handprints. We also passed through a perplexing vampire scene, which didn’t make much sense to us amid the carnival atmosphere.

If you’re going to make the trek out to this haunt, we suppose it’s worth seeing all of the attractions; however, the Funeral Home feels like the only major maze, with the others seeming more like “add-ons.” During haunt season they do offer a haunted hayride, which we imagine could be very good through the the back woods locations.

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Reindeer Manor (Red Oak, TX)

Reindeer Manor is “a real” Haunted House located on the outskirts of Dallas with a truly haunted past, and it’s been open to the public for more than 40 seasons. They were one of the first and are one of the oldest haunted attractions in the state of Texas, if not the world. This attraction is set up as a theatrical haunt, where you go from room to room to see ghostly and grizzly stories unfold. The haunt team here is very dedicated, composed mainly of boy scout volunteers. The theming of the rooms is extremely elaborate, making us wish that we could have had the full haunt experience versus the behind-the-scenes (lights-on) walk-through tour. Some of their stand-out scenes included a collapsing ceiling, the fiery pond, a room that rocks back and forth, and a giant, lightning-generating Tesla coil. Coupled with The Dungeon of Doom and 13th Street Morgue attractions, Red Oak is one the scariest parts of Texas you can visit during the haunt season.

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