Tag: Haunt Reviews (page 1 of 4)

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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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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Scare Zone’s Golden Skulls 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.

Haunt Review: Knott’s Scary Farm 2013

With “Nowhere to Hide” we successfully survived another year of Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt!

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This year solidified Scary Farm’s reinvention with the most highly themed and exceptionally crafted mazes in it’s 41 year history. In comparison to other big SoCal Theme Park Haunts (er, Universal) Knott’s still wins big in creating the perfect feeling of a big Halloween celebration. Knott’s also benefits from having unique mazes themes that are not constrained by the pre-scripted story lines of movies and TV shows, thus allowing for more surprises throughout. The total number of mazes slightly decreased but it wasn’t noticeable given the quality of the mazes they do have (we also appreciate having fewer mazes to write about). We do miss was the haunt layover of the Timber Mountain Log Ride. Even though the ride’s scare factor had declined over the years it still was one of the most unique haunt attractions anywhere (and a nice way to get scared without having to walk).

The caliber of the shows was also increased with production upgrades made to The Hanging and the voluptuous return of Elvira. We did miss the new Possessed show. We had the intention to see it but among the exFRIGHTment of all the other haunt attractions we somehow forgot about it. We blame it on the fact that there wAS no visible signage or barkers to attract people in to see it. It seemed to get lost in it’s location in the back corner of the park, near Pinocchio and Forevermore.

10091544724_aabb76260f_oThey say there’s “Nowhere to Hide” but we didn’t know what we were hiding from as the Scare Zones has less of an impact this year. It  goes without saying that the Ghost Town still sets the scary tone for the entire event but the other zones were far less interesting or memorable this year. The Tricksters from Trick O Treat were roaming the park causing chaos but it was all fun with no scares.  We also noticed that the caliber of the talent in the mazes didn’t match to that of past years or at other haunts we’ve been to recently. Many of the mazes felt understaffed where we would wander through a few consecutive rooms before being scared. We actually encountered more blackouts (maze security) than monsters.  We did notice signs saying that they were still hiring monsters, which isn’t a good sign (no pun intended) . Could it be that the budget trade off  for more elaborately theme mazes took away from the the talent budget? Once they get the talent on par with the new maze designs Knott’s could be the unbeatable ticket in town.

10091613226_1d727d6bec_oWith all this said we did have a great time at Knott’s Scary Farm. Going back always feels like a haunted homecoming for us. When it comes to horror the mazes are a little more mild than Universal’s but there’s still enough visceral eye candy and frights to keep your heart pumping through the night. If you could only pick one haunt to visit, Knott’s does offer a great value with it’s broad mix of mazes, experiences and shows all for very a reasonable price point. Nonetheless, we don’t know why in hell you a would pick just one haunt to go to.

Now here’s what you really want to read, our maze ratings. Since we went on a slow night, we didn’t buy the Fright Lane/Skeleton Key option so we didn’t get to experience the extra Skeleton Key rooms. We do think that this gimmick is great way to add value for those who cough up more money for front of the lines passes. We wish it was possible to just buy the Skeleton Key but we can see how that could cause further line backups. Our fellow Haunt Stalker at ThemeParkHD did manage to capture some great maze videos for us including the Skeleton Key rooms, which we’ll share with our reviews. Just be warned they are full maze spoilers.

We do our best not to spoil the mazes for those who’ve yet to experience them, so we won’t provide scare-by-scare reviews, but we will share highlights and our overall opinions from our own experiences in the mazes.

NEW MAZES 

Black Magic

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This maze was one of our favorites of the night. We were amazed by the detailed themeing and settings they created around this story. Using magic as backdrop for a maze provided continuous surprises throughout. There was definitely more than rabbits popping out of hats inside of here. The talent in this maze were some of the most impressive of all the mazes with scary magician’s assistants, victims of tricks gone bad, and an actual magician who did a quick card or handkerchief trick as you passed by. This maze also had a nice blend of light and dark scenes allowing for some good scares as your eyes adjusted with the lighting transitions  If you get the time, we recommend that you go through this maze twice to make sure you get to capture all of the Black Magic inside of this maze.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 Skulls

Forevermore

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The Edgar Allen Poe theme has become more popular at haunts across the country in recent years with both Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens taking a stab at the infamous writer. Knott’s diverts from strictly recreating eerie scenes of Poe’s stories and creates the story line of a serial killer who is on a murder spree utilizing  murder tactics from Poe’s fables akin to The Following.  What we liked about it were some of the clever modernization of Poe’s stories into death scenes. The Pit and the Pendulum scene is incredible. While there was some good eye candy in this maze, it wasn’t always clear what was going on. In one scene it looked like we stumbled into Club Blood. The scares were also far in between. In comparison to Busch Garden’s Nevermore maze this maze has room for improvement. We see it being a good maze for the next year or two but overall this isn’t a theme they’ll need to keep bringing back… “Forevermore”.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 Skulls
  • Theming: 3 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 3 Skulls

Mirror, Mirror

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… on the wall, WTH, that is all?  Here, they let small groups into a carnival style mirror maze for a short period of time. We applaud Knott’s for trying to do something new but this maze seemed like it was thrown together at the last minute. While the glass was very clean and the frames were pretty, it was too small inside and the finale is disappointingly anti-climatic. **SPOILER** There really is no exit. You just wander around with a couple masked monsters in chase until they eventually open the maze’s backdoor. This maze had the potential to be better but it would need a much larger footprint, more monsters, and lighting tricks.  The way this maze is setup, it will have the longest lines of all so we highly recommend going to it right at the beginning of the night, using Fright Lane, or skipping it all together.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2 Skulls
  • Theming: 2 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: .5 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 1.5 Skulls

The Gunslinger’s Grave

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Yeehaw! This maze is the epitome of the Knott’s legacy. In Gunslinger’s we’re taken through the haunted labyrinths of mine shafts, corrals, and salons. The layout of this maze is mostly outdoors with trails winding in and out of the Ghost Town buildings making it really feel as if we are out in the old wild west amid the Silver Bullet and Jaguar coasters rolling by overhead. The soundtrack was solid with frenetic Bon Jovi stylized guitar riffs. It was obvious that the “residents” of this town are less than happy to see us and it wasn’t fully clear but we assume we’re looking for refuge from alive or dead outlaws and towns folks. This maze had a few good startle scares but it wasn’t overly frightening. The talent was convincing in their roles as they were fully costumed in western attire,  but for scares they just did a lot of yelling “get outta here” and kept cattle prodding  us through the scenes. With a few more characters in more horrific makeup and a slower pace, this maze will be able to hit it the bullseye and we can see it becoming increasingly scary in the coming years.  

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 4 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4 Skulls

Dominion of the Damned

This is a new maze? It looked so similar to last year’s Dominion of the Dead to us. This is another maze with a cool soundtrack and superb set design but here the talent was weak and tired. Among the beautiful set pieces we encountered vampires who looked in desperate need of a blood transfusion. There were so many opportunities for big scares but after you walk by them and they’ve said their “boos” it seems that they simply go back to thinking about what they did or didn’t have for dinner. One of the missed opportunities in this maze was to have some of the lavish paintings used for drop panel scares or transparency images (an effect well used at HHN and Dark Harbor this year) , which would of brought about some good and memorable scares.  Dominion is a nice showcase the different reiterations of vampires from the Nosferatu to the Anne Rice versions but it was hard to track the story line, which seemed to be like we were on a tour of The Natural Museum of Vampire History (hmmm that could next year’s vampire maze) . It seems that we’re Dammed to always have a vampire maze at haunt we just want to see one with the energetic and scary kind.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 3 Skulls 
  • Scare Factor: 1 Skull
  • Overall Rating: 2 Skulls

RETURNING MAZES

Pinocchio Unstrung 

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Last year this maze set a new bar for all preceding mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm. While it’s the same as last year, this maze  is still one of our favorites. The entire setting feels like walking through a bloody, after hours, version of Disneyland’s Pinocchio ride. Pinocchio successfully twists the popular children’s story in a way that makes its feel as if we were trapped inside a dark storybook nightmare. What’s unsettling about the maze is how the once innocent characters are now placed into scenes of distress, gore, and horror. It’s rather tragic to see Gepetto, Stromboli, and the Blue Fairy meet their fates at the hands of a torturous wooden puppet who instead of becoming a real boy now wants to be a real killer. The monsters in this maze were consistently scary and high energy. In some scenes they even team up on victims. This is a now a haunt classic and we don’t see Pinocchio getting strung up anytime soon.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 Skulls

Trick or Treat 

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This maze recreates a night of Trick O Treating gone bad. Once we enter the front door of the Green Witch’s house the journey cascades through a haunted mansion packed with sinister Halloween decorations and ghostly effects. The infamous Tricksters are also back creating mayhem in the various rooms along the way. This maze is shorter than the others, but it’s also has some of the strongest atmospheric environments and an interestingly theatrical finale. The scares were turned up slightly over last year but the focus of this maze is more on the fun of Halloween versus the scares.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 4 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4 Skulls 

Endgames

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What does it look like when you combine The Running Man, Mad Max, UFC and the Hunger Games? You get a standard post-apocalyptic, industrial maze with some cool animatronics and an infusion of technical glitz. The fun of this maze comes from the video screens placed throughout showing live feeds of people walking through other parts of the mazes. It’s really hard to know what’s going on in this maze. Even the monsters seemed confused. At one point we were cornered and chased  by characters talking with fake British accents. Did we stumble back into The Terror of London?  We still don’t find this maze to be scary, but the sets are detailed and interesting. We do hope that the end of this game is coming soon.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2.5 Skulls
  • Theming: 1 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 Skull
  • Overall Rating: 1.5 Skulls

Delirium 

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The Delirium continues in the maze that is credited for setting a standard for Scary Farm mazes. This maze features some very disturbing scenes completely emerging us inside the minds of the former Asylum maze’s demented patients. Inside, you can expect to encounter people spewing cockroaches, monstrously large flesh-eating maggots, and hideously bloody monsters hiding under the beds. This maze also features some of most interesting lighting effects and large scale props at Scary Farm. We love how the nightmare/dementia theme gets progressively more twisted as we venture further into the maze. This maze has the potential to bring out more craziness for a few more years, and we only hope that in doing so they continue to push the boundaries of Delirium even further.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 Skulls
  • Theming: 5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4 Skulls

Uncle Willy’s Slaughterhouse

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The meat at Uncle Willy’s continues to stay fresh! The balance of comical and dark horror is sustained throughout the trip through this slaughterhouse. This maze seems like it’s a subtle homage to the campy 80’s horror flick Motel Hell.  Beginning with a fun romp through the local diner soon enough we discover that we’re the secret ingredients to Willy’s popular meat (not sure that was written right).  This was our first maze of the night as it opened earlier than the rest and even with some daylight still creeping in the sets were still suspenseful to walk through with all the heavy machinery grinding around us. The actors here are some of the most menacing of all the Scary Farm mazes and created the kind of scare we’d expected for the rest of the night. It seemed that this is the maze were a lot of the veteran talent works. After going through this maze it’s hard not to think about the fact that there are two Pink’s Hot Dog Stands at Knott’s…mmmmm.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 Skulls
  • Theming: 5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4 Skulls

EXPERIENCES & SHOWS

Trapped: The New Experiment

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Unfortunately we paid $60 for this maze. Fortunately we were able to get a group of 5 to go in and split the costs. A disappointment compared to last year’s Trapped maze, this year’s version focused more on puzzle solving vs. suspense and scares.  It’s really a scripted scavenger hunt. The sets weren’t very dark and they relied on B-level talent to unnerve us by yelling profanities as loud as they can. In the end we were more unnerved by the feelings of dissatisfaction  from the experience. The designers of this maze need to watch less Fear Factor and see more Scare Tactics.  While the experience has some uniqueness to it, overall we think the only thing that gets trapped here, is your wallet.

Ratings:

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

The Witch’s Keep (Calico Mine Train)

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The Evil of CAL-OSHA has forever cursed Knott’s once great haunted rides. The log ride was a victim and now the Calico Mine Train is hanging on for dear life. This used to be a very scary attraction but ever since they haven’t been allowed to have live actors inside it’s become a place where you just sit there and see spooky stuff. There are just a couple of interesting animatronic and visual effects but unfortunately there’s nothing much to see here compared to the regular ride. It really is just as they say, a haunt experience. It’s also good place to sit and rest your legs for 10 minutes but not worth a waiting in a long line for especially if you’re looking for a scare.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2 Skulls
  • Theming: 2 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 0 Skull
  • Overall Rating: 2 Skulls

Elvira’s Sinema Seance 

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This show is two handfuls of fun. Of course everyone’s favorite ride at Knott’s Scary Farm is Elvira. Her big… return keeps the crowd alive with musical numbers, tongue in cleavge  jokes, and some high grade stage effects. This time around our Mistress of the Dark gets sucked (or is it the other way around) into scenes from classic and contemporary horror movies such as Blair Witch Project, The Birds, and Paranormal Activity. Also, not to ruin the fun but you can only imagine the kind of  booby trap she winds up in during a scene from Saw. Sinema Seance is a good as it gets when it come to Theme Park Halloween shows.  It’s a spooky and kooky Vegas style variety show that fully mounds, er rounds out Knott’s Haunt experience. We also have to give a hand to Elvira as she’s looking great and is back where she belongs during Halloween Season.

  • Overall Rating: 5 Skulls (racked… ranked by Elvira Fans)

 

Knott’s Scary Farm Overall Fright Value: 5 Skulls

Overall Rating of Knott’s Scary Farm 2013: 4 Skulls

Check our ratings guide for further details

Haunt Review: A New Playbook for Haunted Hollywood Sports?

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Last year, we honestly did not have a good experience at Haunted Hollywood Sports (HHS) new haunt. The event as a whole fell flat with unscary mazes, some long waits, and the sporadic opening and closing of mazes while we were waiting in the lines. The park’s operations issues (ticketing, parking, security, etc.) only made it much worse. We ended up leaving feeling mad and cheated.

With all that said, it was their first year and sometimes Haunts just don’t get it right the first time around. When Universal Hollywood reintroduced Halloween Horror Nights in 2006, it was less than impressive yet over the years it quickly emerged as one of the premier haunts in the country. Queen Mary’s haunt also nearly sank before they got on the right course with Dark Harbor.

This year the HHS team is striving to get it right and from the sounds of the early reviews from their media preview night, it seemed like they are well on their way. We appreciated hearing that they made efforts to improve their haunt and not weren’t just looking for a ways to make extra money during the Halloween season. We saw some positive buzz on Twitter that this year’s HHS “has rallied” and is now a “SoCal haunt experience worth the price of admission”. With all that said we do know that on preview nights the free admission, food, and drinks can entice reviewers feel less critical.

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We had some extra time on our scare-itineary and the HHS crew had invited us to out to check them out, so we decided to pay them another visit on their opening night. Upon arriving we once again had some issues with security. We were invited as “media”; however, that didn’t seem to matter to their crackpot security officers who gave us a very hard time about coming in with our cameras (and a keychain with a flashlight). After a few frustrating minutes of trying to explain that “media” includes cameras some of the park’s management stepped up and let us in (to the surprise of the “guards”). Like last year we see the untrained, ignorant, and self important security being an issue. We find it odd that cell phones (with cameras and flashlight apps) are ok but other cameras and keychain lights not. We understand that with it being a sports park that offers games with toy guns they need to be cautious. We would just suggest that they set up their security before the ticket booths (like Universal does) to make sure that the guests know the options of what they can and can’t bring into the park and then decide if they really want to play by the strict rules and buy a ticket or not. Had we not been escorted in we would of left after all that hassle. Unfortunately, this kind of hassle does set the tone and mood for patrons on how their evening will be. We walked in irritated but it did get a little better.

Once inside the front gate we were bombarded by monsters and ghouls who were trying so hard to scare us. It’s obvious that the talent here is much younger than that of Knott’s, Queen Mary, etc. They seem to be mostly in the high school age range and while they were very energetic their scare tactics came across as less menacing and more silly. The first impressions were that the park looked similar to last year and there were no dramatic changes. Then we were directed to go through a black curtain into a new scare zone tunnel called The Fog. It was a dark and fog filled passageway that was suspenseful to walkthrough but alas no scares materialized as we went through. From there we were in the center of the park where more monsters jumped in front of and followed us. For an opening night the crowds were not there leaving us and the handful of other guests at the mercy of the monsters.  After a look around to get a lay of the land we then made our way to the mazes…

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Mazes

Venom: Venture into an ancient temple, dodging deadly traps, navigating maze­ like labyrinths and surviving attacks from countless entities and venomous snakes. 

This maze had some interesting set designs and few good scares inside of it. It was a little unclear but we think the maze was a journey through a haunted Aztec temple. This maze isn’t designed for those who are claustrophobic as there are a few scenes where things get very tight. The passageway also follows a rather straight course so it was mainly conducive to the ‘monster around the corner’ kind of scares. Some of the talent were quite good at startling us. There were also some cool animatronic props and lighting effects used. Overall, this maze did demonstrate some invested improvements compared to their mazes last year and we actually went through it twice.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2 Skulls
  • Theming: 2 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 2.5 Skulls

All American Armageddon: In the not­too­distant future, global civilization has collapsed as panic and decay has swept across the Earth. Welcome to the end of the life as you know it where survival is a part of everyday existence.

We never though we never thought we would say this; this maze actually had too many scareactors inside of it. This is an outdoor maze and they make pretty good of the layout. in hindsight it’s a little hard to distinguish this maze from Cannibal Caverns as they both seem to have the same kind of monsters and people trying to hunt you down theme. The monsters in this maze did like to team up, no make that gang up on us as we ventured through.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 1.5 Skulls
  • Theming: 1.5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 1.5 Skulls

Cannibal Caverns: What happened to the Search and Rescue team? Are the caverns and fallouts shelters truly abandoned or are they home to an unspeakable and insatiable evil? Uncover the answers with your team and solve the mystery of the missing Search and Rescue team.

The wait to get in was irritatingly slow as they were only sending in small groups of 2-4 person in every 2-3 minutes. The guests waiting with us were obviously annoyed by the long waits with there being such a small crowd. With large gaps there was no question that once inside the monsters were going to be paying us a lot of unwanted attention. Unlike last year, the maze had a tighter course that packed a lot of set pieces and cannibalistic monsters into the space. This maze had a couple of standout scares such as the machete wielding maniac. His machetes are real and come perhaps a tad to close for comfort.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 1.5 Skulls
  • Theming: 1.5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 2 Skulls

 

Killhouses 

Our access didn’t include the Killhouses so we didn’t get to see those but we do the Evil Axis shooting range.  The Killhouse concept seems cool enough and the tweets indicate that these may be the highlights of the park.  We just can’t help but to feel a little sorry for the poor scareactors inside who have to get shot at all night.

Evil Axis Shooting Range: Killhouses too intense for you? Need a little target practice before you battle the undead? Look no further, EVIL AXIS is perfect for you. Select your weapon of choice, ammo ­up, and take aim in this one­ of ­a­ kind shooting range. 

Unfortunately when we arrived this attraction was suffering from some operational and line control issues. Once inside we got to pick up Air-soft guns and  start shooting away at targets, We think protective clothing, at least eye wear, should be given out for the range as the BB pellets were  precariously ricocheting back at us.

Dead Man’s Trail Killhouse: Navigate the Deadman’s Trail through a thick, war­torn jungle of a plagued Pacific island. Facing an unknown threat on unfamiliar land, band together and survive the onslaught of undead natives, soldiers and other mysterious forces.

Zombie Killhouse: Haunted Hollywood Sports is home to the famous “Zombie Killhouse”. Returning ­ bigger and better, visitors will fight against hordes of vicious zombies in hopes to survive the latest in biological outbreaks.

Voodoo Killhouse: Making its return for 2013, the Voodoo Killhouse pits park goers against an onslaught of paranormal beings foretold by the local Shaman.

Scare Zones

Carnival of the Damned: The show has just started and these clowns and circus freaks running this dark bit top are always looking for a few new recruits to join their demented ranks. These clowns may have smiles on their faces…but its only to hide their twisted true intentions once you are within reach!

Outpost Z: The last salvation for humanity starts here. An outpost struggles to keep civilized nature alive and the undead at bay.

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Additional Thrills

Club Crimson (Ages 18+): An 18 and over nightclub and lounge for weary travelers to relax, have fun, enjoy a drink, and dance to some of Southern California’s hottest DJ’s spinning the hottest tracks, rare­grooves, and your favorite mash­ups! With scheduled celebrity guest performances and appearances, Club Zing is the perfect place to get turned­up and have fun in this 2 story nightclub complete with arcade games, pool tables, smoking patio and your favorite drinks!

Suicide Rock: Are you ready to challenge your date or your friends at Haunted Hollywood Sports? Put your raw skills, strength, and courage to the test with our insane 40 foot high Rock Climbing Wall! With 7 different climbing stations to fit your skill level, take a deep breath before you scale our Suicide Rock.’

 

 Repass

In summary, HHS did make a comeback this season which for us is in relation to coming back from a buried skull status. The cast is young and ready to scare which is a very  good thing they have going for them. They also provide the distinctive combo of haunted mazes and zombie “Killhouses”. Running from ghouls and shooting at zombies makes this a uniquely high action haunted attraction. We think that if they continue to improve on what they already have the haunt can eventually emerge as one of the popular SoCal Haunts. We just think it will take a another season or so for them to perfect it. The direction of success that they end up going will all rely on the willingness to further invest, tighten up the operations, and pay attention to customer feedback. We won’t say that this is the haunt to choose if you only plan to see one this season but we also could never imagine why you’d pick just one.

Haunted Hollywood Sports Fright Value: 2.5 Skulls

Overall Rating of Haunted Hollywood Sports 2013: 1.5 Skulls

Check our ratings guide for further details

Event Info
Dates of the Event: October 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 31′
Hours: 7:30pm to Midnight           
Price: $29.99
WEBSITE

Haunt Profiles: Haunted Hayrides

With the Season of the Witch only days away, we’ll start taking a  look at the popular culture and history behind some of our favorite halloween traditions and haunt themes. Tonight’s Haunt profile takes a look at a classic fall tradition and  haunt favorite, the haunted hayride.

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A hayride is a pleasure ride in an open truck, wagon or sleigh which has been decorated with hay or straw and similar farm life paraphernalia. In modern times it is usually organized commercially and takes place at night.In colloquial English, the term “hayride” has taken on connotations of “good, clean fun” but also of nostalgia, hence the popular expressions “… is no hayride” or “… ain’t no hayride”. The peak time for hayrides is between September and December. While the history of how hayrides started is uncertain, it’s easy to guess that it had something to do with harvesting the hay during fall.

An autumn tradition for centuries, countless kids and adults look forward with great anticipation to the coming of fall so they can participate in this time-honored activity. Why? Because hayrides are more than just sitting atop dried grass while you’re pulled along a dusty, dirt road. Like a country version of a New York City carriage ride through Central Park, hayrides offer a time to snuggle close, enjoy the outdoor scenery, chat and have some fun.

As Haunt Season approaches hayrides take on a more sinister type of nostalgia as they become vehicles to transport hapless victims into dark woods filled with maniacs and ghouls. The experience of vulnerability is amplified as your confined space gets invaded by the creatures of the night. Riding on the open wagon, there’s nowhere to hide as scares descend upon you and your fellow riders from every possible angle, they can even come from up above.

In our Haunt Stalking we’ve found that some of the most elaborate and intense Haunted Hayrides are based on the east coast, in Pennsylvania and New York in particular. Here’s a look at what we’ve found – some we’ve even experienced can truthfully testify that they are the best Haunted Hayrides in America.

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America’s Best Haunted Hayrides

1. Headless Horseman, Ulster, New York *SZ Review*

2. Bates Motel, Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania

3. Shocktoberfest, Reading, Pennsylvania

4. Field of Screams, Mountville, Pennsylvania

5. Jason’s Woods, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

 

 

Scare Zone is looking forward to our upcoming East Coast Haunt tour where we plan to experience one of our all time favorites Headless Horseman, and for the first time ever, Bates Motel. Look for our Haunt Review… if we survive.

Hayride Terror Tips:

1) Take an allergy pill if you’re allergic to grass, straw, hay, etc. – it’s real.

2) Don’t wear your Sunday’s best as you’ll inevitability be covered in hay

3) Check the weather forecast and dress warmly as the air can be deathly chill on autumn evenings

4) For the best experience and scares try to sit on the back edge of the wagon. Chickens can find minimal comfort sitting up closer to the tractor

5) Arrive when they open as lines for hayrides can get long and move slowly as they typically only send out wagons every 5-10 minutes apart.

Haunt Profile & Reviews: Reindeer Manor Abusement Park (TX)

Halloween in Texas is a Scary Good Time ! And as we get closer to that time of year again we’ll soon start to feel the cool breeze in the air, the eerie clouds above the city and the beautiful autumn leaves flowing in the wind. Who are we kidding? In Texas, itʼs 90 degrees in October with maybe a few days of a brisk cool night if weʼre lucky. Nonetheless, Dallas is a thriving Mecca for Halloween. Everything from theater productions, themed orchestra performances, pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving contests, harvest festivals, costume contests, organized trick or treating and haunted houses.

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After attending HauntCon earlier this year we can honestly say that Dallas is one of the largest haunted house markets in the entire country, and now with Halloween being the second largest celebrated time of the year, itʼs no wonder why people travel the distances they do to visit the many haunted attractions Dallas provides. One such place is Reindeer Manor Abusement Park. Reindeer Manor is one of the few attractions in Dallas with a true haunted past. So much that in the off season they host a number of paranormal tours for the many ghost hunting groups in Texas. Is it haunted? Well, you’ll have to visit and find out for yourself.

Nestled in the back country of a small Texas town named Red Oak. Now in itʼs 40th Season, itʼs a property rich in atmosphere and with no shortage of fear. Your journey to Reindeer Manor begins with a long creepy, winding trek down a quarter mile dirt road surrounded by trees, reminiscent of something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You park your car and are promptly loaded into a tractor pulling hayride that takes you far, far away from the safety of your vehicle. Through the dimly lit trees and cool air, your ride soon emerges into Texasʼ very own dose of fall with a trip around the complex revealing a sneak peak at each of the three attractions taunting you of the fear to come. 13th Street Morgue, Dungeon Of Doom and Reindeer Manor Haunted Houses provide a full night of entertainment while immersing you into the historical and well documented haunted past of this very spooky place.

Reindeer Manor Abusement Park has received such high ranks as 13th Street Morgueʼs readers choice award, Dungeon Of Doom twice being named Dallas Observerʼs “Best Haunted House in the DFW Metroplex” and Reindeer Manor being featured in several newspaper publications, e-zines, magazines and DVDʼs including “Halloween: The Happy Haunting Of America”.

 

Haunt Review: 13th Street Morgue 

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IMG_1802Of the three attractions at Reindeer Manor Abusement Park, 13TH Street Morgue was our favorite. It was non-stop scary with a consistent theming throughout it’s indoor, outdoor, upstairs and downstairs settings.  The details inside are incredibly realistic with cobwebs everywhere and aged prop pieces. Even small details, like the wall paintings, window dressings,  meticulously placed furniture and  knick-knacks make the place believably haunted.

This is also one of the few haunted house attractions that knows how produce unique and believably threatening scares. The scareactors were top-notch with a mix of serious character actors and acrobatic performers who all go out of their way to scare you to death. Their timing is perfect and they all stay in character.  The haunt also employs special effects but only subtly so no to become distractions from the authentically creepy atmospheres.

We have to say that if you’re in the Dallas, Texas area during Haunt Season. You need to make the trip out to experience this haunted attraction. It is the epitome of the Haunted House experience.

 

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 skulls
  • Theming: 5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
  • Fright Value: 5 skulls

Overall Rating of 13th Street Morgue: 5 Skulls

Haunt Review: Dungeon of Doom

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Dungeon of Doom is slightly shorter (but still long compare to standard haunts) and and less elaborate than 13th Street Morgue. This haunted house has more sporadic scenes with less consistent theming. It seemed to have everything that would “cause your doom” featured inside. This maze had more generic scenery  and scare tactics but it still kept the scare factor at an intense level and is a strong compliment to the 13th Street Morgue.
There were some nice effects such as a passage way with strobe lights that gave the illusion of  moving walls. There was also an odd effect with a spinning  platform that is hard to navigate, especially when a ghoul begins to chase you. They also used air guns, a jackhammer, and of course a chainsaw in some of the mazes most startling scenes. The big scares could mainly be attributed to the very eager scareactors “popping out” versus any kind suspense which we encountered inside the 13th Street Mourge. Inside the dungeon we had monsters sneaking up behind us, banging on walls, screaming at us, taunting us, and even touching us. Some of the performers took their acts to levels past PG-13 (which we don’t mind) but it could make other Haunt Stalkers feel sheepish.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3.5 skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
  • Fright Value: 5 skulls

Overall Rating of Dungeon of Doom: 4 Skulls

 

2013 Haunt Season Information

Dates:Sept. 28th, October 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 31, November 1, 2 and encore performances November 9th

Hours: Fridays 8:00pm-12:30am, Saturdays 7:00pm-12:30am, Select Sunday and Halloween 7:00pm-10:00pm

Location: 410 Houston School Rd. Red Oak, Texas 75154

Cost: $35 Adult Combo Ticket, $17 Child Combo Ticket. Admits entrance to all three attractions. Coupons available online

Websites: texashaunt.com, reindeermanor.com

Special Event:

Holiday in the Dark, Sunday October 27th. Experience all three haunted attractions in complete darkness with only one glow stick to light your way. Three Attractions, One Glow Stick, Total Darkness. Open 7pm-10pm

Universal’s HHN Gets Deader

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This year’s HHN themes are featuring a lot of  cabins and now a lot of the dead. HHN Orlando and Hollywood have announced (to no real surprise) that AMC’s The Walking Dead will be returning this year to stalk the living in all new mazes based on the show’s 3rd season.

In addition to the maze, all of the Scare Zones throughout HHN Orlando will be themed to The Walking Dead. Various sets will be placed around the park to recreate scenes from the entire world of The Walking Dead.

For Hollywood, The Walking Dead will also once again terrorize the Terror Tram.  Due to space restraints in the upper lot, we’ve heard that a new maze will be placed in the lower backlot in the area up in between the Collapsing Bridge and Flash Flood Tram Tour attractions. If this area indeed will be used we think The Walking Dead would fit in there nicely and would provide  an long awaited change to the Terror Tram experience. From Google Maps we can see that the area has a small town set which looks like an ideal setting for the West Georgia Correctional Facility, the Town of Woodbury, and the woods in between.

Last year we were able to go to both HHN events and experience their respective versions of The Walking Dead: Dead Inside mazes. Overall we found Hollywood’s to be superior with scares and theming, with Orlando’s having slightly better design elements. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s Walking Dead Terror Tram experience was a bust. We hope that for this year they can increase the intensity of the Walking Dead  mazes and experiences. We think it’s possible since last season had more terrifying situations and settings (such as the Governor’s aquarium room and zombie pit) for them to work with compared to the previous ones.

Here’s look back our 2012 The Walking Dead: Dead Inside maze reviews

The Walking Dead: Hollywood

We think “Season Premiere, Sunday, Oct 14th on AMC” is also a part of the title. This is one of the mazes that blatantly promotes the property it’s based on with tune-in messaging plastered all over the maps, signage, and just about everywhere else. We’re surprised they didn’t have a room with “OCT 14th” painted all over the walls. The maze is set up to take victims through the post-apocalyptic world of theThe Walking Dead television series, where we follow in the footsteps of the show’s human survivors, making our way from the devastated suburban hospital, through the streets of Atlanta, to the remote countryside, where we then make the bad decision to seek refuge in the barn. For fans of the series, there were some recognizable scenes and characters, including the “bicycle lady” and the “God forgive us” victims. The makeup on the scareactors was impeccable, and given how hot it was this night, we really give credit to the scareactors who kept their energy up in this maze. Some of the set pieces were cool but not specifically unique, and of course we noticed that a few set pieces were redressed from previous mazes such as The Thing and Friday the 13th, but we can’t hold that against them.  There were a few good scares in this maze, which used Universal’s signature “strobe-and-sound startle” scare effect. The effect did seem to be overused in this maze, and after the third scare, the effect started to become redundant and predictable. It seemed as if they were relying on it too heavily, with most of the scares in this maze really being the typical monster popping out of a dark corner. The finale scene of the maze wasn’t necessarily scary but still one of the most climactic of all the mazes and a nice showcase of HHN’s makeup and scareactor talent.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3.5 skulls
  • Theming: 4 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 skulls

Overall Rating*: 3.5 skulls 

Terror Tram: Invaded by The Walking Dead

The Zombie Apocalypse that started in Atlanta, Georgia, has spread to the West Coast, and now the famous Universal backlot is teeming with hordes of “Walkers.” However, the real “Walkers” are us, as we stumble through a giant crowd of people and climb up the dark and very dusty “terror trail,” which really just feels like you’re in line to get back on the tram. One of our HHN Virgins asked if this were the Jenny Craig Workout maze!

Over the years, for repeat haunt stalkers like us, the Terror Tram has become a flatlined attraction. The one exception may have been in 2009, when they first expanded the layout with the Halloween (Michael Myers) and My Bloody Valentine overlays. Despite having different themes, the Terror Tram always ends up being the exact same experience year after year. Instead of Chucky or Ghostface, this year we have zombies roaming around the Bates Motel, the backlot hillside, and the War of the Worlds set.  They did add the novelty of being able to take a photo with Norman Bates in front of the Psycho House, but it is just another 10+ minute line to stand in, and in previous years we found it easy to take a quick picture without this formal setup.

On the actual tram, we also “get to” watch commercials for the new season of show, premiering on Sunday Oct. 14th (in case you’ve forgotten) as you ride to and from the backlot. We recommend saving the Terror Tram for one of the last things you do aside from Universal’s Monster Remix, but do keep in mind it closes earlier on Thursday and Sunday nights. And if you’re running out of time, this could be one attraction to skip altogether.

Ratings:

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

 Overall Rating*: 1 skull  

The Walking Dead: Orlando

Just like Hollywood’s version this maze blatantly promoted the show with tune-in messaging plastered all over the maps, signage, and just about everywhere else. While waiting in line, they played highlights from the previous season along with reminders to tune in which we had plenty of time to watch as this was a maze with a 30 minuted posted wait time that ended up being a whopping 75 minutes.

The maze is very similar to Hollywood’s, taking victims through the post-apocalyptic world of the television series, where we follow in the footsteps of the show’s human survivors, making our way from the devastated suburban hospital, through the streets of Atlanta, to the remote countryside, where we end up in an old barn. While the zombie’s makeup was impeccable and had the look of the show, there weren’t as many recognizable characters like we saw in Hollywood. Due to this maze being so “popular” the crowds were packed inside and it became difficult to tell the zombies a part from the guests, further minimizing the scare factor.  There were a lot of scares using  Universal’s signature “strobe-and-sound startle” scare effect and like  Hollywood the effect was overused becoming quickly predictable and almost annoying. There were also many predictable scares with zombies always popping out of a corner. Again, there were just too many people inside which prevented the  experience from becoming to scary and in this category, Hollywood wins. We did like the department store scene where zombies were lurking among the racks of clothes. However, outside of this scene the rest of maze was pretty forgettable.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2.5 skulls
  • Theming: 3 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1.5 skulls

Overall Rating*: 2 skulls 

Haunt Review: Knott’s Scary Farm 40th Haunt

For the past few years, we’ve been “a little critical” of Knott’s Scary Farm, which seemed to be falling behind as newer and more innovative haunts have populated the Southern California area. However, this year, there’s no mistaking that the venerable Haunt is back and ready to prove that there’s still more to fear inside the Scary Farm. We won’t call it a comeback because they’ve been haunting for 40 years, but this year Knott’s Scary Farm presents one of the most fun, nostalgic, and most importantly, scary Halloween Haunts we’ve experienced there in years.

In addition to being Knott’s 40th, this year marked the 20th anniversary of when the Scare Zone crew started haunt stalking together, and Knott’s was the first haunt we went to, beginning our obsession. So, on this trip, we went with a sense of nostalgia, reminiscing about mazes such as Uncle Ernie’s Madhouse, Lair of the Vampire, Terror Mountain, Toxichem, and Mother Noose’s Scary Tales, all of which  frightened us and haunted our imaginations.

Knott’s Scary Farm 1992 Map

Looking back to 1992, admission cost us $28, they had 8 mazes and attractions, Elvira was headlining her own show (“Red, White, and Boo Revue”), and Haunt ran for “only” 11 nights.  Now, 20 years later, admission “only” cost us $36 (Sunday night early in the season), they have 13 mazes, 3 scare zones, and Magician Ed Alonzo is the headliner.

To further help us reminisce, this year also features the 40th haunt Museum which offers a satisfying tribute to Haunt for the fans. Inside, there’s pictures and memorabilia highlighting some of haunt’s most memorable and scare-breaking moments. We were lucky enough to stop in during a signing by Ted Dougherty of his new book, Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt: A Picture History. As a side note, this book is must have for all Haunt Fans as it includes accounts and pictures from all the mazes, monsters and shows from Scary Farm’s 40 years.

Another cool addition for 2012 is an opening “scare-amony” featuring the Green Witch just outside the Haunt front gates. Because we followed our terror tips and arrived early, we were there to see the Green Witch rise up out of the fog and curse us all before the gates opened. It was really cool and prepared us for the new “theatrical” tone Haunt has adopted this year.

After the exciting opening act we ventured into the Scary Farm for the 20th time…

NEW MAZES

We do our best not to spoil the mazes for those who’ve yet to experience them, so we won’t provide scare-by-scare reviews, but we will share highlights and our overall opinions from our own experiences in the mazes.

Trick Or Treat

It’s strange when you think about it, but mazes themed to the actual holiday of Halloween are pretty rare. So we were very excited when the theme of this maze was revealed earlier this summer. And it did not disappoint: This maze was chock full of Halloween spirit.

The maze begins at the front door of the Green Witch’s house, where we were told to ring the doorbell and yell “Trick or Treat!” The door opens, and the Green Witch is there to greet us. Jack-O-Lanterns line the staircase, and the front rooms have special ghostly effects. The maze has a “haunted mansion” feel to it, and the Tricksters show up in various rooms along the way. You may recognize many of the sets from 13 Axe Murder Manor, but they fit in very well with the new theme.

This maze was much more theatrical than any other maze at Haunt. The Green Witch is a true character, and the Tricksters stop you in the end scene so you can be cursed by the Witch herself. Overall, the scares were a little weak, but we loved the atmosphere and story line.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 skulls
  • Theming: 5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3 skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls

Pinocchio: Unstrung

He has no strings to hold him down, so you better watch out… This maze is on a new level for Knott’s Scary Farm. This is the kind of maze we’ve been screaming for, no lie! It has beautifully detailed sets, a full and understandable story line, and some new scare tactics. Past haunters will notice that the layout is the same as the former Doll Factory and there’s the similar scene of marionette girls moving in an disjointed fashion; however, the rest of the maze is an entirely new experience. The entire setting feels like walking through a bloody, after hours, version of Disneyland’s Pinocchio ride.

Just as Mother Noose’s Scary Tales did 20 years ago, Pinocchio successfully twists the popular children’s story in a way that makes its feel as if we were trapped inside a dark storybook nightmare. What’s unsettling about the maze is how the once innocent characters are now placed into scenes of distress, gore, and horror. It’s rather tragic to see Gepetto, Stromboli, and the Blue Fairy meet their fates at the hands of a torturous wooden puppet who instead of becoming a real boy now wants to be a real killer.

This maze is not to be missed. We think it’s an instant Haunt classic. You really should go through it at least twice, in order to be able to fully take in all the scenes and first-class set and prop designs. We look forward to being terrorized by Pinocchio in the years to come.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 skulls
  • Theming: 5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 skulls 
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls

Dominion of the Dead

After the demise of Club Blood and a brief respite from vampire mazes, Knott’s has brought back this “beloved” maze from the 90s. Unfortunately, we have fonder memories of 1992’s Lair of the Vampire. This maze has nothing fresh to offer, and the concept is as dead and tired as the fiddle-playing vampires lazily wandering around the halls inside.

This maze has all the old cliches about vampires: frilly shirts with ruffles, dying flowers in fancy vases, decadent furniture covered in velvet, paintings of vampires lying around on said furniture, etc., etc. The vampires stand around playing string instruments that are partly composed of human body parts. Before Haunt opened, we kept hearing how “detailed” this maze was going to be. However, it did not live up to this hype. Many of the walls were bare, with only a couple of vampire paintings thrown on for scenery.

If you’re a 12-year-old who loves Anne Rice novels or Twilight, this maze is probably for you. For the rest of us, it’s a boring trek through scenes we’ve experienced countless times in other vampire mazes.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2.5 skulls
  • Theming: 3 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 skull
  • Overall Rating: 2 skulls

The Evil Dead

Twenty years ago, the Timber Mountain Log ride was transformed into Terror Mountain. The mountain was filled with monsters and scenes of carnage throughout. It was a very scary ride as riders felt vulnerable sitting the the open logs with monsters attacking from every direction. In recent years, the log ride hasn’t been nearly as scary. You could count all of the monsters on one hand, and the haunt props were scarce. Early in the year, we had heard that the ride wasn’t getting a haunt layover; however, at the end of the summer, there was a surprise announcement that it was being themed as The Evil Dead for haunt.

We were excited to see the Evil Dead being featured at Knott’s, and believed the log ride was the perfect setting for this theme. To our disappointment, this ride ended up not featuring much in terms of a haunt layover. There was a slight increase in the number of monsters and a few new props such as the infamous “Book of the Dead.” But it’s obvious that the CAL-OSHA crackdown on monsters being stationed along the flume and management’s push to keep haunt from interfering with the experience of day-time guests have taken their toll. Outside of the soundtrack and a few nods to some iconic scenes in the movie, the ride really could of been any haunted cabin in the woods type of theme. It also didn’t have any kind of consistent story line as they just made the scenes fit wherever they could along the flume and in the mountain.

Furthermore, we were a little disappointed that this ride wasn’t really based on the classic Evil Dead movies. Instead, it promoted the upcoming 2013 remake. It really seems that this was a last-minute addition made to secure some sponsorship dollars. We still like think the log ride is a fun attraction–just don’t go on it expecting an intense or elaborate haunt experience  We also recommend that you get on it early in the evening before the lines get too long.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design:2 
  • Theming: 2
  • Scare Factor: 2
  • Overall Rating:2

Trapped

This was Knott’s first VIP/up-charge maze and a complete departure from their standard conga-line maze format. This maze costs $60 (for up to 6 people) and requires a reservation in advance. When we arrived at our reservation time, we were asked to read and sign a waiver. After we signed, we were ushered into a holding room, where we received more warnings from a personable hostess. We really didn’t know what to expect from this new “experience,” so we were a bit nervous.

Of course, we’re not actually going to tell you what goes on inside; after all, if you’re going to pay $60, you should get the full experience and be surprised. We can tell you that you’ll have to solve puzzles to progress through the maze, and there will be some uncomfortable experiences along the way. The actors inside are much different from other actors in the regular mazes: they are playing actual speaking roles and do a great job of staying in character as they interact with you. They’re there to help you figure out what to do in order to move onto the next room. Some of the puzzles were harder to solve than others, but the whole experience ended up taking us only 15 minutes to get through. Unfortunately, we didn’t find it to be very scary, but it was a very fun experience. We wished it were just a tiny bit longer–maybe just 2 more rooms would’ve made the $60 seem a bit more of a value. Nevertheless, we applaud their innovation with this concept and really hope they bring this back next year.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3.5 skulls
  • Overall Rating: 3.5 skulls

RETURNING MAZES

Delirium

Back for its second year, Delirium is an indirect sequel to the past Asylum mazes, where now we’re going inside the mind of one of the demented patients. The entrance is amazingly elaborate where we have to enter the “mouth of madness” and then pass through the stomach of the bloody beast.  This opening scene features enlarged animated eyes, teeth and claws reaching for you, and it really draws you into Delirium’s nightmarish dimensions.

Once inside, we encountered many disturbing scenes, which included people spewing cockroaches, monstrously large flesh-eating maggots, and hideously bloody monsters hiding under the beds. This maze also featured some of most interesting lighting effects and props.

Delirium was once again one of the better mazes at Haunt. We love the nightmare/dementia theme that gets progressively more twisted as the maze progresses. This one will likely be around for a few more years, so we hope they can change up or add a few more scenes next year.

Ratings:

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

 Terror of London

This maze has a good mix of monsters who are there to scare and those who’s presence is simply to add to the eerie atmosphere. Our favorite moment was in the outdoor graveyard where we encountered a surprisingly new and loud scare.  We liked the extended brothel and sewer scenes. And per our review last year, we like that in the final scene they switched out the Dr. Frankenstein laboratory for a dark and bloody torture chamber, which better fits with the proceeding scenes. We believe that maze may have a couple more years of “death” left in it at KSF.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 Skulls
  • Theming: 4 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 2.5 Skulls
  • Overall Rating:3.5 Skulls

Uncle Willy’s Slaughterhouse

Last year, our review of Slaughterhouse had this advice: “If Knott’s decides to continue Farmer Willy’s mayhem, which they probably will, they should redesign the layout, improve the lighting effects and props, and bring in more real-life victims.” This year, Knott’s has completely fulfilled all our requests. This maze was totally redesigned, and even though it’s shorter than before, we feel that it’s a vast improvement on an old theme. The maze has a much darker tone, and although the opening scene in the diner is a bit comical, the laughs end there. Inside the “Slaughterhouse” portion of the maze, the sets and actors are much more menacing than in previous years, and the monsters were able to scare us many times. Overall, this maze was one of the highlights of our night as it reminded us of another Scary Farm uncle named Ernie, who terrorized us 20 years ago.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4.5 skulls
  • Theming: 4.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 skulls

Dia De Los Muertos in 3D

This maze has been changed a bit this year, although the changes are not very major. They did add some street scenes with a more enclosed feeling, but unfortunately the monsters (and hence scares) were once again absent. For most fans, this is one of the least favorite mazes of Haunt, and nothing much has improved in 2012. The colors and 3D effects are interesting, and there are also some very cool looking scenes, like the church, graveyard, Amazon jungle, and Aztec sacrifice temple. However, there’s just something about this maze that prevents the monsters from ever really scaring anyone. We hope the Dead can rest next year and something new can take the place of this maze.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2.5 Skulls 
  • Theming: 3.5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 Skull
  • Overall Rating: 2 Skulls

Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre in 3D

It’s time for Uncle Bobo to pack up his Big Top and move onto the next town! This maze has worn out its welcome.  There have been a few changes since last year, but nothing worth writing about. As the years go on, Uncle Bobo’s has become almost entirely overtaken by toilet humor. We didn’t think they could put MORE flatulence and excrement into this maze, but it appears they have. It seems the clowns have completely given up on attempting to scare anyone and now merely shake their asses in sync with the farting soundtrack all night. Please, Knott’s, we beg you to flush this one!

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2 skulls
  • Theming: 2 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 skull
  • Overall Rating: 1.5  skulls

Virus Z (Featuring Carrie)

When this maze debuted in 2010, it was notable for its more elaborate sets and the sense of place it created. The maze had a coherent story, and it lacked the black walls and empty spaces that filled some of Knott’s other mazes. Creating more detailed and interesting mazes has been Knott’s new direction for the past few years (most likely in response to competition from Halloween Horror Nights), and we love to see them taking that route. And that is why we were completely baffled by the half-assed tie-in with the Carrie remake they tacked on at the very end of this maze.

We have no idea why or how Carrie White has come to be in a town infected with a zombie-creating virus in the 1960s. They did attempt to expand the school scenes to perhaps create more of a flow with the Carrie story, but it just doesn’t work. It’s so obviously a marketing gimmick–and for that reason it distracts from an otherwise interesting maze. Whoever came up with this lame promotional deal should have a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on his head.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3 skulls
  • Theming: 1 skull (for nonsensical Carrie tie-in)
  • Scare Factor: 3 skulls
  • Overall Rating: 2.5 skulls

Fallout Shelter

This maze bares some resemblance to the 1992 Toxichem maze, which featured radiated and toxic mutant monsters. There was a slight improvement to this maze over last year’s version. Once again, we were the only ones inside, so we received the monsters’ full attention. This maze does have some extraordinary animatronic props, and it’s very claustrophobic in sections. The problem with Fallout Shelter is that the story isn’t coherent and the theme is hard to get. In addition, it’s considered a 3D maze, but the 3D effects are minimal, so it’s hard to tell if there was anything that was really supposed to be in 3D. If anything, the 3D glasses merely cause a sense of disorientation, which makes everything a bit fuzzy and actually does contribute to the fear. But if this maze does return next year, we’d like to see some more props and a bit more 3D effects.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 Skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 4 Skulls

Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse  

A new maze for 2011, Endgames was inspired (loosely) by the Hunger Games book series. Most of the maze has a standard post-apocalyptic, industrial feel with a bit of gore mixed in, but the twist to this maze is the addition of video screens throughout. The screens show live feeds of people walking through other parts of the mazes, which would be a great way to heighten the suspense…if those other people were getting scared. Crowds were light on the night we attended, so there wasn’t much action on the video screens. The feed is also streamed live on the Internet, but the live feed is filled with commercials, so if you have friends watching for you in the maze, they might miss you. But we do appreciate the addition of the interactive video effect. We see some potential in this maze as the years progress. Overall, we didn’t find it to be too scary, but the sets were pretty detailed and interesting.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 4 Skulls
  • Theming: 3 Skulls
  • Scare Factor: 1 Skulls
  • Overall Rating: 2.5 Skulls

SCARE ZONES

Ghost Town: This is a Knott’s classic, and after 20 years, walking through the fog-filled streets doesn’t stop being a nerve-wracking  good time!

  • Scare Factor: 5 Skulls

Carnevil: Some disturbing antics from the Crazy Killer Clowns who are on the loose in the streets. These guys are fun and not very scary, but they are engaging with guests and full of pranks. These are also some of the biggest hams and will eagerly pose for your pictures.

  • Scare Factor: 1.5 Skulls

The Necropols: This is scare zone features Victorian Steampunk vampires in the most elaborate costumes of all the scare zones. Due to changes in Knott’s haunt operating policies the settings in this area were more sparse but the the monsters were still aggressively scary. They were even scaring people who dared to look down to text or who were walking out of the bathrooms (then having to go back in).

  • Scare Factor: 4 Skulls

Calico Mine Train – Curse of the Green Witch: This isn’t a scare zone, and it’s not a maze/attraction…we don’t really know where to classify this one. It didn’t even make it onto the park map this year, and we heard that there were no effects in the ride on opening weekend. However, we were glad to see that they have added a few Haunt elements to this attraction. Similar to the log ride, recent regulations from CAL-OSHA have now prevented actors from working in this attraction, so everything inside is just props or special effects. As you proceed through the ride, the driver of the mine cart tells the story of how the Green Witch was exiled from the town of Timber Mountain and took up residence inside the mine, where she cast her spell over the miners to do her bidding. The animatronic miners wear strange masks (e.g., a bunny mask, a bird mask), and there are a couple of Green Witch and skeleton props as well. The open cavern scene includes the return of the spinning ghosts and a pretty cool shadow effect of the Green Witch. While it’s sad that the Calico Mine Train, which housed some of the scariest mazes in years long past, will no longer be able to contain live actors, we’re glad that Knott’s still did something with this ride. And the story tie-in with the Green Witch was actually pretty cool. We recommend checking this out if the line is short.

  • Scare Factor: 1 skull

REPASS

There’s no question that Knott’s is still the “worlds largest and scariest Halloween party.” What differentiates Knott’s from Universal is that it creates a complete feeling of Halloween throughout the park. Where else can you actually get a mask and go trick or treating inside the haunt? They also offer the most variety of themes, shows, and attractions, where you’ll find everything from traditional Halloween ghouls to modern-day, adrenaline-pumping blood and gore, and everything in between.

This year, we may have been more nostalgic, but we can honestly say that we found the mazes to be scarier and more elaborate. There’s still some improvements that can be made, but Knott’s Scary Farm really is a cultural phenomenon, and we’re glad to see it coming back with a vengeance to retain its crown as the granddaddy of all haunts. There’s no longer a question that they’ll continue to reign over Halloween for 40 more years and beyond.

 Knott’s Scary Farm Fright Value: 5 Skulls 

Overall Rating of Knott’s Scary Farm 2012: 4.5 Skulls

Check our ratings guide for further details

Scare Zone’s 2011 Top Haunts

Well, the 2011 season is over, so it’s time to rank the best that we Stalked! 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. For this reason, the Scare Zone writers will be providing separate rankings.

Also, while we did visit quite a few great haunts across the country throughout the year, please note that we’re only ranking the haunts we visited in California and Nevada during the “official” Haunt Season (September – October). For a list of all the places we visited and to read our full reviews, please click here.

Now, on to our 2011 Top Haunts   

*Maze also refers to an individual haunted house or walk-through attraction.   

 

M. Leota’s Haunt Rankings

Best Maze Design (lighting, sound, FX):

1. Haunted Play Presents Delusion (Los Angeles, CA)

2. La Llorona (Halloween Horror Nights, Hollywood)

3. Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA)

 

Best Maze Theme (consistent story/setting):

1. Haunted Play Presents Delusion

2. La Llorona (HHN Hollywood)

3. Castle Vampyre (Freakling Bros.)

 

Best Individual Scene in a Maze:

1. “Hallway/bathroom scene”: Haunted Play Presents Delusion

2. “Flying Vampire”: Castle Vampyre (Freakling Bros.)

3. “Cockroach room”: Delirium (Knott’s Halloween Haunt, Buena Park, CA)

 

Best Maze Name:

1. La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas (HHN Hollywood)

2. Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse (Knott’s Halloween Haunt)

3. Gates of Hell (Freakling Bros.)

 

Best Scare-Actors:

1. Circus of Horrors (Freakling Bros.)

2. Haunted Play Presents Delusion

3. Gates of Hell (Freakling Bros.)

 

Highest Scare Factor:

1. Tie: Castle Vampyre, Gates of Hell, Circus of Horrors (Freakling Bros.)

2. The Thing (HHN Hollywood)

3. Sinister Pointe (Brea, CA)

 

Most Improved Maze (compared with  2010):

1. Lockdown: The Asylum (Knott’s Halloween Haunt)

2. Hellfire (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor)

 

Best New Maze for 2011:

1. La Llorona (HHN Hollywood)

2. Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House)

3. Delirium (Knott’s Halloween Haunt)

 

Best Overall Maze of 2011:

1. Tie: Circus of Horrors, Castle Vampyre, Gates of Hell (Freakling Bros.)

2. La Llorona (HHN Hollywood)

3. Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House)

 

Best Haunt Scare Zone:

1. Ghost Town (Knott’s Halloween Haunt)

2. Necropolis (Knott’s Halloween Haunt)

3. The Barricades (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor)

 

Most Unique Haunt Experience:

1. Gates of Hell (Freakling Bros.)

2. Haunted Play Presents Delusion

3. Ghost Ship (Newport Beach, CA)

 

Best Value Haunt:

1. Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror (especially for the $10 fast pass t-shirt)

2. Knott’s Halloween Haunt

3. Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA)

 

Top 2011 Stand Alone Haunt

Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror

Top 2011 Theme Park Haunt

Halloween Horror Nights, Hollywood

 

Matt E. Horn’s Haunt Rankings

Best Maze Design (lighting, sound, FX):

1. La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas (HHN Hollywood)

2. Haunted Play Presents: Delusion 

3. Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House)

 

Best Maze Theme (consistent story/setting):

1. Haunted Play Presents: Delusion 

2. La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas (HHN Hollywood)

3. Reign of Terror

 

Best Individual Scene in a Maze:

1. “Feed the Beast” in Circus of Horror (Freakling Bros.)

2. “Collapsing Bridge” in Hellfire (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor)

3. “Flying Vampire”  in Castle Vampyre (Freakling Bros.)

 

Best Maze Name:

1. Habitat of Hags (Pirates of Emerson)

2. La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas (HHN Hollywood)

3. Delirium (Knott’s Scary Farm)

 

Best Scare-Actors:

1. Gates of Hell (Freakling Bros.)

2. Haunted Play Presents: Delusion 

3. Sinister Pointe

 

Highest Scare Factor:

1. 3-way tie Freakling Bros. Mazes: Circus of Horrors, Castle Vampyre, Gates of Hell

2. Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare (HHN Hollywood)

3. Sinister Pointe

 

Most Improved Maze (compared with  2010):

1. Lockdown (Knott’s Scary Farm)

2. Hellfire (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor)

3. Village of the Dammed (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor)

Best New Maze for 2011:

1. Sinister Pointe

2. Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House)

3. Haunted Play Presents: Delusion 

 

Best Overall Maze of 2011:

1. 3-way tie Freakling Bros. Mazes: Circus of Horrors, Castle Vampyre, Gates of Hell

2. Sinister Pointe

3. The Thing (HHN Hollywood) Curse of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Mystery House)

Best Haunt Scare Zone:

1. Ghost Town (Knott’s Scary Farm)

2. Zombieville (HHN Hollywood)

3. The Gauntlet (California’s Great America Haunt)

Most Unique  Haunt Experience:

1. Haunted Play Presents: Delusion 

2. Ghost Ship

3. The 13th Floor at Circus Circus

 

Best Value Haunt:

1. Knott’s Scary Farm

2. Freakling Bros.

3. Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor

 

Top 2011 Stand Alone Haunt

 

Top 2011 Theme Park Haunt

 

Scare Zone’s Worst Rankings

This is where we load up the buried skulls 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 we can hope.

Worse Mazes

1. Slaughter of the Swines  and Maze of Mayhem at Bonnie Screams

2. Mental Maze at Pirates of Emerson

3. Terror Tram: Scream 4 Your Life at HHN Hollywood

Worse Value

Worse Haunt of 2011

 2011 Repass

This year we experienced new haunt environments along with new levels of scares. During the official haunt season (Sept. – Oct.), we ventured throughout California and out to Nevada to visit as many new haunts as possible. Along the way, we encountered one of the best haunts we’ve ever been to and one of the worst. We give credit to all the haunts out there who are challenging themselves to create new environments and stories to scare us with. While some of our reviews may seem harsh, we take haunting and our earned dollars seriously, so we don’t have tolerance for the so-called haunts who are more interested in taking people’s money than putting effort into a quality production.

There were many high-quality haunts and mazes that didn’t make our top list, but they did offer a great time and good scares such as Fear Overload, California’s Great America Haunt (the CarnEvil maze was great), Reign of TerrorTheater 68, and a few of the Knott’s Scary Farm mazes. We also acknowledge all of the great haunts out there that  we didn’t get to this season, like The Haunted Hotel, Old Town Haunt, and Coffin Creek, just to name a few. We’ll also be curious to see how first-year haunts such as Haunted Play Presents Delusion and Ghost Ship do in their second years, if they come back.

Finally, we have to thank our fellow Haunt Stalkers from Theme Park Tourist for sharing their UK Haunt reviews and all our other fellow Haunt Stalkers who shared their experiences and ratings with us this season and throughout the year. We appreciate all your support and engagement with our site, and we look forward to sharing more scare-ventures together.

Scaringly yours,

M. Leota & Matt E. Horn

Co-Founders & Writers,  Scare Zone

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