Tag: New Haunts

New Haunt on the “Horizon” in Orlando

We all know that Halloween Horror Nights Orlando is the best theme park haunt event in the country. But is it about to get some real competition? From the people behind Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach, California, a brand new haunt called “Dark Horizon: Point of No Return” is coming to the Orlando area in 2019.

At this point, details are still scarce. The first round of auditions is being held as of this writing (July 11-13, 2019). The initial call for monsters says the event will “[feature] brilliant stage shows, sinister sideshows, creepy bars, and bone-chilling monsters that lurk around every turn,” which sounds pretty similar to the Queen Mary event. In other words, this won’t be just a single standalone haunted house, but rather a “screampark” style event with mazes, live entertainment, and alcohol. There will even be cabanas available to rent.

Information on the event’s specific location has not been released yet, only that it will be in Orlando. So could Dark Horizon be a true competitor to Halloween Horror Nights?

Until now, HHN Orlando has enjoyed no real competition in the surrounding area, aside from the year-round Mortem Manor, which—although a fun diversion—could never be a substitute for Horror Nights. The next major event is nearly 90 miles away in Tampa (Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream). We think that Dark Horizons might be able to reach haunt fans who are tired of HHN’s long lines and high prices. But by taking up residence in an area whose only haunt event is the best in the nation–Dark Horizon has an uphill climb. On the other hand, as we see in many other markets (Southern California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas), Halloween attractions are very popular, and many people go to more than one during the season. So instead of being a strict competitor, Dark Horizon’s success may lie in its ability to be a complement to HHN, enticing people who not only want to see Halloween Horror Nights as usual but ALSO want to be terrified in new and different ways.

Most importantly, Dark Horizon needs to come out strong in their opening year with good-quality mazes and a well-organized operation, or they run the very real risk of drowning in bad Yelp reviews, as locals will surely compare them with Horror Nights. But we know that the team is savvy. They completely turned what was once a “Shipwreck” (in name and reality) into a very enjoyable haunt event, so we’re hopeful that they can do it again. We may even book ourselves a flight to Orlando this year to find out.

We will continue to report on Dark Horizon: Point of No Return as more news comes in throughout the summer, so check back often.

HAUNT REVIEW: Into the Black

It’s safe to say that Into the Black was one of 2017’s most highly anticipated haunted attractions   Not only because it’s brand new and was created by legend Larry Bones (of Boneyard Effects), but also because of its twist: You must go through alone.  Now, there have been a few haunts with this premise before, most notably, Alone and Blackout. But those are always characterized as “extreme” haunts with a particular tone bordering on torture—or at least focused on making you extremely uncomfortable. But Into the Black promised something else: a truly scary experience with an extensive back story and overall theme. We can easily say that not only did Into the Black deliver on this promise, but it blasted past our expectations to become our favorite haunt this year.

The attraction is split into two different experiences: A virtual reality experience and the walk-through haunted house. We review both here.

The VR Experience

This short VR film provides the back story for the attraction where we learn the origins of the evil inside the Black house. The film is really well done, and a few added “touches” during the experience make it fun and scary. We think it’s definitely worth purchasing the separate ticket for this. However, if you’re on a really tight budget, the film isn’t necessary to enjoy the haunt; it just makes the theme a bit more understandable.

Scare Factor: 
Overall Rating: 

The Haunted House

First, let’s get this question out of the way: YES, you will be alone the entire time in this haunt. Although people are let in only about 1 minute apart, the actors are superb in making sure you’ll never catch up with the person in front of you. You can try to run, but the demons will find a way to block you. If you hesitate and linger, they will not-so-gently nudge you along. All while terrifying the crap out of you, of course.

The haunt itself takes you through the darkened, decaying rooms of the Black house, the disturbed family we meet in the VR experience. Along the way, there are also long, dark corridors and bricked passageways to break things up. While the rooms of the house are elaborately detailed, the corridors are more sparse, and this is mostly where the demons lurk in the shadows. We liked the way this works to create a true transition between the separate worlds of the living realm and the underworld. All of the actors are demons in some form, with full body suits and impressive masks. Of course, we’d expect no less from Larry Bones, whose studio has been supplying masks and makeup for Halloween Horrors Nights since its return in 2006.  But the facial details of the monsters are even more impressive than we’d anticipated, adding an extra layer to the scares.

The haunt is long, with a labyrinth-like layout that seems to never end. The scares are thoughtful and well orchestrated, which means you don’t always see them coming. There’s an extreme layer of darkness that’s used to create a sense of dread that permeates the entire walk-through. You never quite know what you’re looking at in the corners and shadows of the rooms. While you’re attempting to gain focus on a barely illuminated scene or prop, the actors use the darkness and your distraction as an advantage in their scares. With their howling and snarling vocalizations coming at you from the blackness, the haunt achieves a level of suspense that puts you on edge the entire time.

We were truly scared in this attraction in a way that we haven’t been in a long, long time. For this reason, we’re breaking our usual 5-skull rating and giving Into the Black a well-earned 6 SKULLS for scare factor!

Haunt Design: 
Scare Factor:
Overall Rating: 

Final Thoughts

We loved this haunt and have our fingers triple-crossed that it returns next year. It wasn’t particularly busy the night we attended, and we’re worried that the “go it alone” concept is scaring people away. Going through alone does take it to another level, but we feel most haunt fans would be able to handle it. To increase business, they could consider offering a 2-person or group option, maybe only on certain nights. We just think it would be a complete shame if this haunt isn’t successful.

Yes, this haunt is scary, but we wouldn’t characterize it as “extreme.” There’s some light touching by the monsters, but it’s innocuous for the most part. There’s no crawling or eating bugs or any of that. This haunt strikes the perfect balance between suspense, fear, and a good theme. So if it usually takes a lot to scare you and you’re looking for something with a bit more to it than the typical haunted attraction, you should definitely put Into the Black on your list.

Into the Black runs through October 31 and is located at the Pomona Fairgrounds. Tickets are $13 for the VR experience and $29 for the haunted house.


Into the Black Overall Fright Value:

Overall Rating of Into the Black 2017:

Check our ratings guide for further details


Knott’s Will Scare You… Forevermore

It’s officially the “season of torture” for haunt fans, as haunts begin the arduous process of dragging out maze announcements and sharing nonsensical clues about their events.  Thankfully, Knott’s Scary Farm (KSF) is the first to let the black cat out of the bag with the announcement of their first new maze of 2013 – “FOREVERMORE”

From Brooke Walters, the creator of  The Doll Factory and Trick-Or-Treat, comes a new chapter in terror: “FOREVERMORE”. Follow in the footsteps of the darkly troubled writer Edgar Allan Poe through a nightmare conjured up by a modern madman. Each of Poe’s bloodsoaked and terror-filled tales will envelope you in their insanity and horror. Page by page you will descend deeper into the subconscious of the man who invented American horror. Forevermore is gothic horror with a modern day twist. Will you escape? Or will you remain in the horror Forevermore…?

Forevermore will be located behind Mystery Lodge for Haunt 2013, home to former classic mazes Terror of London, 13 Axe Murder Manor, and Blood Bayou. By taking over the former Terror of London area, we’re sure Knotts will be able to redress some of those sets for the new theme, which is somewhat complementary to the former.

Over the past few years, Knott’s has been changing the overall direction of their mazes (for the better) from campy to more sinister and macabre themes. They made big progress with last year’s revamped version of the classic 90′s vampire maze, Dominion of the Dead, Pinocchio Unstrung, and Trick Or Treat. These mazes continue to carry forth Knott’s showcase of dark and evil as well as fantasy themes. This has been a successful path that has kept them relevant and a formidable competitor in the ever-growing Southern California Haunt market.

Knott’s will be the third large-scale theme park haunt to utilize the Poe theme. HHN Orlando featured the maze Nevermore: The Madness of Poe back in 2011, and Busch Gardens’ Howl O’ Scream (HOS) in Tampa has featured Nevermore for the past 2 years. It seems the Poe theme is now just as popular as zombies, vampires, and clowns. Knott’s twist to the theme sounds a little similar to the 2012 movie, The Raven, in which a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s works. We experienced Nevermore at HOS last year, which was solid a 4-skull rated maze, so we anticipate this will (possibly) be another good addition to KSF!

“Blumhouse of Horrors”: A New Haunt Comes to Downtown L.A.

It’s hard to believe, but Southern California is getting yet another haunted attraction this year.

The “Blumhouse of Horrors” will be taking over the Variety Arts Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles this Halloween season. Created by Jason Blum, the producer of films such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister (to be released this October), the haunt will feature a “magician” theme:

Explore the corridors of this possessed theater whose stage was home to one of the world’s most twisted dark art magicians. The building is being opened to the public for the first time since a tragic accident forced it to close… Will you be able to handle the terrors within these doors?

The magician backstory is a unique idea and is a good alternative to the popular blood-and-gore or “crazy clown” themes of many new haunts. Blumhouse’s concept does seem to have some similarities to Haunted Play presents Delusion, in its Hollywood ties and well-developed back story. But although Blumhouse is being created by a Hollywood producer, there’s no indication that it will have the same theatrical elements of Delusion.

Of course, we welcome all new haunts to Southern California, and we certainly plan to add this one to our itinerary.

The Blumhouse of Horrors opens October 4 and runs Thursdays through Sundays through November 3, plus the entire week of Halloween. Presale tickets are available now and start at $29.

Check out the L.A. Times story for additional details.

New Haunted Attraction to Terrorize Santa Monica

The west side of the Los Angeles area has been sadly neglected when it comes to haunted attractions. But weep no more, because “Paranoia” is coming to Santa Monica this Halloween season.

Details are still scarce, but we do know that the attraction will feature three mazes:

  • The Infirmary
  • Insomniac Clown Playhouse
  • Granny’s Manor of Mayhem

The haunt will be located at the Santa Monica Place mall, and they are currently hiring and looking for volunteers (see the flyer above for information).

The attraction will run Thursdays through Sundays from September 28-October 31.

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