Last night, Scare Zone took a trip down to San Diego to visit a few of their local haunts. Our first stop was the popular Haunted Hotel in downtown’s historic Gaslamp District. We arrived a few minutes before opening time, and there was already a line along the side of the building. The wait wasn’t too long, and they efficiently kept the line moving to get us into the hotel’s lobby. After a brief safety and rules spiel, we went down into the basement of the building.
In the hotel’s basement, there was another line that was surrounded by some interesting set pieces, posters, and TVs playing horror movies (House of Wax). We were glad to see that they were breaking up the line and sending small groups into the hotel. However, we’re not sure what happened when we got to the front of the line as they decided to make our group larger than the previous ones.
Once inside, “the stay” at the hotel begins with a haunted “elevator ride,” which is a scene we’ve encountered in many other haunts. After the elevator ride and a surprise scare, guests venture into various scenes of terror, some of which are every elaborate and others . . . not so much. We won’t spoil all the scares for you, but there were some highlights we have to share. First, there was the nursery with some demonic babies that would kill to get out. This was a unique set, and the scares were very effective. There also was the wolf forest with a giant animatronic werewolf and a wolf boy lurking about. Freddy’s boiler room also made an appearance and offered a good scare with the popular haunt icon (we would encounter Freddy a few more times in the evening) trying to trap you in the hanging pipes. The scene we were most impressed with was the subway train and tunnel: this was a very unique scene, and it gave us the biggest scare of the maze. It probably was one of the most memorable highlights of all the haunts we’ve been in this season.
We were disappointed that it didn’t last longer, as we made it through the maze in about 6 minutes, which is a fairly short haunt experience. In addition, we were stuck in a group, so we didn’t get scared very often. It felt like some of the scenes were disjointed, going from the elaborate setting of Freddy’s lair into a cheap polka-dot scare room. We would have liked to see a more cohesive storyline or at least a better explanation in the beginning of how “our stay” at the hotel is going to take us on a journey through various scenes of terrors. We also expected it to be a more intense experience. Although many of the actors did go all out to try to scare us, most of the scares fell flat or had bad timing.
Overall, the Haunted Hotel offers a fun time in downtown San Diego, and we can see why people like this haunt and find it to be scary. If we were in it alone or with a smaller group, the scare factor probably would have been much higher. Perhaps we just had bad luck with our timing as we went through the maze, as when we stopped in the Hooters next door afterwards, we could hear the screams from the Haunted Hotel echoing through the walls, so someone was obviously getting the mess scared out of them!