Welcome witches and warlocks,
I had the pleasure of attending THE 17th DOOR: HAUNTED HOLIDAY this year and figured I would offer up a few thoughts on the event for my fellow haunt enthusiasts. Just so everyone knows where I am coming from, I was able to attend their Halloween iteration this year so I already knew some of what was in store.
That being said, the holidays brought a whole new tone to the proceedings that focused more on being darkly funny than scary. Sure they reused the same layout and sets, but the rooms were decked out in holiday lights or the actors were dressed up as Christmas icons to mark the changing of the seasons. To further integrate the holidays, the general idea changed from us having to survive the prison to us trying to find or earn gifts while wandering the halls of the prison. Thematically it was a lighter touch and was an early indication that we were in for a much funnier experience than the Halloween event, though it is still by no means family friendly.
To begin with, the humor is absolutely hilarious from the first scene with the warden to the final dance party, we were constantly giggling along the way. Now the jokes are not going to be to everyone’s liking as they are mostly sexual, but there were a few clever things along the way. One particularly amusing idea was having Jesus and Santa in the prison yard arguing over who had more of a claim to Christmas. Not high-brow humor by any means, but still a fun, easily conveyed joke to throw in along the way.
I was equally amused by the costumes they integrated into the experience as many of them were dark reinterpretations of holiday icons. The guards out front had Christmas lights strapped around them, the elves looked gleefully menacing, the nutcracker was imposing, and the reindeer were hilariously sexualized. Even the lesser or more typical looking characters often benefited from their placement within the experience as we were lead into the oven scene by an actor dressed in a typical gingerbread man costume. It was thematic ties like this that helped to bridge the gap when the costume was off the rack.
Speaking of thematic ties, those who went through The 17th Door during the Halloween season should already be well aware of how some of the tricks they pull along the way are so big that they are set in stone. While those do not really change, they do receive some holiday theming be it actual set dressing or just a quick line of reasoning to tie it to the season. Some of these moves to integrate a Christmas theme into the rooms yielded not so great things like the ice tunnels while other ideas like singing around the tree or the flour room were much more successful.
While I have provided a fair amount of praise for this holiday layover, my group did have a few issues along our journey. One small issue I had was that an actor in one scene whacked me in the face (I assume it was an accident) with an object that knocked off my glasses. While not a big thing, it seems like people with glasses should probably not be hit in the face as there glasses could break and those who need them would have a hard time making it through the rest of the maze. The more major problem we had concerns the aforementioned ice tunnel where one of our party members could not gain any traction due to the slick ice and found themselves stuck in the tube. The actor gamely helped to drag them out, but it seems like this particular gag might need an overhaul for next year.
All in all, this was a fun, darkly comedic holiday offering that successfully redressed their Halloween haunt into a bawdy fun house. While I do think a couple gags might need an adjustment from an operations standpoint, the actors, sets, and costumes were all a hit. Those who enjoyed what The 17th Door: Locked Up had to offer during Halloween or those who just want a more adult take on Christmas should give this a look.
THE 17th DOOR HAUNTED HOLIDAY will be open for only two more nights on December 15 and 16 and tickets can be purchased at www.the17thdoor.com.
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