Living in Los Angeles, there are so many haunted events that it’s rare for me to get to one outside the general extended LA area. In fact, the farthest I’ve ever gone before was Thousand Oaks and it’s well-known massive haunted house. So when I got the chance to head to San Diego to check out their biggest haunted events, I was thrilled.
The only problem was that I had one night to do it. Three different locations. 5 different mazes. One night only (and not even an overnight—I still had to make it home for work the next day.) But I grabbed my roommate and one of my last Diet Cokes. I planned the route so that we would start the farthest from Los Angeles and work our way back as the night continued. And then we began this epic adventure.
HAUNT #1 – THE HAUNTED HOTEL
Description: Recently ranked #1 Scariest Haunt in America, the Haunted Hotel is located downtown in the Gaslamp District and is the longest running haunted house in San Diego.
This year, plunge into the depths of horror on the ALL NEW Hellevator, stroll down the dark, deadly Zombie infested alley and drudge through the muck and mire of the “wrong turn” hillbilly swamp. Hone on as the Mutant Mine Shaft is shaking and collapsing all around you, make your way through the Morgue Autopsy Lab and good luck in the Chaos Hallway!
Review: The Haunted Hotel is quite literally in the downtown hotspot of San Diego known as the Gaslamp District. It’s also not a Halloween-only event—it’s open year-round, although with far less scare-actors in attendance. I had actually been to the Haunted Hotel during off-season, so I was looking forward to seeing it in full make-up and most frightening mode.
I was not disappointed. This is a classic haunted house comprised of one large underground maze with multiple different zones. Set decorations and monsters are themed to each zone beautifully, including some very scary surprise scare locations hidden amongst the set. There are also quite a few special effects within the path, including an ‘elevator’ that breaks down as it descends and a room whose path is not nearly as stable as you normally see in a maze. The creators of this maze have clearly worked very hard to make it as exhilarating as possible.
They’ve succeeded. Standing in line before me was a group of 4 firefighters, each as manly and burly as the next one. They were cracking jokes about never being scared as they waited. And yet, I’ve never seen a group of men get scared so quickly. We literally lost them ahead of us as they screamed and moved through the maze as fast as they possibly could. This might be because the rules of the maze specifically point out that if you run, the monsters will chase you. They ran….and they got chased.
I understand why they ran. The performers in this maze are passionate about scaring people and they have quite a lot of space and hidden positions from which to do so. I found myself jumping from actor’s surprise appearance directly into a second scare from another actor more than once. The makeup and costuming was created with equal passion and I squealed from several of their terrifying looks.
In the era of extreme haunts and ever-increasing alternatives, I sometimes want to just experience a great haunted house. The Haunted Hotel delivers on the classic “haunted maze” experience and there’s a damn good reason the line for the maze was almost a block long before they opened their doors.
HAUNT #2 – THE HAUNTED TRAIL