BEWARE THE DARK REALM
This is a nice home haunt done by nice people to raise money and canned goods for a good cause. If you are in the area you should totally stop by and check it out. I saw these folks wearing their Dark Realm shirts walking around Knott’s earlier in the season and made a note to self to try and track them down. They have a couple of really cool effects. I love the use of peppers ghost. It has misdirection in old fashion maze style. There is a story and the actors work really hard all the way up to the last guests of the night. I know because we were the last group of the night. Note that they close off the line a little before the actual closing time, so be there a little earlier than that.
This is a nice home haunt for a good cause. There were representatives from the organization there to explain how they rescue dogs and rehabilitate them for adoption. All of the donations go to them. The entire block was closed to traffic on Halloween for what appeared to be the haunt and maybe a sort of block party with kids Halloween movies projected across the street. We had fun. It’s a traditional home haunt, not a blow your mind Big Worm type home haunt, but a nice quaint stop by if you’re in the neighborhood kind of home haunt.
This Halloween haunt has a “wuss” count posted outside of the entrance. That kind of cockiness sets expectations very high and unfortunately they don’t quite deliver. It is a good haunt for what it is, but not so scary that I could imagine anyone wussing out. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to compare this amusement park to a place like Universal Studios, though. It’s more like Pacific Park in Santa Monica.
The maze had some great moments and favorite characters included throughout. They also had a blackout maze, but the blackout maze wasn’t even dark. They have a moment where they scare you and take a photo. It was neat that they give you a photo of yourself from the maze at the end without an up charge.
I only did each maze once, but you have the option to buy a wristband and go through multiple times.
The actors and staff seem very nice and excited about Halloween.
This year I went on November 1st which is a very different night. Guests were in costumes and it was much more day of the dead. Also the lines weren’t anything like the last time I was there. I’ve always upgraded to front of the line in the past and still had miserable hour plus wait times, this year I did general line and got through the 3 boat mazes, Deadrise and the freakshow by 9pm. We skipped the other 2 mazes because of long wait times and the paintball because we didn’t want to do it anyway.
Queen Mary doesn’t seem to care about the mazes anymore. They have a great entertainment lineup on the stage. Mudd is excellent. The freakshow also had a stage. But the mazes were all basically the same as last year. Lullaby (the new maze) just wasn’t as good as the old maze in that location, so the one they did change got worse. Don’t get me wrong, it had a few moments that were neat like the visual as you enter with the underwater lighting effect. I felt especially bad for the actors this year as I could see sweat dripping off of them in the sweltering rooms (they did their best to give them box fans).
The two mini-mazes in the freakshow were really the scariest. Actually if I were to just attend the freak show area I would give it 5 stars. It’s an upcharge and totally worth it from the talking skeleton to the mazes to the decor to the shows to the roaming freaks. Great little haunt within a mediocre haunt.
EL PASO SHERIFF HAUNTED HOUSE
This is basically a home haunt/community haunt located at the El Paso sheriff headquarters. It’s also a food drive, so bring your canned goods. It was a fun asylum type haunt through the hallways. They did a good job with costumes and props. The set design was a little weak, but not too bad considering it was a community haunt. They had a couple of cool effects. It is guided the entire time. You exit out of a different door than you enter with a very loud sound to chase you on your way. Standard haunt type stuff, but fun.
THE MASSACRE ON MARSHALL ROAD
This is not your typical haunt. This haunt made me wish that all scareactors were trained service men & women. NOTHING compares to the actors in this maze.
First of all let me explain that this is a haunt on a military base. Not near it, ON IT. I had to get a pass to go on the base in order to drive to the haunt after the GPS directed my into a cemetery that had closed the gate and I didn’t think I could get out…oh yeah in a rain storm in El Paso.
The haunt is in a big building with a lot of space on the base. I can’t say the props or sets were glamorous, they weren’t. It felt like I was walking through a warehouse with a lot of fog, cool sound and minimal sets that I couldn’t really see anyway because of the fog. But it didn’t matter because the actors were THAT good. It’s like they would come out of nowhere, scare me and disappear into nowhere only to get me again seconds later. It was amazing! Normally actors don’t really surprise me, but these folks had me jumping and squealing multiple times per room. It was awesome!
I cannot recommend this haunt enough.
We came out for Fright Fest from Los Angeles. The six flags magic mountain in CA has an amazing fright fest and so we figured we’d use our pass and do a Halloween vacation hitting up haunts nationwide including both six flags in TX. This park was such a disappointment that we may change our plans for Dallas and skip that six flags. The haunted houses felt like “home haunts” not a professional event.
The School was their best maze. It is in a structure with a theme that is a schoolhouse year round. They had decent costumes. The girl on roller skates was a fun actor.
I liked the Chupacabra scare zone. It had a nice creep factor and the costumes were amazing, although a bit bug-like. The circus/freakshow scarezone was also very well done. It almost felt like a mini maze. Actually all of the scarezones were well done, it was just the mazes that failed.
The one thing that stood out here from any other theme park haunt was their opening. They had their monsters riding a train around the park so guests could see them and snap photos as the train went by. It wasn’t scary, but it was a great chance to see the costumes and makeup before it got too dark.
I did this haunt a few years ago by myself while in town on business and got slammed into the wall by a large snake that pops out of the wall causing me to hit my head on the wall so hard that I got knocked out and woke up on the floor. I let the staff know and saw the medic. Needless to say I HATED THIS HAUNT.
I decided to go with my husband this year while we were in town and the same snake is still there. I saw it and told my husband. I darted past the hole in the wall to avoid getting slammed in the wall again. My husband tried to get past it and HE GOT SLAMMED INTO THE WALL TOO!!! WTF! He said it hurt his shoulder and could still feel it when we were back at the hotel.
Aside from that awful snake…
The band in line was pretty good, albeit loud. There are a few really cool rooms like the slanted bar, alligator swamp, and laser room. The actors overall are pretty good and seem to work hard. The actors in the line outside were very touchy feely. However there really is no story or consistent through line to either maze (it’s split into two mazes). It’s too bad because some of the rooms in the haunt have really amazing production value (like the room that doubles in escape attempts) and they just don’t know how to tell a good story. The overall customer service here is the biggest downfall, though.
HOUSE OF SHOCK
This event has a 5 star opening show. (Not the blockhead, but the short theatrical performance before they let people in the houses.) The actors have passion and energy. There are some amazing set pieces and animatronics throughout. I loved the freak show themed house.
The event is setup in a way that forces guests that arrive early enough to watch a blockhead show before the opening show. We arrived thinking we were late because the blockhead had already started performing and ended up still waiting 45 minutes before the line really moved and we had upgraded to VIP in order to get through quickly. He actually is a blockhead…he hammers nails in his nose. He also hung things from his nipples, staple gunned his body and put live fireworks in the crotch of his pants. It was unpleasant to watch.
The whole thing took a lot longer than we thought it would (or should).
The freak show maze was very American Horror Story. It was well done and the costumes and props were great. The 3D maze was a pretty standard 3D maze with clowns. The final house was pretty elaborate and visually interesting. There was a strange rather large room with priests toward the end where there was a water effect. I also liked the large room with the animatronic character above the doorway. It was a nice use of that effect.
Overall, none of them were particularly scary, but they were fun and this is definitely an event to experience if you have an evening to kill.
THE HAUNTED MORTUARY
This event felt like a well done home haunt. The building is beautiful. The theme is a fun choice (7 Deadly Sins) however the execution was a little muddy. The event doesn’t have a set starting time, so we arrived over an hour before they opened the ticket office and as we waited several people approached us looking for a staff member where there were none to be seen. There were a few neat effects and some beautiful sets, but the actors didn’t seem to have quite the same skill set or passion as some of the other haunts I’ve attended. I think if you live nearby and have the extra time and money you should totally do this haunt. It has really fun moments.