The Scream Zone in Del Mar California is a fun fairground haunted attraction with two walk through mazes and a hayride. There are also food trucks, merchandise and a mini escape room. You can purchase each maze individually or as a combo.
My husband & I ended up here after attending two other events in the area on a Saturday night. Unfortunately due to heavy rains the hayride was closed. We had done the hayride here years ago and were looking forward to seeing if it had changed, but safety is always most important.
House of Horror is the larger of the two walk through mazes. Both are a fun time. There are a few really impressive moments with set decor and ideas, but overall the set, props, costumes and actors are just good. Neither really tell a story, but are rather a bunch of scenes thrown together. At least KarnEvil has strong theming throughout. They do a pretty good job of purging the lines. They put us through in a group of about 10 at a time in House of Horror and a bit smaller group for KarnEvil.
Overall it was fun. It is the perfect type of event for the location and crowds. It’s a professional fairground haunt worth checking out if you’re in the area.
We were warned not to go in the woods for fear of a half man half elk creature…but we continued anyway and luckily lived to tell the tale.
My husband and I went to The Haunted Lodge last night while down in the San Diego area attending haunted attractions. This was our second stop of the evening. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it appeared to be a plywood maze built in the front yard of an Elk’s Lodge. However, I was quite impressed with the set design and attention to detail. The actors worked very hard. The costumes and make up looked good. It told a story and even had a couple of moments that were very in line with immersive theatre in the way they have you sit in the scene and become a character in the story. Overall we had a fun time.
I especially enjoyed the opening two scenes because they set up the story and tone for the adventure to come. Both actors in the beginning did a splendid job of communicating the story in a fun and creepy way. I also enjoyed the photo op (on my own phone) at the beginning because it fit in the scenario well and left us with a memory to post online.
After sitting around the campfire listening to the tale of the monster to come, we were given a red flashlight and sent on our way into the maze. We encountered many ghouls along our path.
We caught a scare from the anticipated ElkMan a little early on while in one of my favorite scenes. The set up was great and had us skeptical that we were really entering a safe homey cabin no matter how much the actors tried to convince us we were safe. It was wonderfully done.
I also really enjoyed the tent area. I’m sorry we couldn’t save you young man, we had to save ourselves!
However the maze kept going and seemed to go a little off track from the tale at times. It was fun, but lost that beautiful storytelling from the beginning as we progressed through the attraction. I did enjoy that the haunt staple “monster with chainsaw” fit into the scene in this attraction. So many times it’s random, but they made it work well. Great job to all of the designers and actors.
Overall it was a lot of fun and I’m glad we got to experience this attraction. I recommend checking them out if you are in the El Cajon (San Diego) area.
*More photos from this event on Instagram @TheHauntGirl
I love going to haunts and Halloween themed events all year, but I go a little crazy during haunt season (late September through early November). Here is a list of the events and haunts I attended in 2016 in no particular order.
Universal Studios HHN
Knott’s Scary Farm (Skeleton Key)
Motel 6 Feet Under
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
All Saints Lunatic Asylum
The Haunt with no name
Terror Behind These Walls
Field of Screams
Pennhurst Haunted Asylum
Barrett’s Haunted Mansion
Chambers of Terror
Hysteria Conner’s Farm
Gallows Hill Theatre (performance)
3 Stars (of 5)
Walking through this Halloween carnival made me feel a teenager in a 1980’s slasher film. Scream Zone doesn’t appear to have updated their carnival style in the past few decades.
The haunted hayride was a bit sad, lacking strong sets or theming and most notibly actors. There were about three actors per scene that worked their tails off running from the front to the back to the front of the wagon repeatedly screaming, grunting, banging the sides with props such as hockey sticks. There were two attempts at a large effects during the ride, but both fell flat mostly due to timing. The disappointment of this attraction was compounded by the long hour plus wait times to ride.
KarnEvil was much better than the hayride. It’s a walk through carnival themed haunted house. Clowns laughed and scared as our group wandered through a maze within the haunt for several minutes lost and ending up back where we started repeatedly. After getting through that section of the haunt it was quick and the “final scare” was nonexistent. My husband and I actually walked back in the maze because we thought we’d accidentally exited through an emergency exit. Overall though the attraction was fun and one large clown made it very memorable.
House of Horror was brilliant. We had a blast. I loved the maze within the walkthrough and the effective use of darkness at times. The decor was a strong attempt, certainly no Universal Studios, but it got the job done. It had a rather cliche ending, but it was so much fun and the actors were so dedicated that we didn’t mind.
Zombie Bootcamp sounded like a lot of fun if I was wearing tennis shoes and 10 years younger. I didn’t feel like running from zombies after a long day, so we didn’t do Zombie Bootcamp.
Escape the Monkey cage was a fun experience we came across on our way out of Sceam Zone. It was a 6 minute live mini escape room for a $3 up charge. My husband and I waited about 30 minutes in line to play. The first three groups didn’t escape. The couple in front of us escaped just in the nick of time. We blew through in 2 minutes, but we really enjoyed it! We’d already played three full length escape rooms earlier in the day before the haunt so it was a fun way to end the night.
There is free parking and you can walk around the grounds at no cost. Each attraction has its own ticket or you can do a combo. There were a couple of food trucks and drinks available. It did get a bit chilly, so I recommend bringing a sweatshirt or you can buy one there.
Who doesn’t want to stop an evil super villain from poisoning all of San Diego County and save the day? Obviously this is a great way for all of you San Diego cos playing superheros to keep your hero skills sharp away from Comic-Con, but it’s also a unique experience for those of us without bright spandex attire.
Clue Avenue Escape Room is an imaginative escape game with a fun story. I really enjoyed how they found ways to build the story throughout the game. All of the puzzles were in some way connected to it. They also had some really creative thinking in their puzzle design. The room was designed and run by a group of friends and I could tell the room had many minds behind it, as opposed to one way of thinking. I found the flow of the room to be a little clunky. However, I played soon after they had opened and as with most new rooms I’m sure they will make adjustments and changes as more people come through and they see what tweaks they can make. They seem eager to make Clue Avenue the best possible experience for their customers.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Jason Richard and own Steal and Escape with my wife Marketa in San Diego, California. We have been open for about four months and current have one room “Mysterious Stranger” with a second room on the way.
Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?
Marketa and I were in Budapest on vacation and saw a small flyer that described an escape game and as we toured the city we found rooms everywhere. We decided to give one a try and 20 minutes into our first game I knew I was going to open one (The first room we did is still the best game we played, unfortunately we can’t remember its name).
What makes Steal and Escape different from other escape games?
We have two areas that make us different from other rooms. To start, I grew up opening anything I could get my hands on, from old stereos to locks to vehicles. I needed to understand the mechanics and electronics of everything, our games are designed with this mindset. Our puzzles are less about math and riddles and more about using objects and tools to find answers. Second, while most rooms ask the players to escape, our players start by figuring out how to get into the room and then escaping after the objective is met.
What’s it like for you watching players play your game?
Having taught teamwork, leadership and communication for three years, I appreciate a group that works together. When a person finds a clue or solves a puzzle and tells everyone what they accomplished, I get excited. I also love ingenuity. I rarely stop a group from solving a puzzle in a way that was not intended. Although there should only be one way to solve it, it’s awesome to see people think in a way that is so much different than my own thought process.
What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design?
Puzzles that are designed for different mindsets. When I do a room, I bring a crew that thinks different from one another. I like puzzles that make me ask another person to “take a look” because I have no idea where to begin. It gives everyone a chance to shine and shows that everyone playing has helped in completing the objective.
What advice do you have for players?
Listen to the ideas from all members of your team. We frequently see someone with the solution ignored because their idea seems far-fetched. Your group has 60 minutes to solve the puzzle, it doesn’t hurt try everyone’s ideas.
Below is a list of the Escape Rooms I’ve played roughly in order of MY favorite to least favorite. Note: I prefer strong storytelling and immersion, especially in horror, paranormal & magic themed escape rooms, so my preferences may be different than yours.
Feel free to write to me Twitter @christinebarger or Instagram @TheHauntGirl
GROUPED BY REGIONS: LOS ANGELES AREA, “THE VALLEY”, ORANGE COUNTY, INLAND EMPIRE, HIGH DESERT, VENTURA COUNTY, PALM SPRINGS, BIG BEAR, SAN DIEGO, SAN FRANCISCO
LOS ANGELES AREA ESCAPE ROOMS
Quest Room: Warlocked
60out: The Orphange
Quest Room: Red Giant
Quest Room: Bloody Elbow
Maze Rooms: They’re Coming
60out: Hyde Circus
Planet Escape Rooms – Wise Guys
Planet Escape Rooms – Game of Swords
Maze Rooms: World of Illusions
60out: Alice in Wonderland
60out: Time Machine
Maze Rooms: One Way Ticket
Quest Room: Da Vinci’s Challenge
Maze Rooms: The Dragon’s Lair
Maze Rooms – SteamPunk Samauri
Planet Escape Rooms – Cntrl-Alt-Reality
Fox In The Box – Tesla
Maze Rooms: Jack the Ripper
60out: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle
Hypnotic: Project 5150
60out: Grandma’s Masterplan
60out Escape Rooms: Cartel DEA Undercover
60out Escape Room: P.U.T.I.N. (now Red Alert)
60out Escape Rooms: Ghost Ship
60out: DaVinci’s Secret
Maze Rooms: Castle
Mobile Escape Room LA: MacGuffins Cocktail Room
Roomescape LA: Bunker (now Fox in a Box)
The Laboratory Escape Room (original location)
Horror Escapes LA: Captive Chamber
Horror Escapes LA: Dr. Office
Back in Time – Salem Witch Hunt
Maze Rooms: Motel
Roomescape LA: Zombie Lab (now Fox in a Box)
Maze Rooms: FBI
Quest Room: Polar Station
60Out Escape Rooms: Hangover Game(now Mafia)
Hatch Escapes – Lab Rat
Escape Room LA: The Pyramid
“THE VALLEY” LOS ANGELES ESCAPE ROOMS:
Maze Rooms: Wizard’s Tower
Maze Rooms: Lord of the Swords
Maze Rooms: Whatever Happened to the Garretts
Theme Quest Escape Room: Houdini (now Architect)
Maze Rooms: Tombstone
Theme Quest Escape Room: Bonnie and Clyde (now Architect)
Nodus 805 Escape Room
Arcane Escape Rooms: The Agency
The Room Live Escape Room: The Cabin
Escape the Room: Clock Tower
Enchanted Escape Room: Spellbound
ORANGE COUNTY ESCAPE ROOMS:
I now own an escape room in OC: EXIT GAME
Scenario Escape Rooms: Mad Rapper
Unlocked Escape Room: Game On! Unlocked Arcade
The Escape Game: Playground
Hidden Donkey – Irvine School of Wizardry
Cinema Escape Room – The Strange Thing
Puzzle Workshop: CSI Hollywood
Escapade Games: The Last Experiment
Nerdy by Nature: The Initiation
EscapeX: Odditorium Emporium
Deceptive: The Butcher
Legacy: Sugar Rush
Nerdy by Nature: The Lost Treasure of Captain Blackbeard
Detectives Society Escape Rooms: Da Vinci’s Lost Workshop
The Escape Game: The Depths
Legacy: Cabin 13
Deceptive: Return to Coulrophobia
EscapeX Rooms: Mafia Heist
Escape ERA: Ben Franklin
PuzzleMazement Escape Room: Paranormal
Immersion: The Cursed (now Entangled)
Kryptic: The Mystery of Stillwater Asylum
Square Room: Harry Potter (now Sorcerer’s Study)
*DeadRingers by Escape Bus (seasonal 15 minute Escape game)
*Crossroads: The Asylum (ScareLA mini-game availability varies)
INLAND EMPIRE ESCAPE ROOMS:
Wizards & Wires: The Ghost Chamber
The 13th Room: Chapter 2 The Silence
Quest Tavern: Last Supper
Breaking Point: Headcase
MindTrap – Jingle Bells
Mind Trap Escape Room: Gold Rush
Quest Tavern: The Bridge Between
Mind Trap Escape Room: Conspiracy (original version)
Quest Tavern: Witches Cauldron
Trapped: Pandora’s Box
Confusion: The Last Job
Chronos: Jurassic Island
Unity Escape Rooms: The Cabin
Unity Escape Rooms: The Temple
HIGH DESERT ESCAPE ROOMS:
CENTRAL VALLEY ESCAPE ROOMS:
VENTURA COUNTY ESCAPE ROOMS:
House of Clues: Pirate Ghost Ship (original location)
PALM SPRINGS ESCAPE ROOMS:
Escape Room Palm Springs: Dark Shadows Room (Vampire’s Lair)
Escape Games at the River: The Great Candy Challenge
Escape Room Palm Springs: Saw Room (now Locker Room)
Escape Room Palm Springs: Titanic
Escape Games at the River: Mutiny Skull Island
Escape Games at the River: Secret of the Dragon’s Spire
BIG BEAR ESCAPE ROOMS:
Mountain Room Escapes Big Bear: Alpine Ski Lodge
SAN DIEGO ESCAPE ROOMS:
Quicksand Escape Games: China Town
Quicksand Escape Games: The Diner
The Unlockables: The Escape
Escape Game SD: Japanese Thriller Room
Top Tier – Outside In
Boss Play – Chocolate Factory
The Entrapment: The Disappearance at Fogmore Manor
Top Tier – Undercover escape the safe house
Escapology San Diego: TH3 C0D3
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA ESCAPE ROOMS:
Enchambered – Whispering Halls
Enchambered – Containment Breach
Palace Games: Houdini
These are rooms that I have played in California but are no longer available:
The Purge Truck
Level Games: The Menagerie
Level Games: Doggy Dog World
Countdown: Mrs. Jezebel’s Tea Party (original version)
School of Hard Locks: Halloween Room
CatCon Animal Planet Escape Box
Exit Game The Ai (Los Angeles location)
Exit Game The Villains Lair (Los Angeles location)
Exit Game: The Chamber (Los Angeles location)
Trapped! The ChamberTrap House (Think Tank)
Countdown: Special Event Beta Test
Kaien (the game we beta tested, but isn’t open yet)
School of Hard Locks: Principal’s Office
SCRAP Real Escape Game Escape from the Cursed Forest Event
SCRAP Real Escape Game Escape the Magic Show
Salvation Room: The Inferno
SCRAP Real Escape Game: Escape from the Time Travel Lab
The 13th Room (ScareLA mini-game)
Room of no return: Jail
Escape the Night (VidCon)
Maze Quests: Queen Anne’s Revenge
Evil Genius Escape Rooms
Captured LA: The Starlet Killer
Escape Room Treasure Hunt: The Alchemist’s Lab
Famous Escape Rooms: The Great Redemption
S.H.A.D.I.E. Grove Escape Room
Hollywood Escape House: The Royal Indian Dungeon
PuzzleMazement Escape Room: Professor S!
Escape the Place: The Chamber
PuzzleMazement Escape Room: Saving Christmas!
The Cromwell Estate
The 13th Room: Alchemy & Wizardry
The Game Maker Escape Room (temporary room at Coffin Creek)
Real Escape Room: Bomb
Broken Chains Escape Games: Caught In A Rumple
One Way Out: Apocalypse (now Exodus)
Escape This! Mosi’s Curse
Rooms of No Return: Dead Silence
The Great Escape: Mafia Bomb Squad
Real Escape: Bootlegger Warehouse
Real Escape: Wizards Lair
Escape Room Palm Springs: Mystery Room
Divergent Realities: The Informant
Great Room Escape San Diego: The Lab
School of Hard Locks: Art Class
Maze Rooms: VR Cosmos Game
Escape Room Police
Escape SF: Escape from Antique Room
Kaein LLC: The Alien
Escape the Night – PopUp at UTA
LA Dragons – Knights of the Round Table
Escape From Godot
Exit Game: The Lab (Los Angeles location)
Exit Game: The School of Sorcery (Los Angeles location)
Exit Game An Hour To Kill (Los Angeles location)
Escape Room Long Beach: Bad Blood
60out: Wizard’s Workshop
60out: Zen Room
Countdown Live: Pandorus (now 60out Galaxy Quest)
Maze Quests: Clinic
60out Escape Rooms: Quest in a Box (temporary popup)
Countdown Live: Tiki Palace (now 60out)
Escape Hotel: Day Care
Escape Hotel: Witchcraft
Escape Hotel: Jack Reacher (renamed Espionage)
Horror Escapes LA: Edmond’s Attic
Escape Haus LA: Masquerade Ball Room
Amazing Escape Room: The Starlight Lounge
Amazing Escape Room: Escape the X Corporation
Amazing Escape Room: Mystery of the Red Dragon
Unlocked Escape Room: The Professor’s Basement
Hidden Passage: Pharoah’s Curse
TrapZone Escape Rooms: The Asylum
MindTrap – Wizard of OZ
Gaslamp: The Sword in the Study
Containment – Cabin
Hall of Shadows: Shadow Menagerie
Trapped! Escape Room: Sector 13 (original version)
Xscape Pods: Galaxy Adventure
Xscape Pods – Pharaoh
Xscape Pods – Government Secrets
The 13th Room (original)
Get a Clue Room Escape: The Toy Shop
The Ultimate Escape Rooms: We Are All Mad Here
One Way Out: Bank Heist (now Exodus)
Xcape Room Fresno: Murder Scene (original version)
Breakout Fresno: Sabotage – Code Red
Escape the Asylum (All Saints Lunatic Asylum)
Escape Games at the River: Baker Street Mystery
3rd Day Escape: Harvest Motel
Top Tier – Atlantis Dive to the Forgotten City
Mighty Awesome: The Office of Professor R.K. Alogee
Nightwalker Caverns Escape Room: Clownotorium (original)
3rd Day Escape: Hourglass (original version)
Escape Room Movie 2 Pop-up Subway
Stranger Things Mini-Game Pop-Up
Cryptic Escape Rooms
Enigma HQ is a creative escape room company in San Diego California. The staff is very professional and interested in the guest experience. The room we played had a very elaborate backstory which is told through video before entering the room to begin game play. The company makes use of technology throughout the game. It is a clever supernatural theme that is right up my alley. I enjoyed the creativity used in the puzzles as well as how they tied to the story. I felt the puzzles were a little repetitive due to the way they structured them to enhance the story elements, but still very different than what I’ve seen in other escape games. I imagine that for new players this room is mind blowing. However as an enthusiast, I can be very nit picky and I would say that one of the important puzzles could have multiple interpretations so I felt like I was guessing rather than solving and we wasted a lot of time on that puzzle…guessing. The game master explained that one to me at the end and although I could see her point, I still thought my interpretation made more sense than the actual answer. Even with getting stuck for a while, my husband and I got out with a little help from the game master. They have a really cool green screen photo op after the game that even ties into the story. It’s always fun to walk away carrying another fun photo for the scrapbook.