Universal Halloween Horror Nights
As a former HHN employee I set higher expectations for haunts than the average guest, but especially for HHN. I expect the Scareactors to be well trained and on point. This year I was not disappointed. I attended opening night with my husband. We did early entry (it’s free, just arrive early and head downstairs to the lower lot). The queue lines opening night were not as bad as they have been in the past. They also have screens playing movie clips, DJ playing music and (kinda lame) Boo Crew that entertain while you wait.
All of the mazes were good. I especially liked This Is the End. They did a wonderful job of creating a beautiful maze, complete with humor and boo scares. I was not a huge fan of the Walking Dead maze, but I haven’t kept up on the show so that may have something to do with it. My favorite scarezone was the Krampus area upstairs. Basically Universal did what Universal always does…create beautiful, professional mazes with well trained Scareactors.
Field of Screams
This event is actually quite good considering it’s in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn’t drive from Los Angeles to do it again, but I happened to already be in the area doing an escape room and stopped to check it out. The 5 mazes are not well decorated, however the actors work just as hard if not harder than some of the large haunts. The holiday maze was especially fun because of the creativity and actors in the maze. The 3D maze was creative. The use of the flashlight technology in the dark maze was clever. The exorcist & diner mazes were ok. All of their mazes were longer than expected. I went on the first Sunday of the season, so I literally walked into every maze with no wait. Also the entrance scarezone actors were working very hard and incredibly entertaining.
Knott’s Scary Farm
I love Knott’s Scary Farm. Last year I had a pass and went several times. This year I am only able to attend one night. I went Saturday of their opening weekend. Their monsters were not quite to 100%, either they were still figuring things out or they were already tired. The laser tag zombie maze was not as good as last year. They expanded it by turning it into one maze instead of two and they really screwed up on the amount of people that they thought would get through. Our group was large and we were required to RUN almost the entire time. Zombies that were shot could still infect you, so the actors would rush you around screaming at you not to get too close but then force you to step over dead zombies causing you to “die” which caused your gun to stop working. Then we got combined with another group, which caused us to end up crammed into a small space toward the end with a large group we didn’t know. The Hanging was spectacular! I love the female character that they added this year. The Clementine ride was well done and fun. The new Snow maze was fun, not scary but really fun. Paranormal Inc was a great idea. It was executed well in the beginning, but about halfway through the maze it gets a little monster heavy and weird. The rest of the mazes were the same as last year. They are all fun. Oh and they stepped up the Voodoo maze and it was actually my husband’s favorite this year. Pinocchio was my favorite because the Scareactors worked really hard and a couple of them “got me” which was the only time that happened all night. It’s a fun event and totally worth checking out.
Drunken Devil The Sinner’s Soiree
This haunt has a fun concept with hard working actors. It’s a traditional walk through haunted house. The devil’s makeup/mask is wonderful. The music is very good. However the set decor is sparse. There’s definitely none of the big budget animatronics or crazy set designs of a big budget haunt. It feels like a group of Halloween lovers got together and built a haunted house in their downtown loft. It’s a haunt with a lot of heart. The staff seemed really nice.
My husband and I don’t drink, so we didn’t hang around for very long after the maze. We checked out the bar area and bathroom and decided to head home. There was a ghoul and a ghoulish bar girl wandering around the area as well as a few set pieces.
The location is much scarier than the event itself. The biggest problem I had with the haunt is as you exit you pass one lonely young security guard as you walk into a dark alley (literally a homeless man was digging through the trash). My husband made the joke, “you know how a maze always has the one last big scare? Well…” And he was right. I’d take a chainsaw wielding actor over walking through a dark downtown Los Angeles alley at night any day. I would recommend attending in a group of only for your walk back to the car.
Tip: Have your ID handy. They carded us before and after the maze.
I did not like this event, but the actors were great. Everything else was not so good. First they offered a discount, but wouldn’t accept the code when we got the tickets. She told us it was online only, but it didn’t say that anywhere. Then the line was ridiculous. The event is in a strip mall, but they set up portapotties in the parking lot instead of having actual toilets. The idea was neat, but the actual look of the rooms were only ok and the hallways in between rooms really took us out of the mood since they were not decorated. The theme was awful. It wasn’t scary watching a girl deal with body image issues and an eating disorder, it was just not fun. Then being told to eat things and given “pills” was just very similar to “trapped” from Knott’s last year (which remains my least favorite haunt experience to date). The alone moment was uncomfortable, my husband found it quite boring. I liked one room, it was a real ball.
4 stars (only because they didn’t update any mazes this year…otherwise 5 stars)
All of the mazes are the same this year as last year. They are all really great mazes, but they are the same. They updated the scarezones.
The new scarezones are well done. There were several monsters on the street working very hard and doing a wonderful job. I especially liked the large puppets, the steampunk guy with the horn and guy with the washboard. The steampunk area was especially well done. Also the updated show was wonderful. The aerialists were excellent.
Evil Twin Studios Ward 13
I love Evil Twin Studios. It’s been one of my favorite haunts since the theatre a few years ago when the girl planted in our group got taken by a monster and a woman in our group freaked out and chased the actor to reprimand him for picking on the poor girl. It was my favorite moment in a haunt ever! Last year they did a wonderful job with the Mortuary and really got innovative. This year they have a new location. The theme is Ward 13 and they have really tried some new interactive things with their haunt this year. I love that they keep each group separate, too. It did however fall a little short of my expectations for an Evil Twin event because the story which has been so strong in the past is a little confusing and disjointed this year. I like that they got creative and I think overall it’s an experience like no other. The staff is really great over there too. It’s not marketed as an extreme haunt, but I thought it was much more interactive and scary than some of the haunts I’ve signed waivers for…after all you may be touched and you will crawl for a short time among other things. The most innovative thing they did this year is strap guests to wheelchairs and push them around the courtyard area. It was a very creative idea. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year.
This is the only haunt that I can think of that doesn’t tell a story and I still loved it. I have never been to this even before, so I’m not sure how much they change it up. I didn’t understand the story, if there was one, but each little section of the haunt was really specific and fun. The island of the dolls was my favorite visually. A stuffed animal literally “got” me and I jumped a foot in the air screaming by the time I landed I was clapping and laughing like a little kid. It was great fun! My absolute favorite effect was the use of airbags. I had a blast in that room. The only problem with this event, aside from parking, is that it’s a bit too short.
PIC: My husband with actor in the bathroom inside maze.
This is the best storytelling I have seen in a haunt this year. Upon entering the first scene I couldn’t believe I was still in a Target parking lot. I felt like I’d been teleported into a totally different location. The actors do a wonderful job. I love the scenes in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as the opening. The “mazes” within the haunt are really fun! I especially like the actual maze area at the end which is both tight quarters and disorienting with several chainsaws. I am not a fan of chainsaws, however they use them in the most terrifying way I have every experienced. It is a really well done haunt.
Motel 6 Feet Under
This is one of my favorite haunts of 2015! I love the use of the actual “maze” element, the animatronics, and the actors! The maze when you enter appears larger than it is due to the great work the designers and actors did of moving the guests around in a way that feels like you are going somewhere, when in fact you are going in circles until the false wall is moved. I enjoy the use of this device for both effect and line control. One of my favorite effects is the floating lamp illusion. This haunt has a lot of heart. It is fun like the good old fashion haunt that I adore. Great “boo scares” that had me jumping and giggling like a little kid. My stomach hurt from laughing before I was even out of the haunt…and that’s a very good thing. I always laugh when I’m having fun in a haunt. I know it can frustrate the actors, but it just means they are doing a great job and these folks did an amazing job.