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Author Archives: Rick West
First Look: American Horror Story and Krampus Come to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood
Historically, the one maze that has been the most elusive in Halloween Horror Nights history has been The Exorcist. For more than a decade, Creative Director/Executive Producer John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams have chased the rights to use that intellectual property for a walk-through Horror Nights attraction, which finally has become a reality. The devil in the details remained challenging Monday afternoon, when Theme Park Adventure was scheduled to have a behind-the-scenes tour of The Exorcist with Murdy. Just prior to our arrival, inspectors came to walk The Exorcist maze, making it impossible for media to take a tour. Stubborn to the bitter end, we now wait on pins and needles with the rest of Universal’s fans until Halloween Horror Nights opens this Friday and we can finally see The Exorcist in person!
Switching gears from The Exorcist, John took us on a tour of American Horror Story, a maze that is comprised of three of the popular franchise’s seasons: Murder House (Season 1), Freak Show (Season 4), and Hotel (Season 5). The maze is still under construction at the time of this writing, but it’s pretty damned close – and looks really good.
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Southern California is a region full of immersive theater, haunted attractions, extreme horror experiences and themed entertainment where Screenshot Productions manages to add a unique touch to the industry with its emotional, raw, theatrical and (sometimes) terrifying shows to an already diverse scene. Whether it’s sadness, loss, anger, or fear, these are shows that evoke emotions in an unexpected way. Since 2013, I have overcome fear, and experienced my birth and death. But this time… it was about exploring the afterlife.
Inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol), this experience by Screenshot Productions is described as a “multi-act immersive experience taking you through your own death and soul’s judgment in the afterlife.” My immediate reaction: I’m in. While I do appreciate and respect the non-horror type of experiences that Screenshot Productions produces, I definitely get drawn in and intrigued by the darker side. The scarier it is, the better, and I was ready for this.
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The 17th Door Haunted Experience made its debut in Southern California in 2015. Located in The Marketplace in Tustin, California, this extreme haunt took just about everyone by surprise on multiple levels – from its incredible set design to the sheer physical size and complexity of its operation.
Created by husband and wife team Robbie and Heather Luther, The 17th Door is a haunt unlike we’ve ever experienced here in Southern California. The fact that it’s nestled unassumingly in an upscale strip mall in a sleepy suburban master-planned community makes it even more of an anomaly.
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This past week, Knott’s Berry Farm hosted a special event for its Season Passholders, lifting the veil and shedding light on every aspect of Scary Farm 2016 that fans can look forward to experiencing very soon!
Hosted by the always-exuberant Jeff Tucker, the Knott’s Scary Farm event was pure spectacle from beginning to end, starting with the massive Charles M. Schulz Theatre filling with fog before monsters of all shapes and sizes crept into the audience, snarling and lunging at excited guests and members of the media. A soundtrack of Scary Farm music from years and mazes past played loudly as some 2,000 fans – some who had waited more than 10 hours to be first in line – spilled into the theatre. Once everyone was in, lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and the show began.
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Long-time Theme Park Adventure fans will no doubt recall our love of a home haunter by the name of Sam Kellman. Not only is Sam extremely focused and motivated, incredibly driven, professional, highly creative, very articulate, and a perfectionist to the very last detail when it comes to creating haunted attractions – he won’t be graduating high school until 2020. He’s a teen haunter with just as much passion and operational sense as anyone we’ve ever met in this industry, and Sam’s just getting started! Actually, that’s not entirely true… Sam has been producing haunts for years; since 2011, to be exact. In short, Sam started doing this at an unusually young age – and he’s absolutely grabbed our attention.
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This is a comprehensive listing of haunts throughout Southern California. It features theme park/attractions, stand-alone events, and home haunts. If you own a haunt that should be included on this list, please contact us at TPAComments@gmail.com. To be included in our 2016 SoCal Haunt Directory, a haunt must have a website/fan page and a physical address. We will continue to update this page throughout the Halloween 2016 season, so it is never too late to contact us. If your favorite haunt is not on this list, they either have not updated their information for 2016, or may not be returning this season. When visiting these haunts, be sure to tell them you found them on Theme Park Adventure!
THEME PARKS & ATTRACTIONS
Dark Harbor (Queen Mary) – 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach CA 90802
Fright Fest (Six Flags Magic Mountain) – 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy., Valencia CA 91355
Halloween Horror Nights (Universal Studios Hollywood) – 100 Universal City Plz., Universal City CA 91608
Halloween Spooktacular (SeaWorld San Diego) – 500 Sea World Dr., San Diego CA 92109
Knott’s Scary Farm (Knott’s Berry Farm) – 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park CA 90620
Mickey’s Halloween Party (Disneyland Resort) – 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim CA 92802
Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns (Fairplex) – 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona CA 91768
Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns (Los Angeles Convention Center) – 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles CA 90015
STAND-ALONE PRO HAUNTS & ATTRACTIONS
Boccali’s Haunted Hayrides – 3277 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai CA 93023
Creep Los Angeles – 2316 N. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles CA 90065
Cross Roads Escape Games – 4245 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim CA 92806
Dead Zone 805 – 5353 Walker St., Ventura CA 93003
Delusion: His Crimson Queen – 2200 S. Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90018
Fallen Saints (The Actors Group Theatre) – 2813 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank CA 91505
Field of Screams the Haunted Stadium (The Diamond) – 500 Diamond Dr., Lake Elsinore CA 92530
Friends of CID Haunted House – 2700 Little Mountain Dr., San Bernardino CA 92405
Haunt at Heritage Hill – 25151 Serrano Rd., Lake Forest CA 92630
Gorlesque! – 224 E. 11th Street, Suite 501, Los Angeles CA 90015
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (Griffith Park Old Zoo) – 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles CA 90027
Motel 6 Feet Under (Anaheim Business Expo Center) – 1960 S. Anaheim Way, Anaheim CA 92805
Savage House (Westfield Mission Valley) – 1640 Camino Del Rio North, San Diego CA 92108
Scream Kingdom (Splash Kingdom Waterpark) – 1101 California St, Redlands CA 92374
Screenshot Productions (Bardo Thodol/The Rope) – Greater Los Angeles Area
Sinister Pointe’s Fear The Mark – Orange County Area
Reign of Terror (Janss Marketplace) – 197 N. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks CA 91360
The 17th Door (The Market Place) – 2856 El Camino Real, Tustin CA 92782
The Basement – 12909 Foothill Blvd., San Fernando CA 91342
The Bunker Experience – 20 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena CA 91103
The Curiosity Shop Escape Room – 3466 University Ave., Riverside CA 92501
The Fleshyard – 5702 La Palma, Anaheim CA 92807
The Haunted Hotel – 424 Market St., San Diego CA 92101
The Haunted Trail (Balboa Park) – 6th Ave., San Diego CA 92101
The Scream Zone (Del Mar Fairgrounds) – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar CA 92014
The Tension Experience: Ascension (Los Angeles Area) – Ticket Holders Notified of Address
Trap House (Think Tank Gallery) – 939 Maple Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Urban Death Tour of Terror (Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group) – 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood CA 91601
Wicked Lit (Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery) – 2300 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena CA 91001
Beware the Dark Realm – 28621 Sugar Pine Way, Santa Clarita CA 91390
Manhattan Beach Haunted House – 1648 10th St., Manhattan Beach CA 90266
Mourning Rose Manor – 5250 Aurelia St., Simi Valley CA 93063
Perdition Home – 5181 Manor View Dr., Yorba Linda CA 92886
Restless Souls Manor – 38143 52nd St. E., Palmdale CA 93552
Rotten Apple 907 – 907 N. California St., Burbank CA 91505
Spooky Hollows – 16418 Gilmore St., Van Nuys CA 91406
The Backwoods Maze – 1912 N. Pepper St., Burbank CA 91505
The Haunt at Daisy Avenue – 16887 Daisy Ave., Fountain Valley CA 92708
The Haunt With No Name… Yet – 19351 Hatteras St., Tarzana, CA 91356
The Haunted Rose – 12116 Groveland Ave., Whittier CA 90604
The House at Haunted Hill – 4400 Saltillo St., Woodland Hills CA 91364
The Hyde Street Massacre – 30167 Silver Ridge Ct., Temecula CA 92591
The Opechee Haunt – 1307 Opechee Way, Glendale CA 91208 (Admission Fee)
VanOaks Cemetery – 5822 Norwich Ave., Sherman Oaks CA 91411
Think about it: when you go to a theme park and get onto a ride, the response that comes next is usually either laughing or screaming. One of the most common elements used in theme park design is that of fright, or intensity. Very often, the formula for a theme park ride story is something normal suddenly taking an unexpected turn for the worst, resulting in chaos before there is any light-hearted resolution; its classic theme park attraction design 101.
When theme parks host annual Halloween events, many of them have temporary scare zones and haunted houses – also known as “mazes” – that guests walk through and experience. Whether they’re themed to a specific brand or intellectual property, or created from scratch with an original storyline, seasonal haunted attractions are created to scare the snot out of anyone daring enough to venture in. On the flip-side, when a theme park opts to spend millions of dollars on an attraction that is based on a frightening or supernatural-based story, designers are tasked with a very delicate balancing act – what is “scary enough” versus taking the experience too far, making it too intense for a large number of visitors.
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Universal Studios Hollywood has opened its newest attraction, a walk-through experience based on AMC’s The Walking Dead. The Halloween Horror Nights-style haunted house soft-opened to the public just a couple days before its announced 4th of July grand opening. Days before that, Theme Park Adventure was on hand for the media preview, which featured a whole herd of walkers bent on getting their 15 minutes of brains… er, fame.
If you’re familiar with Universal’s wildly-popular Halloween Horror Nights event, then you already get an idea of what’s in store once you make your way through the exterior switchback queue and enter the abandoned remains of Harrison Memorial Hospital – the location where The Walking Dead series begins. True to HHN-style attractions, this new year-round haunt takes approximately 6 minutes or so to get through. Park fans will find it a lot shorter than House of Horrors, which existed as Universal’s daily-operating haunted attraction from 2006 to 2014. That said, The Walking Dead packs a lot into each scene, putting it on par with the former experience and right up there with most Horror Nights mazes to date. Guests are leaving the attraction laughing, clapping, and yes – even crying; that’s exactly what designers John Murdy, Chris Williams and everyone else involved in this project wanted to see.
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If you’re a horror or theme park fan (preferably both) living in Southern California, chances are you are well aware that there is a brand-new walk-through attraction based on AMC’s The Walking Dead opening July 4th at Universal Studios Hollywood.
And, if you’re not or weren’t aware… now you know.
Under the creative direction of John Murdy and artful eye of Chris Williams, The Walking Dead will become the newest addition to the Los Angeles park, which is still undergoing an epic transformation that will see more exciting additions in the wake of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which opened this spring. While involved in other aspects of creative development for Universal Studios Hollywood, Murdy and Williams are best known as the dynamic duo of terror behind the theme park’s wildly-popular Halloween Horror Nights event.
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Hall of Shadows to Feature Full Scare Zone, Roaming Monsters, and 9 Haunted Attraction Previews at Midsummer Scream
One of the most exciting and unique components of Midsummer Scream – California’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror festival – will be its Hall of Shadows dark zone, featuring roaming monsters, entertainment, and 9 terrifying mini haunted attraction experiences.
Hall of Shadows will occupy more than one third of the Halloween festival’s 90,000 square-foot show floor this year, giving thousands of fans the opportunity to preview home and professional haunts each day, included with their admission to Midsummer Scream. In addition to the haunted attractions, those brave enough to venture into Hall of Shadows will experience a full-blown scare zone, Toxicity, high-energy performances by the Decayed Brigade slider team three times each day, and many terrifying monsters lurking in the fog, waiting to pounce!
FULL SCARE ZONE
Created by Larry Bones and his crew at Bone Yard Effects, Toxicity is an immersive experience set within the walls of a genetics lab that has suffered a toxic explosion that will leave guests screaming as they are attacked by twisted, mutated scientists from all sides. Bone Yard Effects creates the makeup applications and prosthetics each year for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood.
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