REVIEW: Haunted Hollywood Sports 2012

Haunted Hollywood Sports is one of the new haunted attractions cutting its teeth this year in Southern California. Located in Bellflower, Haunted Hollywood Sports is spread out over the sprawling Hollywood Sports Park facility’s 23 acres, featuring two “killhouses”, four mazes and two scare zones. The event also features a 21+ bar, complete with DJ and a dance floor.

To say Haunted Hollywood Sports is an ambitious undertaking in its first year is an understatement of epic proportions. However, the folks behind HHS aren’t new to the haunted attraction industry. To the contrary, many of the individuals behind this new endeavor are seasoned haunt folks, many formerly of Knott’s Halloween Haunt. That said, Haunted Hollywood Sports has some serious growing pains that they are working quickly to resolve; whether or not it will be too little too late remains to be seen this early in October. The good news is, the majority of the negative issues we encountered opening night were due to facilities operation (management and regular staff), not the Haunted Hollywood Sports team. There are two separate entities at work here, and one of them appeared to be fairly unprepared and clueless, really, about running a haunt.

Power went out to two of the four mazes on opening night; that is a nightmare situation for any haunt team, and very unfortunate. We really wanted to see everything Haunted Hollywood Sports has to offer, but were ultimately unable to do so. The HHS operators responded by moving the talent from those two mazes to other locations throughout the haunt.

Haunted Hollywood Sports features two “killhouses”. A killhouse is an interactive experience where guests are given protective masks and airsoft guns to shoot monsters with as they are herded quickly through a maze-like environment. In theory, it sounds freakin’ awesome. However, we encountered a severe buzzkill when we got into a line of approximately 30 people for one of the two killhouse attractions at HHS. The staff operating the killhouse was ill-prepared to handle a large amount of guests quickly, and there didn’t appear to be enough equipment to move guests through at a decent rate. The result was us waiting at least an hour in queue; other TPAers posted that they waited at least 90 minutes. For an event that was open four hours on its first night, this was a back-breaker, and we had to abandon all hope of seeing the second killhouse in action if we were to get any video or photos at all to share. The experience was okay – not exhilarating or outstanding; one of those things that looks great on paper, but in reality, isn’t too good. Shooting at monsters, there is no “payoff” – guests have no way really of even knowing if they hit anything, considering there are several other people firing away at the same time. The killhouse concept is a very challenging one, and while we’re glad we did it once, we wouldn’t necessarily do it again. Definitely not if we had to wait an hour for 25-30 people ahead of us to cycle through first.

The mazes at Haunted Hollywood Sports that we saw are huge in size; too huge. The result is lots of walking with nothing happening. The monsters that we did encounter were a mixed bag; some were awesome, working their asses off. Others – not so much, but we give that a semi-pass, especially on opening night. Even world-class haunts such as Knott’s Scary Farm have some so-so talent on opening weekend; we get that and accept that. The verdict is that the mazes at this haunt should be slashed in size to make a tighter, more fulfilling experience for guests. It’s a much better scenario to have visitors exit a maze saying it was a bit short, but great, rather than long and boring. The latter will kill a haunt faster than you can say “boo”.

Scare Zone talent at Haunted Hollywood Sports is hit-and-miss as well; chalk some of that up to opening night jitters, of course. However, some of the roaming monsters are VERY good and we really enjoyed interacting with them. Huge TPA love to the men and women workin’ it at HHS on the streets and in the mazes.

The man behind the haunt-side of the operation at Haunted Hollywood Sports is Johnny Plague, the front man/vocalist for Winds of Plague, an American Deathcore band from Upland, California. The band was kind enough to allow us to use one of their tracks – Raise The Dead – for our video of HHS, and we thank them kindly for that; we wanted to tie the whole thing together!

And so, while Haunted Hollywood Sports had a very definite rocky start, we sincerely hope that differences with facility management can and will be sorted out. We have heard that the event has been improving each night, and that is awesome; we want these guys to succeed either at their current location or elsewhere, if management/owners at the park don’t come around. We have no doubt that this team can run a badass haunted attraction and support them in their effort 100%. Their intentions are good, their concepts strong and their passion sincere. Once they get some traction and are off and running, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if Haunted Hollywood Sports rallies and becomes one of the premier Halloween attractions in SoCal!

– Rick West

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