For the past 26 years, Halloween fans have flocked to Rotten Apple 907 in Burbank, California, to visit one of the most elaborate home haunts in Southern California. This year, the Rotten Apple team put its twisted spin on popular childhood tales, creating the Not So Enchanted Forest.
Entering the foreboding Not So Enchanted Forest through a storybook facade, guests stepped into a dark, heavily-landscaped woodland. A small footbridge carried folks over a babbling brook toward a small cottage in a clearing – but not before a spooky tree a la Snow White’s Scary Adventures or even the Haunted Mansion advanced menacingly! This set the stage perfectly for the family-friendly frights that waited ahead in the darkness of the Not So Enchanted Forest.
The maze itself is built on the driveway and part of the front yard that belongs to Diane and Preston Meyer, two long-time Halloween haunters that have wowed thousands of visitors each year for the past two decades. A massive undertaking, Rotten Apple’s mazes are generally open just a handful of nights each year – a shockingly few nights, considering all of the months of intense planning and construction that goes into each of their productions. Rarely do themes repeat themselves when it comes to the Rotten Apple 907 haunts, and while sometimes the themes are similar – most of the time, we are treated to brand-new, incredibly creative haunts that leave us wide-eyed and cheering.
Diane and Preston are very active in the haunt community here in Southern California as members of CalHauntS, which produced a stunning haunted house facade that was displayed prominently on the show floor of Midsummer Scream this summer in Long Beach. Rotten Apple’s experiences never cease to amaze us; the amount of work that the Meyers and their team pour into producing their annual haunt is insane – awesome in every way, really. They are also members of SoCal Valley Haunters, furthering their involvement in the haunt community here in Southern California.
In addition to wonderful sets and whimsical props, the Not So Enchanted Forest was also full of live actors both young and mature. While we’re not big fans of children in haunted attractions, home haunts generally get a pass from us, as these types of things are almost always the product of a family or group of friends coming together and creating something special they want to share with the public. Fans were treated to some fun interaction with the live talent within the Not So Enchanted Forest, at one point being led down a castle’s spiral staircase, only to be left alone to search for a secret passageway out!
Rotten Apple 907 is also a great example of a team that absolutely understands the importance of a strong soundscape to support their haunts. Each year, their mazes feature great soundtracks working in concert to deliver a cohesive audio experience from beginning to end. This is something that even pro haunters sometimes disregard or simply don’t understand the importance of. A maze or haunt experience without a strong soundscape usually ends up lacking, despite good visuals or talent. Rotten Apple nails it each year, and we definitely notice!
One more aspect that we definitely noticed that I’d be remiss not to call out here is the wonderful finale scene, which featured Preston Meyer as a princess (man, I’d love to know what bet he lost) and a large, mechanical dragon that was home-crafted, just like most everything found within the Not So Enchanted Forest.
Each season, Rotten Apple collects a donation for a local charity; this year, the team chose VBAS – Volunteers of Burbank Animal Shelter. These are good people going great things for their community each Halloween season. Sadly, they have had issues over the years with neighbors who don’t quite see it that way; that’s one of the reasons Rotten Apple only materializes for a few precious nights in October before it vanishes. We wish the haunt could run longer – but circumstance dictate otherwise. The bottom line here is, we only get a few nights each October to enjoy and admire Rotten Apple, so as you’re planning your haunt-hopping, be sure to leave a slot for this crew – because they are not to be missed.
Huge love and kudos to Rotten Apple 907 for a tremendous 2016 run with the Not So Enchanted Forest. We loved every bit of it, and are thrilled that we’re able to at least share their hard work with fans around the world through our photos and video!
- Rick West
Not So Enchanted Forest Images:
Not So Enchanted Forest Video: