Well, it's finally here. The end of the Haunt Season.
As a site, this was our third year covering Halloween and we've had an absolute blast. We attended more Haunts this year than any other year, and it still was just a drop in the proverbial bucket.
Below are our rankings, this is by no means a complete list of everything that is out there. Some of these events still have some nights coming up this weekend so be sure to check them out if you haven't already.
If you missed ANY of our Halloween Updates be sure to check them out.
Best Theme Park Haunt - Knott's Scary Farm
With the addition of new mazes and the freshening up of some previous years mazes it was another banner year for the amazing Knott's Scary Farm.
Small improvements like the Skeleton Key rooms and new effects in mazes made the event seem fresh. The moving of Infected from Camp Snoopy to it's own maze not only made the overall experience for Infected that much better but freed up Camp Snoopy for an all new Scare Zone.
Best Independent Haunt - Motel 6 Feet Under
This was a tough category as there were 3 amazing Independent Haunts that could have claimed this spot (we'll touch on those below). But this event works in every way, not because it's extreme, not because it's gory, but because it's just a FUN Haunted House.
Motel 6 Feet Under is open this weekend (November 2 through 5) so if you missed this you still have a chance.
Best Home Haunt - Backwoods
So let's say you go to some imaginary "Haunt Graveyard" and get animatronics and sets that basically tells the history of Southern California Scary Events and put them all in your house. And then it all works in an amazing way. That's what Backwoods is and it's amazing.
Best Maze - The Exorcist (Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood AND Orlando)
Yep, this maze was our favorite at two separate events 2500 miles apart. And for VERY different reasons. The Hollywood Maze edges out the Orlando maze EVER so slightly but this maze had the perfect blend of storytelling and amazing effects.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Unviersal Orlando are both open November 4 and 5
Best Scare Zones - Fright Fest - Six Flags Magic Mountain
This is now the third year SFMM has taken this award from us and for good reason. SFMM is HUGE but they manage to pull off filling almost every inch of their park with monsters and the best make-up team in the business.
We will say that there were a few dead spots this year (namely on the back side of the park). We are pretty sure this was because the area around Riddlers was supposed to close prior to Fright Fest and then they decided to keep it open. The Suicide Squad scare zone was great and we hope we'll see the expansion of the DC Universe Scare Zone into Metropolis for next years event. We'd also like to see the expansion of The Ruins near Apocalypse.
Best Talent - Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
This category wasn't even close. The talent at Dark Harbor has so much freedom it's really hard for the other events to compare.
Not tied to any corporate structure they are free to interact with the guests as they see fit, free to do things that other parks would freak out about while still maintaining safety for themselves and guests.
Best New Maze - (tie) Shadowlands - Knott's Scary Farm and Aftermath 2 - Fright Fest
We typically exclude Halloween Horror Nights from this category as they don't tend to repeat mazes, but that's not to take away anything from these two amazing mazes. One (Shadowlands) a completely original idea that we've never seen before and the other (Aftermath 2) a resurrection of a previous maze but on steroids.
Best Returning Maze - Reign of Terror
If you've never done Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks you are really missing out. This event is on par and in some ways exceeds even the biggest and baddest theme park haunt maze. The talent here is amazing and the size of the haunt is staggering. It takes a good 20-25 minutes to get through the entire event. And something we've never seen before, in-maze line control that totally works.
While this is the best "Returning" maze, they change it up enough each year to keep it fresh and exciting and you shouldn't miss Reign of Terror in 2017.
Best "First Year" Event - Gorlesque
With so many existing Haunts in Southern California you'd think there wasn't room for anything new. You'd be wrong. But you've gotta be different to make a splash, and Gorlesque found that happy place between interactive, scary, sexy and amazing. One of the most talked about events for 2016. We can't wait to see what they come up with for 2017.
Best Haunted Ride: Crash Test Zombies - Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
How do you make awesome bumper cars even better? How about adding Zombies and naming it after an obscure Canadian band from the early 90's with a hit song that still doesn't make any sense (not sure if that last part is actually true ... well, MmmmMmmmMmmmMmmm still doesn't make any sense).
Best Family Event: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Haunted Events are getting better every year, but so are the family events. But there's something about this party at the Magic Kingdom that's just so special and fun each and every year.
Best "New To Us" Haunt - Sinister Pointe: Fear The Mark
There are SO many events to cover that we only get to see so many each year, which is why we hadn't been to Sinister Pointe before. And now I'm sad because we had such a scary good time at this event and their 4 realms. To be fair, some of us on the staff had experienced Sinister Pointe before, but we'd never reviewed it as a website.
Sinister Pointe is open the next two weekends (November 4 and 5 / November 11 and 12) so be sure to get your "Mark" before it's too late
Today we've got our review of The 17th Door which is back for it's Sophomore year.
This was one of the breakout events of 2015 and so far it seems that it's just as popular in 2016, if not more popular. If you want to experience this event be sure to get your tickets online, you can find out more about The 17th Door here.
We've attempted to give as few spoilers away as possible, but if you'd like to go in with fresh eyes you may want to read this once you've experienced The 17th Door.
Written by Rose Costello
Pictures courtesy of The 17th Door
Let me start off my review by saying that for most people The 17th Door will affect them more than it did myself and my husband Matthew Nelson. We have gone through "extreme" haunts and experiences so to us this just wasn't as intense. I would recommend buying the "Speed Pass". Unlike most places you have an hour window which to arrive. Also the "Speed Pass" did take us 30 minutes from the time we walked into line to the time we actually went inside.
You will need to sign a waiver. Read it because most if not all of the things it mentions does happen to you or one or your group. There is a safe word you can say and you have a choice of exiting the room or actually not wanting to finish. There was no way I was going to say the safe word. Once you sign the waiver you turn it in and get your hand stamped before walking into the appropriate line
The 17th Door is NOT and I repeat NOT your typical haunted house walk through. No you will be touched, asked to do various things or at times the entire group will. I was disappointed that this year they claim there are 6 more rooms so to me that would be a total of 23 rooms and a mini escape room. However there were only 18 numbered rooms with the last being a photo op of your entire group not just those who you came with so bad move there since I do not want to buy a picture with strangers in it.
Ok onto the actual experience. This year is the second year The 17th Door returned. We follow Paula once again this time in her Sophomore year of Gluttire University where she is pregnant. The 17th Door touches on her drinking, bulimia, sexual abuse/molestation and various other subjects so be warned.
The mini escape room is fun except you only get 2 minutes yes 2 whole minutes to accomplish 4 various tasks. We did not finish in that time mainly because it's hard to see and just not enough time. Now if we had 5 minutes that may have been enough time to solve all 4.
I don't want to give away much for those who haven't gone. Let's just say there are definitely bugs. So if you or anyone in your group is afraid of bugs this room maybe where the "safe word" is said. A couple of the rooms have nothing to do with the story line and felt "out of place".
However the acting was excellent and I felt like I was more in an interactive play in most rooms than scared or anything else. There are at least it seemed to me more pigs than last year. I kept waiting for more things to happen/do with each room but unfortunately the most intense happens early on.
Also it seems that a lot of the rooms only one or two people get picked to do something. There are rooms the entire group does. The beginning is intense let's just say I will leave it at that. Also I got picked in one room because I was laughing. I should mention that you will be touched. It is part of the experience.
Overall I would say that they need to eliminate the repeatable rooms from last year. Make it fresh. It's the second year. No need to have the same theme in the room. The story line is great though. I am curious if they will continue with the theme of Gluttire University for two more years but I would personally like to see a fresh new story line. I would say if you haven't been to The 17th Door to not miss it if this is something you'd like to experience. There were a lot of first timers there last night. If you've been last year I'd still say go because you will see the differences and similarities. Anyone who wants to really know what happened can ask but I just don't want to give anything away.