About a week ago, my wife and I were able to head out to Bellflower, CA and attend the preview night for this year’s Haunted Hollywood Sports haunted event. Haunted theme parks and attractions have been on the rise in recent years as businesses are seeing the money that can be made during October. Having visited most of the big name Halloween events over the years, I must say that Haunted Hollywood Sports offers up one of the most unique experiences I have ever been to.
We began our evening within Club Crimson, Haunted Hollywood Sports 18 and over lounge. There we were separated into groups to head out into the park. We were able to visit one maze, one killhouse and walked through one scarezone to get a feeling for the park as a whole. On the way to the first maze, we walked through the Carnival of the Damned scarezone.
Carnival of the Damned
Like most theme parks out there, Haunted Hollywood Sports recognizes that clowns are just damn creepy, therefore one of their scare zones is based on the concept of an evil carnival. What the scare zone lacked in pure production value in the sets and budget, it more than made up for in its cast of monsters and performers. The first indication that we were entering the scare zone was the appearance of a contortionist performing a spider walk. This contortionist was able to get the group into the haunted house mindset just by “walking” past us, creeping people out. The other performers followed up with an equally good show, with the ringmaster and a “doll” being standouts. My wife really loved the ringmaster’s performance, both in the scare zone and while we were waiting to get into the first maze.
The only walk-though maze we saw on our journey was Venom. Themed as a journey into an ancient temple, Venom had some of the most unique and unnerving features that either my wife or me have ever seen in a maze. I am used to entering these mazes in large groups, which has a tendency to ruin the immersion of the maze and takes away from my experience. We entered this maze in groups of four, so we were all alone in our progress and did not get any previews of what was coming by seeing it happen to someone else. The maze was incredibly tight fit for me to proceed through, which increased my tension. For my wife, who suffers from claustrophobia, it was almost too much to bear. For most of the maze, I had to progress almost by feel due to the dim lighting, and had no idea where the talent would come out at me from. The coup de grace, though, was the exit from the maze. Coming up to a small crack in the wall between two large, inflatable balloons, I realized that the only way out was to squeeze between the two balloons and proceed through to the exit. While I was uncomfortable with the tight fit, my wife was truly started to feel the panic set in.
While I can nitpick about theme or other parts, what matters to me the most is whether or not I had fun, and this maze was a blast for both me and my wife. While the maze had a couple of good startles to be found, it was the slow burn of the claustrophobic environments that really made the maze for me. Forcing us to squeeze between two inflatable walls (and for such a distance) to get out was truly brilliant and was something that my wife and I felt made the entire maze enjoyable and memorable.
Our last stop for the evening was going to the the Voodoo Killhouse, which was the one stop I was looking forward to all night. Haunted Hollywood Sports is unique in this type of attraction. Attendees to the park enter the killhouse in groups of ten, don a paintball mask and pick up a semi-automatic pellet gun. The participants are then lead through the maze, where they can fire their pellet guns at the onslaught of zombies that are coming towards the group. I had heard about this attraction, and was incredibly excited to see how this was pulled off.
My wife and I were put into the last group of the night. We grabbed our face masks, weapons, and then after a short tutorial on gun etiquette, we were off to shoot zombies. Initially, my gun was jammed, so I watched as my wife ran through the maze shooting zombies. The zombies, who are employees in protective gear and costumes, really acted the part. I saw the zombies react to weapons fire and hits, with some going down and not getting back up. I was able to clear the jam in my gun about half way through the maze, and that’s when the fun really started for me. In one moment, I walked through a door to see a zombie pop up on my left. Instinctively, I raised my weapon and fired three rounds into the zombie, and saw him stumble backwards. I was sold in that moment about this attraction and can’t wait to do it again.
When we exited the killhouse, my wife and I talked about it like little kids on Christmas morning. The killhouse isn’t about scares like the walk-through maze is, but about giving you a unique experience that you cannot get anywhere else. You do feel like you are being assaulted by a relentless wave of zombies, that you can actually shoot at with a pellet gun. You really need to try this, it’s awesome.
*Editor’s Addendum – GamingShogun here, folks, wanting to tell you that I was able to personally-attend this attraction on Oct. 5th and was able to check out the rest of their experiences. The two shooting range-style attractions were excellent, with my favorite being the one where you are trying to defend a “nuclear football” from swarming hordes of zombies. There is a cool sideshow which runs three times a night featuring several of the park’s sliding monsters as well as some cool magic from Naathan Phan, who was a contestant on America’s Got Talent. Additionally, the two other killhouse attractions were excellent – even the zombie killhouse which used IR rifles instead of airsoft ones. My biggest issues with the park are that it needs to be a bit more “trip-conscious”, as there were a couple times that I tripped over a poorly-lit step, etc. Aside from that, I had an excellent time and can’t wait to return!
Like video games, the ultimate purpose of a theme park is to have fun. I think people have a tendency to nit pick these types of events, especially now that these are becoming much more frequent and expensive to get in. Haunted Hollywood Sports offers the killhouse attractions, which you cannot experience anywhere else, and that makes the park something to experience. When it all comes down to it, my wife and I had tons of fun at the Haunted Hollywood Sports event and I would head back to it in a second. You can find ticket information and more over at Haunted Hollywood Sports official website.
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