I had the privilege to go to California’s Great America’s Halloween Haunt media day, and thoroughly enjoyed the event.  There were many things going on, including mazes, shows, scare zones, Demon ReIgnited, and skeleton key rooms.  Sadly I was not able to do one of the mazes because of issues with strobe lights, and any of the skeleton key rooms and two of the shows due to time restraints, but what I did do I thoroughly enjoyed.

With that said, let’s get started.

Backstage Tour of Backwoods

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The first thing we did at Halloween Haunt was a terrific backstage tour of Backwoods with the lights on, done by Clayton Lawrence, who has now moved on from California’s Great America and works at Cedar Fair due to his great jobs on many events at California’s Great America.  He mentioned how they had the idea to flood the old IMAX Pictorium, and build a maze themed to a water resort on it.  He also discussed how much Halloween Haunt has changed in it’s ten years of existence, going from just one maze to now eight.

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This tree might look fake here, but in the darkness of the maze it looks completely real.

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Another scary prop used in the maze.

Opening Ceremony

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The character opening the ceremony this year was first the Witch again, but then they brought out a new character, The Demon, which goes along with this year’s marquee new edition:

Demon ReIgnited

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Demon ReIgnited was a great improvement from the regular Demon.  Included is the edition of audio and lights in the tunnels, the return of the blood waterfall, and fire!  The ride itself is not changed at all, but all of the effects around it make it a must do when coming to Haunt, as this is Halloween Haunt exclusive, meaning the effects don’t run during normal operating hours.

Mazes (Spoilers)

Wax Museum 

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Wax Museum this year was essentially the same as last year, which is actually great considering it was one of the best mazes at Halloween Haunt last year!

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The whole idea of Was Museum centers around a Wax character showcase, with characters coming to life and jumpscaring you.  Many parts of this maze are very highly themed, including the bank scene shown above.

Zombie High

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Zombie High this year was also very similar to last year, which means that it was a very middle of the road maze; not terrific nor awful.

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Returning from years past is the bungee jump scare which is personally my favorite scare of all of Halloween Haunt.  Here you can see the bungee jumper scaring some frightened guests.  Zombie High as a whole is not that spectacular, but this part of the maze makes it completely worth it if you get jumped at.

Toy Factory

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Toy Factory is among the returning mazes this year, and it is fantastic as usual, probably my second favorite maze of the event.  The maze hits on all cylinders: it is as long as it should be, it is packed full of actors, and the theming throughout is spectacular.  Along with that is an amazing theme song, and you can listen to it right here: Toy Factory Theme Song.

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Cornstalkers

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Cornstalkers, as usual, is by far the longest maze at California’s Great America.  However, this comes with the drawback of the maze being empty for large portions.  The theming of the maze itself however is done very well, with many sections having scare crows and the expected stuff, with the whole maze feeling like a haunted corn maze.

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He told me he’s a “Jake Pauler” and that he was “dabbing on the haters”

The few actors who were in the maze however were great and funny.  Overall this maze falls on the lower spectrum of mazes, but is still worth your time when going to Halloween Haunt.

Madame Marie’s Massacre Manor

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Madame Marie’s was the one maze to me this year that seemed multitudes better than year’s past, propelling itself to the top spot of my rankings.  One contributing factor to this was that they actually flipped the layout of the maze this year, with the part that would usually be the exit being the entrance.  This, combined with not having a sign until the next day, led to no other people being inside the maze at one time except our group.  This, of course, meant scare actors who were anxiously waiting for us to come to them, and a whole bunch of jumpscares throughout.  Along with this, the maze was very well detailed and had a pretty cohesive storyline throughout of somebody keeping all of the monsters inside the house, leading to by far my favorite maze of Halloween Haunt.

Roadkill Roadhouse

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This maze was, like Zombie High, a very middle of the road maze at Halloween Haunt.  This maze is known for being very dark, and it was dark indeed.  There was a general feeling of not knowing where anything was during the maze, which was overall my favorite part of the maze.

Backwoods

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Backwoods was the lone new maze I was able to experience, and it was very highly themed all throughout.  Like said above on the backstage tour of it, the whole maze is above water, which gives off a great effect with the lighting used, making you feel like you’re outside when your’e actually inside the old IMAX Pictorium!

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One downside of this is that the maze is relatively short (It took us 2 minutes to get through the entirety of it).  However, what is there is extremely entertaining and incredibly themed throughout, making this one of my favorite mazes of the event.

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Rankings

  1. Madame Marie’s Massacre Manor
  2. Toy Factory
  3. Backwoods
  4. Wax Museum
  5. Roadkill Roadhouse
  6. Zombie High
  7. Cornstalkers

Did not do: Chaos House (I do not do well with strobe lights, fog, and mirrors.  This maze has a lot of strobe lights, fog, and mirrors)

Scarezones

Jester Town

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This scare zone in Orleans Place was my favorite scare zone of the event.  This replaces Lockdown from last year, and is a great use of the space available in Orleans Place.  Many clowns roam the area, and this is the scarezone where the actors will actually skid towards you on knee pads, so if you enjoy that definitely head to this maze.

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This scare zone was pretty lackluster, with not many actors and not much going on whilst we were going through it.  Overall not a lot to say except it was pretty meh.

Underworld Alley

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This scare zone was the one featuring the Demon character, although he was sadly not out while we were going through it.  This maze features an extremely compact setting, as it is contained to just the Hush Arbor.  This has some positives in that it feels tight and closed in, but presents the challenge of crowd flow and lack of many possible paths.

Shows

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Nytewalkers was an insane show packed to the brim with actions and stunts.  The crew for this show is amazing, and does a fantastic job of providing entertainment outside of scare zones and mazes.

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Blood Drums was also a ton of fun as usual.  This year there was significantly more acting and twirling than in years past, where it’s just been all out drums.

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That concludes my review for Halloween Haunt 2017.  I would definitely recommend coming to this event if possible.

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