Monday, December 29, 2014

December 2014 - The Making of a War

The Making of a War
Most of these write up’s I do for you, the occasional reader.  This time, I’m writing it for myself to remember in the years to come.  As a father, I’m proud of what happened during the week of December 14th – 21st, not because of my efforts, but the Christmas Spirit and the imagination that erupted from my boys during those days.  

So you’ve seen the pictures, now here’s the rest of the story…


So why did I do it?  Why would I cover my bathroom in the dead Mickey bodies?  The week after Thanksgiving, Red, our Christmas Elf, came out to spread Christmas cheer, which my youngest son, Brodie, was beside himself in anticipation of the chaos that would ensue.

Most of the pictures posted on Facebook, Instagram, etc I had already done.  Red pooped on a toothbrush, Red fished in the toilet, Red tp’d the house, etc.  So this year, I came up with my best some new ideas, and the boys weren’t impressed.  As quickly as it started, the excitement was gone.  On the way to their mom’s that Sunday, I asked the boys what their favorite moment with Red was?  After some time, they finally said it was when Red was in the candy drawer and they couldn’t find him until late that night. 

So for me, this was disappointing.  I wanted the boys to be telling me immediately what excited them, what they wanted more...and they had to think about it.  Failure in my book.  The following week, their mom did some cool stuff with books, which got Brodie excited for reading and some other fun stuff, but again, the boys were losing their interest in their little Elf friend.  So I needed to make a change, and frankly, the internet lead me to nothing new, just the same old potty jokes that Red is known for.


Day 1, I was at a loss.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  I was a little nervous that the magic of Red was lost, and we were doomed.  Finally, I came up with a quick idea in which I tied Red up and put 12 Vinylmation figurines around him.  As if he was captured.  Now what exactly is a Vinlymation Figurine?  It's a collection the boys and I started together and became very addicting.  With the same Mickey mold, artists would paint each Mickey to represent something else.  The ones we collected all had a Disney theme, but some of our Urban series are very non-Disney.  I think I have over 125 of the figures, and they all are stuck in a box because I don't have room to display them.  We bought most of them at Disney Theme Parks.

I wasn't impressed with the scene, but it was the best I could come up with.  The scene was set in the boys room, and I went to bed without a second thought.  Unfortunately, no picture from that initial scene that would start a week of chaos.


I woke up to a couple of very angry boys.  You see, the rules of The Elf on the Shelf is that you can't touch the elf at all, or clean up after him.  So when the boys saw that their beloved elf had been captured, they were not happy.  No, they were TICKED OFF.

Through the day at school, it fermented inside of them, this rage that their elf had been captured and there was nothing they could do about it.  How dare the Vinyls capture their elf and stick it right in their faces.

So without further discussion, the boys went home, went straight to their room and freed their elf.  I think they might have pushed a couple over too, and then carried their friend to the front of the house, far away from the evil vinyls. 

This act of heroism made them overly happy and kind of full of energy.  So it was very festive that night...strange what a little scene would cause.


After the excitement of Day 1, what would top it?  Normally I would do something different, just to keep it interesting.  But why not keep the story going, right?  So I moved Red over to my game chair, a throne like chair for Mr. Red to sit in. 

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Red in the chair, or the note that he created, but it said something like this: Conner and Brodie, Thank you for saving me.  I have captured the 12 evil vinyls and wrapped them up and hid them in the apt.  If you want to find them, I could care less they are getting coal in their stockings this year, there are 6 for each of you to find.  But like I said, I don't care if you find them, let them rot, Red.

After Red's scene was done, I wrapped the 12 vinyls up in Toilet Paper and hid them all over the apt.  Some harder than others, because I knew Conner would leave the easy ones for Brodie and look for the really hard ones.  They were hidden in the kitchen, the hallway, both bathrooms and the front room.


I awoke to a quiet morning.  Got ready, told the boys to get up, and they went on the search for Red.  They found him on his throne and Conner read the letter that Red had wrote.  Then the search was on, all giggles and laughter as they found the captured Vinyl's wrapped in Toilet Paper. 

That morning, they found 8 of the vinyls.  They piled the bodies like dead victims on the counter, and no, they did not release them.  And there was never any thought of releasing them, it was just a game of hide and seek, or geocaching for Vinyls.

After school and some shopping, the boys went straight in the apt and went on the hunt, recovering the final four.  Once again happy...but what was I supposed to do next?

I'm not really sure when the thought came to me, but I decided to put both boys in the bath at the same time, something I haven't done in awhile.  I put Brodie in the bath, then quickly sent Conner to the shower.  With both of them busy, I took two containers into their rooms and filled them with vinyls from the box, as many as I could find.  Then I replaced the sleeping bag back on top of the box, so it looked like nothing was changed.  I hid the two containers in the closet and in my bedroom, right as Conner was coming out of the I just had to wait.


This was going to be a big job, so I made sure the boys were asleep before I started working, so it was like 10:30 before the battle grounds were laid.

First, I put Red in a sock, then tied him up and hung him from the shower of the boys bathroom.

Then I unwrapped the captured vinyls and threw the toilet paper in certain locations.  I also wrote a note from the Vinyls, with misspellings and all

[Picture of DAY3-THE NOTE]

Laying down all the vinyls took the most time.  I decided to make it look like stormtroopers in small groups, but I think they kind of look like Nazi's by the time I was done.

After I was done I was in my room getting ready when I saw some Halloween decorations that I didn't use.  Hmm...what the heck, I blocked the door with Do Not Enter banners.


This morning was pretty funny waking up to.  The boys were lined up outside the door to the bathroom, unsure of if they should go in thanks to the banners.  I joined them at the door, looked at the banners, looked at the boys, looked at the banners, looked at the boys.  They seriously were not going to go past those banners. 

"What now?" I ask.

Boys shrugged their shoulders.

"Well, this is my house, and I'm not going to take this," and with one flat hand, I broke the barrier and the two boys went cautiously in.

Now the pictures really don't show you how freaking crazy the battle scene actually was, but I know it was crazy enough to totally mess the boys up bad.  Here's Red, dangling from a rope, with Vinyls all over the place, and a note demanding to see the fat man.  I left that scene, and went to get ready.  Ten minutes later, the boys hadn't moved.  Not sure if they were in shock, or they were just trying to process everything that was going on.

While I was making their lunches, I saw Brodie bolt from the bathroom to his room, and then seconds later come to me with two vinyls.

"Dad, I think these guys are on Red's team!" says Brodie.

"Why's that?"

"They were the only ones left in the box, they must have stayed behind because they didn't believe in what they were doing," my youngest says, with a face mixed in shock and happiness.

"I guess that makes them loyalists bud, got to be loyalists."

"Yeah, loyalists."  And Brodie, very gently, carried the Loyalists to some other vinyl toys that were on my counter...and that's how the Loyalists were created.

I'm guessing the boys were thinking about that scene all day, because when I picked them up they told me they were cutting Red down.  And they did just that.  Walked into the bathroom, untied Red, and gave him love for his injuries.  Then he was placed, gently, next to the Loyalists.


Thanks to Brodie's great idea of the Loyalists, I had my next idea already to go.  Again, it wasn't til 10:30 before I started work.  But this time, it took some hard work on my part.  I had to sneak into the boys room and remove all the Pokémon dolls the boys had, which they were curled up with.  At one point, Conner woke up and asked me if it was time to wake up.  That was stressful.  Then there was the fact that they now knew the bathroom was the place of the battle, but the bathroom has a fan that automatically comes on when you turn the light on, and the damn thing is loud!! 

Plus, I wanted to build a jail so I took a shoe box, cut out slits and then wrote jail.  A perfect place to throw some evil vinyls right?

After I had all the pieces together, creating the scene was the tricky part.  I closed the bathroom door, turned the light, and the annoying fan on, and got to work.  First I put our hero on a dragon...because that's cool.  And had him eat, step on, kill a couple of vinyls.

Then I took the rope that Red was tied up with, aka my belt, lasso'd some vinyls and put Stark, one of the Loyalists, on top with the snake on top of the vinyls...A side note about the snake, I'm not really sure which side he is on.  I think he keeps a snake.

Another favorite scene is one of the Pokémon with a gun on top of his head.  I then made some of the vinyls lay down like a cannonball and flown through, leaving one of the balls at the end of the decimation.  I thought that was cool.

One of the hardest scenes I put together, because I wasn't sure if it was appropriate, was the Firefly Scene.  The guy from Firefly, not sure his name, was in front of a line of vinyls.  The vinyls were down, as if shot, leaving two vinyls left.  It was a pretty dark scene, a firing squad, but the boys weren't bothered by it.  Not sure that's a good sign.

To counter balance the dark scene, I put a scene together of a pokemon and two vinyls playing a card game of War.  I thought that was pretty cool, unfortunately, the boys didn't get it.

That set up took a lot longer than I thought, about an hour, 90 minutes by the time I went to bed.  But it was pretty awesome, something I was proud of.

On a sidenote, Brodie and Conner both wrote Red a letter saying we are on your side, good luck and we are with you.  They also left a chocolate bar for Red, who ate a piece and then went to rage war.  I can't seem to find Brodies note (which asked Santa for Max the Tow Truck, which he sadly did not receive for Christmas), but I do have Conner's and Red's reply:


Day 5 started with the boys just staring at the battle scene, taking in everything that was happening, and very excited that the Pokémon had come to help the Loyalists.  I got up, got ready, got dressed, made their lunches, and then told them they should get ready.  I honestly wished I had a microphone in the bathroom to play for you the conversations that were going on in that bathroom.  I missed all of it, trying to get the day started, but there was non stop talk going in on what was going on, the Loyalists campaign, this being like a chess game, first the vinyls, then Red, then the vinyls, and now Red again.  What would the vinyls do that night?  How bad is it going to get?  Will they ever get to use their bathroom again?

The conversation continued on the drive to school, on the phone call after school, on the way home from school, and through the night.  Was it over?  Or was it going to get a lot worse?


This setup included all the vinyls that were still standing.  Amazingly, during the battle sequences, not a single vinyl came back to life.  When they were down, they were down.  A little hidden nugget of information.

So the storyline, which was lost on the boys unfortunately, was that the two Vinyl Loyalists were spies.  They helped take down the dragon with the help of the snake.  The snake bit a wing, and the spies stabbed the dragon. I getting too dark?

The vinyl's recapture Red and look to be on their way to hanging Red up again.  While at the jail, there's a jail break and all the vinyls are escaping...which if you saw the Jail the night before, one of the bars was already broken and one was trying to sneak out!!

The Pokémon pig lost the game of War, and the vinyls attacked

The vinyls were able to take the gun down, and the Pokémon with it.

Firefly was captured with a Vinyl on his head, and Stark was surrounded by smiling Vinyls.

In all honesty, I knew at this point what the final scene would be.  But I still had one night left...what could be done?  It was making me nervous, I had no clue.


Shock, pure and undeniable shock.  The morning before was filled with conversation, the morning of the 17th, dead silence.  When I saw the boys, their shoulders were down, and their mouths were slightly opened.  I tried at one point to say that there were traders amongst the Loyalists, but they weren't listening.  Their friends were captured, everything had taken a turn for the worst...nothing was to be said.

The drive to school was in silence.  I worked on spelling with Brodie for one last time, and the letters came out quietly.  The boys were defeated, now what?

When I went to pick the boys up, things had changed.  They didn't tell me what they had planned, but things were on the up and up.  Brodie had Basketball practice and laughter rejoined our little family. 

When we got home, the boys disappeared.  I let them be, figuring they were just screwing around, but they were doing quite the opposite.  They were planning a comeback for the Loyalists.  From what I can tell after the fact, the boys went in and got all the Loyalists that they could find.  They bandaged them, gave them love, and then armored the hell out of them.  When I finally came upon them, the bathroom door was closed so the vinyl's couldn't see what was going on, and the Loyalists were lined up outside the door, with guns and ammo, they were ready to fight...and thanks to them, that night was planned out.


When I opened the door to the bathroom, Conner had done a little more than just taken the Loyalists out, he filled the jail with Vinyl victims.  The jail was packed.

So first, I figured a peace sign would be best.  I was a little worried that the boys wouldn't know what a peace sign was, but I took the chance.  So I formed a huge one with the vinyls, laying some down to represent the symbol:

Then I added all the Loyalists that helped out.  Thanks to the boys, the Autobots from Rescue Bots joined the Loyalists to finally take down the Vinyls.

With the jail, I stood it up and added little white flags to show the surrender, then added the deck of cards, shuffled and ready to be put away.  The war was over, the Loyalists had won.

In order for the boys to fully understand what was going on, and to give the whole battle some kind of story, I told the boys about how the Vinyls were sick of staying in the box all year long without being played with and not getting any presents from Santa. 


Conner saw the Peace Sign right off the bat and understood the white flags, so that was pretty cool.  Brodie was happy to see the Autobots, but there was one Vinyl that seemed to have escaped the clutches, and it was one that I missed.  I could have restarted the story with this one Vinyl, but Christmas was coming, and it was time for the story to come to a close. 

On a side note, the boys did tell me that we needed to play with the vinyls, but playing the villain of this story, I told them no, they would be going back into the box.  Brodie actually looked kind of sad and asked if they could take some of the vinyls to mom's house the next week. 


The ending to the story was simple, Red would bring two presents for the Vinyls and all would rejoice and be friends.  Got to wonder if this is how stories are written: The ending first, then the journey last. 

First I stood the laying down Vinyls, then added some of the others that were scattered around.  Then I put Red in the middle with the presents.  No words needed, I think the conclusion was simple enough.  Also released the vinyls from jail.


The boys woke up and saw the gifts and were pretty excited by the final stage.  They both opened up a new vinyl to add to our ever growing collection: Han Solo and the creepy girl from Finding Nemo. 

That night Brodie cleaned up the bathroom all by himself.  I think he just wanted time alone with all the characters from the war over the week, instead of just cleaning up.  But he did an amazing job.  The finale was a bit uneventful compared to prior nights, but all in all, it was a success.


Like any book, the journey was much more awesome than the conclusion.  I was completely shocked by the imagination my boys put into the events, and I'm not a 100% sure if they knew how much of their imagination created each evenings battle.  It was truly awesome to see the boys just standing in one place for 10 - 20 minutes, creating their own storyline to what they saw, and then telling each other their thoughts.  While I used some words to explain some things, the true magic came from what came out of their minds due to what they saw.  It was an absolutely awesome experience, and hopefully I'll be able to come up with some kind of storyline next year that will keep them coming back for more...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #11 – Callson Manor

DISCLAIMER – I’m spoiled.  I think that’s the basic fact as we come to the ending of the 2014 Halloween Season.  I started October on an extremely high note and it was followed with some surprises, but never reached that high note Knotts placed.  Knotts had long mazes, well themed mazes, and you got to go through them as many times as you want.  Everything else…well, it’s good, but I just keep comparing things to Knotts and that’s not fair.

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #11 – Callson Manor
  Callson Manor was one of my favorites in my Sacramento haunt history.  I would say at the top of my list would be Gyro’s, and I don’t think anything here in Sac has really gotten to that level of creativeness and scares that Gyro’s brought me back in the 90’s.

  First, finding the place is a bit tricky.  It’s in the Placer County Fairgrounds, and while I had been there just a couple of years ago, they have moved the entrance and it’s kind of confusing to get there.  You have to enter the gates, then drive to the back side of the fairgrounds to park and enter the event.  We passed it the first time, as others did, so beware and make sure you have it on your phone so you have at least a general idea where you are going.

  The event itself is fantastic.  I think if they put a carnival out front like Heartstoppers, maybe an old western carnival, that would be amazing.  Ticket prices are pretty good, I think we got in for 13 bucks each.  The event is all on dirt, so I think when it starts raining on Friday, this might turn into a mud pit.  So be warned.  But the dirt adds to the environment, which is an old western town with wagons, buildings, stores, and a couple of vendors.

  We were told to hang out in the main area until a cannon would go off which signaled the opening of the event.  I of course was picturing either a real cannon, or one of those fire launchers that has been popping up around California.  Right before the cannon blast, the scareactors came out for the clown maze and the psycho maze.  I didn’t care for this, I don’t want to know what, or who I will be seeing in the maze.  But what was cool was the four or five scareactors that waited for us past the rope.  If I had a good camera, it would have been an amazing picture.  As for that cannon blast, more like an air cannon, and I think if you were in front of the group, you were blasted.


  With the rope dropping, you went through a main street of sorts with old western buildings on each side.  The scareactors used more noise to scare, which I didn’t care for.  Don’t mind screaming or jumping out at you, but using electronics with loud noise is a bit annoying.  One guy slid on his knees on a wooden platform which was pretty cool.  All the scareactors were well dressed and their makeup was freaking awesome.

  For me, they just needed to add fog.  If they did, it would be like a miniature version of Knott’s Ghost town and I WOULD LOVE IT!!  But with no fog, it’s still a pretty cool place to check out.  And the scareactors were fun.  Saw one guy jump out at a girl who threw herself to the ground with her friend falling to the ground laughing her ass off.  That’s what haunt is all about my friends.


  The signature haunt.  First, I might get some of these haunts a bit mixed up.  We hit them back to back with no lines, so some scenes might have been in other mazes but in my memory makes sense that they would be in the maze I’m discussing.

  Callson Manor is a creepy walk through of a house that is filled with doors opening by themselves, creepy spectors, and like most of the other mazes, bloody individuals. 

  I believe the gunshot victim was in this maze.  It was probably a good effect but I missed it and only came upon a female that was bent over a shotgun with blood on the walls.  There were a couple of times during these mazes that I had to stop and wait to see what the effect was, because I missed it by seconds.

  Sadly, I don’t really remember much of this maze.  I remember leaving for a second then going back in.  Other than that…hmm


  Panic was freaking crazy.  First, you were introduced by a German dominatrix who was kind of hot.  You got your card stamped then you entered her waiting room which had monitors of the maze you could watch.  The first room was a guy banging on barrels.  Loud, annoying, but nothing like what the rest of the maze was like.

  For me, it was like walking into a Saw movie with each person being tortured in some way.  It was bloody as hell, but pretty cool.  And unfortunately pretty short.  There was some kind of disco back theme, like Panic at the Disco, but I didn’t really get that.


  Another one of those café’s that cook up human meat…and apparently road kill too.  The maze was filled with awful smells.  The first room was one of the clearest memories I have there.  The lady said that she got excrement from the toilet and painted the walls with it.  “That’s how I keep the flies off the food, they stay on the walls!!”  Gross, but very creative.  Around the corner, there’s the toilet and it’s disgusting.

  We heard the sound of what could be a contraption, so we hung back to see if the toilet was going to do anything.  But it turned out to be the pipes on the other side which blew hair at you.  Besides bad smells, dead animal carcasses on the floor, and characters that seemed to be from the backwoods in some southern state, was a pretty gross, and unfortunately another short maze.  But it had some cool effects, some gross theming, and I enjoyed it.  Guess I’m a sicko.


  There’s a really cool demon animatronic in the queue line.  Tried getting a picture of it but it didn’t come out as cool as the figure.  It’s a simple figure with few movements, but it’s still awesome to see.  I think it was there the last time I was here, but can’t remember the haunt that it hovered over.

  Darkness is what the name says it is, it’s dark.  Sometimes you had to feel your way around, other times you were in a darkly lit area.  It’s well done with some cool actors.  I prefer the quiet creepy scareactors that filled this maze compared to the screaming loud ones of others.  There were a couple of really cool caves that you got to walk through that I thought was pretty cool.  A scantily clad female said welcome to the meal, and a predator looking guy came out to “eat us.”  Then we walked through a tomb like cavern and we were out.  Not too scary, but it was entertaining.


  The Tavern reminded me of the bar scene in Gunslinger’s Grave and the opening room in An American Werewolf in London.  The guy asked what happened to my hair and heckled me for a little bit.  Guess I had a stupid shit eating grin on my face.  The lady on the piano played the keys with her toes.  That was pretty cool.

  In the brothel room, the lady on the bed beckoned me closer.  I thought my friend Tiffany was watching at the doorway, so I stayed a little longer than I probably should have, only to realize that it wasn’t Tiffany, but another actor watching from the doorway, with another actor in the shadows.  It was a pretty cool scene, and hey, I love those old western brothel rooms so why not stay a little longer, right.  Alright, alright, I’m moving on, jeez.

  There was a small maze area of fences with a boy that followed us.  He was kind of creepy, but didn’t do anything but stare at us.  There was a jail in the final rooms and some other things that have left my mind then we were out.  I’m sorry, a hot lady on a bed beckoning me, it kind of takes over the memory. 


  I don’t like sideshow crap.  I think it’s gross.  It doesn’t scare me, but I don’t need to see mermaid skeletons, Siamese twins, someone who was born with an extra toe, or leg, or 15 extra legs.  I just don’t, it’s not fun for me.  So I kind of walked through this area quickly, wasn’t my cup of tea.  I’ll wait for you in the brothel room, I think she’s still beckoning me.


  “Please no food, or drink allowed in the Asylum, some of our patients are doing without and this would screw up their treatments.”

  Asylum’s opening scene was kind of like TRAPPED at Knotts which was kind of cool.  We entered as a group of 6 and led into a room with 6 chairs.  We all were told to sit down and that some electricity would electrify the chairs.  Then the lights went out and the chairs started vibrating while the animatronic in front of us got fried.  Then a scareactor came from the right side and harassed anybody who screamed or looked scared.  A cool first room.

  The following rooms were filled with patrons of the Asylum in white jackets.  There was a sheet room that reminded me of the sheet maze at the Psycho Circus in Cemetarium, but was less confusing.  I actually found the way out pretty quickly.  A room of doors leading to psycho wards with the patients either hanging on top of the doors, or opening the doors to get their victims.  We were then out, from the screaming girl behind us “oh, is that all?”  Kind of what I was thinking.


  They provided the 3D glasses for us for free, which was a nice treat…well, I’ll explain later.  The maze was full of black lit rooms where the walls were painted in a way that made them look 3 dimensional.  Some of the scareactors would hide in the paintings and then jump at you.  Like a swinging clown, a lady in a colored mask and a black outfit.  Why the maze started with nutcrackers, I have no clue.  Spent a lot of time looking at the paintings and the strange ways they jumped out at you.

  At the end, we dropped off our 3D glasses in a box…wait, do they recycle them?  How many people used the ones I wore…wait, what?  Now wait a minute…best to not think about it.  Lady on bed, brothel, I’m good, moving on.


  When we left Cirque we had about 10 minutes until the firedancer show so we stuck around.  The opening scene was the lady eating fire over and over again.  I kept thinking if this is 15 minutes of a lady eating fire I’m leaving.  But the show kept getting better and better and it was very entertaining with 4 fire dancers in all.  Definitely worth the wait.  I like that each segment was only a couple of minutes long, and that the show didn’t go on and on and on.  Because I could see how something like this could get boring after awhile.  But the creepy music and the talent really made for a good show, definitely worth checking out.


  I enjoyed Callson Manor.  I think Heartstoppers and Callson Manor are both equally good and worth checking out.  They both have something worth checking out, and both have actors that seemed to care about what they were doing.  The creators also put some time into the creation of their mazes and made for a very good time.  They are on a whole different level than say Fright Planet.  And for the price, it’s pretty good.

  Also, I wouldn’t recommend spending the money for the front of the line pass, get there early, it’s dark, and just hit them all in the first hour with little to no lines.  I think we were there for just over an hour. 

  My biggest recommendation is go in a large group with different kinds of people.  You know, the brave, the screamer, the scared male who is manly but whimpers in the maze, get that kind of group.  Or go in a small group and take your time in the maze, check everything out.

  My biggest complaint is the one time only in these mazes.  I want to see them a couple of times, so I can remember all the details, and see effects that I might have missed.  Fright Planet was the only one in Sacramento that you can go through multiple times, but wasn’t really worth going through multiple times.

Monday, October 27, 2014



  First event in a long time that I got to go with some newbies.  Forgot how much fun it is to be with people who have no idea what to expect.  Put a smile on my face that didn’t go away until we left, awesome time.

  Heartstoppers holds a special place in my heart because of it’s location.  It’s located in Rancho Cordova where the old Mine Shaft Mini Golf place use to be.  It’s a great location.  In the old days, you started downstairs for the first couple of holes then you went up and out to finish the course.  A great environment and I’m sad to see it sitting there not being used…well, until the haunt season.

  I went two years ago, and missing this year was the old guy who would walk up and down the line in his happy, freaky way entertaining the crowd.  This year there was a zombie gold minor with a bullet hole in his forehead.  He was helpful, but not really the nicest guy of the bunch.  There was also a huge puppet like creature walking around, something I had seen at Dark Harbor.  Again, I get so into these events I forget to take pictures, kicking myself.

  Before we begin, be aware that we did get the fancy pants tickets which got us front of the line access.  There weren’t too many people in lines so we probably could have done without for most of it, but they were nice to have.  Kept Amy and Aunt Nikki on their toes <evil laugh>.

  Before entering, there is this cool window into the building.  Now I’m not sure if it’s a video wall, or just a window that shows shadows from the other side, which I think it was because I never saw the same thing twice.  There’s a guy with a hook who starts attacking another figure, then the figure falls on the glass/video screen smearing blood all over the place.  Very cool to watch.  And sometimes when people would take a picture in front of it, the people on the other side would seem to react.


  So the dead have risen to exact their revenge on their killer.  How cool is that right?  You started the maze by walking through a long hallway with candles on both sides.  Very cool.  We had a lady follow us the whole way without us realizing it.  She let us enter and we walked pass a jail cell with a guy following us making as much noise as possible.  Walked into a bar where “the shots were on him” and he shot an air gun at us.  The best room, well for me, was the spider room.  At this point Amy was tangled up in my jacket and either pushing me forward, or pulling me back.  As she saw the huge spider on our left, she pulled me back revealing a switch on the ground.  So of course, I stepped on it and the spider came running forward.  So Amy pushed me forward, and that’s when we saw another spider up on the shelf running towards us.  Fun room, for those that aren’t scared of spiders that is.

  The exit to this one wasn’t as memorable, but there was a guy sitting in a chair waiting to pounce which sent you out and into the line for the next maze. 


  First off, this is the BEST blackout maze I’ve ever been through.  The maze was pitched black with a little bit of light showing above.  You felt the walls for guidance, but the walls were either just plain wood panels, furry walls, or rubbery walls.  Sometimes there would be fabric hanging from the ceiling, so you weren’t sure what was hitting your face.  Then from above, there would be actors whispering.  Unfortunately, I had no idea what they were whispering, but it was creepy. 

  At two points, the strobe light would come on and some kind of devil would come screaming at you.  These scenes, while simple, really added to the creepiness of the maze.  And the strobe light wasn’t so intense that you left with a headache.  Very well done.


  The problem with this maze is it’s outside and there’s a lot of space to fill, so it doesn’t surprise me that it isn’t filled with scare after scare.  It was kind of a casual walk through the old golf courses.  There were some ladies in white who liked to scream, some lightning bugs hovering over a stream, and some guy who hung himself.  My favorite part of this maze was the witch doctor on the far side.  You couldn’t get too close to him, but he would hit his staff against the ground and a flash of light would come from the tree above you with the sound of thunder.  Very awesome.

  The last scene of the walk through was an indoor room which I thought was a cool idea.  Had a small voodoo scene and then you were out again.  Not my favorite voodoo maze of the year, but that witch doctor scene was pretty powerful.


  Probably the worst maze of the bunch, and not because my Aunt was terrified by clowns either.  It seriously felt like we entered the Sideshow, then left shortly after.  The only room I really remember was the last room which two clowns were in.  You had to push buttons and pull down levers to get out.  That room depended greatly on the scareactors to be interesting, and the two we had weren’t very exciting.

  A couple of things do come to mind in that maze like the bearded lady, a lady on a bed of nails, and a couple of things that could be clowns?  I just remember short…too short.


  Sadly, the last maze because I wanted more.  You enter the Asylum and a lady is at the desk asking for your name.  Then she yells your name for the whole maze to hear…but nothing is ever done with it.  You go from room to room full of patients getting tested on and then the doctor, or whoever will come at you with whatever device he is holding, either a saw or an air gun mechanism.  At one point I was following a deranged patient crawling telling me not to pass him.  Then he enters a room, lies down and does nothing.  Very strange. 

  Asylum had a lot of potential, but lacks the theming that Deadlands had.  Hopefully they will keep adding more money into it and make this even better.


  I must have enjoyed myself because I didn’t really want it to end.  I wish there were either more mazes or the shorter ones were longer.  Hanging out with Aunt Nikki and the very terrified Ms. Amy was fantastic and a fun experience.  While I don’t think it’s as good as Cemetarium, which is a labor of love, Heartstoppers is up there.  And hopefully with continued work and funds, it could be another great haunt for the Sacramento area.

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #9 – Fright Planet (Cal Expo)

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #9 – Fright Planet (Cal Expo)

  Second of my local haunts, and with a low expectation, I was surprised to find a couple of things that I actually enjoyed.  But it really does say something when you finish an event like this within 45 minutes, have the ability to do the haunts again, and don’t really want to. 


  The music is catchy, annoying, and I kind of like it.  I’m not sure if it’s the same music played at Great America, but it’s definitely close.  The problem with this maze is that it’s full of young kids who don’t seem to have any real direction.  They wander the maze, not really scaring, just walking aimlessly around.  There was one really cool hallway where the light would flash and a creepy scareactor kind of walked slowly down the hall.  I thought that was really well done.


  I think I mentioned in another post that all haunts have to have a maze dedicated to capturing humans and turning them into food, bbq style.  This is pretty much it.  Same thing as I mentioned earlier, dead bodies hanging, guys with cleavers, and a freezer walk through.  When we first walked in, a scareactor told Tiffany to have a seat, so she did.   Apparently yes was the wrong thing to say.


  I do love a spooky cabin.  The outside of this maze is actually really well done.  The first time we came up to it, it was covered in fog and really had a cool creepy feel to it.  Inside, more creepy cabin which was pretty cool.  The scares weren’t much, and the environment was interesting enough.  Just nothing memorable.


  Not as dark as I remembered, same people running around in black costumes whispering or yelling at you.  They also hit the walls to creep you out.  Nothing much to it.  I’m pretty sure I could put one of these together.  Funny, I actually lost a contact in this maze.  Not sure if it rolled up into my eye or fell out.  Mix of fake fog and darkness, as well as being tired from the previous haunts, made me one eyed.


  These are more like headache inducing experiences.  It’s a maze with fences as walls, characters walking around, and a strobe light and loud noise.  Not my favorite of locals.  You wander around until the character thinks you’ve had enough and opens up the exit and we go the hell out.  You end in a dark tunnel with a scareactor or two.


  Another voodoo maze, I’m seeing a pattern.  This one was really well themed with some scareactors that really enjoyed working in this one.  We went through caverns, spooky rooms filled with voodoo rituals, and even walked by a house with people on the roof and in the bushes.  Plenty to look at.  The last scene had a witch doctor stabbing a man, which I stopped to enjoy both times I went through.  If nothing else, spend money on spooky candle lighting and I’ll enjoy it.  Definitely my number one maze at Fright Planet.  We went through this one twice.

RED (18+ ONLY)

  If you follow me on Facebook, you saw that I vented quite a bit about a dumbass mother who sent her 13 year old daughter to Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights and the girl got called a slut and put up for auction.  The mother is looking for an apology, and my guess will be suing Universal shortly, which I think is ridiculous.  Here’s an idea, research what you are putting your kids into before sending them off on their own.

  That being said, this maze is 18 and over.  They check ID, it’s legit…well, after going through the maze I would put it at PG13 at best, come one people, make an R rated maze already.  Before going in, we were behind a mother with a 10 year old boy.  The guy took the mom’s id, made sure she was okay that a 10 YEAR OLD BOY WAS GOING THROUGH AN 18 AND OVER MAZE, mommy dearest said yes, and off they went.  Seriously?  I don’t understand people.

  The “janitor” took us into RED and asked if we liked clowns.  Then said, welcome to my hell f&^ckers and off we went.  Each room filled with a clown doing something menacing.  In one room, I had a feeling I was back in Trapped at Knotts…I know, I’ll write it up after Halloween.  A clown wanted to put makeup on us to turn us into clowns.  He was sad, and demented.  Another room had a clown on a couch watching tv.  Another room had a sexy clown asking if we wanted to join a clown orgy, apparently yes wasn’t the answer.  Down some strobe filled hallways with blood dripping clowns and we were out.  Besides the small amount of language and the orgy suggestion, nothing that would give it an R rating compared to the other haunts. 


  We didn’t do the BURIED ALIVE, or see much of the NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT.  We had some fun with some scareactors, one who said we smelled nice and a couple that slid around on their knees.  Some of the scareactors would weave in and out of different haunts, which I think is a great idea, as long as their costume fits.  Gives that feeling that you are being followed.  We skipped the movie too, saw that two years ago and it was a huge waste of time.


  New to haunts and want to see if you like them, Fright Planet would be good for you.  I think that’s really the only time it would be good for someone to go there.  The lines are short if you go early enough so you don’t have to worry about long lines.  Later in the evening it probably got busy, but not while we were there.   For it’s location, they need to put a lot of money into it and really make it big…I’m thinking Gyros from the 90’s.  That would be cool.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #8 – California’s Great America Halloween Haunt

Haunt Season 2014 - Event #8 – California’s Great America Halloween Haunt
  It’s been some time since I went to Great America’s Halloween Haunt, but it’s better late than never, right?  Yeah, I guess.  Before I begin, let me tell you at the beginning of this Haunt, I was starting to see signs of burnout.  The first maze we went through, I wasn’t thrilled, thought here we go again, and “yep, same thing as usual.” 
  But that being said, I have to say I was very, very impressed with the haunt at Great America.  And if I were you and only wanted to go to one haunt this year, this is the one you need to jump on.  It’s not at the same level of So Cal…YET, but it’s dang close and I was pleasantly surprised by the event.  My favorite maze so far this year was at this event, and one of my favorite moments of this year so far also happened at this event.  Plus it had the best opening show ever!! 
  I will do some research to find this gentlemen’s name, but he’s the lead for entertainment for haunt and he was amazing.  Gave us some history of the haunt and some of the issues of doing haunt every year.  He made us drink blood…more on that later. 
  But the reason why I mention this interview, and why I think you need to go straight to The Season Pass Podcast on Itunes and listen to the episode…when it comes out, is what he said about running a haunt.  Due to laws within California, it is mandatory that all scareactors get a break.  Due to this law, there are times when you go through a haunt and it may seem empty, well, this is because the scareactors are on a mandatory break.  Of course my mind went to then you need to hire more actors.  But that really doesn’t fix things either because then you would need to have two actors for every scene and they would swap, and that could get expensive.  You can’t really have the same actor do breaks for other actors, because that would require a different kind of makeup.  So I no longer complain about empty areas in the haunts, and I don’t think any of us should.  It’s just a cause of the system.
  I really have no idea what they call the opening show, but it was amazing.  Now, please remember that we were behind the lines that were holding people back.  I got to stand above the crowd and look down on them to see their reactions, which made it even more awesome.
  So first, a junky, creepy RV drives up next to the crowd that is waiting for Haunt to open.  The RV stops and then just stays there.  The crowd turns to see what exactly is going on.  Some people see us and try to pass the ropes but the few people that hold the ropes tell them to get back behind the lines.  Then the RV starts rocking from left to right and eerie music is played.  Then the rocking stops, the door opens, and the undead climb out of the RV and line up right in front.  They stare at the crowd, make sounds, point, jeer.  It’s all very creepy.
  After a couple of minutes of staring back and forth, a siren comes on from the speakers.  I’m not sure if anything is said, like a warning or the undead have risen.  The lines are then dropped, and the undead sprint at the crowd.  This causes the crowd to run straight towards us like a tidal wave of people.  The undead are sprinting after them while people scream in terror.  It is a surreal feeling watching pure fear and laughter erupt from this wave of bodies.  I’m shocked that nobody is trampled on because people are hauling ass past us.  It’s an amazing visual, and an even better way to start this great evening.
  Even after that amazing introduction to the event, my burnout of Haunts started here.  It was a 3-d maze, which to my amazement, you have to pay $1 for the 3-d glasses.  Now, we had the Fright Lane pass (aka front of the line pass) and the Skeleton Key, and there was no booth to buy the 3-d glasses where we lined up.  In my opinion, those that pay the big bucks should get the 3-d glasses for free and maybe given to them when they got their pass.  Just my recommendation.
  The maze was fun.  Crazy colors, crazy clowns.  There was this weird cotton candy hallway that was just full of fuzzy pink walls.  Very strange.
  The Skeleton Key room consisted of multiple tv’s that each person stood in front of.  You watched a series of images and videos, then a scary figure would pop out in an attempt to scare you and you moved on.  Been victim to these types of jokes before, so it didn’t scare me.  In my opinion, the Skeleton Key room’s are supposed to inform you more of the storyline of the maze, and this didn’t do anything to enhance the maze.
  One of my favorites of the event.  No Skeleton Key in this room, but the artwork and the environments were simply awesome.  This is a maze that I knew I had to go through again, but with the Fright Lane, you only get to go to the front of the line once, which I thought was ridiculous.  At Knotts, I would do mazes multiple times to see everything, one time through?  Not good.  I can see going through the Skeleton Key rooms once, but the mazes?  My first dislike of the evening, possibly the only one.
  Dia de los Muertos is the Mexico celebration that follows Halloween.  Tons of cool costumes and neon lighting.  Doug got yelled at for recording audio, but after a 5 minute detour, we finally finished the maze.  Hard to describe the awesomeness of the jungle, the town, and the building that you go through.
  Another Voodoo maze.  It seems like this is the thing this year, even though this is a returning maze.  Now this maze didn’t have any swamp like scenes like the other ones did, but it did have a creepy house full of weird voodoo art.
  The Skeleton Key room is in the middle of the maze, like CarnEvil.  It’s spooky as hell.  You walk into the séance room, grab onto a crystal ball and hold on for dear life.  Now I was expecting a zap from the ball, but no such thing happened.  The table starts moving, the lights go out, then a strobe comes on and a freaky girl appears in the middle of the table staring at each person.  It’s pretty awesome and definitely gets you in the mood to finish the maze.
  Room after room after room of craziness.  Again, one I wish I could have gone through to remember more and seen it all.
  This is considered an event rather than a maze.  Fun House Express is the other event, but we didn’t go to that.  The guys said it sucked.  Mirror, Mirror was something that I didn’t experience last year at Knott’s, and it was disappointing here.  You put on plastic gloves so you don’t get the glass dirty, then you get sent in as a group to find your way out.  Clowns/masquerade characters haunt the mirror maze to confuse and frighten you, plus there’s this crazy strobe light that gives you a headache.  It’s a timed experience, and it didn’t feel like we were in there for long until we were escorted out.  Very disappointing, even more disappointing if I had to wait in the hour line to get in.
  Follow this up with this best maze I’ve been in this year.  I LOVED Wax Museum.  The idea is simple, you walk through a Wax Museum full of wax sculptures, some have a human in it, some don’t.  There’s a mix of serial killers and monster movies in the maze.  My favorite moment was coming face to face with a live Jack the Ripper, gives me the chills.  Loved it.  There was an African expedition room, a monster room, a western room, a room filled with kings and beheadings, just fantastic.  Startled a couple of times because I was admiring some of the great details.
  After the Wax Museum, you enter the backstage area where the wax sculptures are made.  Some animatronic figures move you along from room to room as the sculptures get less and less decorated.  Then in the final room you find that some poor victims have been captured and been waxed for the museum. 
  Great storyline, great idea, I love this!!  I hope Knott’s gets a version next year.  Would love to see how that group can make it even more insane.
  The one thing I remember about Toy Factory?  The song!!  I loved that stupid annoying song.  I have no idea why.  The toy factory had a lot to see in each room, which again would have been nice to see a couple of times to see everything.  They had play on names like “Build A Bear” they called “Kill a Bear”, not sure if that’s right, it’s been awhile.  This is a haunt that didn’t really need people in it, it was just cool to walk through and see all the imagination that went into creating it.
  The Skeleton Key was very disappointing.  You walk through a long hallway with those weird air bubbles on each side so you feel like you are going through a birthing canal.  Then at the end of the one hallway, you do a u-turn and do it again.  Then back into the maze.  Very disappointing, and not worth your time.
  Like Toy Factory, this one didn’t need actors, just cool to walk through.  You went through chemistry class, English class, history class, and each time you left a room, you walked through a hallway created by those old school desks which made it really creepy.  Some good startles, but it was really awesome just walking through the scenes.  They did have one guy in the bungee cords who jumped down and startle you.  I think the scene I would have like to have seen more of an NC-17 rating was the locker room and the shower room at the end.  Felt like I was in a teen movie, but the fact that everybody was in a swimsuit kind of took you out of the story.  Bring on the boobage, lol.
  THE WORST MAZE HERE!!  God, I was disappointed in this maze.  Walking through a corn maze with people in the corn to jump out at you with some redneck stuff to walk in.  There were long areas where there was nobody in the maze, breaks?  Not sure but it seemed empty.  We went by 6 outhouses that I really thought someone would be in, but there was nobody.  Weird maze, not very fun.
  BUT THE SKELETON KEY ROCKED THE HOUSE!!  The Skeleton Key room was the first thing you went into and it was so awesome that we talked about it for the first half of the maze.  It was that awesome.  I’m hoping to get an unedited copy of it so I can share with everybody, but we laughed so hard.  We kept the characters going and at one point, the actor stopped the act and thanked us for being so awesome.  The gist: Two red neck boys, the older one follows his woman around with a cup once a month, then takes the…stuff, and puts it into pumpkins.  To get out, you need a key, and the key is in one of the pumpkins.  After diving through the pumpkins, you are allowed to wash up.  Everything that happens in between, pure humor.  I’ll post a link to the recording when Doug uploads it.  Man that was a good time.
  Final maze of the night.  Also new for this year, but we’ve seen it all over the place.  The story is that you enter a restaurant that serves meat and you find out that the meat is human.  This maze is as common as the clown mazes.  Nothing new if you’ve been through this: dead bodies hanging, ground meat from bodies, cleaver wielding people chasing you, all the same.
  But the Skeleton Key room is a bit different.  You enter the room and the cook tells you that you have two things to choose from, the blood or the bug pie.  Now I mentioned earlier that I had the blood back in one of our interviews and it wasn’t as bad as the urine I had to drink back at Knotts…again, something I haven’t talked about yet but will after Halloween is over.  Doug thought it was grosser than the urine, but I had a little bit left in my cup so I drank a little more (ingredients: water, salt, ground up iron tablets and some kind of stuff that makes it thick).  So we went for the cricket pie, which tasted like sunflower seeds except for the leg that got stuck in my teeth. 
  The rides were open which was cool.  Gold Striker was awesome at night, great ride.  Didn’t go on anything else because we ran out of time.  We also didn’t get a chance to see any of the shows.  We got a special dinner in the employee café which was awesome.  Great America brings down the prices and serves decent food behind the scenes for it’s employees, bravo.  The scare zones were fun.  Iron Works was just a bunch of guys banging metal around.  Underworld Alley was apparently awesome the year before, I thought it was fun.  The Gauntlet was a fog filled area like Ghost Town, but it was just okay.  Didn’t have the building of Ghost town.
  I did a lot of comparing between Great America and Knotts, because they are run by the same company.  But the So Cal parks still have a leg up on us Northern California parks.  But Great America is the best even within a 3 hour drive and I strongly recommend checking this out.  Loved it and will be returning…with new victims next year.