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.

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