Our Annual Halloween Yard Haunt Odyssey in Orange County once again brought us great pleasure. Orange County, like Santa Clarita in the Northwest County of Los Angeles, contains an ever-growing haunt community. Though, some not as elaborate as the ones we are accustomed to in San Fernando Valley, it’s definitely a developing community that is worth the trek down south.
Orange County 2019 Yard Haunts: Prism
24465 Chamalea Dr, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Prism is back for it’s sophomore season, taking haunting to a whole other level - they even went so far as to create a site specifically for the story line: prismresearchgroup.org: a MiCROlab (Medical, Commercial, Residential, Open source) has had a sudden outbreak. The process of experimenting with human genome to unlock the incredible potential hidden within each human did not go as expected, and now it’s full-on Resident Evil Biohazard mode at Prism.
After entering a room where the walls were covered with waivers to be a volunteer at this research facility, you watch a video from Dr. Fefferman, Head of Nanotechnology, going over rules and regulations; then you are unexpectedly “sanitized” as the room turns out to be a decontamination chamber. You then enter an office where a dead worker’s head is fused with the bio-matter on the walls creating what looks like the arms of a kraken. He moans and struggles to get out - guess he wasn’t dead after all. In the next room, there is a mutated being attacking a human; the projection goes dark and then suddenly that mutated being runs towards you from behind!
You escape to the next lab. Toxic bins and radiation are overflowing, and workers in haz-mat suits cry for help as large animatronic bins move back and forth from the shelves. You follow the word “escape” written in blood and then enter the quarantine area where lab workers are stuck to the walls and ceilings. A doctor says it is nice of you to join him before unleashing his beast of a monster: a seven-foot zombie with horns. The doctor clearly wants to tie up loose ends. You escape through a quarantine tunnel where you are met by someone normal who tells you to keep going!
Prism’s production value was definitely pro-level. This is a must-see for hardcore haunt-goers.
Orange County 2019 Yard Haunts: Haunted Mansion Haunt
28322 Millwood Rd, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679
If you can’t get enough of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride, then you can walk-through it….well, at least a miniature version of it that pays homage to the legendary theme park attraction. The walk-through features the famous columns at the gate, some of the cemetery pieces, the grim-grinning ghosts, the hatbox ghost, and more.
Fans of the ride are probably thinking, “We’ve ridden it many times, and its not scary.” Wrong. This is why it’s called “Haunted Mansion Haunt”, not “Haunted Mansion Ride." Imagine the famous set pieces and decor from the ride paired with scare actors you won’t see coming - that’s what this Haunted Mansion offers.
Orange County 2019 Yard Haunts: The Pirate's Cave
2548 E Garfield Ave, Orange, CA 92867
We scour the seas to locate The Pirate’s Cave and uncover the cursed treasure once again. The Captain guides us into the mine shaft so we can learn the directions to find the treasure. He passes his duties onto a cursed (animatronic) skeleton, who further encourages...or discourages us. We then make our way through a body of water (simulated by the green swamp light) via wobbly bridge. We then hear a sound and see the arms of the Kraken reaching for us, while other sea creatures bonded with human anatomies (i.e. actors) come at us as if following the Kraken’s lead.
We escape and enter the cave to find the treasure untouched. We press the button to open the chest, and a lady ghost projection floats in the distance before becoming a skeleton. Then out pops a dead skeleton prop in front of the projection. Suddenly one side of the cave catches fire and a charred pirate reaches out for us. A voice echoes: “The undead will find ya.” That must be the curse afflicting those who’ve tried finding the treasure.
New this year is the fire scene, which is impressively backed by appropriate lighting. We loved how it simulated the familiar act of “removing a cursed treasure triggers the temple's collapse." In this case, hell broke loose.
Orange County 2019 Yard Haunts: Hull House
6688 San Alano Cir, Buena Park, CA 90620
In its second year, Hull House decided to expand on it’s cemetery-graveyard display. In addition to markers offering homage to the likes of George A. Romero and Wes Craven, the proprietor added a Michael Myer’s burning house facade. As if that weren't enough to tickle your horror senses, this year’s Hull House featured a walk-through on Halloween night. We were fortunate enough to get a preview with the lights and sound on. It was an impressive mini-maze with skeletons and evil Jack O’Lanterns throughout. We’re sure was even better on Halloween night.
Orange County 2019 Yard Haunts: The Ferris Haunt
5332 Christal Avenue, Garden Grove, California 92845
This is one of the few haunts that continues the story of a previous season - in this case, last year’s “The Haunted Ferris Forest." Typically, the Ferris Haunt can easily be identified by the fog flowing onto the street, giving the feel of the infamous “Fog Alley” in Ghost Town Streets at Knott’s Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt. When you see Ferris fog it up, you know trouble’s brewing.
This season, The Ferris Haunt offered more props and scare actors. There was a queue-triage area where you had to ring the doorbell and listen to a story before the door automatically opened. But hurry, or else it might slam shut and you’ll never get out. With carefully controlled props and an animated CGI witch in the window at the end (activated by opening a candy box), this haunt provided cleverly timed scares that were put together within a few weeks.
*Disclosure: The proprietor has occasionally submitted other haunt coverage media to Hollywood Gothique.