Deep in Riverside County lies a city called Lake Elsinore, home of Field of Screams: The Haunted Stadium, located in the Lake Elsinore Diamond (also known as Storm Stadium). The haunt, no longer produced by the same team from previous years, tries to piggy back off the name and fame established in previous years but pales in comparison to the many Halloween events we have in Los Angeles. This avid Halloween haunt fan expected far more after visiting their website; Field of Screams definitely over-promised, but at least the profits went to charity.
The coordinators-designers of Field of Screams have rented out the mid-level portion of the stadium floor in order to provide adequate space to move about. However, the entire attraction basically takes place in a hallway-common area with an open grassy field. After entering, you are greeted by a giant, stagnant, wooden Trojan horse-type statue. To the left are two mazes: Illusions and Descent. To the right is a photo-op with a killer clown, a coffin ride, and three mazes: Insanity (located on concrete area), Inferno (located on concrete area), and Hunted (located on grass). Therefore, this attraction was not technically on the “Field” as the name states; it was on a stadium floor with restrooms and concession stands.
In addition, there were three makeshift mini-scare zones: they seemed not to be designated zones; the scare actors just casually roved around general area. The first zone was right at the entrance; the second zone was to the left between two mazes; and the third was on the right before the three other mazes.
Illusions was nothing more than a blacked-out maze where you would feel your way through. More than likely you would end up touching a person ahead of you or getting stepped on by the person behind you. Three-Dimensional glasses were available for half the maze, if needed.
Descent had the longest line. We waited 35 minutes for a maze that lasted no more than three minutes. The theme was an“Old Abandoned Mine Shaft,” which began with a makeshift elevator. Groups of only six were allowed to enter the elevator, which explains the wait. After our group entered the “elevator,” a scare actor stopped us from exiting in order to collect all six souls and “descend”. The elevator basically motions up and down to emulate a descent. Simultaneously, lights were randomly flashing as a zombie girl stood behind us, showing no facial expression – as if she did not want to be there. After the one-minute elevator ride, the rest of the maze contained a few scare actors and walls obviously missing décor (which must have been claimed by the previous owners).
Insanity features a clown theme. There were scare actors dressed like a low-budget Harley Quinn and one low-budget Joker. Again, props and decorations were limited. I was not sure whether I was in an insane asylum or what; I was not even sure what the overall theme was. The description from the website indicated: “Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. This maze is weird, wild, and disorienting…Enjoy!” I guess even they did not know what the theme should be.
Inferno was the highlight of our very short evening. The action focused on a family member who burnt down the house. The scare actors, mainly teenaged kids, were yelling enthusiastically: “Why did she do it? Why did she burn us?” They were extremely into character. The set looked like different rooms of a charred house. This maze had the most props and the most understandable theme – and no missing walls or decorations. This was probably the most theme-park-quality maze (if only it were a tad longer).
Finally, Hunted looked like a post-apocalyptic set. The décor was reminiscent of a medical center in a battlefield. As you passed, wounded soldiers were crying in agony for help. There was one scene that was quite memorable: a room filled with hospital beds where a girl was sitting in the corner looking as if she were in excruciating pain. As we continued to walk through, a wounded soldier came up to us and said, “Help me, look what they did to me!” as he pointed to his chest, which had an extra organ attached (not sure what it was). Toward the end, we could hear female scare actresses yelling, “He doesn’t want you here! He doesn’t want you here!” So, my question was: “Who is he?” Eventually, a scare actor appeared. He seemed to be the shorter version of Leatherface holding a chainsaw, who chased victims after they exited the maze.
We skipped the Coffin Ride and the photo-op booth, both of which required VIP tickets.
One can clearly tell who was paid to work and who was a volunteer. Kids could volunteer for community service credits at this attraction; the actors in the scare zone seemed to be paid – their costumes and makeup looked a lot better. The clown from the photo booth even took time to stop us and crack a few jokes; I’ve never experienced that before. Had I known that the staff was mainly middle school to high school students, I probably would not have bothered driving all the way to Lake Elsinore.
We spent less than an hour at Field of Screams (minus the bathroom breaks). The mazes were far too short and lacked proper decorations. The whole attraction probably equates to a single maze at Knotts Scary Farm or Halloween Horror Nights. The $20 admission – which breaks down to $4 per maze – wasn’t worth it. Also, there was no need for VIP Passes unless you want the Coffin Ride, photo-op, and free 3D glasses; the front-of-the-line access was useless, since the only line we encountered was for Descent.
Field of Screams had a good reputation when it was run by the Bloodshed Brothers, who now have departed to create the Hyde Street Haunt about 30 minutes South East from their old attraction. A former staff member, who had worked at the original Field of Screams, shared his perspective: “What remains is a sad shadow of what used to be.” The photos from yelp from previous years would not be recognizable to anyone who know the haunt from visiting this year. I myself would compare the current Field of Screams to a decent home haunt or maybe – at best – the Queen Mary Shipwreck (the ship’s old Halloween attraction, before switching to the current Dark Harbor).
In its current form, Field of Screams fails to deliver on its promise or its reputation.