Review: Hauntington Beach Manor Presents Sanitarium 2021
Another “Insane Asylum” or “Sanitarium” themed maze, you say? Yes, but this one isn’t like any other – it’s a notch more extreme than a typical maze (though no one touches you). You probably have never heard of this group producing Hauntington Beach Manor: Sanitarium – this is their first professional haunt – but the creator has had extensive practice, having built extensive home haunts for over eight years, including a 2018 version that left an unforgettable impression on us. We remember thinking: “Wow, this can rival anybody who’s charging admission, but it’s built on the front and back yard of this residence!”
When the proprietor alerted us of plans to go pro, we thought we couldn’t wait, but we ended up having to, because we all know what happened to Halloween last year. So it’s good to see their plans finally come to fruition after surviving pandemic delays. Let’s find out how it went…
HBM Presents Sanitarium 2021 Review: Scare Zone
Most people may think that placing a haunt inside a mall is cause for concern, given past negative experiences; we’ve seen a few that opened with great potential – never return. However, HBM: Sanitarium may have changed all that. While you wait in line or simply pass by, there is no way to avoid the scare actors in this particular wing. You would literally have to get to the second level if you want to bypass the Sanitarium to get to Macy’s.
This is basically a free-range scare zone and a taste of what to expect inside. The scare actors are fantastic at improv; they stay in character (even when talking to staff) and make sure every conversation flows back to the topic at hand: the Sanitarium. (For example: “How did you like it? Well, you can stay the night.”). Part of the pre-scare entertainment for the night is watching these characters terrify the crap out of curious spectators.
HBM Presents Sanitarium 2021 Review: Maze
The maze starts in a triage room where a staff worker lays down some ground rules. Then you encounter a doctor in a trance and a receptionist at the check-in desk who stares and then starts banging stuff. Even before you approach this area, you can hear the endless cries of women and violent screams; hell, you can even hear them from the outside while waiting in line. So at this point you might think: “Damn, if the staff has already gone crazy, what about the patients?”
It’s not long before all hell breaks loose. Soon, the insanity unravels, touching every living thing in every corridor and cranny of the Sanitarium. From the patient wing, to the nursery ward, to the operating room and medical ward – it was a non-stop barrage of scares coming at you from top-down-left-right. The very definition of a nut house is experienced at this haunt. But wait…there’s more!!!
The most intense scene for us is probably the cell block corridor. Prisoners in standard orange jumpsuits beg and plead for freedom and some even engage in violent, R-rated suggestive scenes with each other. This is not a walk-through for the meek; we wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually faints from the experience.
After the climax, the maze eventually ends with clues on the wall as to why this madness happened. This is Arkham Asylum, but without the Joker and without Batman. And with forty-plus scare actors, we wish you the best of luck trying to escape!
HBM Presents Sanitarium 2021 Review: Conclusion
Because of graphic imagery, extreme violence, and strobe lights (lots of strobe), you have to sign a waiver before you enter. Yes, there is a form to get “admitted” (you see what we did there?). Compared to other mazes, this was by far the greatest asylum/sanitarium themed maze we’ve ever seen – it is hard to believe this is the creator’s first pro haunt.
HBM: Sanitarium also makes perfect use of facemasks. Since last year year, we have always joked that all haunts should adopt hospital, infection, or biohazard themes, so that (1) they can safely open as per most county’s guidelines and (2) having characters in KN95 masks won’t kill the illusion of being inside a haunted house.
HBM: Sanitarium 2021 Rating
10/20/21 UPDATE: Tickets now start at $20 versus $30 at the time of publishing.
For a first time Pro Haunt, the quality of the sets and props supersedes all expectations. The story makes sense; it’s on point. The talent – the way they were selling themselves – makes the WWF look like poo.
HAuntington Beach Manor: Sanitarium continues on most nights in October. Tickets start at $30 with an optional VIP upgrade. The Sanitarium is located in Westminster Mall at 1025 Westminster Mall Unit 1069A between Macy’s and Target on the first floor. For tickets and more info: https://hauntingtonbeachmanor.com/