As the first stop for our annual San Diego Haunt Odyssey, we visited the Haunted Trail of Balboa Park which was dark last year for obvious reasons. This was our first stop because it opened the earliest. However, it is the greatest distance from Los Angeles or Orange County. Therefore, if you start here, you will be hitting the other pro haunts in the area on you way back home.
Haunted Trail of Balboa Park 2021 Review: eXperiment Maze
The eXperiment maze is a pre-haunt included with your ticket that takes place before the actual Haunted Trail. How do you distinguish the maze from the trail? Well, it’s the first thing on the path, and it ends in another queue line leading to the actual trail. The maze itself features a mixture of Hollywood horror icons recognizable to any true horror fanatic. We encountered Freddy Krueger (Nightmare On Elm Street), Samara (The Ring), Jason (Friday the 13th), Jack Torrance (The Shining) and of course what’s Halloween without Michael Myers? Haunts are great, but bonus haunts are even greater.
Haunted Trail of Balboa Park 2021 Review: The Haunted Trail
In the tradition of haunts with no centralized theme, The Haunted Trail delivered a long walking experience filled with multiple subgenres of horror. The suspense of The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park has always come from not knowing what to expect: what is missing this year and what has been added?
This year, the maze starts with the gaping mouth entrance to Pennywise’s Funhouse. As we headed further, we found ourselves in St. Cartha’s Monastery, where we faced off with Valak. One highlight of The Haunted Trail has always been the life-sized school bus, which this year has been utilized as part of the section with The Nuns, adding to the creepy/culty Catholic school feel.
As we headed further into the trail, we encountered monsters and ghouls such as Joyce Byers (Stranger Things) and The Exorcist‘s Regan MacNeil…? (The question mark is deliberate, because this Regan seemed to be a male. It’s 2021 – identify with whatever gender you wish! As we said earlier, you really don’t know what to expect here, and we find it most enjoyable when we come with an open mind. What was noticeably different this year was the absence of Voo Doo Man; however, that did not diminish the fun factor of the experience.
Haunted Trail of Balboa Park 2021 Review: Conclusion
What we appreciate about this event is as that it’s a two-fer. You get both the eXperiment Maze and the Haunted Trail. The eXperiment maze is a nice bonus that is actually significant in length – so much so that the poor teenage girl victims behind us were desperately wondering whether the trail was over yet. Little did they know that there was a whole maze three times larger ahead of them – among the longest walk-throughs in Southern California.
We clocked the experience while fast-walking, and it took us nineteen minutes to get through. For the average person, it may take closer to 25 because you know…they’re more scared than we are. That works out to $1 per minute – a great scare-value that’s hard to beat today.
Haunted Trail of Balboa Park Ratings
One of the best bangs for your bucks, The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park offers a good variety of ghouls and monsters from across the spectrum of Halloween horror.
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park continues until 10/31 and is dark on Oct. 11, 12, and 18. Tickets start at 24.99 with additional timed and VIP options. Balboa Park is located at the corner of Balboa Drive &, Juniper Road in San Diego, CA 92101. Parking is tricky and difficult because it is a public park with limited parking. It is best to come early so you can have ample time to circle around and get a good spot if applicable. Otherwise, you may have to rideshare your way into the park. For more info, visit: https://hauntedtrail.net/