The Scream Zone returns after going dark last season. North county San Diego was missing its traditional multi-haunt attraction in 2021 when it announced plans that it won’t be running. Scream Zone returned this year but with a slightly newer format. Guests can no longer purchase tickets for individual haunts, the admission price now includes all 3 attractions whether you like it or not. Also, gone are the days of free parking. So how else did Scream Zone fare? Come find out if you dare.
The Scream Zone 2022 Review: Mazes
The Passage was billed as “quite possibly the most confusing maze you’ll ever step foot in.” The Passage was basically your standard black out maze with no lighting except for strobe in some areas; but with this one you’ll have to find your own way out. For the first timers, this is a great maze and can get creepy since there’s no clear indication of how long you’ll be inside. For the veterans, this may not be a priority and may even frustrate you as “blackout” mazes are typically used in more amateurish or novice haunts. We actually noticed 2 girls getting frustrated and just leaving through the emergency exit. One thing we did like was when the scare actor purposely misdirected us and prevented us from finding the exit. We’ll admit, even as seasoned haunt enthusiasts, we did not see that coming so that was a nice touch.
Hell-Billy Hootenanny was definitely the highlight of our night. Billed as being in the backwood caverns of the Ozark’s where these Hell-Billies are angry that you are trespassing on their territory; these inbred and insane peoples not only want to haunt you but they want to eat you. We recognized the sets used from their previous affiliated haunts for the bulk of this maze; but what was new to us was the mine towards the end of it. It was a clean and convincing set that contained flickering lights and sound signaling that the caverns were about to come down so you better make haste and leave. If you don’t comply, expect the miners there to give you a verbal warning.
The Scream Zone 2022 Review: Conclusion
The haunted house building set they designed for the entrance to the haunt was pretty cool looking with an appropriate soundtrack on a loop to get the audience riled up. We entered the door and turned left into a vortex tunnel with a scare actor inside which signaled that you are now being teleported into The Scream Zone. We felt that this was pretty cool in separating you from the outside-real world. However, there were numerous issues we found with the current format. The main problem is the conga line experience. A large group was let in inside The Passage all at once, so either there was a conga line of the blind leading the blind or everyone just got into each other’s way. Once we finished the first maze, we were dumped in a general admission line for the next one. There was no “VIP” line for Hell-Billy Hootenanny. A large group was let in as well so we also had to move in a conga line which eliminated the whole notion of feeling scared. The “VIP” line returns for the haunted hayride after you exit Hell-Billy Hootenanny. A second problem was, there’s no indication whether or not you can skip The Passage if you’re not into blackout mazes or to skip anything since you are forced to enter in order. We find this strategy to be a buzzkill since some guests might want to start off with the hayride first like at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride and then slowly do the mazes afterward; especially for the guests with no “VIP” or front of line passes. A third issue is that there was no indication of where to go when you show up on site. The line to get into the haunt was long, so long that it completely blocked out the ticket booth to the left of it. If you just arrived, depending on where you stand, the view of the ticket booth is likely obstructed from your view; making some mistake the entrance line to be the ticket line. The fourth issue is that the haunts are open air, so any rain would be a problem, which it did rain for a bit when we arrived. We did not ride the hayride because of rain delays and wet hay. Lastly, parking used to be free. For long-time returning customers who weren’t aware of this; they may feel inconvenienced momentarily. Even us as Media had to fork out payment, which we wished was communicated to us ahead of time. For the rookie and local haunt-goer with no expectations; this may be a good starting point before seeing other haunts. We noticed props and sets that were moved around from their other affiliated haunts in San Diego. Therefore, for the newbie, they might find it more intriguing.
Hollywood Gothique's rating of The Scream Zone 2022
1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See
The Scream Zone’s return was a bit underwhelming for fans that might have been waiting since 2020 to experience it how it once was. The 2020 experience was fantastic since it was a drive-through; a legitimate drive-through haunt unlike where many others tried and failed at. For newbies that don’t mind the conga line experience, this could be a good starter haunt for them.
The Scream Zone runs until October 31 with timed entry or VIP admission. Parking is $10. For more information, visit: https://thescreamzone.com/