The Haunted Hotel, for as long as we can remember, has been the main staple and draw in the San Diego area. Located at 424 Market Street, they are easy to find right in the heart of Gaslamp. We checked into The Haunted Hotel after gasping from air from The Scream Zone and exhausting ourselves from The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park; we'd figure it should be our final rest-stop of the night.
The time is 10:38 PM; and after a full day of braving The House of Horrors, revisting twisted fairytails at Karnevil, riding through scary ethers and realms on the Haunted Hayride,and surviving the 20-30 minute Haunted Trail at Balboa Park; we felt The Haunted Hotel could provide us comfort.
We descend into the basement of an old historic commercial building very reminiscent of the once beloved “Old Town Haunt” in Pasadena. The hotel associate helps us to find the way to the elevator and urges us to hurry. Once the elevator arrives, a visibly and infected girl comes out and warns us about whats down there. As the doors were about to close, the lights dark and something joins us inside.
As we descend into this hellevator, everything starts shaking and rumbling as we hear zombie moans alongside us. The lights come on as we finally reach our floor and we see a zombie running rampant in the elevator. So we quickly and exit the car and brave the hallways. At each turn, we were met by victims of an outbreak.
We survived the outbreak then exited into a swamp area. The theme and set change was very appparent especially with the actors screaming: “Who's coming into my swamp?” The residents from the swamp question what exactly you are doing here while waving a machete at you. They warn you that “Virginia is gonna get you.” As we approached the exit, a woman, presumably Virginia, calls out: “Dinnertime! Haha”. We walk into a shack like building where we were met with a brother on a carving table and his sister tied up in the corner screaming for help. He assured us it was alright for him to do whatever he was doing because that's his sister. We assume this family is related to the ones we encountered at the swamp a moment ago. The swamp and shack share a striking resemblance of the one from the VooDoo maze from Knott's Scary Farm the last couple of years; you could've have dropped us off in the middle of this set and it would've fooled us.
We then pass through what appears to be a torture chamber full of clowns that want to play with your insides. What a nightmare for those who are squeamish and are afraid of clowns. We arrive inside a dark room and are unsure where to go after being distracted by a female dancing clown on a ramp. On the right of us was a female clown holding on to a knife in a Michael Myers stabbing motion. We turned back to the dancing clown to try to gauge where to go, then we turn back to the clown with a knife; she magically has her left hand raised at this point and was pointing where to go. So unlike the “unhelpful clown” at Queen Mary; this one wanted to stab us but at least she was accomodating. At the next turn, it turned out she directed us towards more of her cronies as we ended up a colorful room and hallway with a couple of clowns climbing all over the place. And here we finally thought we've found a clown that wasn't too bad.
In the next scene, we enter a dark pathway and suddenly a loud horn and headlights come on on the right side of us, seemed to be a train. Before we know it, we are in some a with large spiders and miners asking for help letting them out. After turning a corner, a large animatronic beast lunged at us; very much like the shark from The Depths at Knott's Scary Farm. As we attempt to escape the mine, we see a bunch of victims strung up with parts of their bodies mising. Were these people the leftovers of the beast? A starved miner seemingly in transition to a zombie comes out and expressed that he liked the flesh on me. As we advanced, a female zombie that recently turned goes erractic and wild. A scare actor waving his chainsaw attempts to drive us out in the next scene..clearly we have overstayed our welcome at the Haunted Hotel; at least they let us check out!
In conclusion, what's most impressive about the attraction is the fact that you actually descend into the basement; which itself adds to the theme and the illusion that you are going to a creepy/eerie place. Also, from the queue area in line all the way to the last set at the end of the maze; almost everything seems to be permanent or fixed. Perhaps it explains why the quality of the sets and décor is higher grade since it has to last through the years. We would like to see mazes and endings that don't involve chainsaws as we feel it has been overused. However, the amount of scare actors, the sets, and the props are definitely worth booking a short stay at The Haunted Hotel.
Haunted Hotel Rating
The Haunted Hotel is still taking reservations for October 27, 28 & 31. General Hours: Sun-Thurs: 7pm – 11pm / Fri & Sat: 6pm – 1am. For more information: www.HauntedHotel.com