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The Balboa Park Haunted Trail 2018 Review

The Haunted Trail is another main staple haunt in San Diego. Unlike The Scream Zone, the Haunted Trail is located just 8 to 10 minutes from Gaslamp District, so hauntgoers can hit both the trail then the Haunted Hotel afterward. The Scream Zone, The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park, and The Haunted Hotel all belong to the same haunt group and therefore can all found on a centralized website. We decided to make this our 2nd stop after The Scream Zone to see what lurks in the trail and how it compares to the other trails we’ve hiked over the years.

For Hollywood horror fananatics and thrill-seekers, The Haunted Trail may give you your fix without having to drive to Universal Halloween Horror Nights. The maze opens up with black plywood walls taking you into a room full of “Ghostface” masks plastered on the walls. Like the “Skullface” room at The Scream Zone (LINK!), one of those masks could be on a real actor. After fleeting Ghostface, we ended up at The Purge room. It uses the same misdirection as the corridors with “The Three Little Pigs” in Karnevil at The Scream Zone. Walls are painted with graffiti and the actors wish you “Happy Purge!”

After surviving The Purge, we end up in Haddonfield and were greeted by Michael Myers in front of his house. It was a very nice facade much like the Neibolt House at The Scream Zone. We outran Michael Myers and found ourselves in a room full of wells and TVs with a tape playing…sound familiar? You’ve guessed it, it’s The Ring! TVs with white noise were playing as you attempt to evade whoever crawls out the wells; we thought this was pretty cool.

The next scene brnigs us to the dark corridor and hallway from the Roman Catholic Church St. (Steve need your help with the name here) from “The Nun”. A Nun or two appears at the end of the hallway included reacting one from the movie by using the old drop down painting trick to show a real Nun after you look at the fake painting.

We escape the Nun only to realize we are in a “nightmare. We get distracted by this frosted glass with the lyrics to the infamous poem being written out before Freddy appears and haunts us. We wake up from the nightmare then go into another one: with giant inflatables. We exit to an outdoor area with awesome graffit murals relating to popular films, what a treat!

The next set…yes all that before this was ONE LONG maze. We passed though a demented winter wonderland with court jesters scaring you; this had a Queen Mary Winter Chill feel to it. We then end up in front of a building that read “Derry DWP”. We are now excited to see how this fares with The IT Experience and The House of Horrors from Scream Zone. A thick fog passes and suddenlty it was clear that we were in Pennywise’s lair with bodies and objects piled up like in the movie. Pennywise haunts intruders at the end and then runs toward you! You escape into an Actual school bus filled with Georgies. One of our associates first experienced this bus 4 years ago as it was used for a diferent theme with a bunch of clowns inside. It was very neat and a joy to see that they utilized the bus once again but flipped the script with it. Anyways, the creepy factor of it all just like years ago with the clowns, was which Georgie was real?

The next set was a church scene which bodies seated in a hunched over position, you know at least one of them is real. We exit into the graveyard and might we add is a creepy one. This realistic looking grave yard has tombs, gravemarkers, mausoleums, a casket, and its hard to differentiate whats real and what’s a prop since it was so dark. We were definitely creeped out. Fortunately we escaped and found ourselves getting into stranger things.

Yep, they’ve built a set for The Stranger Thing’s house with the alphabet wall as well! We were very impressed with this set and how they simulated a realm with inflatables where you had to find your way out. The inflatables were only waist deep unlike the large overflated one that we’re used to seeing.

We exit into a pathway with SCARECROWS coming at you left and right. Then you enter into this fortress, sanitarium or insane ASYLUM. Though it isn’t, but it could’ve easily been a BATMAN theme going here! We then entered a barn with hillbillies and charred bodies hanging. Were they human or pig? Go find out!

The next room we entered was a nursery, this was clearly indicated by glass windows and screams from babies. The most demented and horrorfying part was the giant man baby in cutesy baby clothes and diaper in front our eyes; now that’s an image that left a mark! We contiued onto the outdoor trail with props of ghosts on the side. We then entered a padded cell room with one scare actress at the end. We exit again and found ourselves back on the outdoor trail; only this time it felt like the Prado Witch Trail of Coffin Creek because at least one of these gholish props was real! A couple of clowns greet us before we enter the next room, which was a zombie with a tanktop on. He actually looked like Logan with glasses because of his hair. We went back on to the trail with props of phantoms alongside it, then entered a room with no scare actor but only skulls and crossbones on the walls.

FINALLY, exiting the small rooms trail area, we approach a “camp” and start to hear “Ch ch ch, ah ah ah.” Yes it’s none other than Camp Crystal Lake. We were very impressed with the Camp that was built, it definitely rivals the quality of Universal’s HHN. Once inside, the victims in bunk beds cry for help as Jason Voorhees is on the loose and pops up at random. The set definitely puts you int the movie! The final scene, which was the restroom scene, a poor girl cries for help as Jason is lurking in the showers. We made it out, but not sure about the group behind us!

The finale of it all is a carnival fun house with clowns that pop up and come at you. Even when we exit, there were clowns on the trail teamed with a couple of chainsaw wielders and a VooDoo Priest that curses you on your way out! You are left with thinking what on earth did he curse you with and if you did indeed bring something back with you?

Overall, the Trail is a fun-filled adventure Especially for horror geeks and fanatics. We plesantly enjoyed seeing classic horror film themes mixed with the new stuff. The great thing about the hautned trail is that there is no theme and literally ANYTHING can happen; which makes us want to come back for more and see what’s in store for next year! This is hugely recommended. While you are here, you can check in to the Haunted Hotel which is 10 minutes away.

The trail is open from 7PM to 11PM through October 31. On weekends and on Halloween, they open a little earlier: 6:30. Now lets see if you can keep up.



Media Correspondent, Videographer, Photographer @Hollywood Gothique, Halloween Fanatic.