Hollywood Gothique
Funhouses & MazesLA Attractions Gothique

Review: The Clown Academy immersive haunt

The Clown Academy combines the scares of a haunted house with the challenges of an escape room to create a unique interactive experience.

An unintentional, recurring joke on Hollywood Gothique is that, every time we are confronted by a new Halloween attraction featuring a killer klown/psycho circus theme, our immediate reaction is “Oh god, please no – that theme is so overused!” – and yet, more often than not, we end up praising the result. Well, here is the latest iteration of that joke: we loved The Clown Academy haunted house. It’s clever, funny, scary, and imaginative.

It is also decidedly not a Psycho Circus. True to its name, The Clown Academy portrays a school for clowns – the last of its kind, according to the back story on a sign viewed while waiting in line. Apparently, there once were Clown Academies across the United States before the “Clowning Act of 1951” closed them down for “malpractice” and the buildings were demolished. Now, only one campus remains, and it comes alive at night for those foolish enough to matriculate.

The Clown Academy Review: Challenging Curriculum

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Upon entering the Clown Academy, students (i.e., you) must pass a series of tests: answering questions, solving a puzzle, preparing a meal, hurling an ax, and even performing an autopsy of sorts. That’s right: although billing itself as “an immersive haunt” or “an immersive horror maze,” the Clown Academy is more like an interactive escape room with live actors. The faculty may startle students with a sudden appearance or two, but they will definitely engage in confrontational dialogue, demanding that you complete the required task before “graduating” to the next room. At the end, students receive their “degree” – a red clown nose they are required to wear before exiting. You’re now officially a clown. Woo-hoo!

The Clown Academy delivers enough scares to qualify as a haunted house attraction, but its real appeal lies in its challenging interactivity, which is amusingly bizarre, sometimes edging over into disgusting (one solution requires reaching into a recently used toilet).

The only improvement we can imagine would be a longer maze. Though the Clown Academy offers an excellent education, it has a small campus with only a relative handful of classrooms. The staff makes the most of the facilities, but the study session definitely feels like a trimester rather than a full semester. Perhaps next Halloween they could expand and offer The Clown Academy: Graduate School.

Clown Academy Rating

Bottom Line

The Clown Academy offers excellent interactive entertainment. If only the maze were a little longer, we would have rated it even higher.

The Clown Academy continues at Murder House Productions* on October 22-24, 28-31. Update: The show’s run has apparently been cut short; tickets are no longer for sale for the last days of October. Show run 7pm -10:30pm: doors open at 7pm; gates close at 10:30pm. Wait times subject to capacity. The address is 2525 W Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90018. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit theclownacademy.com.

*MHP did not create this haunt; not doing an event of their own this Halloween, they made their building available to the creators of Intruder Escape (a card game and app), who created their own haunt.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.