For our first scare of the Halloween season, we opted to return to Seaside Haunt. We can’t really improve upon last year’s review; we can only say that everything seemed just as good this year.
We say “seemed” only because the folks who work there expressed some some dissatisfaction with their ability to get the haunt ready for opening night. Circumstances forced them to start setting up a weekly later than planned, so they were unable to get every detail perfectly shipshape, in their estimation. The only evidence we saw of this was several large rock formations – actually convincing props that had not yet been installed – visible resting against a side wall. The actual experience of walking, crawling, running, and screaming through the maze was undiminished as far as we could tell.
We went late in the evening, when customers had thinned out, because we wanted to conduct some interviews and shoot some video without interfering with the actual operation of the haunt. Nevertheless, we saw a few groups of terrified teenagers enter and emerge from the maze, screaming and/or laughing, and proclaiming the experience thoroughly “kick-ass.”
The only drawback to Seaside Haunt is that its location is isolated. After you’ve been through the maze, there is not a lot more to do: no harvest fest with hayrides, nor late-night dance club (a la Spooky House). There are a couple of booths, one selling snacks, the other offering psychic readings. Having eaten dinner before making the long trek to Ventura, we skipped the former, but we did take advantage of the later.
Mia, the self-proclaimed “Consultant to the Stars,” gladly welcomed us into her tent, even though she had been packing up to leave for the night, and gave us an extensive “character reading.” To be honest, I’m not a believer, but she was so personable and engaging that it was hard not to be won over. Her accuracy wasn’t 100%, but she had far more hits than misses. The experience was an entertaining one, and we left feeling glad we had stopped in.
I should mention that Ventura County Fairgrounds, where the haunt is situated, currently has hundreds of firemen bivouacked in pup tents. They’ve been fighting the fire burning in Los Padres National Forest to the north, which has been threatening parts of Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Ojai.
The presence of the fireman doesn’t really affect the operation of the haunt, but it does mean that the parking lot is crowded with lots of very exhausted, hard-working people. Consequently, the guards at the entrance of the lot will probably ask you to drive slowly and take extra care while searching for a parking space. As always, we cannot allow our enjoyment of fantasy fright fests to overwhelm our consideration for the sometimes unpleasant realities of life.