The 17th Door, Tustin fit the bill pretty well, with the exception of one room that I was dreading when I finally did get around to reading the reviews in the car on the way up there. Once you buy tickets you are slotted into a specific hour in which you are supposed to arrive and groups of up to ten are sent in. Most of the rooms are fairly small, so you really can't have more than that. After signing our waiver we were ushered in pretty quickly. We started out in a creepy classroom unlike any I remember from college. A really mean teacher barked at us to sit down and I realized I haven't sat in one of those all in one chairs with the desk attached in a long time. We were instructed to turn in our assignments; which in this case was our signed waivers. A rouge student barged in gun blazing. Shots were fired, and then we were sent into our next room.
Most of the rooms in 17th Door have a small, dark, cramped hallway/foyer area. There, we waited until the red light above the door turned green to signal that we should enter. The group we were with didn't want to go first, so MJ and I ended up at the front for most of the tour. Each room has a different theme. I was always scared to open the door, because you never know what's waiting for you inside. The first thing I did every time was look all around me because there are monsters jumping and grabbing at you the entire time. I wanted to see them first if I could. One room was set up like a large walk in refrigerator/butcher shop with carcasses hanging from the ceiling by chains. I was able to dodge every single one without them touching me. When the lights came on MJ had a pig head in his hands. He says he doesn't know where it came from.
The journey follows hopeful and excited college freshman Paula. Violent and/or disturbing scenes are portrayed by live actors to tell the story of her downward spiral into depression, drugs and eating disorders. Sometimes it is hot, sometimes it is cold, but each room is definitely creepier than the next. It is always dark and sometimes it is pitch black. Total darkness. I hung onto MJ's arm a lot and tried to disappear into his chest, but it never worked. And twice, I had to go alone into complete darkness. A dark closet with no handle and no lock and a long dark hallway. My go to was to shut my eyes tight, and scream at the top of my lungs. I couldn't see. I couldn't hear. Somehow that helped. It's very clear that I would be dead in two seconds on The Walking Dead.
I didn't find out about the roaches until it was too late and when I saw the door with a giant lit up roach over it my heart dropped. Here it comes. Yes, they are real roaches. Dried and dead. The room was full of them. There was a demented doctor with a lab coat holding a tray of them and I was so terrified that I ran to the back of the group (and away from MJ) to get away from him and then really freaked out when the lights went out and I had no one to hang onto to. It was pitch black. I didn't know where the guy with the roach tray was and then we were being pelted with mysterious objects that felt like roaches. I kept asking MJ to check my shirt, because it felt like I was crawling with them. That was the absolute worst part. The safe word is Mercy. If you yell that at any time they have to let you out. Had the roaches been alive I would have yelled "Mercy" in half a second and that would have been the end of it.
In all, there are 17 doors and it takes about 30 minutes to get through all of them. It didn't go by quick at all. It was a warm night, but I think the roach room did me in. I was hot and sweaty when we left. I just really wanted to shower and to get out of those haunted clothes.
The actors were good and the sets were very detailed and well done. Pig people are creepy, but I think they overused that theme just a little bit. Towards the end it was starting to get predictable that a Pig headed person was going to jump out at you, but it didn't stop me from screaming every time. It was scary, but it's almost more disturbing than anything else. The waiver explicitly states that it can be "triggering" so you can't say you didn't know. Part of me wishes it were a little bit scarier. There was a moment where I thought-was that it? But really, it was just enough. There are more hard core haunted houses in LA that we could try, but those probably take it further than I'm willing to go. I love horror movies and in my head I think I'm this bad ass who wants to be really scared and can handle anything, but I'm really not.
Overall, it was really fun. I could have done without the roaches, but other than that it was doable and we had a really good time. We have The Haunted Hotel in San Diego. We've also done the Haunted Trail in Balboa Park and we'll probably go back, but it was fun to try something new. We went to dinner before, made it a fun date night and it was worth the drive.
We don't do pumpkins, and I haven't dressed up in years, but we love a good haunted house.