The Haunt List has been going to The 17th Door and following the story of their muse Paula (a disturbed girl facing her inner demons and the cruelties of the outside world) since its first year of operation. Known for being an extreme haunt with insects, gore, and other grotesque factors, The 17th Door has accomplished the difficult task of scaling back the shock factor without sacrificing any of its integrity or disappointing its core fans.
Prior to entering the maze, The Haunt List participated in the Virtual Reality add-on which has you strapped into a chair at the wrists and waist, and mounted with oversized VR goggles and headphones. While the visuals were somewhat grainy, coupling them with the motion timing created some fun surprises and a unique simulation overall. We do NOT recommend this add-on if you do not enjoy being shocked and while we wanted to get the most well rounded experience, do not feel as though you must participate in the virtual reality add-on to enjoy The 17th Door.
One of the things that this haunt excels at is providing their customers with a quality experience. We noticed right away that the staff was super attentive, friendly, and helpful. We even witnessed crew members actively ensuring that there were enough gaps between groups and that things were flowing smoothly. Gapping can make or break a walkthrough so as haunt veterans, it was something we noticed right away. The actors communicated rules clearly, with a key instruction being “if you sit in The Barber’s chair, you WILL get your hair cut!” While we were highly anticipating this room, unfortunately, no one in our group was brave enough to take on The Barber!
Paula’s storyline is less prevalent this year, but we know that she’s been sent to prison — Perpetuum Penitentiary — which is the basis of the maze. That means the focus is on us, which is certainly more unnerving, as we try to navigate our own stay, through menacing guards and other inmates. We were extremely impressed with the use of lighting, or lack thereof, which made it easy to get lost and disoriented while still in a relatively small space. The character actors were on point and in a few of the rooms were so good that they stole the spotlight from other details of the scene. Without giving too much away, we have to call attention to two rooms that undeniably stood out among the rest. The long dimly-lit hallway of cells leading down to Paula’s is one of the most terrifying situations that we’ve ever encountered when going through a haunted attraction. The actor synced so superbly with the lighting and audio that we didn’t know whether to scream or applaud! Later into the experience, the roof escape was something completely new and original, beyond thrilling, and in our opinion the highlight of the night. If you scare easily, don’t get your hopes up on speeding through this maze because as soon as you think you’re done… you’re not.
In our experience this year’s haunt was overall more exciting than frightening, as we recalled more jump-scares the first year where no wall, window, or fixture was safe to turn your back on. That said, this year was hosted at a brand new location so we empathize with the idea of having to reconfigure and rebuild each room. For those who have visited The 17th Door in the past, you can still expect to get shocked, separated, and wet, along with being put into uncomfortable and claustrophobic situations, all in new creative and innovative ways. The 17th Door has managed to stay at the same level of extreme and with this year’s changes, has made the haunt more interactive and ultimately, more appealing to a wider demographic.
Would we recommend this haunt? There is no reason why you should be passing on the opportunity to visit this haunt. One of the best attractions in Orange County, The 17th Door provides a fun, interactive and intense environment, catered to all levels of haunt enthusiasts. Don’t want to get wet or engaged with too much? Buy a Mercy Pendant or call “Mercy” to skip to the next room. Looking for something a little more intense? Purchase the added VR Experience. The standard maze is a satisfying solution for nearly anyone that’s a fan of interactive haunts (if kids made it through, you can too). With a reasonable ticket price and quality you can’t beat, The 17th Door is one of a few haunts worth visiting more than once.
The 17th Door (Fullerton, CA) is open now through October 31. Get your tickets here.