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The Extreme Scream
899 Kifer Rd., Sunnyvale
Reviewed by Hauntmistress: 10/25/06
Not to be confused with a Sacramento haunt with a similar name, The Extreme Scream in Sunnyvale features three haunts, the Extreme Scream, plus Carnival of Chaos 3D, and Lil' Scream. And let me just say, this haunt lived up to its name.
Set in Sunnyvale's cavernous RSVP Event Center, there is plenty of room for the haunts which they use to their advantage. They all have an expansive feel about them. High ceilings allowed for extra tall walls to mark your path through The Extreme Scream and Carnival of Chaos which is nice, especially for adults, creating a more immersive environment.
But first things first. To enter the building you pass through a castle-like edifice guarded by gargoyles (oddly reminiscent of the creatures from the first Ghostbusters movie) and other scary creatures of the night, and finally through a set of gaping jaws, a nice touch to get you in the mood. This leads you into a hallway bathed in red light and featuring some very fine over-sized carnival posters and funhouse mirrors.
Once our tickets were taken, to enter the main haunt we were directed to a pitch black hallway. We walked through total darkness for what felt like an eternity until we actually got to the doors. The worker following us told us there was nothing in front of us, but I didn't believe her and was walking at a snail's pace - it was a nice feature to scare us and throw us off kilter before we even entered The Extreme Scream.
Our first impression, wow. This is a very well done haunt! The scenes were well constructed and thoughtful, the painting of props and scenes excellent, and the actors energetic and well costumed. It almost had a (scary) Disneyland feel with the vibrant colors and high level of detail. Most sets were completely three dimensional offering a depth of experience lacking in spaces at some other haunts that are flat painted with a few props for depth. Also unlike some other haunts where there are distinct rooms connected by hallways the majority of scenes here blend gracefully together.
A great deal of effort has been put into the sound effects for this haunt which can be described as loud, clear, and professional. A monster's growl was encompassing and could be felt as well as heard.
There were just enough actors to offer the perfect amount of scares, and they did so by coming at you from below and creeping out of corners - often right after an animatronic had offered a fright, giving you a double whammy. I was particularly impressed with the animatronics, which were plentiful and worked on time and with great effect. They were detailed, interesting, and quite inventive.
One thing we could have done without was a worker following us through the whole haunt. I don't think our party of two looked particularly shady, and we never needed assistance or direction, so I'm not sure why we were being followed. I kept turning around to see where Specter was only to see a young girl, arms length away, with a flashlight and cell phone. I think she was texting at one point...
The haunt was exciting and fun and I laughed and screamed my entire way through.
When we exited the Extreme Scream, there was no time to catch our breath as we immediately were handed 3D glasses and entered the spooky black lit world of the Carnival of Chaos.
The huge 3D murals and the three dimensional art work painted in 3D of the Carnival of Chaos were great. Ringmasters on horseback, giant monkeys, and other familiar circus favorites were all there and represented in wonderful detail.
Wafting through the air were circus marches rather than the darker more distorted sounds of a carnival which lightened the mood and made for a more upbeat experience.
There seemed to be fewer actors in this haunt than in The Extreme Scream, which is not to say there weren't enough. The creepy clowns and circus creatures of Carnival of Chaos do make frequent appearances and to good effect.
Overall we were impressed with the scenes and the scares. As always a nice feature, a rotating vortex tunnel at the end that had me pitching over the side - even without the 3D glasses, which you have to hand back for some reason before you go through the tunnel.
Built as a haunt for the tots, Lil' Scream is perfect for the pre-school crowd. There are no actors and nothing will jump at you so it's safe to carry the little ones or let them wander at their pace. You walk through a short waist-high maze that features cute little Halloween scenes and inflatable props, such as a pumpkin patch, Frankenstein, witches and a spooky old house. Very cute and non-threatening, much like a typical neighborhood decorated for Halloween. At the end there is a small selection of carnival style games to play (tic-tac-toe, beanbag toss, whack a witch, etc) and an inflatable jumper.
To round out your experience, The Extreme Scream has gift store where you can purchase a small selection of Halloween props and decorations as well as some snacks and drinks to refresh and replenish your energy. There is also an arcade with plenty of video games and an air hockey table. Convenient if your group has broken up or if you're waiting for others who wanted to go back through again. Though you may have trouble getting your kids out of there.
The entire crew at the Extreme Scream was very nice and friendly. Quick with a smile and always asking if we were having a good time. As we walked from haunt to haunt, even the security guards got in on the act jumping out at us as a friendly scare. They seemed to really enjoy their jobs and it was refreshing to see them getting into the spirit!
At almost $25 per person for the all the attractions, it's not cheap, but there is much to do and you can easily spend a couple of hours there having fun and getting scared!
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