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World's Largest Haunted House

7900 Arroyo Cir., Gilroy

Reviewed 10/25/06

With a name like "World's Largest Haunted House" one has certain expectations. For example, one could be led to believe, oh, I dunno, that this haunt, is the world's largest haunted house. Located in a building that formerly housed a Wal Mart this haunt certainly looked like it could be. The building is huge.

The area is spooky at night, Arroyo Circle is very dark once you get past all the outlet shops and there is something foreboding about a closed and boarded up shopping center. There was a little zombie flick vibe starting to build from looking at the place. This was perhaps the scariest part of the night. Aside from a large orange and black sign on the building that read, "World's Largest Haunted House" there was little else to indicate there was anything special inside. A few cars in the parking lot but no sign of any people. Not entirely encouraging.

Passing a spooky fortune teller prop, that momentarily made us think that was where we were supposed to buy tickets and signs warning us we were on camera, we walked into the dark and foggy main room of the haunt. There weren't many people inside either. A few employees behind the ticket counter and a couple waiting to enter the haunt was it. We purchased our tickets and a little cutie, no more than six years old, handed them to us. 

The centerpiece of the main room is a good sized graveyard scene. Playing in the background, there was a Halloween sound effects recording that didn't seem to have much relevance to the scene we were viewing. Overall, we thought it was nice but nothing particularly special.

Unfortunately, this thought was to repeat itself throughout our visit. The haunt itself is your typical maze haunt with a series of vignettes showing various unrelated scenes of horror. Scares from them and screams from us were relatively few and far between.

From the very beginning there were timing issues. The very first vignette was completely dark with apparently nothing going to happen. We paused for a moment to await a scare but left when none arrived. It was only after we had left the area that the scene illuminated and the actor came out.

 Disappointed, we reduced our speed from a slow walk to a snail's crawl to give the actors plenty of time to prepare themselves, yet similar scenarios played out several more times. For a group walking at a normal pace or one actually scared and moving briskly, entire scares could be easily missed.

In several other vignettes actors jumped out to scare us but when it didn't have the desired effect they didn't have an exit strategy and we just ended up looking at each other as we slowly walked by.

There were a few notable performances. A particularly energetic clown acrobatically bounded at us to good effect as did a wonderfully determined gorilla. The actor playing Freddy was particularly good in his setting and unique location though his overall impact was diluted by being plainly visible to everyone waiting in line at the beginning of the haunt.

The end of the haunt brings you out past the other side of the same graveyard centerpiece that you walked by to get in. At this point we thought this would be a sort of intermission before we continued through the rest of the "World's Largest Haunted House" but alas it was indeed the end. The haunt was good sized but nowhere near the "world's largest" as its name implies. It doesn't occupy even half the area you would imagine from viewing the exterior of the building. Overall, it left us feeling indifferent. The design and construction of the vignettes were ok. The acting, with a couple of positive exceptions, was ok. The audio and the overall value for your Halloween dollar was just ok. 

As we drove out of the parking lot the same little cutie who had handed us our tickets was now outside and waiving goodbye to us. The smile on her face was priceless. Who knew she would turn out to be the most memorable thing about the World's Largest Haunted House.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.

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When Oct. 13-31, 2006, Mon.-Thur. 6 pm-10 pm; Fri. 6 pm-midnight; Sat. 4 pm-midnight; Sun. 4 pm-10 pm; open until midnight on Halloween
Where 7900 Arroyo Cir., Gilroy
Admission $12; students $10; kids 12 years and under $8
Contact www.worldslargesthauntedhouse.com

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