Daisy Avenue, Fountain Valley, CA
Are we double dipping updates today? Yes! We're double dipping, because there's so much Halloween goodness out there! Tonight, we check out The Haunt at Daisy Avenue, a home haunt that has been thrilling Fountain Valley for nearly two decades and is carrying out its final haunt ever tomorrow night.
The Haunt at Daisy Avenue is a family affair. Though led by twin sisters, Nicole Watson and Natalie Pashby, inspiration actually came from their parents. They recall their father scaring people during Halloween, and it didn't take long for the haunt bug to strike them as they outgrew trick-or-treating and developed interests in more thrilling Halloween affairs. They created their first home haunted house nearly 20 years ago, and they haven't looked back since! Over this time, their 1000 square foot front lawn haunt has seen different themes and appearances, but the family aspect hasn't gone away. Parents Woody and Deborah still participate, helping with build or technical aspects or even appearing within the maze itself as talent! A core group of family members and friends all volunteer to help run or participate within the haunt. And within their local community, this haunted attraction has garnered a nice following as a scary but fun Halloween tradition.
This year, The Haunt at Daisy Avenue casts its swan song as Ravenwood Manor: "In a ghostly seance gone horribly wrong, the once beautiful and noble Ravenwood Manor has become a forlorn graveyard haunted by tragic memories." Guests enter the manor and find themselves within a variety of themes mixed in under the general, overarching theme. There are creepy dolls, old family relics, a gory slaughter room, and even an overgrown garden and crypt. Although the footprint is not terribly large, the winding route makes the maze feel longer than it appears. The theming, too, carries a sense of fun and creativity. Though some scenes can get quite bloody, there's a bit of a cartoonish sense to it--the lighting is bright to show how garishly over-bloody it is, and the mood never feel completely threatening.
The family venture nature of The Haunt at Daisy Avenue shows up in how the talent and volunteers interact with guests. They feel very much like hosts, and the scares are never aggressive beyond the initial pop-out startle. And though there are some actions that sound intense on paper--a chainsaw wielding butcher sounds pretty scary, after all--in observation, the scares are still done with the intent of having fun. If a guest is too petrified, the actors don't push, which is nice.
Overall, The Haunt at Daisy Avenue carries that home haunt charm that mixes in a decent amount of quality craftsmanship. Most of the props in the maze are customized in one form or another. They're either made from scratch or aged or modified so that their final appearance is not anything one can find at a store. That sort of heart and care for the maze is a large part of why this haunt has been around for so many years, enjoying great support from the neighbors.
As I mentioned, this will be the final year for The Haunt at Daisy Avenue. Nicole and her husband are shifting their creativity toward a dark-themed escape room tentatively called Nocturne Adventures, while Natalie and her husband are settling down to focus more on their burgeoning family.
Ravenwood Manor will manifest tomorrow night on Halloween from 6-10pm and then again on November 1 from 7-9. Halloween night will be full scare, but the November date will be non-scare evening with no actors or startle effects. Guests are invited to come and see the inner workings of how the haunt is put together, and the cast is happy to explain how things were made or coordinated to create the effects of the haunt. Once again, the family spirit of this haunt shines through by breaking down to kids or anyone else interested how the magic is done.
I had a very fun time touring The Haunt at Daisy Avenue during its preview night last Saturday, and I definitely recommend it to anyone in the area. Lets send this haunt off with a rousing showing for its final year ever. It certainly deserves it!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.