Reign of Terror: 2017 Review

Reign of Terror, Thousand Oaks, CA

Alright, folks, time to catch back up on these Halloween updates.  Going 12 days in a row with updates--including double update days for two of those days--and 15 of 16 days with updates is exhausting.  But it's all for you, the readers.  Don't you feel special?  Well, feel special, damnit!

 What a nice, adorable, friendly, super innocent, completely harmless looking clown with balloons!!

What a nice, adorable, friendly, super innocent, completely harmless looking clown with balloons!!

Today, we take a recap at this year's Reign of Terror attraction, one of the most elaborate, extensive, and well done haunted attractions in all of Southern California.  It may be located pretty far away for most Southern Californians--all the way out west in Thousand Oaks--but it is definitely worth the trip for any haunted attraction fan.  We reviewed this event last year, but for those unfamiliar, Reign of Terror is a sprawling, continuous, "8-in-1" maze with exquisite theming on par or even better than that of Halloween Horror Nights, plus dozens of scare actors crawling throughout.  The haunt has over 100 rooms through its layout, and a trip through every last one of them takes upwards of 25 minutes.  It is simply spectacular, and were I allowed to take photos inside the actual maze, this update would literally be hundreds of photos long.

 This year, Reign of Terror offered general admission for $20 and front of line for $35.  And also a no-asshole policy.

This year, Reign of Terror offered general admission for $20 and front of line for $35.  And also a no-asshole policy.

Although it's been like this for a while, this year appeared to be the first year that Reign of Terror  has actually advertised itself as being an eight-maze attraction in one.  And it effectively works out that way.  If you took eight different mazes and had the exit of one maze lead directly into the first room of the next maze, you'd have what Reign of Terror does.  The eight themes are:

  • Miner's Revenge
  • Backwoods
  • The Haunted House
  • Casa Blood
  • Infected
  • Quarantine
  • Asylum
  • Funhouse

The themes may be relatively familiar tropes, but the execution at Reign of Terror rivals the best in the business.  The theming is insanely rich and layered and fully immersive.  The lighting establishes an eerie and ominous mood throughout, while the props and set dressing are cinematic quality.  A series of animatronics also contributes to scares where live actors aren't present, and sometimes even in concert.

 This cemetery scene in the queue is but a sneak peek of the detail and intricacy of the maze beyond.

This cemetery scene in the queue is but a sneak peek of the detail and intricacy of the maze beyond.

 The line is so atmospheric just by itself.  It's fantastic!

The line is so atmospheric just by itself.  It's fantastic!

When it comes to the scare actors, in the past, Reign of Terror has sometimes been a bit lacking.  it's understandable.  With such an endless layout, there is a lot of maze to staff, and it requires a lot of resources to make the maze feel populated.  The haunt has traditionally dealt with this by distributing their monsters more on the back half of the maze, so that at least it ends with a lot of adrenaline and energy.  This issue has gotten better over the past couple of years, though, and this year seemed to be the best yet, with live actors evenly distributed throughout the entire maze and no part ever feeling too barren or lifeless because of a lack of monsters. 

The monsters themselves showcase some great timing, with a few creative scares from unexpected angles adding a nice bonus.  By and large, most of the startles are the type veteran haunters might expect--behind blind corners, blended into scenery, coming out of hidden partitions or closets.  But the combination of everything provides a great overall experience that is full of frights and terror (which is appropriate, of course!).

 Fancy a drink to calm the nerves before this haunt? Too bad, it's not a real bar. But it looks great!

Fancy a drink to calm the nerves before this haunt? Too bad, it's not a real bar. But it looks great!

With each year, Reign of Terror seems to get better and better, and this year was it's best yet.  That might sound like a broken record, but at this point, Reign of Terror has definitely established itself as a premiere haunt of the SoCal area.  Though this season has passed, it's a pretty good bet that RoT will return next year.  It's been around in the same location, standing year-round (a huge advantage that is instrumental in its yearly expansion and densification of detail), for many years now.  So make sure you go next year!  Also look for one-off openings in the late winter or early spring, as Reign of Terror holds a fundraising event annually.  It's almost guaranteed to be a scream!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.