Boot Hill: 2018 Review

Boot Hill, Irvine, CA

Home haunt-a-palooza continues today with a venture over to Orange County to visit classic Boot Hill! This is another home haunt that we visited last year, but it’s long been a Halloween staple in normally quiet, suburban haven Irvine. A stunningly elaborate yard display with a partial walk-through “mini-haunt” experience, Boot Hill uses sinister projections and an evocative soundtrack to complement a beautiful graveyard and Old West mining theme to illustrate the legend of the evil and sadistic Jedediah Smith.

 Terrifying creatures abound at Boot Hill despite its rather short walkthrough length!

Terrifying creatures abound at Boot Hill despite its rather short walkthrough length!

Legend has it that an old mining town called Bridgewood existed in what is present-day Irvine. Though initially prosperous from the fortunes of the nearby mine, the town’s fate took a turn for the worst when it was purchased by the mysterious Jedediah, who slowly milked the town dry with high taxes and neglect. Bridgewood became a place of outlaws and bandits, and Jedediah ruled with an iron fist, killing anyone who opposed him. This finally came to an end one Halloween night when a lynch mob marched to confront Smith and his men, killing his outlaws in a horrific gunfight before finally finding Smith at his home, dragging him out to the local cemetery, and executing him for his crimes. But they say that every Halloween, Smith’s spirit returns, and the church and cemetery reappear to allow the dead to mourn.

 The path leads to the old Jedediah Smith mining caves.

The path leads to the old Jedediah Smith mining caves.

Present day Boot Hill, located in the Irvine community of Woodbridge (get it?), is the manifestation of this sinister ghost tale. Guests patiently waiting in line (one that stretches well down the street during busy nights) can see a silhouetted flashback of Jedediah’s end through a church window forming a facade along the street. A photo op and screen recounting the Legend of Boot Hill can also be see just off the queue.

 Outside, a photo spot, animated jack-o-lantern commentator, and narration screen help guests pass the wait and learn about Boot Hill’s backstory.

Outside, a photo spot, animated jack-o-lantern commentator, and narration screen help guests pass the wait and learn about Boot Hill’s backstory.

Once through the portal, the terror begins. It’s an out-and-back layout, one group at a time, with guests venturing through the winding front yard of this Irvine residence toward the front door. They can go no further once they reach the mine, however, and they must turn back. But beware, for some of the spirits of Boot Hill lurk in the shadows, and they may ambush unsuspecting guests lulled by the magnificent sights of the extremely photogenic graveyard.

 Inside, the spooky ambiance is magnificent.

Inside, the spooky ambiance is magnificent.

Although a lot of Boot Hill is similar to last year, the haunt is still a joy to visit. The execution of all the theming elements, the strong concept story (developed nearly two decades ago by Theme Park Adventure’s Rick West), the special effects and projections, and the live talent all combine to make a haunted attraction that is short but sweet and very effective with the frights. The monsters are patient, and they may not reveal themselves upon first pass. But they do excellent work, and they contribute to a quality that is as good as any haunt out there—amateur or professional!

 A mix of physical sets and projections combine for a great, immersive environment.

A mix of physical sets and projections combine for a great, immersive environment.

 The cemetery and a mural backdrop add depth to the scene.

The cemetery and a mural backdrop add depth to the scene.

On less busy nights, guests may have the option of going through a light version of the walk-through, without monsters present. But the ambiance is still quite spooky, and small children may still find Boot Hill to be a little too intimidating, due to the loud noises of the thunder and explosives sound effects used.

 A dead bride represents one of the countless women Jedediah Smith had slaughtered in the town of Bridgewood as one of his many acts of malevolent madness.

A dead bride represents one of the countless women Jedediah Smith had slaughtered in the town of Bridgewood as one of his many acts of malevolent madness.

The bottom line is that Boot Hill is a can’t miss home haunt for Halloween fans of Orange County. Most people might not ever suspect that perfectly planned, idyllic Irvine would be home to such a renown attraction of terror, but here it is! Boot Hill is located at 16 Goldenrod, Irvine, CA 92614 and is open from 7:00-10:00pm this tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. It is NOT open on Halloween. Expect crowds as the neighborhood descends on this long-running favorite tradition on this final weekend before Halloween itself! Admission is free, but donations are welcome. And even better, all proceeds from donations and merchandise sales go to CHOC Hospital! Scaring and caring…a great combination!

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