“”Be scared and don’t piss your pants.””
Those are the rules given at the beginning of the tour of the Haunted Hotel, located in the Gaslamp Quarter at 424 Market St. in downtown San Diego. This place is one of the many scary spectacles in town during the Halloween season. Although entertaining while it lasts, the tour is a mere 15 minutes long, which is not worth the lengthy wait and the steep $9.95 admission price.
The tour begins with a shaky elevator ride, setting the mood for the chills ahead. Then comes a descent into complete darkness, as the spectator fumbles through the corridors to reach the rooms in the hotel. There are re-creations of scenes from horror films such as “”Scream,”” “”The Exorcist,”” “”Nightmare on Elm Street”” and various others. There are real actors portraying characters from the films, staying still until an unsuspecting person passes by.
During the blind walk, chain-saw-carrying-madmen and other nightmarish ghouls frighten and chase people. One of the rooms has a moving floor that shakes the spectators as they tear at the walls to stay on their feet. Another room, which is filled with optical illusions and psychedelic lights, could very well resemble an LSD trip. Both rooms make the audience lose their sense of balance and leave them feeling vulnerable to the horrors ahead.
There are more rooms which put the observers ill at ease as they maneuver around body bags hanging from the ceiling, avoid the grasp of a caged maniac and witness the levitation of a possessed woman.
But those who cannot take the jolt of a good scare should proceed with caution, so as to avoid a ride to the hospital. One unfortunate spectator has already experienced this fate.
If you have the time and money, the Haunted Hotel is a marginally enjoyable place to go.
The negative aspect of the tour is that it progresses very quickly, which leaves you feeling cheated out of the ticket price that could have gone towards a couple beers at Porter’s Pub.