The 17th Door is a brand new haunt in Tustin, California just south of Disneyland created by first time haunters Robbie and Heather Luther. They had the idea for a haunt for over a decade but finally decided to make it happen one night while on a date at a sushi restaurant. Word spread about The 17th Door through social media and haunt websites.
Robbie has his hands in many things including construction, which came in useful as he oversaw the design of the 17th Door while wife Heather has a business background and handles that aspect of the haunt. Many of the sets were built at a warehouse in Santa Ana where Robbie has spent up to 120 hours a week working on it since April. Originally he wanted a much more extreme, controversial attraction but had concerns about it being accepted in the community.
The 17th Door is extreme, but not as hardcore as some haunt such as McKamey Manor or Blackout. Still, you need to sign a waiver and the monsters can touch you. If you can’t handle it then you can scream “Mercy” to get out. It’s good to know that each door you progress through becomes more scary than the last.
The premise is that you’re following the story of Paula who is transitioning from high school to pre-med at Gluttire University. The haunt explores Paula’s demons such as eating disorders, bullying, drunk driving and suicide. Sometimes you’ll experience things through the mind of Paula while other times she’ll be in the room with you.
The haunt starts in the classroom where a strict looking teacher explains the rules and has you hand in a waiver. There are 17 rooms, each lasting about a minute. To go through the whole haunt takes about thirty minutes. When the light above each door is red you stop, when it’s green you enter the next room. In between the rooms are transitions, some of them having a 20-second video delay where you can see what happened to you and others in the room before. The transitions also help with crowd control and are effective for some up-close and personal scares with the monsters. Throughout the maze you’ll encounter demonic pigs which represent Paula’s inner demons.
We saw things in the 17th Door that we’ve never seen anywhere before. It has to rank up there with one of if not the most innovative haunts we’ve ever been through. The sets are movie set quality and rival anything from Universal Halloween Horror Nights. There’s around fifty actors throughout the 15,000 square feet and each of them has a part to play. There not just there to scare you, but to progress the story.
The 17th Door is interactive and you might get wet from a toilet shooting water, a game of Russian Roulette or one of the pig demons actually licking you. There is one part where each person goes through a dark passage which has a shocking ending. If you’re lucky (or unlucky) you might actually have to eat something or come in contact with roaches.
One of the scenes that really impressed us was the meat locker room which was actually thirty degrees and had pig carcasses hanging from the ceiling. There’s also a tightly constricted room called “Buried Alive” which is a brand new concept we’ve never seen anywhere else that actually had us feel like we were drowning. The hospital morgue scene contains mild nudity, a rank smell and a room full or roaches.
There were other rooms that we really liked such as the drunk driving scene and the scene where you actually enter Paula’s head after she experiences a drug overdose. This might be the most controversial scene for religious zealots as you see something not so Christ like hanging from a cross. But the most screams we heard came from a scene called “Solitary Confinement” which is much longer than any of the other scenes. We’ll let you try to figure out what happens in this scene.
Overall, we were very impress with The 17th Door and definitely suggest you add it to your Halloween itinerary. In our opinion, this first year haunt should already be considered a destination attraction. When we were there for media night the line was snaking out the door as soon as they opened at 7pm. We think The 17th Door will be successful for years to come and can’t wait to see what they do next year. We’re actually going back on October 11th with Theme Park Adventure.