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The 17th Door Haunt - Orange County, CA

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Theme Park Review was recently invited to experience a Haunted Attraction in Tustin, CA called the The 17th Door. This is the 2nd year for this stand-alone Haunt, and simply put, it is a wild experience! Like many others, I am familiar with mostly theme park mazes and experience with an estimated 250 mazes under my belt. This manic experience takes the experience to an entirely different level.


In the corporate world of theme parks, there is a clear line drawn to protect both customer and employee. The parks ensure that customers understands they come to experience “fun scared” and not “real scared”. “Real scared” may conjure a true fight or flight reaction, and that is not what they are after as it can lead to injury or something greater. Free from the constraints of a corporate brand and image, The 17th Door has free range to create and design whatever they want their customers to experience.


Event Description:

Barely surviving freshman year, Paula has decided to return to Gluttire University. After an attempted suicide and a mental ward sentence, she struggles to pursue her fading dream of becoming a doctor. Frequent psychiatric evaluations force Paula to revisit disturbing childhood memories. Now dealing with a painful traumatic pregnancy, Paula remains desperate to escape her past. Nothing can prepare her for what comes next.… sophomore year.

If you attended Gluttire University last year, know this: it has grown in both size and difficulty. The personal pig demons of Paula’s past still roam the campus waiting to haunt her… and you. Everything inside this decrepit institution, which assaults your five senses, is real. Your endurance will be tested as you progress through the 21 unsettling rooms of this monstrous school. Can you walk in Paula’s shoes through the dissolution of her life and burning flashbacks of her past to withstand what’s behind that final door? Can you endure over 34 minutes of psychological terror or will you scream MERCY to be escorted out of this nightmare? Are you brave enough to make it through… The 17th Door?


After experiencing the attraction, I can say that I was blown away! It is amazing to see what can be done with no corporate oversight.


What sets this event apart or “What people don’t like about theme park mazes, and how this haunt fixed it!”:

Group Size: Theme Parks - Normally experienced in an overcrowded conga-line to get a high throughput. 17th Door - Group size is limited to 5-7 people per group, making for an intimate experience


Storytelling: Theme Parks – Disjointed storytelling with an overarching theme based of the title of the maze. 17th Door - With two “preshow” rooms on top of the 17 doors (or experiential rooms), you are given clear and concise story as you learn about Paula’s past and present in 90 second increments as you go from room to room.

Going from scene to scene: Theme Parks – People have to push their way through a doorway covered in cloth, plastic, or other material. 17th Door – Because groups of 5-7 people are experiencing a different 90 second scene in each room and rotating to the next room for 30 seconds before the next room starts, the maze designers wanted to ensure that you would never see another group. This is where I was very impressed with the operation of the event: Between each true room was a “transition hallway” which not only ensured that you wouldn’t see another group, but also allowing the actors and technicians a few seconds to reset the complex scenes for the next group of folks to come in. The transition hallways also allowed for decompression time for the customers as some of the content is graphic and emotionally heavy. After a few of the more intense scenes, the individuals in my group used the transition times to talk about what we just experienced. The transition hallways were themed to the same high standards of the rooms themselves, with a perfect setting that compliments both the previous room and the room we were about to see.


Pacing: Theme Parks – Most of the time, a normal walking pace. 17th Door – 90 second scenes and a 30 second transition a perfect for the right amount of storytelling and absorbing the information before being ready to take in the next chunk of information.


Variety/ New Ideas: Theme Parks - It isn’t too often that I say to myself: “Wow, I have never seen that before!”, in a theme park. In fact, the only time I said it at an event this year was walking through the last room in USH’s Halloween maze when you are walking through the inside of a pumpkin. 17th Door – Every third room or so, I found myself saying “wow” or being surprised by what I was experiencing. We experienced a mini-escape room with this haunt, which really put you into the first-player mindset. Such a fun idea!


What was simply too much or “They have so many other things that made people uncomfortable, that this one element is just unnecessary and doesn’t add anything to the experience. So please do away with it.”:


Before entering the haunt, there is a waiver you will sign. (See image below.) You will witness major adult themes, along with a laundry list of things you will physically come into contact with or will experience.


Licking – Theme Parks: The golden rule for haunt events is “Don’t touch the scare-actors, and they won’t touch you.” 17th Door – You do not touch the scare-actors, but they touch you in almost every room. The scare actors are careful and mostly respectful. They keep their hands above the belt for gentlemen, and the same for ladies while also avoiding the chest. What crossed the line for me is when an actor full on licked my cheek in one of the room. It added absolutely nothing to the story. In fact did the opposite of telling a story: it took me out of the moment. With his bodily fluid now sitting on my face, it smelled disgusting. I couldn’t concentrate on the room because of how foul it smelled right next to my nose. How many people a day does that scare-actor lick? People go to haunts to be “scared”. Licking is not scary, it is a gimmick. It is an unnecessary gimmick which takes away from what otherwise is an insanely cool and unique experience. 17th Door, I implore you to stop licking your customers. Thank you for your consideration.


Despite that one element, the other 99% of the experience is simply incredible and it an amazing show of creativity and spectacle as you are watching and reliving the story of a severely troubled young woman.


We highly recommend this attraction for “expert level” haunt goers. If you find yourself bored with haunts where there is no physical contact between you and the performer, then this event is for you! We want to thank the creators of The 17th Door for inviting us to experience their incredible work of art, and to Heather for being a wonderful and gracious host.


Attraction information:

2856 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92782

Website: http://www.the17thdoor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/the17thdoor

Instagram/Twitter: @the17thdoor



September 23-24: 7:00pm to 12:00am

September 30-October 1: 7:00pm to 12:00am

October 6: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 7-8: 7:00pm to 12:00am

October 9: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 12-13: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 14-15: 7:00pm to 12:00am

October 16: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 19-20: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 21-22: 7:00pm to 12:00am

October 23: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 25-26: 7:00pm to 11:00pm

October 27: 7:00pm to 12:00am

October 28-31: 6:00pm to 12:00am

- Tickets start from $22.00 and vary depending on day

- VIP/Speed Pass tickets have a shorter, faster line


Welcome to the 17th Door!


The main character, Paula, is a student at Gluttire University.


This haunt is intense!


So intense in fact, that you have to sign your life away before you enter.



The queue area outside of the first door.


Paula in her current state: pregnant and troubled.



Very rich detail throughout.


Paula's boyfriend, Brad.


Well, she is pregnant after all...


We learn about Paula's past from her Psychiatrist.


We learn how her past still haunts her, by experiencing what she did first hand.


Come visit Paula at The 17th Door! Happy Halloween!

Edited by robbalvey
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I went to one local haunt that was quite good. It also grouped you with around 7 people and used scenes. I had one obnoxious kid in my group (have to consider could have been karma). If you can bring your own group with you, you will probably have a better time. On the other hand, I went to another that wasn't near as good and was also mobbed. Dragging friends along might have made that one worse. Something to consider when attending haunts.

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^ I was thinking Marilyn Manson when I saw that too!


And what is with being touched by seafood? Does that mean someone might graze you with a fried clam strip, or tease your taste buds by dangling huge pieces of lobster meat or king crab legs in front of you with drizzled butter falling just short of your lips?


Damn, now that I think about it, that WOULD be tortuous!

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And what is with being touched by seafood? Does that mean someone might graze you with a fried clam strip, or tease your taste buds by dangling huge pieces of lobster meat or king crab legs in front of you with drizzled butter falling just short of your lips?

They reportedly did the same thing last year. I guess they either use a fish carcass or offal of some kind and smear it on your face / clothes / hair. It's one of the reasons we didn't bother checking this place out last year. The whole endeavor looks like its geared more toward torture porn / sadism-style horror.

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I think there is a fine line between good show and annoying the guest. I haven't done this haunt because I definitely would not enjoy some of the more extreme things they do in this haunt, but I applaud the efforts to push the limits as well.

Edited by Jew
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I'm intrigued by how they tell the story, but could also do without the face licking.

It's based, at least in part, on social issues like drug addiction and abortion and whatnot. There's a whole genre of fundamentalist haunted houses called "hell houses" that do something similar only this one adds in physical harm and humiliation. There's a report (and image) online of a guest leaving with torn clothes and gashes in their back followed by a profuse apology from the business itself. Definitely a more extreme experience by the sounds of it!

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It wasn't scary, just gross


I've seen either this response or that it's a great haunt because it pushes the limits. I've never seen a more polarizing haunt...which I think is kind of cool. Anything that helps advance the Haunt industry and forces other mazes to try new things to is a win for the industry!

Edited by Jew
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