Haunted Trail brings frightful fun to park

by Christian Benavides

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The line grows with your anticipation, as if you are waiting to walk off a plank on some imaginary pirate ship in your head. “Bam Bam Bam!” a masked man slams an empty garbage can nearby and you jump up and curse at the air. Screams come from farther away, both of fright and from characters provoking people’s worst nightmares. Trail goers know they’re all actors, but the element of surprise is on their side.

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park is this, and more. The location is one reason this Halloween attraction keeps people returning every year and continues to bring in new-comers, such as tourists and new San Diego residents. The trail adapts to the surrounding area of Balboa Park, an already famous tourist stop. The trail bends and winds down a small hill scat- tered with trees and bushes. The crushing sound of dead leaves under guests’ feet adds to the eerie feeling of the trail, while walking from scene to scene brings back all those horrid childhood memories of “The Blair Witch Project.”

Of course, no two scenes are alike in the trail. There’s a grave- yard, an old Western town, a butcher shop, a church scene and other common city locations. But what makes the scenes scary is the grotesque décor. Some scenes are set up to look like the place is decaying. Some scenes are splashed with fake blood, mak- ing it seem as if you’re in the middle of a brutal murder. Ad- ditionally, scenes with life-size monster dummies keep trail goers on edge.

There wouldn’t be as much fun bodies toward the visitors and the witches cackle in high-pitch voices that make one cringe.

“I think my favorite part of the trails was the last section… the chainsaw massacre section, because everyone was scared and I was walking, thinking I wasn’t going to get scared, but I was wrong,” San Diego State sophomore Ester Sanchez said. “The second chainsaw killer scared me so much I almost ran and at the end, two of my friends ended up running in front of ev- eryone and out of the trails.”

The actors aren’t afraid to get in your face and even give out a monstrous shout inches from your ear. In fact, this is their goal. They want you to hate them. They want to make their fears come alive.

At The Haunted Trail, visitors can also wander through The experiment Maze for an extra $5. This maze reminds trail goers what the word “experiment” means, as they come face-to-face with their different fears. Unlike the trail, you don’t know what’s coming next or if you are even going in the right direction. Your experience at the maze will be memorable for guests as they make their way through fog- filled rooms and sprint away from monsters.

“Iwentinabiggroupof11 people and I believe that it made it more fun because—other than being scared—we enjoyed ourselves before and after the trails,” Sanchez said. “It makes the experience more memorable and exciting.”

For thrill seekers, a small group is the way to go.

“I went in a small group this time,” senior Adriana Martinez said. “I was more nervous because I knew I would be more of a target for them to scare me.”

Everyone needs to visit The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park in order to get the best local Hal- loween experience. It doesn’t get better than this attraction.

“Out of all the haunted attractions in San Diego, I think it’s the best,” Martinez said. “It’s big and has so many different stages you have to go through. I would highly recommend people to go. I always come out laughing from how fun it is and it’s a great way to get excited for Halloween.”

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