Laguna Hills isn’t inherently a scary place, but Sinister Pointe is looking to change that. Taking over the old Macy’s in the Laguna Hills Mall, they have transformed the location into three floors of terror, containing two mazes, one dark ride, scare zones, vendors, and more. Put it all together, and you get SCARY PLACE, a one-stop shop for all your spooky needs.

Sinister Pointe has always done some crazy stuff in the past, and I feel like they are always evolving and growing. In fact, my very first experience with them was a Bloody Mary-inspired maze, Beyond the Mirror, that really impressed me. This Halloween season, they really went above and beyond with SCARY PLACE, cramming a lot of spooky-goodness under one, massive roof.

When you first walk in, you’re greeted with two mini-scare zones. The first, with a pseudo-post-apocalyptic future theme, is a quick jaunt through chain-link fences and destruction, while mutants roam the area. The other is circus themed, with frantic strobe lighting and scary clowns. While both are small in terms of square footage, they have winding hallways and hidden areas that are easy to get lost in. The talent in both areas is pretty great. While the mutants go straight for the jump scares, the clowns are willing to play (and banter) with you, making for some hilarious fun.

PHOBIAS

The first maze, PHOBIAS, is what you’d typically expect from Sinister Pointe; a walk through that won’t allow you to progress unless you DO something. That’s right, their special brand of interactivity is back here, where small groups will go through and have to interact with the unique cast of characters before moving on to the next section. You’ll get everything from the gross to the scary, to the kind of hilarious, and back again here. While it is called PHOBIAS, don’t be afraid of having to do anything too crazy…this is a PG-13 rated event after all (or is it?). This is classic Sinister Pointe, though, and for those of you who have been to their events in the past are in for a treat here. I loved the interplay we had with the actors in this maze, and they even got off some really good, and unexpected, scares, too.

EVIL ON 2

After that, you can make your way up to the second floor to experience EVIL ON 2. While the maze itself is on the second floor, the queue is on the first. This allows them to set up a great storyline about checking into the Pointe Hotel and take you into the freight elevator to begin your journey.

They make great use of the “backstage” areas of Macy’s here, incorporating them into the story and making it really work. I really enjoyed their sets here, too, as there were plenty of moments that I thought we really were in a hotel and forgot we were actually in an abandoned mall. Sinister Pointe has always exceeded at cool set pieces, so that skill was definitely on display here. This was the most traditional, “haunted house” walk through that Sinister Pointe has done. That said, even though there wasn’t much interactivity, they spaced out groups perfectly so you always felt like you were alone in the hotel with the evil. A very nice touch.

THE BOOGEYMAN EXPRESS

However, the crème de la crème of the evening was by far THE BOOGEYMAN EXPRESS, a super fun and innovative “dark ride” that takes up the entire third floor. Yes, the line for this ride takes forever, but for good reason. You load into a “mine cart” in groups of 4-5, and explore the town of Portluck, which has had trouble with the Boogeyman. The best way I can describe this is a scary Jungle Cruise. Along with your guide, you’ll explore the town, the Mayor’s house, the local cemetery, and beyond. Despite the jokey commentary from your guide (seriously, some of these jokes were pretty hilarious), there are still plenty of scares to be had here. Like, really good scares.

Photo Courtesy Sinister Pointe

Visually, it’s striking. Sure, we’re not talking about Disney or Knott’s level of details here, but for a ride built into a mall’s third floor, I was impressed. There were some pretty great moments that made my jaw drop, especially when it came to size and scale of some of the sets. I’m positive this will be the one that people walk away talking about the most this year, as it is a true standout.

 


 

Though really, overall, Sinister Pointe makes great use of the location here and does an excellent job of incorporating existing infrastructure into their fabricated sets. The old Macy’s space provides the perfect backdrop for their scares, allowing their mazes to really breath and grow into themselves. The winding hallways they create for it makes you lost in the space, disorienting you as to where you actually are. To me, this is the perfect example of how to make use of the space you are given. Kudos to their entire team for that.

As mentioned earlier, the rest of the location is not just set up for scares. The other space is made up of tons of vendors, which allow for some spooky shopping after you get your scares on. Everything from home décor, clothing, and even books are around for you to check out. It’s almost like a mini-convention floor, with some great vendors (over 30 of them!) showcasing their wares. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to pick anything up here, but wound up walking away with a Halloween III print, because how often do you see a kick-ass Halloween III print?!

In addition, they have food truck vendors every night for extra snackage (though there was only one present when we went), some fun photo ops for you to take part in, and some great live entertainment. Every night, you can either take in the magical stylings of Mudd the Magnificent or the musical stylings of Monte Revolta And His Band Of The Living Dead. While not necessary, these extra perks show that Sinister Pointe is trying to provide a great, evening-long entertainment venue for guests to explore during the Halloween season. Kind of like what Disney does, they are giving you more and more, hoping you’ll spend as much time with them as possible.

That’s not to say that it isn’t without issues. With the advent of their general admission and scream pass options and the unique nature of how they only allow a small group into a maze every few minutes, you’re going to experience longer wait times than usual here. It happens, and quite honestly, it’s expected. We had Scream Passes for the evening (thanks to the awesome Passport To Fear event we put on!), and still waiting a decent amount of time for each maze on the Sunday evening that we visited. However, I do feel like this is a small price to pay for being able to go into a maze without the conga line, and really feel like you’re the only folks in there.

Passport to Fear pics

This is something that Sinister Pointe struggles with every year they do a haunt-like endeavor, but honestly, I feel like this is their best effort yet. At the end of the day, the Sinister Pointe team is a humble group of haunt fanatics who know their flaws and do their best to try to fix them (as evidenced by the Séance show from a few years ago). The bottom line is if you’re going to a haunt such as this, you should expect to wait.

Our advice? Head to The Boogeyman Express first, because this line will take the longest. If you get there early enough, your wait time will be reduced drastically. But trust me, this is the one not to miss, so get there before anything else. Then you can make your way to the other two mazes.

While the prices for Scary Place were pretty high during the opening weekend, the team has reduced them quite a bit AND throw out extra discount codes on their social media quite often to make it worthwhile. Busy nights, like Fridays and Saturday, might make it worth your while to get the Scream Pass, but Sundays you can probably suffice to go general admission and be okay. Hell, even check out some Groupon deals!

I know some folks have issues with Sinister Pointe. Sometimes it’s an acquired taste, but it’s one that I have definitely attained. I love what they do, I love how innovative they get, I love how they try new things, and I love that they own up to their mistakes when they make them. The bottom line is this: if you have enjoyed past Sinister Pointe events, you’re going to love this. If you haven’t, SCARY PLACE likely isn’t going to sway you. But all that said, it was a super fun night that was filled with classic Sinister Pointe touches, along with some great, new stuff. If you’re looking for a fun-filled evening, SCARY PLACE is definitely worth your time and the drive.

For more on SCARY PLACE, and to purchase tickets, visit them online at: www.sinisterpointe.com