Haunt Report: Dread Central Visits Haunted Hollywood Sports
We all long to experience a realistic zombie apocalypse simulation, and while I already fled the undead at Run for Your Lives and braved Halloween Horror Nights’ "The Walking Dead" maze, I did so unarmed. That wasn’t the case when Dread Central hit Haunted Hollywood Sports.
Located at 9030 Somerset Blvd. in Bellflower, CA, Haunted Hollywood Sports is the seasonal (and spooky) recreation of Hollywood Sports, a park dedicated year round to the pursuit of Airsoft and Paintball. The former is basically paintball without the messy paint and cumbersome guns. Resembling the military firearms they mimic with exacting detail, Airsoft weaponry eschews paint in favor of 6mm plastic BBs, which can be fired rapidly and with high velocity. The result is a training weapon platform that allows players to engage in fairly realistic combat scenarios (as long as proper face gear is worn: those BBs will easily knock teeth out).
Having just let my geek flag fly with that intro, I’ll fess up and say, ‘Yeah, I personally own an Airsoft M4 and all of the tactical gear required,’ and, ‘Yeah, I do on occasion spend a Saturday here or there engaging in C. Q. B. (that’s close quarter combat for you noobs) at the HSP Combat Center at Hollywood Sports.’ So imagine my excitement when I was made aware that two of my passions, military combat simulations and horror flicks, would be combined.
Haunted Hollywood Sports offers up the requisite scare mazes (‘The Abduction,’ ‘All-American Armageddon,’ ‘Cannibal Caverns’ and ‘City of Angels’), having repositioned a portion of their already well-dressed playing fields, as well as scare-zones (‘Carnival of the Damned’ and ‘Grid-X’), for which they have hired attractive and talented performers to roam (guys, there will be eye candy). They have also secured the talents of top-notch makeup artists and costumers. The scare actors we encountered were top of the line.
Having soaked this in, it was time for some combat.
First up, the Zombie Killhouse. We were outfitted with IR M4’s (they fire an infra red beam), and a group of fifteen or so of us were led by our squad leader into the park’s simulated Middle Eastern town. Our objectives were to locate and rescue three children and to secure a package (a cure to the plague which had turned the town’s inhabitants into the undead). Our visibility cut by darkness and fog, we moved house to house and room to room, firing on myriad attacking zombies who crept, lurched and shambled (and whose IR vests glowed red when shot, signifying a ‘kill’).
It wasn’t long before we came across our pre-pubescent trio, who were huddled in a building and whose cries were all too realistic. Their wailing added authenticity to the simulation, and we provided security for the three kids (one of them clutched a teddy bear as she sobbed) and escorted them to the ‘safe zone.’ On the way we located the package within another darkened structure, and following a brief but fierce skirmish with a dozen of so zombies, we completed the mission.
This was the high-point of the evening, and for those who ever wonder how they’d fare in a "The Walking Dead" type-scenario, it’s about as close as you are going to get.
Next up was the Voodoo Killhouse, and as the weaponry dispensed here were actual Airsoft pump shotguns, protective goggles were also issued. After a brief crash-course on Airsoft safety and our mission objective (‘Find the Voodoo Doll to end the curse’) delivered by a scare actor with an altogether believable Cajun accent, we were ushered into the Killhouse. Again, zombies shambled among the buildings and waited in darkened recesses. Some of our group don’t make it (though if ‘eaten’ you are able to continue along, albeit with the knowledge that you were killed in action). Like the Zombie Killhouse, this, too, was extremely entertaining.
Before heading out, with hit the park’s twenty-one and over bar and lounge ‘Club Crimson’ to grab a drink and were impressed by the structure's dressing. Pulling favors, Hollywood Sports has acquired the Gothic columns and other set decor from director Jan De Bont’s 1999 film The Haunting and coupled with our edgy yet amiable (and altogether fetching) bartendress, stiff drinks and electro-funk (spun by two DJs), it was yet another good time.
Chatting with Hollywood Sports Park general manager Jon Asperin, he was enthusiastic regarding the future of the haunt. It’s their first year, which is surprising, given just how good of a job they’ve already done, and I won’t lie... I’m excited about their growth potential. True, some of their mazes were hard to navigate, and an influx of further scare actors wouldn’t hurt. Also, for hardcore Airsoft enthusiasts a more visceral, autonomous and extensive experience may be desired (a C02 or gas pistol night in a Killhouse might do they trick). This being said, Haunted Hollywood Sports still succeeds in delivering an entirely unique experience which should appeal to seasonal fans. It certainly seemed to do so for the throngs that waited enthusiastically for their chance to unload on the undead.
Haunted Hollywood Sports runs through October 31. For more info, visit the official Haunted Hollywood Sports website.
Photo credit: Dave Starbuck Dstar Photography.
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