Last Friday night, Dread Central visited Haunted Hollywood Sports in Southern California for the kick-off of their third annual and highly interactive haunt, and we barely lived to tell the tale. Read on!
Located at 9030 Somerset Blvd. in Bellflower, CA, Haunted Hollywood Sports is the seasonal 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 allows players to engage in fairly realistic combat scenarios, and in the case of Haunted Hollywood Sports, it allows park goers to, well, shoot a lot of zombies.
Arriving to the 23-acre park at dusk, journalists were directed by ‘armed’ soldiers into awaiting military troop transport trucks and Humvees and then ‘disinfected’ by others in Hazmat gear, before being driven off to a staging area within the park itself. Along the way, our vehicles came under attack by a horde of the undead (scare actors who were made up to resemble scores of flesh-eating ghouls). Driven back by Airsoft fire by the soldiers in our midst, we arrived nonetheless safely to our destination, and there were greeted by an open bar, catered food and a DJ spinning music that could have been pulled directly from Daryl Dixon’s iPod.
Off to a great start, we were ready to sink our teeth into the park’s attractions. First up was the ‘Venom’ walk-through maze, which has returned from 2013, though with some new twists and turns. Old-school carnival spook house in design, the maze offers up an assortment of macabre visuals, as well as electrically charged walls, some gruesome effects, moments of sight deprivation and at times the feeling of actual danger, given its disorientating layout and fully committed scare actors. We enjoyed it thoroughly.
Next up was the ‘Zombie Killhouse,’ located in the park’s year-round HSP Combat Center. After suiting up in flak vests and face gear and being provided with Airsoft rifles, we were instructed to follow our squad leaders into an extensive and believable recreation of a besieged Middle Eastern town. Following a black-light lit blood spatter on the ground we moved in, our visibility cut at times by darkness and fog. Clearing alley ways and structures room to room, it wasn’t long before we came under sustained attack by myriad zombies who crept, lurched and shambled, and who also happily fell beneath our volleys of Airsoft pellets.
In an improvement to last year’s ‘Zombie Killhouse,’ Haunted Hollywood Sports has now implemented a flag football construct; attendees’ flak vests come with flags, which if captured by one of the undead signify the park goers’ death. This did much to up the drama considerably, as well as our adrenaline. If you’re looking to safely experience the zombie holocaust, this is about as good as it gets.
While the park’s media night was a ‘soft opening’ with only two open attractions, visitors can expect the full experience for the rest of the run, with three other interactive mazes (‘Fog Hollow,’ ‘Legends of Blackstar Canyon,’ and ‘Fort Bedlam Zombie Research’), two additional Killhouses (‘Voodoo Killhouse’ and ‘Last Stand Shoothouse’), and three scare zones (‘Carnival of the Damned,’ ‘Undead’ and ‘The Massacre’) now open.
Being the SoCal originators of a haunt attraction focused primarily on immersive zombie combat (others have since taken notice, with Knott’s Scary Farm delivering their own take this year), in this writer’s opinion, Haunted Hollywood Sports takes the cake.
Haunted Hollywood Sports runs on select days through November 1st. For more info, visit the official Haunted Hollywood Sports website.
Our thanks to Jerry Paxton for assisting in our coverage.