While it may be overshadowed by nearby Orange and Los Angeles Counties, the Inland Empire has seen some quality haunted attractions, from the early days of Field of Screams in Lake Elsinore, to the various inhabitants of the Fairplex in Pomona. Deep in the heart of the I.E., however, far from any city lights or freeways, is Coffin Creek, one of the best, creepiest hidden haunts this season. Read on about the Coffin Creek Haunt.
Located in Corona, about 50 miles from Los Angeles, this collection of traditional jumpscare mazes is truly desolate; parking attendants with flashlights must show guests where to park in a massive open field, and even the trek to the ticket booth is an arduous one, zig-zagging up a barely lit hill, pockmarked by gopher holes. There’s no music, no sound effects, just the ever-present hum of crickets and the rustling of grass underfoot to set the tone for the night.
THE CATACOMBS AND THE RAVEN CULT
The Catacombs is not only the strongest maze at Coffin Creek, it’s by far one of the strongest mazes in Southern California this season. Guests enter through an unassuming crypt, before descending deep underground through some of the most stunning sets seen at an independent haunt. Scareactors “caw” relentlessly from behind long-nosed plague doctor masks, cementing the occupancy of the Raven Cult inside the catacombs. The catacombs also feel authentically endless, like they could stretch on interminably, adding to the already palpable sense of dread.
THE DARK REALM
The Dark Realm appears to be a permanent installment of the renaissance faire that calls the area home, and fittingly, it’s branded with a medieval theme. A guide straight out of the Dark Ages leads guests through an abandoned castle by torchlight before being besieged by goblins. After making a valiant effort to fight them off, the guide succumbs to his injuries, forcing guests to move forward without his assistance. While not as viscerally scary as some of the other mazes at Coffin Creek, the intricately themed Dark Realm may be the most visually appealing of all of the haunt’s attractions.
THE PRADO WITCH TRAIL
A loose storyline frames the Prado Witch Trail, cliche and underwritten as it may be. Luckily, this doesn’t detract at all from what may be the scariest part of Coffin Creek. The trail winds through the actual woods of Corona, and while some scenes feature some paltry lighting, guests will have to find their way largely by moonlight. The hillbilly cannibals and living scarecrows may provide a jump scare or two, but even more scares will come from the imaginations of jumpy hauntgoers, convinced that something definitely moved in the bushes as they passed by.
THE HAUNTED ASYLUM AT COFFIN CREEK
The Haunted Asylum is exactly what guests might expect; it’s an exercise in cliches, another chaotic episode of escaped inmates, but that doesn’t make the house any less terrifying. The maze is filled to the brim with patients of all types, from a mother clutching a baby in a wheelchair to a man long-since snapped, his eyes gouged out seemingly by his own hand. A few children even appear near the end of the maze, recognizable from Missing posters on the Prado Witch Trail, tying the attractions together in an adorable, yet still utterly unsettling, way.
UNCLE ZED’S ZOMBIE SAFARI
Located inside a renaissance village is Coffin Creek’s hayride, dubbed Uncle Zed’s Zombie Safari. The scenes in the hayride do an admirable job of telling a cohesive story, beginning with the gregarious family of Uncle Zed, before they fall victim to the zombies they’ve been keeping as pets. Eventually, the military get involved, unloading guests at Cannibal Canyon to make their way through a few small mazes on foot before re-boarding and coming face-to-face with even faster, more intelligent zombies. It’s a small touch that makes all the difference, being able to follow along with the plot while being chased by the undead hordes. Between that and the sheer fun that Coffin Creek’s scareactors are having, Uncle Zed’s Zombie Safari is one of the most enjoyable hayrides to be found in Southern California this season.
Coffin Creek is filled with vendors peddling their wares. On the lower side, near the ticket booth, is a well-lit area featuring masks, figurines and weapons (the grounds are a favorite for local LARPers). On the upper side, near Uncle Zed’s Zombie Safari, is an entire village normally used for local renaissance faires, with some shops selling food, beverages, and classic horror literature. An unaffiliated, upcharge escape room rounds out the rest of the offerings, giving guests a chance to fill their time as they wait for the next Safari.
Coffin Creek may not be present at haunt conventions and may not be on the lips of every haunt enthusiast in Los Angeles, but it absolutely should be. Dark and silent in the eeriest way, Coffin Creek offers some of the scariest, most genuinely fun mazes to be found at an independent haunt, and while it may be out of the way for many, it’s undoubtedly worth a visit this season.
Coffin Creek runs on select nights through Halloween. For more information, visit www.coffincreek.com.
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