Nestled about forty miles northwest of Los Angeles in an unassuming Thousand Oaks shopping center, Reign of Terror grows bigger by the year, its rising popularity matched only by the literal expansion of its physical walls. For its 18th year, it has expanded its already impressive scope to be bigger than ever, occupying 100 rooms and a mind-bending 23,000 square feet, cementing its status as one of the biggest and most terrifying indoor haunts in the country.
It’s important to note that quality not sacrificed to achieve the quantity present. Over the course of eight completely different, separately themed sections of the haunt, Reign of Terror clearly puts forth an immense amount of effort and detail into every room, from the narrow corridors of Miner’s Revenge to the eye-popping colors of the Fun House finale. Every single inch of every nook and cranny is used to full effect, complete with easter eggs for eagle-eyed haunters (look above the mantle in the classic Haunted House section, and you’ll see a Victorian-era portrait of ROT owner Bruce Stanton).
At the risk of sounding obvious, one thing that Reign of Terror does better than most traditional walkthrough haunts is quite simple: It’s just plain scarier. It’s easy to mistake the anticipation of being startled for pure fear, but the presence of such a palpable sense of dread is what sets attractions like Reign of Terror apart from the rest. They know how to employ a perfect storm of ominous ambiance, passionate scareactors and top of the line animatronics to hit guests from all angles without even a hint of a break, so much so that it’s not uncommon to rush right past incredible set-pieces in the name of reaching a safe haven that much quicker.
Reign of Terror is also one of the few haunts to offer a special lights-on tour. Designed for both children and adults looking for a less nightmarish experience, these $5 tours provide you safe passage through approximately a third of the normal haunt, with lights turned on and all special effects turned off. Rabid haunt-goers might gloss over this option, but it’s actually refreshing being able to admire the set pieces at your own leisurely pace.
What’s even better about Reign of Terror is that it’s all for a good cause. For nearly a decade, the haunt has donated proceeds of ticket sales (to the tune of over $200,000) to the Conejo Recreation and Parks District, which in turn benefits various youth programs in the area. They’ve even swung open their doors during the off-season for Make-A-Wish fundraisers in the past, taking advantage of the permanence of their location.
As far as old-fashioned walkthrough attractions go, it doesn’t get much better than the massive Reign of Terror, and while their 2017 season may dead and buried, there’s no telling what they might have in store for 2018.