The pandemic of 2020 spawned numerous drive-through haunted experiences. While some of these drive-through attractions felt forced, no one could have predicted how perfectly the haunted house and car wash industries would fit together. Well, okay, maybe someone did—and that’s how we were graced with Tunnel of Terror Haunted Car Wash in Orange County last year. This year, they’re back, in a new location, and with more clowns than could fit in your car—even if you’re driving a clown car.
Tunnel of Terror Haunted Car Wash at the Big Wave Express Car Wash in Anaheim is exactly what it claims to be: a haunted car wash. As you drive through the car wash—and as you wait in line to enter—numerous clowns and monsters will scare you. Yet, as social distance scaring has seemingly come to an end, Tunnel of Terror has changed their tactics. Now they will open your car door and even enter your vehicle to elicit the most fear—and laughs—possible. Don’t worry though, they still won’t touch you.
While sets are minimal and there is no narrative through line, they aren’t really needed for a haunted car wash. The actors are what truly make this experience shine. Recruiting from Knott’s Scary Farm, Sinister Pointe, and other notable haunt locations, they have some great talent. On our night, a clown (Chris Foglesong) pulled me from the passenger seat and had me walk alongside of the car—just so he could see things from a fan’s perspective. It’s this level of interactivity and engagement that’s incredible, and something that events like Knott’s or Halloween Horror Nights just can’t do.
Even further, they utilize a lot of creative tactics that other haunts simply can’t. As we drove up, numerous actors had Super Soakers, and would shoot our cars. They would run up and knock on our windows. While some haunted houses have to rely on sound effects and jump scares, here they create their own scares through their talent and skill as scare actors.
Further, inside the car wash, numerous actors hide within the soapy shadows. This created some of the best—and most unexpected—scares of the night. Through the suds, a loud thump would often catch our car off guard, having some of us scream in delight. Bathed in neon and soaked from head to toe, these actors just looked amazing. From the water to the large air blasters, the actors used their surroundings to engage us.
If you’re wondering what to listen to while you’re in the Tunnel of Terror Haunted Car Wash, don’t worry—they have you covered. 100.7 FM hosts some chilling sound effects and atmosphere to keep you in the mood. We noted last year that most of the best drive-through experiences used FM broadcasters to elevate their sound design, and we were very glad to see Tunnel of Terror do the same.
The experience begins at 5pm and runs Thursday through Sunday until Halloween. It’s one ticket price per vehicle, so pack the whole family in the car and head to Anaheim. If you have kids, we recommend going early, while the sun is still out. But for those of you who want something a bit more frightening, wait until the sun sets and the clowns have come out to play.
Tunnel of Terror Haunted Car Wash is the most fun you can have cleaning your car. It’s overflowing with talent, and gorgeous aesthetics, and some quality scares. Thanks to Long Vo and his creative team, this experience is only growing, improving from last year, and adding more actors and interactivity. I absolutely love the clown theme; it just fits the playfulness of the event. I may go outside and rub some dirt on my car just so I can go back a second time.
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Tunnel of Terror is a Haunted Car Wash in Anaheim, CA.