If you’re looking for a spooky Halloween date night, but can’t afford some of the pricier options (or you’re just looking for something different) then it’s time to check out Santa Monica’s brand new haunted attraction “Paranoia”. “Paranoia” consists of 3 mazes, that take over 50,000 square feet of space, on the 3rd floor of the 3rd street promenade mall.
To be honest, my first thought was how could they have a truly spooky attraction in the middle of such a popular (and crowded) area? “Paranoia” itself is in the corner of the mall, inside, and towards the back. It’s secluded enough so monsters aren’t going to come at you from behind an unsuspecting shopper, but close enough so you can explore the shopping center without re-parking the car.
The mazes are made up of wood paneling with amazing themed artwork. The really cool thing is because this is movable paneling (versus stationary structures) they constantly re-arrange the maze to make it new and exciting. The mazes I went through most likely will not be the same mazes that you go through!
Okay, so tell me about the mazes:
Maze #1- The Infirmary. Psycho doctors lurking around every corner, “operating rooms”, nasty nurses, and even a crazed patient or two just dying for you to visit. For some reason people with crazy hair in hospital gowns screaming, twitching, and eerily staring is incredibly creepy. Most of the walls are completely white, along with the props- very “hospital-ish”! This is a simple maze with solid scares, although the bright lights and loud music coming from the other mazes interfered with the fear- factor of this one. The two women in front of me must have had targets on their backs because something jumped out at them around every corner…even after we had gone through the maze!
Maze #2- Insomniac Clowns Playhouse. Even though I have an irrational fear of clowns, I still thought this was the best maze of the three! Beautiful deranged glowing clowns on the walls (All by local artist LeftyJoe), cool lighting effects, and even a revolving tunnel! Colorful strobe lights combined with the paint gave this maze a fun 3D effect without the annoying 3D glasses. Clowns make their presence known everywhere, some have been seen propelling down from the walls themselves! Ninja clowns. I would describe this as a funhouse gone bad. I guess that’s what happens when clowns don’t sleep.
Maze #3- Grannys Manor of Mayhem. Being warned by “Granny” about the dangers of this maze before I went in was a fun way to begin. When I entered I found she was quite right! Long hallways just packed full of crazy. The theme’s a little muddled but if you were to say that Grannys crazy and here’s her crazy house, I could get on board with that. This maze had a ton of cool animatronics, weird bloody scenes, pig people cooking in the kitchen (pork?), and even a wall that tries to squeeze the life out of you! This is probably the scariest maze due to its many twists and turns (a perfect hiding spot for a zombie, Norman Bates, and Granny herself!).
What makes these mazes different from the others out there is the commitment of the actors. In every maze, the actors were alert and focused on scaring you. They stayed true to character, and sometimes followed people through the maze so you could get scared two or three times by the same monster in addition to the scares by others. From beginning to end their energy kept the guests on their toes, nervous and excited about the next scare.
For the price, I think its worth it. $30 for unlimited access to all three mazes? It’s a little hard to beat. Get a group of six together and you can all get in for $19! Get there early, hit up the mazes, eat an amazing dinner, hit up the mazes again and head to the pier! It’s kind of hard to be bored in Santa Monica. Try the restaurant “Zengao” located right next to “Paranoia” for fun Halloween themed specials.
Open: October 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30-31. Hours: Thurs & Sun Nights from 7pm-1am (Last ticket sold at midnight). Fri & Sat Nights from 7pm-2am (Last ticket sold at 1am). Door Prices: General Admission $24 online, $30 door. VIP Skip the Line: $39 online, $45 door. You may even see Miley Yamamoto(Host of Anime TV, appears on “How to Rock” on Nickelodeon, star of upcoming Retcon) at the door!