Halloween opens doors for extreme haunted houses in Fullerton


Horrifying Haunt: Junior Hannah Kim celebrates her “escape” from the 17th Door with a cast member Photo reprinted with permission from Hannah Kim

Hannah Kim, Special Sections Editor

It’s extreme, physically demanding and not for the faint of heart.

The 17th Door, marketed as a haunted house, is back, and it’s scarier than ever.

I visited this haunt Oct. 11 to test my limits, and I didn’t expect much from it. No haunt has gotten me to scream or cry (yet).

When I first arrived, I was excited, which made my text messaging friends think I was crazy. The building was decorated to look like a prison.

If anything did go wrong, the 17th Door’s website indicated that I could always say the safe word, “Mercy” and get out of the room. Everything would be OK.

But then again, I had to sign a waiver to permit the staff to touch me, pour bugs on me and shock me with electricity. I was having my doubts about going through with it but stayed calm.

Once I entered, I heard the buzz of tasers, the clanging of chains and the crude voices of prisoners. Would everything be okay? 

As I went through the line to get in, I noticed I was the youngest one as actors tormented me. Some of the prisoners were comical whereas the officials were intimidating with their stun batons, which they prodded me with.

Then, before I knew it, my group was going in.

We were first instructed to speak into a camera and say that we “signed the waiver,” a security lady laughing at us as we walked into the first room for our VR experience, which is optional.

We were strapped into seats that looked like electric chairs, being restrained so we couldn’t move. What was I getting myself into? The nurse took my glasses and put the headset and headphones on me and then the video started. An inmate was trying to help me escape this hellhole, and for a minute, I thought everything was going to be OK.

But then we were caught.

I watched, helpless, as the inmate “Tim” was knocked over by a cart driven by the nurses. We were both taken onto their cart, the chairs we were sitting on moving in time with the video. The video glitched out at parts to speed up time and distort certain scenes, adding to the effect. Our timer (depicted by the amount of money we had spent for the VR experience) was at around $3.50 when I was in the face of a doctor. He placed cuffs on my hands that sparked and buzzed.

I knew what was coming.

I was jolted by a shock of electricity coming from my restraints. It wasn’t too bad, but then the power was amped up, enough so that I could feel my hands twitching from the pain. Then, when I felt it start to genuinely hurt, it stopped, and I was released.

This was the first room. 

I was shocked, but then we were ordered to leave for the next room.

We followed the story of the prisoner Paula. The theme this year is “Fearless,” and she helped us escape the prison, even though it was no easy task. 

One of the first rooms that stood out to me was the shower room. A large, half-naked man stood before us as we walked in and about a dozen shower heads were along the walls. He briefly explained the rules (if the red light turns on, the water turns on, you get wet; if it turns off, so does the water and you can pass) and we went through the maze, which ended at a dead end with about 10 showerheads facing us. We ran back, and condensed air blew at us, scaring us all. Disoriented, we noticed the dead end was now opened to reveal the next room.

Another fun room I’d like to highlight is the executioning room. We were sentenced to death by shooting. The staff, a reaper-like entity, told us there was nothing to worry about since it would all be over soon. The staff put us in boxes with holes in them, put black bags over our heads and we saw the guns pointed at us. My hands began to sweat, but I didn’t dare say “mercy” and just waited, hearing the boss say “ready, aim, fire.”

We were shot at. It didn’t hurt, and although there’s a warning at the entrance saying the projectiles could leave welts, I left the room unscathed. Then, we entered another room and my heart filled with dread.

We were on the other side of the guns. That meant another group was shooting at us. The same guard asked if we were ready to “kill some people” and we said yes. Then, we approached the guns and waited for the command to “ready, aim, fire.” 

Honestly, it was kinda fun. The only thing I would note was that it was very loud in there and my ears were ringing after that.

As for the latex room… well… If you have claustrophobia or a latex allergy, you’d better say “mercy” for this room. You’re lined up against a wall, restrained and then a latex sheet is lowered from the ceiling. Before you know it, it wraps around you, and a vacuum sucks the air between you and the sheet. Yes, they suffocate you. I could feel the panic start to rise in my throat, and one of our group members had to say mercy at this room before the sheet was lowered. 

But, I can’t say it was an all-around bad. I think one of my biggest concerns was the germs on that sheet (yuck). I’m assuming they don’t change it often so you’re pressing your face on the sheet everyone before you has…

The final room I want to mention is the electric chair room. This room made me panic. You were sat in a chair, a bar was put over you (like a roller coaster), you were given a number pad and told to press a number. Instinctively picking three, I didn’t give any thought as to what would happen next. 

Most of us picked three. Lasers at the top of our seats pointed to other people in their chairs. I then noticed the numbers at the sides of our seats. Then, the poor girl in the third spot screamed. It pierced my ears, and I knew we were voting on who to shock and how much they would endure. There were three rounds, and for each round, no lasers pointed at me (yay!). The nurses screamed at us, telling us to pick numbers (to which I agreed since I didn’t know any of these strangers) and for the second round, I think all but one laser was pointed at chair three, and an even louder scream escaped the girl’s figure. 

Luckily, we decided to choose number eight after because I didn’t know how much more that poor girl could handle. When our last round was over and we had left the room, we all apologized to the two girls who were shocked and went on.

Despite getting shot at with projectiles, electrocuted and suffocated, our escape was (mostly) painless. 

Overall, I’d go back again with the exception of the VR experience. It was fun to go the first time, but I don’t think it’s worth $14 to visit one extra room. 

Tickets can be purchased on the 17th Door’s website with prices ranging from $25-$33 for regular tickets and $31-$40 for VIP tickets, which enable buyers to skip the line. 

For future “inmates,” my only recommendations would be to wear contacts or leave glasses at home and possibly wear earplugs to drown out some of the noise. If you want to be exempt from the electric shocks, buy the “mercy pendant” which is a $5 fee, but it could be worth it.

All in all, I’d definitely go again with friends. Heather, one of the co-owners, was very accommodating and helped me a lot (even letting The Accolade film a little bit even though it’s prohibited).

I’d recommend this to those who are looking for a more extreme experience. I didn’t scream “mercy,” so I left the 17th Door feeling “fearless.”