The 17th Door hurts. It finds that one thing that really freaks you out and shoves it down your throat. It pushes you to the point where you wonder … am I still safe?
Yep, the Fullerton-based haunted attraction, that got its start in 2015 at The Market Place in Tustin continues messing with people – and every year, owners Robbie and Heather Luther seem to find more creative ways to do so.
The question remains: Why do we keep coming back?
Unlike more mainstream haunts, The 17th Door does allow its talent to touch guests. But that’s really the least of it. Guests are also required to sign a waiver because of what else they will most likely be exposed to: “electrical shock, claustrophobia, touching, insects, liquids, foul scents, dizziness, fog, strobe lighting, moving floors, loud noises and projectiles,” according to the website.
This year’s storyline – “Crybaby” – continues to follow Paula, who is still in prison, serving time for killing her infant. The haunt still uses an intricate technical system for keeping guests trapped in one room/scene before allowing them entrance to the next scene. Each room is an intimate interaction with the talent, where guests are yelled at, intimidated and touched by either Paula or other inmates. There are some physically painful moments, too (hence, the waiver), as well as ones that are just plain gross.
Despite all of this – and really because of it – The 17th Door keeps luring a large following back. Are we gluttons for punishment?
It goes a little deeper than that. The haunt is a careful balance of our fear and anxieties, and just plain fun. Really, wrapped in between the scares and intimidation is that feeling we get when we realize, no matter how it might seem, we are still safe. We are free to live out our fears in a safe environment, and leave with a giggly sense of elation that we survived. And, that after the (literal) shock, we not only survived, but we had a lot of fun.
Not every haunt can accomplish what The 17th Door does. It takes a lot of planning, skill and creativity to pull off this extremely technical and highly interactive haunt safely and smoothly. But every year, the creators seem to do it more expertly and with greater design detail, and every year, we keep coming back to test ourselves and overcome our anxieties.
Of course, this haunt isn’t for everyone – and that’s really OK. But if you want to visit a haunted attraction with highly tuned set design, skillful acting and with a way of getting under your skin, The 17th Door might just be the haunt that truly makes you squeal with glee this Halloween season.