Review: Santa Monica's new "Paranoia" Halloween attraction

Last night we creeped on down to the rooftop of the 3rd St. Promenade mall in Santa Monica to check out the debut of Paranoia, “The first-ever Santa Monica Halloween experience”. The evening was light hearted and the mazes were were definitely PG-13.

Located on the 3rd floor of the newly renovated 3rd St. Promenade mall this experience takes over the entire space of what could be a Macy’s or a Target. It’s huge and from the setup it looks as if Paranoia is expecting large crowds with long line setups and an even longer line of ticket booths hoping to accommodate the masses.

Immediately upon entering the large mural facade you see the ceiling of this large vacant room lit with lights from all the mazes and muffled screams echoing all around. Its got an energetic and exciting atmosphere, I definitely imagine it will entice and excite new visitors to enter all the mazes. There’s 3 mazes this year, let’s check em out!

“The Infirmary”

The maze consisted mostly of open spaces and walls, little theming and not so much ambience. The Scare-actors were working double time to get us by ducking in and out of walls attempting to scare us multiple times definitely made up for what was lacking. The theme was a prison I think and it had some creepy blood splatters and iron cast beds here and there. The space was just so big and there was not a lot of decor to fill it all up. Also the ceilings remained exposed so you could see disco lights coming from the other side of the wall where the clown maze was. I’ve never really realized until walking through how important things like fog machines, soundtracks, and ceiling covers are to the overall experience of the maze.

“Insomniac Clown Playhouse”

This maze was sort of a blur, lots of open spaces and long hallways – I felt like I was lost in an endless maze of plywood and darkness. There were several moments of glow paint walls and 3D style rooms (one including a night club clown maze playing top 40 to a dancing clown), but no actual 3D. Again- KUDOS to the talent they were all on fire and really keeping the mazes alive. There was one random segment in the maze that was a hall of mirrors located inside of a random gothic castle. That was pretty neat, I walked into the mirrors about 5 times, it was uber creepy and the clown hiding in there definitely creeped me out! Wish the rest of the maze was as amazing the hall of mirrors segment.

“Granny’s Manor of Mayhem”

This was the superior of the 3 billed mazes. Its like they spent 95% of their budget on this maze and 5% on the others. It was jam packed with decor, animatronics, even a really fun photo booth section that was similar to one I just saw at Knott’s Scary Farm. Again the theming was random, but random is great. There were moments of Inbreds, confused dolls, Cannibals, zombies, graveyards, and even an appearance by Norman Bates. The highlight of this maze was when you enter through a closet of clothes into a plastic lined air tunnel where you literally have to fight your way through ( DEFINITELY not for the claustrophobic) ! This was a fun maze and I wish they had either made each maze as entertaining as this one or at least put all the mazes into one big maze and upped the production quality instead of trying to fill each square foot of this humongous space (think the size of Bloomingdales). Regardless it was still a lot of fun.

This little girl ran outside shaking

Advertised to “rival the likes of Universal and Queen Mary” – we don’t think so. We were disappointed to encounter several handymen still putting together props and fixing robotics which we felt was disenchanting.

We think there is a ton of room for growth with this attraction and we hope the success of this event inspires more creative approaches. We also loved that the attraction offers guests an option to take breaks in between maze visits with wristbands that offer downtime and an unlimited happy hour menu at the restaurant lounge adjacent to the mazes.

We’re not sure how worth a trip it is if your coming from far away, but after a long day of shopping at the mall or for locals looking for a quick scare it’s definitely a fun new attraction for the likes of Santa Monica.