The Best Horror Escape Rooms to Visit near Los Angeles this Halloween Season

Los Angeles offers many varieties of horror experiences. If you’re looking for horror in escape rooms this Halloween season, these are our recommendations.

A glowing, smoking, menacing jack-o-lantern.

Classic Serial Killer

At THE BASEMENT, Serial Killer Edward Tandy is out to get you. Even if you escape one of his rooms, there’s always another death trap to thwart.

The Elevator Shaft, THE BASEMENT – Our unconscious bodies had been tossed into the body-disposing, Death-Star-trash-compactor elevator shaft. We needed to trigger the override sequence. This dark, detailed, and badass set felt alive. It always doing something different… whether we wanted it to or not.

Close up of the wall, "Are you listening?" is painted in blood.

The Study, THE BASEMENT – As we explored our captor’s home, we stepped into a set that looked great in a dingy, “this is the worst place on earth to die” sort of way. Our escape included a superb solo moment that triggered fight or flight.

Image of the Study. A bookcase with a few books on it, a taxidermied buck, and a boarded up window.

The Courtyard, THE BASEMENT – Next we played Tandy’s murderous game in his fenced-in courtyard, an incredible environment, combining nature with decrepit structures to deliver a sense of continual discovery tinged with foreboding. An actor-driven midgame puzzle sequence was unforgettable.

In-game: an aged porch with a rocking chair.

Truly Terrifying

This is the scariest escape room that we’ve found thus far. It’s worth a drive to Anaheim for this absolutely terrifying game… but only if you’re honestly ready for it.

Zoe, Escapades This was a haunted house with escape room mechanics as gates. We were mind-controlled and at the mercy of Zoe as she paralyzed us with fear… then made us solve puzzles.

In-game: Closeup of heavily damaged piano keys in a dim room.

Poking Fun at Horror

Also in Anaheim, you’ll find a cheeky take on high school drama horror.

Hex Room, Cross Roads Escape GamesThe Hex Room cast six players as different horror film archetypes. Costumed and locked into separate places, we became these high school drama queens. The set, ambiance, and isolation built fear through anticipation more than any in-game frights.

In-game, a hallway with a coatrack holding a fedora, and trenchcoat. Clearly the detective's room.
Image via Cross Roads Escape Games

Christmas Horror

Krampus, 60 Out – We were investigating the festive yet morbid apartment of the Krampus killer, who murders naughty children on Christmas Eve. It was intense and creepy… and heart-poundingly scary.

In-game image of a dramatically lit Christmas tree in a dark and creepy home.

Horror of Old

Bloody Elbow, QUEST ROOM – Back in the 14th century, we awaited slow, gory, and creative deaths at the hand of a sadistic executioner by the name of “Bloody Elbow.” His torture devices alone instilled an urgency to puzzle out our escape.

In-game: A dark dungeon environment with a bloody torture table.

Happy Halloween 🎃

Anaheim, CA: Room Escape Recommendations

Some of our favorite escape rooms in the United States are in Anaheim, California.

It’s worth the trip from Los Angeles, even if you get stuck in traffic and don’t have time to eat before the next game. (This might have happened to us.)

We’ve broken them out by category below.

You might be interested in our recommendations for Los Angeles, California as well.

Image from Disneyland in Anaheim. Statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand in front of Cinderella's Castle.

Market standouts

  1. The Hex Room, Cross Roads Escape Games
  2. Zoe, Escapade Games
  3. Fun House, Cross Roads Escape Games
  4. Escape The Hydeout, Mission Escape Games (reviewed in 2015 in New York, visited in 2017 in California)
  5. Midnight on the Bayou, Red Lantern Escape Rooms

The set & scenery-driven adventures

The puzzle-centric

The story-driven

The newbie-friendly

The scary & intense

Mild frights:

The Hex Room, Cross Roads Escape Games

Major frights:

Zoe, Escapade Games

Games with actors

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Red Lantern Escape Rooms – Midnight on the Bayou [Review]

Strange stuff happens at high school reunions.

Location: Brea, CA

Date played: December 3, 2017

Team size: 4-12; we recommend 4-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket weekdays, $35 per ticket weekends

REA Reaction

The majestic and whimsical set surprised and captivated us.

Red Lantern Escape Rooms created a challenging multithreaded puzzle through an intimate story in a region where we haven’t seen many non-linear, puzzle-centric escape rooms.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Story seekers
  • People who skipped their high school reunion due to a lack of puzzles
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A surprisingly expansive open set that felt festive
  • A well-told story
  • Non-linear gameplay

Story

We arrived at our high school reunion (Go Possums!). The reunion committee strangely decided to host the carnival-themed event swamp-side on the Boudreau’s property, the site of a barn fire that had claimed the lives of five of our classmates. What could possibly go wrong?

In-game: A duck hunt and ring toss carnival game on a boardwalk lit festively at night.

Setting

Red Lantern Escape Rooms built a sprawling party space and boardwalk for Midnight on the Bayou. Upon walking in, the large open space caught us all off guard with its high ceilings and cohesive yet varied design. The space felt just a bit majestic.

Gameplay

In keeping with its large-scale design, Midnight on the Bayou was a non-linear escape room with multiple paths of puzzles to solve. There was a lot to discover about this game.

The event’s bartender, the in-room gamemaster, facilitated the festivities. He largely stayed out of our way and let us enjoy the reunion, only stepping in when he recognized a need.

Standouts

We were immediately struck by the expansive set of Midnight on the Bayou. It was whimsical and beautiful.

Our reunion bartender introduced the staging elegantly. He directed our attention to specific details. He delivered a backstory that was serious, but playful.

In Midnight on the Bayou, we puzzled through the stories of our high school classmates. Their characters developed through the puzzling and the puzzles supported their characters. This mechanic of separate puzzle paths worked well.

We enjoyed the culmination of one character’s puzzle, which really captured high school memories.

The hint system made sense in the setting. The excellent voice acting provided fun nudges, while further developing the various characters.

Shortcomings

Red Lantern Escape Room created puzzling paths where elements connected one to the next and searching was directed. In one instance, we found the searching too vaguely clued. We never would have found – or, given the play structure, even have searched for – that important item without heavy-handed hinting.

One puzzle really bugged us. None of our teammates was able to decode the solution even though we determined the exact solve method immediately. We eventually hacked it with puzzling experience.

We misinterpreted one clue as implying that certain puzzle components would be solved in a specific order, which tripped us up for a while. It turned out that we went through a whole song and dance for nothing. Minor rewording could smooth this over.

Given the parallel puzzle structure of Midnight on the Bayou, it would be possible to achieve a terribly anticlimactic ending… which would be a bummer.

Midnight on the Bayou contained one large set piece that was just a set piece. While Red Lantern Escape Room does have future plans for this construction, in its current form it’s a large and disappointing red herring.

Tips for Visiting

  • They have ample free parking.
  • For a sweet reward, check out the lobby puzzle.

Book your hour with Red Lantern Escape Rooms’ Midnight on the Bayou, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Red Lantern Escape Rooms provided comped tickets for this game.

Exodus Escape Room – Sherlock’s Study [Review]

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

-Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Location: Anaheim, California

Date played: June 4, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Sherlock Holmes was kidnapped in the midst of an investigation and it was up to us to find him.

We played in a study/office setting that resembled many other escape rooms with similar themes. The room wasn’t the most exciting, but it was well constructed and hid a surprise or two.

In-game: A large wooden bookcase beside a red wall.

Puzzles

Sherlock’s Study included typical room escape-style puzzles, executed at varying degrees of difficulty but geared toward a beginner audience. Observation and searching skills were key. Puzzle flow was basic but solid, with some notable areas in need of refinement.

Standouts

There was one puzzle sequence that made excellent use of the set, leading to an unexpected reveal.

Another puzzle featured a small, easily-overlooked clue that those with keen eyes will find satisfying to solve.

Shortcomings

The puzzles in Sherlock’s Study relied heavily on paper props with lots of “whodunit” information printed on them. We became frustrated with multiple team members crowded around all these documents.

The study was predictably filled with books, which necessitated a lot of divide-and- conquer scavenging. One tedious puzzle could have benefited from clearer cluing.

One visually appealing clue lacked a clear connection to anything else. By the time we made the connection, we had already solved the puzzle, which negated the cool factor.

At one point, the use of space was a letdown after a grand reveal.

Should I play Exodus Escape Room’s Sherlock’s Study?

Sherlock’s Study was unapologetically a room for a beginner’s market; the folks at Exodus Escape Rooms were clear on this point.

Beginner players will encounter a solid experience with good puzzle flow that accurately represents room escapes. Experienced players will find exciting moments, but shouldn’t expect to be blown away at any point; Sherlock’s Study was decidedly for newer players.

Book your hour with Exodus Escape Room’s Sherlock’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape Room Era – Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room [Review]

Ben Franklin fan fic.

Location: Anaheim, California

Date played: June 4, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $24 per ticket Monday-Thursday, $28 per ticket Friday-Sunday

Story & setting

Escape Room Era brought us back to colonial times: Benjamin Franklin had invented something that would help the Continental Army win the war against the Redcoats. We needed to find the invention before the British Army could steal it.

Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room was set in a dimly lit colonial-ish home. The candlelit room had simple furniture and household-y props.

In-game: A close up of an array of LED candles surrounding a small statue of a sun.

Puzzles

Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room was primarily about the puzzles. Some of the puzzles incorporated with the set pieces. Others were primarily mental challenges set in this space.

Standouts

We signed the waiver with a quill pen, dipped in ink. This was the first time we’ve ever been entertained by signing a waiver.

The room escape was a giant ode to Benjamin Franklin’s inventions. This theme ran through most of the escape room, taking different forms. It was clever and built to an entertaining conclusion.

The puzzles in Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room flowed logically. Some of them used the space in interesting ways.

Shortcomings

Other puzzles were primarily paper-based, and would have benefited from more connection to the room itself. In one instance, we found a puzzle solution to be too ambiguous.

The set wasn’t exciting, cohesive, or even particularly of the period. Given Escape Room Era’s focus on the historical setting, we felt it lacked a more believably colonial staging.

While the dim lighting served a few functions, ultimately, it was annoying.

Should I play Escape Room Era’s Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room?

We haven’t seen a too many historical fiction escape rooms. Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room was essentially Benjamin Franklin fan fiction, delivered through the escape room medium. As someone who has always enjoyed reading historical fiction, I enjoyed experiencing it as an escape room.

That said, Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room didn’t realize the historical adventure as convincingly as we would have hoped. It was a basic escape room, with a set that didn’t really sell the time period, and puzzles, that while solid and thematically appropriate, didn’t feel overly colonial… That said, a few puzzles were brilliant.

Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room would be a good beginner’s escape room. It was puzzle-centric, but approachable, and gives a sense of where this medium can go. More experienced players will find some clever moments, but won’t find this escape room particularly challenging or believable.

If you find yourself in Anaheim, and you enjoy puzzles and history, we recommend that you rummage through Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room. It won’t change history, but it will give you a glimpse of what may come.

Book your hour with Escape Room Era’s Benjamin Franklin’s Invention Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Era comped our tickets for this game.

 

Escapade Games – Zoe [Review]

😱 💩 👖

Location: Fullerton, California

Date played: June 4, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-6 (depending upon team composition; read below)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30-40 per ticket

The 2017 Golden Lock-In award, the REA logo turned into an open padlock with a golden ring around it.
2017 Golden Lock-In Award winner

Story & setting

A terrifying and tormented young girl mind-controlled and summoned us to her home to do her bidding. What she needed of us, only she knew.

The set was a dark and haunted house. It was scary and detailed, but the real scares came from the actors.

In-game: Closeup of heavily damaged piano keys in a dim room.

Puzzles

Zoe was a light puzzle game. The puzzles were essentially gates that separated the various segments of the experience.

If you lose in Zoe, it won’t be because you weren’t smart enough to solve the puzzles; it will be because you were too afraid to get the job done.

Standouts

Zoe was striving for scary, and dammit, Escapade achieved scary.

The actors were fantastic. They managed to create the right blend of fear and intensity, all without being too threatening.

The set looked great.

The hinting system was magnificently woven into the fabric of the game and naturally pushed us from scene to scene with urgency.

Shortcomings

The most significant puzzle in Zoe was overburdened with scavenging and reading. It suffered from a general lack of clarity.

One pivotal prop should be replaced with something a little less capable of inflicting damage on players, actors, and set pieces.

Should I play Escapade Games’ Zoe?

Zoe was an exceptional experience that I highly recommend to mobile players. You will need to move with some urgency.

Zoe is essentially a haunted house, so keep that in mind when building your team. If everyone is brave, then you’re going to want a smaller team of 2 or 3 people. If you have some players who are going to spend most of the time keeping their sphincter puckered… then you might want to consider a team of 4 to 6 people.

If you can muster up the courage, then Zoe is a must-play.

Book your hour with Escapade Games’ Zoe, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escapade Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Cross Roads Escape Games – The Fun House [Review]

Step on up! Come one! Come all! Test your mind against The Fun House!

Location: Anaheim, CA

Date played: October 14, 2016

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket

Story & setting

Cross Roads’ The Fun House had our team on an unusual puzzle-based job interview. If we succeeded, we would earn our place as apprentices to the magician. Should we lose, we would forever be clueless clowns.

Cross Roads’ website nails their own description of The Fun House as, “… like being in a fun house from Alice in Wonderland.”

The story was light and barely present. The set was The Fun House’s primary focus and it was grand. The beautiful set cleverly messed with proportions. Every inch of the space was a custom creation.

For the coulrophobic: while we entered the game through a large clown’s mouth, the game itself was certified clown-free.

The Fun House Entrance, through the gigantic painted mouth of of clown.
Image via Cross Roads Escape Games

Puzzles

The puzzles were plentiful and varied. Early on, there were so many accessible to us. Our team of aggressive puzzlers moved like a tornado of puzzling. It became a challenge to keep track of what was going on.

The mid and late game puzzles were less numerous and required more teamwork.

Standouts

The set was magnificently constructed.

Cross Roads delivered many memorable moments through the The Fun House’s set and puzzles.

In-game, a colorful room with large and small doors, images all over the wall,s and a spiral pattern on the floor.
Image via Cross Roads Escape Games

Hints were delivered via an in-game character who was playful and humorous. The fourth wall-breaking character toyed with us and made jokes about bad escape room design.

Shortcomings

While there were plenty of puzzles and plenty of space, this was a small team game. Each member of our team of six felt like they had missed out on things happening.

The ending was a tad anticlimactic, especially in contrast with The Fun House’s many memorable moments.

Should I play Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Fun House?

The Fun House played like a near-perfect execution of early-style escape rooms. Cross Roads replaced the standard office-like environment with a wacky carnival tent, piled on tons of well-themed puzzles, and mixed in unique and memorable moments. It was a pleasure to play.

If you’re near Anaheim, Cross Roads is a must-visit location.

The Hex Room feels more like an adventure.

The Fun House is more of a puzzlers game.

My advice: don’t choose between them. Play both.

Book your hour with Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Fun House, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Cross Roads Escape Games – The Hex Room [Review]

The Breakfast Club meets in a murder house!

Location: Anaheim, CA

Date played: October 14, 2016

Team size: 5-10; we recommend 6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per ticket

2016 RoomEscapeArtist.com Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

The Hex Room was a horror movie experience for six characters: Prom Queen, Jock, Virgin, Nerd, Rebel, and Detective. Cast as these film archetypes, we had to solve our way out of six individual but interconnected rooms and together escape the game.

As an added twist, in order to survive, we each had to open our own hex box, a self-contained bonus puzzle for each character.

Upon our arrival at Cross Roads, we each filled out a survey to determine our character assignments. Roles required different skills and some were more or less integral to the game.

The Hex Room was a horror game with frightening moments, but it wasn’t a terrifying game. The set, ambiance, and isolation built fear through anticipation more than any in-game frights.

In-game image of an open door looking into a room filled with trinkets.
Image via Cross Roads Escape Games

The story was basic: escape the horror movie to survive. The set was anything but simple. Cross Roads handcrafted intricate, unsettling environments for each character. These were gritty and enhanced the individual character’s experience.

Puzzles

As individual characters, we solved a series of puzzles to escape our isolated entrapment.

These puzzles were not overly challenging. The isolated uncomfortable environments and hampered communication provided the difficulty.

The Detective inhabited the central room. She alone could communicate with each trapped character through windows in the doors of each other player’s room. Ideas or items passed through the Detective. This game mechanism made otherwise straightforward puzzles far more challenging.

In-game, a hallway with a coatrack holding a fedora, and trenchcoat. Clearly the detective's room.
Image via Cross Roads Escape Games

The individual hex boxes added temptation. They yielded a survivor’s medal, but wouldn’t help the team escape. They also differed dramatically in level of challenge.

Standouts

The Hex Room was a game like no other.

The best game interactions in The Hex Room played off of the character archetypes and poked fun at them. This was creative, clever, and comical.

The game was designed to force some characters to come together, while allowing another to choose not to.

The Hex Room was a horror game with a broader appeal. By simultaneously conforming to the stereotypes of the genre and making fun of them, it offered both heart-racing anticipation and a sense of ordinary playability.

Shortcomings

Cross Roads designed The Hex Room as a replayable game; we could return to play as different characters. While it’s true that I didn’t solve the individual puzzles in the other rooms, I can’t un-know the general game mechanics or character and object relationships. The Hex Room was exciting not because of the isolated puzzles; it was about the experience we had as a team, surviving our horror film. I couldn’t justify paying full price to unlock a different set of puzzles, while trying to hold back the knowledge I already have about the game.

The individual adventures were more exciting than the culminating story. Once our team came together, the game wasn’t able to do anything with the anticipation or build to a satisfying climax.*

If the characters are assigned incorrectly, the team will struggle. While the puzzles seemed more or less even, the settings were not. For example, one role was more claustrophobic and another included more grotesque props. If even one teammate is too uncomfortable in their assignment or can’t hold their own with the puzzles, the team will have problems.

Most importantly, if you have the wrong person as the Detective, the game will fall apart.

Should I play Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Hex Room?

The Hex Room was not inherently intellectually challenging. Instead, the puzzles were rendered difficult through atmosphere, isolation, and limited communication.

Players who like to focus in on complex, challenging puzzles won’t necessarily love this game. It was designed to be unsettling and force you to puzzle in an uncomfortable environment. We loved this. Not everyone on our team did.

Players who enjoy horror movies or horror experiences will thoroughly enjoy the game that Cross Roads lovingly created.

The Hex Room achieved the incredibly challenging feat of creating a game that brings individual plots together. It did this while staying true to the horror movie theme. Seasoned players will appreciate the subtleties in the game’s design.

This is a game for a team of six people who can rely on themselves as much as each other. Make sure everyone feels comfortable puzzling and operating locks. Cross Roads will modify the game so that as few as five or as many as ten people can play, but bringing any more or fewer than six people would be a mistake.

Book your hour with Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Hex Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

*Note that we played the second version of Cross Roads’ The Hex Room. The original game had an extremely different ending, among other differences. As always, we’ve reviewed the game we played and we cannot speak to the earlier version.