Located at the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks, the Reign of Terror Haunted House lives up to its name.
The house consists of eighty-two individually garnished rooms across 15,000 square feet. These rooms are split up into six differently themed areas to encompass many different aspects and types of horror.
The first set of rooms follow the theme of “Miner’s Revenge,” an area full of narrow tunnels to induce the feeling of claustrophobia, and the panic that goes along with it.
Following this is the Insane Asylum portion full of guts, gore and psychos.
A traditional Victorian section is also featured within the house and taps more into the supernatural aspect of horror such as ghosts and spirits.
Blood Manor follows the Victorian section, which, as the name suggests features many knives, axes and lots of blood.
Quarantine is the fifth themed portion which is similar to Insane Asylum, but has more of a post-war laboratory/experimental vibe.
Finally, a Funhouse section has been added this year to tap into people’s fear of clowns and carnivals.
It was also revealed that there is a whole new empty space for a new theme, and that new ideas are on the horizon.
Despite the fact that the house shifts themes so often, there is always a sense of continuity throughout, and the transitions make sense.
Simply standing in the queue waiting to enter the house, many shrieks can be heard from within, speeding up your already pounding heart. A volunteer stands with you, waiting to let you enter the house. When asked how long it generally takes to traverse through the house, volunteer Jason White replied:
“It depends on how fast you’re running. You can run through in five minutes if you’re really scared.”
Jokes aside, he determined that it usually takes about twenty to thirty minutes to make the journey through the house. If you become too scared at any point, however, there are “chicken exits” located every few rooms, so that you can leave if need be.
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One unique aspect of Reign of Terror is that the volunteers make sure to let groups enter the house spaced outso that the people in front of you don’t spoil what is going to happen. Likewise, actors within the house are not required to jump out at the first person; they can pop out at any person in the group, ensuring that no matter where you stand you cannot avoid these scares.
The mastermind behind the Reign of Terror Haunted House, Bruce Stanton, stated that there are thirty-five actors hidden within the house. These actors are all volunteers, as Stanton finds the true dedication and passion that authenticates these roles cannot be induced by payment.
All volunteers are over eighteen, and hours of makeup and costume customization are put into making them look horrifying. Stanton goes to extra measures to make sure not to buy masks from stores that the general public can go to, so that nothing is less scary due to familiarity.
“The most important thing is to pull you from the real world environment and put you into our environment,” Stanton said, and he knows how to do just that.
What started as an at-home experiment transformed into a haunted house that is now considered one of the top ten in the nation. This is Staton’s 16th year of running the house, and he said it takes about 10 months to put it together every year.
Despite the fact that this house brings in large amounts of money, Janss Marketplace does not run this house for their monetary benefit, but rather as a nonprofit organization to donate money earned to the Conejo Valley Parks and Recreation teen center and theater group.
The Reign of Terror Haunted House opens Saturday, October 3, and runs for eleven nights. If you are a thrill seeker, make sure to stop by and see if you can survive the Reign of Terror.
Background Photo Credit: Jessie Snyder/The Foothill Dragon Press