Are you one of those people that like to have the daylights scared out of you? Well, ’tis the season to get frightened. The Haunted Trail at Balboa Park is the perfect place to get you and yours into the Halloween season.
On the west side of Balboa Park, the mile-long Haunted Trail is decked out with 14 different terrifying scenes, including Freddie’s school bus and a barn that’s filled with an exorcism. On the other end of the spooky trail is the Carnival of Carnage Maze, where guests have to find their own way out.
There are 50 characters waiting to freak out their guests, doing everything including chasing you to your car. One of those fright-night creatures is Elizabeth Nicholls.
In the spirit of the holiday weekend, Patch caught up with Elizabeth to learn what a day in the life of a zombie is all about.
Patch: How long have you been doing this?
Elizabeth Nicholls, aka zombie: Four years total, previously with Six Flags Fright Fest, and now the Haunted Trail for two years.
Patch: What do you enjoy most about your character?
Zombie: The fact that you can be a rabid, crazy zombie and then calm and collected the next minute.
Patch: What is it that you like most about Halloween?
Zombie: It’s a time of the year that everyone gets to be something that they are not, and I get to scare the crap out of people.
Patch: What is your “day” job?
Zombie: A receptionist at two different businesses. I deal with customer service during the day and then I make people cry at night.
Patch: What has been your favorite Halloween character to portray?
Zombie: It changes every year, but I love being a marionette-style doll—a creepy one, of course!
Patch: Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we didn’t ask?
Zombie: The best part of working at a haunted attraction is being able to change costumes/character night to night. I could be a trailer park zombie one night and then a crazy zombie boy the next.
In addition to the Haunted Trail, Halloween enthusiasts can also get their scare from The Haunted Hotel in the Gaslamp or Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, each of which are very different attractions.
“The Haunted Trail is in a unique environment, being all outdoors in the middle of Balboa Park,” said Greg DeFatta, owner of The Haunted Trail. “Tucked in the trees and a natural setting brings a spooky element to the Trail.
“Scream Zone has three events at one location and the Hayride is one-of-a-kind in our area,” he said. “The Haunted Hotel is the traditional haunted house that we can spend lots of time and attention to really show off our ability to scare you. It is in the basement of a 100-plus-year-old building that lends itself to nonstop frights.”
Year after year these attractions continue to be a can’t-miss. Why?
“It brings people close together,” DeFatta said. “If you are on a first date, what an ice breaker! Twenty minutes after you pick up your date, you’re hugging each other to protect yourself from the ghouls.
“Families and friends come out in big numbers to share an emotionally charged experience,” he said. “And, some people just love the creativity of the sets, make up and wardrobe. Even the lines are a social event. You can watch a horror film as we have characters roving through to give you the occasional jolt.”
The Haunted Trails are open once the sun goes down, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the weekdays and open until 11:45 p.m. on the weekends. The haunted attractions are not recommended for kids under 10 years. Pregnant women are not allowed, and since these attractions contain high-impact scares and strobe lights, they may not be suitable for people with heart conditions or prone to seizures.
Co-sponsored by the city of San Diego Park and Recreation, tickets are $16.99 Friday and Saturday, and $14.99 Sunday and Monday. The maze is $4.99.