The Crypt/The Asylum Haunted House Review (2016) A long running Mesa mainstay with a few good tricks up its sleeves

If memory serves, The Crypt haunted house opened up for the first time in the Fiesta Mall parking lot around 2008, just before I moved back to Phoenix. I remember going to it and being impressed by the ingenuity and apparent DIY-ness of it. There were moments that forced you to crawl on hands and knees, be separated from your group and trapped alone in a closet-sized space, and climb inside of a van as it is attacked by monsters. I hadn’t made it back since that first year, until now.

Now, the Crypt is three haunted houses (well two and a half), and is quite a bit different from how I remember it all those years back. But it’s still a well-produced, well-intentioned haunted attraction that’s worth your time and a welcome alternative to Fear Farm and 13th Floor, with their endless lines and wait times.

The order we went through the haunts was 1) The Asylum 2) Chaos Maze 3) The Crypt, and I do believe that is the best possible order to go with. 

The Asylum

First the Asylum. As you might expect, it’s a lunatic asylum theme. Lots of classic “crazy” characters in straitjackets or hospital gowns, a few mad doctors, and for good measure some psychedelic carnival/illusion content. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. No huge shocks or surprises, but nice sets and decent jump scares. My favorite part was a walk through a long closet with clothes hanging on either side. You just know there are things lurking behind them… The Asylum is a good one to start with, to whet your appetite for the main attraction.

Next we decided to get the Chaos maze out of the way. It inexplicably had a long-ish line in front of it all night, where the other two haunts did not. We endured the long wait, figuring it would only get longer later in the evening, and The Crypt was still wide open. Once we actually got inside though, we learned exactly why Chaos had the longest line: It’s only a maze, and a really basic one at that. Essentially, it’s a grid made of red and white vinyl curtains, some you can pass through and some you can’t. And that’s it. You push your way from square to square looking for an exit, while a couple of costumed actors lurk around in there with you.

Once I managed to solve the maze and found myself walking back out into the cool night air, I was totally deflated. I expected that to be just the first part of a haunted house! The lines are long because there’s no way to predict how long a group will take to get through. You could conceivably go in circles for quite some time in there. Which wouldn’t be so much scary as annoying. So my recommendation is to skip Chaos entirely. Your $25 ticket grants you access to all three haunts, but honestly, it’s not worth the wait in line.

The Crypt

We finished up with the namesake haunt – The Crypt – a “kitchen sink” type of haunt that throws in all sorts of classically scary scenarios with no real overarching theme. You’ve got ghosts, zombies, chainsaw guys, werewolves, clowns, the works. This attraction was clearly where the majority of the effort went into the production. It did the best job of misdirecting you and then punishing with a startle scare – which is great! I love when haunted houses play on your familiarity with the clichés. I was staring at a row of fake paintings, clearly made of fabric behind which an actor will reach out to grab you, but instead the scare comes from the other side of the hall. Clever.

The Crypt attempts to induce claustrophobic feelings by packing certain areas full of curtains you need to push aside in extremely low light conditions, which is a tried and true trick that works, but it’s leaned on too much (The Asylum uses them too). By the 30th some such curtain I pushed through I was starting to grow tired of it. There are also other tactics designed to overload or interfere with your sense of sight involving strobe lights and copious amounts of fog. Again, these methods do work, but they’re best in small doses. The Crypt goes just a little too far with them.

I’m not familiar with the origins of this haunted attraction, but it strikes me as a former home haunt that made the jump to commercial, and I will ALWAYS support those. $25 is a very reasonable price for the two main haunts (ironically a better value WITHOUT the Chaos maze), and the lines are short. If you live anywhere near the Southeast valley, definitely give The Crypt a shot.

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