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Arts & Culture

Haunted Hotel returns to scare you up close and in person

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Haunted Hotel
Yes there are clowns at The Haunted Hotel Disturbance in Mission Valley.

Haunted Hotel Disturbance returns to Mission Valley and the Haunted Trail is back at Balboa Park with a mile long haunt.

The Haunted Hotel has been scaring people for decades but had to close its doors last Halloween because of COVID-19. But the San Diego haunt is back in person with outdoor horror mazes in Mission Valley.

Last Halloween was the first in 32 years that Greg DeFatta spent at home and it was emotional for him. DeFatta is a professional haunter so rather than trick or treating with his kids he's spent every Oct. 31 scaring other people.

RELATED: The Return Of Halloween Haunts

But last year the world was scarier than any haunt and the Haunted Hotel closed its doors for the first time. (It did experiment with a drive-thru haunt last year.) This weekend, however, the Haunted Hotel reopens and DeFatta is back to doing what he loves.

Haunted Hotel is back to scare you face-to-face
They're back! The "scare-acters" of the Haunted Hotel mazes are back for in-person frights.

The Haunted Hotel has been scaring people for decades but had to close its doors last Halloween because of COVID-19. But the San Diego haunt is back in person with outdoor horror mazes in Mission Valley. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this sneak peak at The Haunted Hotel Disturbance.

Last Halloween was the first in 32 years that Greg DeFatta spent at home. DeFatta is a professional haunter so rather than trick or treating with his kids he spent every October 31st scaring other people. But last year the world was scarier than any haunt and the Haunted Hotel closed its doors for the first time. This weekend, the Haunted Hotel reopens and DeFatta is back to doing what he loves.

GREG DeFATTA: It is so funny that once we're open and the doors are open and you start hearing those first screams, you go, yes, it's working. And of course it does. But you still need that kind of reassurance.

Currently DeFatta runs The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park and The Haunted Hotel Disturbance, three mazes in the Mission Valley parking lot. New additions this year will be pizza and alcohol on the weekends. But one thing remains the same.

GREG DeFATTA: We do try to scare you as best, and it's as deeply as we can. We were going for a little scar. We try and scar you just a little bit. But, you know, you're never going to get touched or hurt….

All the Haunted Hotel attractions are outdoors with masks optional for fully vaccinated attendees. Jason and Michael Myers, however, will be fully masked at all times.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

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"It is so funny that once we're open and the doors are open and you start hearing those first screams, you go, 'Yes, it's working!' And of course it does. But you still need that kind of reassurance that it is," DeFatta said. "And people when they come out, either they are laughing or they're crying or just super excited. And then you can hear them just talking about which part scared them."

DeFatta did not hide the joy that this brings him. And as a home haunter, I know how much fun it can be to scare people.

Haunted Hotel gets scary in-person

Currently DeFatta runs The Haunted Trail in Balboa Park and The Haunted Hotel Disturbance, three mazes in the Mission Valley parking lot by Target.

"What we've done is we took the Haunted Hotel from downtown, which it was there for 27 years, and what we've done is brought the the whole event here. Except we've expanded it and we have added characters — scareacters — outside," DeFatta explained.

So instead of a claustrophobic basement in the Gaslamp district, he now has 10,000 square feet to play with.

New additions this year will be pizza and alcohol on the weekends. But one thing remains the same.

"We do try to scare you as best, and it's as deeply as we can," he said with a smile. "We're going for a little scar. We try and scar you just a little bit. But you're never going to get touched or hurt."

It's that sense of knowing you are going to be scared but within certain boundaries is what makes haunts so attractive to so many. It's that little jolt of adrenaline for some or just the fun of seeing what the Haunted Hotel comes up with each year.

All the Haunted Hotel attractions are outdoors with masks optional for fully vaccinated attendees. If you are not vaccinated, the haunt requires that you wear a mask.

Jason and Michael Myers, however, will be fully masked at all times.