Independent ScareScape haunt brings frightful fun to the Inland Empire – Press Enterprise
When Lexy Berru, co-owner of Creative Minds Productions, moved just outside of Temecula, she realized there was an opportunity for Halloween fans and local Inland Empire businesses to come together for a plan so sinister that it just might work.
“Our mission was to really highlight the local talent, craftsmanship and small businesses that are in the Inland Empire because that was really something that we felt was lacking,” Berru said during a recent interview. “A lot of times, the people that live out here are traveling to some of the bigger haunts like Knott’s Scary Farm or Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and we really wanted something to be available that was produced, operated and curated by locals that live in the area.”
Berru is helping lead her team in the first ScareScape, an immersive and terrifying experience set at Heritage Hill in Murrieta that will run select evenings from Sept. 29-Oct. 29. The event consists of three general admission mazes, one VIP Maze, multiple bars, a VIP lounge, live entertainment, food trucks, roaming monsters and a vendor marketplace that will showcase local businesses.
Among the local vendors is Snapshot Coffee Bar, which will brew creepy lattes inspired by the mazes featured at ScareScape. Ghoulish cocktails like the Beyond the Grave, Ectoplasm Elixir and the Blackout, named after the mazes, will be served at the bars at the maze entrances. Guests can also grab fall treats like pumpkin cream cheese muffins and cinnamon rolls alongside other meals offered by the food trucks.
“It’s definitely been fun working with the local small businesses because it’s a great way to be able to highlight them,” said Emily Seruga, co-owner of Creative Minds Productions. “Some of the small businesses that we work with love being involved in Halloween and spooky season, but sometimes when I’m having conversations with them, they say they don’t always put out all their spooky products because not everyone likes it. So here’s the perfect opportunity for that.”
Berru met Seruga while working on the marketing team for the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor haunt in Long Beach. Their team was small, but together, they learned what it would take for them to go out on their own and bonded over their love for haunted attractions.
“We have that background and education from the Queen Mary, where we got to see and meet with the executive producers, the creative team, the build crew and got to see their process,” Berru said. “For me, it just really kind of rooted my interest in taking on a bigger role with haunts and ignited a fire that made me want to do something in my local community.”
The fears of Berru and Seruga inspired the four mazes. When they found the location for ScareScape, Berru was skeptical because it was on a hill and she is deathly afraid of heights. Seruga was worried about the insects, a fear of her own. After discussing their collective worries, they realized that phobias are common. They settled on four themes that could be harnessed into mazes without reinventing the wheel: fear of the dark, insects, the supernatural and clowns (an exclusive VIP maze).
“We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves with ScareScape into it being like a carnival theme or a zombie theme,” Berru said. “We wanted to have all the scary elements under one umbrella into one giant nightmare where you would see some of humankind’s more primal and common fears.”
In addition to the mazes, the event will feature a traditional scare zone where roaming monsters will sneak up and frighten guests and an entertainment zone where DJs and other live performers are expected to boogie with the crowd. Each of the monsters will be dressed in the theme of the surrounding maze.
“We’ve really tried to curate an experience for the people waiting in line, so that they’re engaging with roaming monsters in the scare zone and queuing up for the more face-to-face maze experiences,” Berru said.
The ScareScape team hopes that incorporating the little details, such as being shuttled up a hill where subtle fears are amplified by their own nightmarish creations, gives locals and visitors alike a chance to get into the Halloween spirit on a local level.
“I hope that is what really translates, that this is something that you can’t experience anywhere else and that they feel removed from their daily lives,” Berru said. “I hope that this space is memorable and people want to come back again next year for it.”
When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday; 6-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday on Sept. 29-Oct. 29
Where: Heritage Hill, 28701 Los Alamos Heights Road, Murrieta
Tickets: $25 for general admission and $50 for VIP at scarescapehaunt.com.
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