BY JENNIFER FRY
Where: The Gauntlet at Golfland in Mesa. 155 W Hampton Ave
Mesa, AZ 85210
Overview: The Gauntlet is a dark, indoor attraction focusing on mazes and diversion tactics. The theme is The Black Plague in Europe in the 1300s. Without the narrator at the beginning, the theme may not have gotten across as such, but it still managed to be one of the better houses in the Valley. Filled with the same creepy characters in masks every house employs, they take a surprise turn and come at you from all angles, not just the typical jumping out as soon as you come around a corner, yelling in your face. There was also good use of live animals and movie-quality props to make you look where they want you to look and add to the creep factor.
There is also Spooktacular Mini Golf, which looked entertaining, especially for the younger children. Arrive early if you want to play because it shuts down an hour before closing.
Price: Admission to the Gauntlet Haunted House is $12. The house plus unlimited Spooktacular Golf, race cars and bumper boats is $30. No bumper boats or race cars on Thursdays.
Who Should Go: Couples, groups or families who are looking for a whole evening of entertainment. Perfect for a fun date when you also include the golf, bumper boats and race cars.
When We Went: Late on a Thursday night. No crowds, no lines, but unfortunately, also no mini golf, bumper boats or race cars.
Best Scene: The road block at the end of one hallway that turns you around and into a room that seems to magically appear out of nowhere. It makes you feel completely lost. Also, the hanging corpses were some of the more realistic ones seen this year.
Scare of the Night: Just when you think you're home free, watch out!
Most Valuable Monster: The guide, from the beginning, who not only scares with his exceptional grunting and snarling but also follows along and helps when you get lost in the mazes.
Loved: The quality and quantity of the actors is great. Even at the end of the night it was well staffed. They were everywhere, surprising and committed to their art. Also, being indoors, there was no dust!
Hated: House was too short, a lot of the animatronics were amateur and the smoke in the cemetery at the end was a bit choking. They could also do a bit more with the design of the rooms themselves. While the props were well done, the rooms surrounding them left much to be desired.
Overall Grade: B+