The Empty Grave in Anaheim’s Garden Walk has always been one of MiceChat’s favorite haunts.  Built new, from the ground up, every year, this independent haunted attraction has returned bigger and better tan ever for the 2012 season of screams. This year marks an evolution for the little haunt in Anaheim, as it has begun to shed its humble beginnings and is transcending to another level.  It is becoming a far more polished, well executed (pun intended) haunted attraction. Here we have some notes and photos to share and even a chance to win a pair of tickets to experience The Empty Grave yourself.

Designer, Mike Talorico, is just like any other guy.  He has a day job, is building a family with his lovely wife Adrian, and by most accounts is fairly normal.  But ever since he was a kid, his passion has been Halloween and haunts.

Mike in front of The Empty Grave

Growing up, he would build simple haunted houses in his front yard every year with his neighborhood friends.  Amazing things could be done with PVC pipe and black Hefty bags.  But as he grew so did his desire to really build a legitimate haunted house attraction.  What began just a few years ago as The Haunted Cellar at The Block at Orange, soon evolved into The Empty Grave at GardenWalk as we know it today.

The Empty Grave has always had a certain home-spun charm.  Mike has an uncanny ability to infect those around him with a childish glee for the scare.  His creations are never dull, but were sometimes a little rough on the execution.  While we have always found the loose feel that Mike lent to his mazes entertaining, it did leave you with the feeling that he could continue to grow.  This year he has.

Why is this year so much better? The maze has a far more calculated sense of pacing. The scares begin slowly, allowing for tension to be built  Entering a long nearly pitch black hallway, a voice can be heard beckoning you further.  Eventually guests end up in one of the Grave’s trademark set pieces, the strobe maze.  Once the disorientation subsides the experience becomes more linear.

The set design, the art direction, even the lighting, have all been polished.  The flow of the scenes from one to the other is more fluid. The story that carries guests through is still pretty indiscernible, but scenes feel right and the actors sell it.

If you are a fan of independent Haunts, this is the year that you must go visit the Empty Grave. While far from perfect, this will be considered the year that the Empty Grave grew up.  Mike and his merry crew of monsters have shed the black garbage bags and pvc pipes from the front yard and have entered the big leagues.

The graveyard scene is theatrical and dramatically lit.

Mention also has to be made of the actors. They are simply some of the most passionate talent around.  Their energy and desire to engage the visitors is palpable and inviting.  They clearly WANT to get in there and scare and that’s great for the visitors. That is the mark of truly remarkable performers.

You still have time to visit the Empty Grave too!  They will be open Oct 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31 & Nov 1, 2, and 3.  That’s nine nights to choose from.

We also have a chance for you to win tickets to this fun little gem.  Just answer the question below.  If you post the correct answer in you comment you will be entered into a random drawing for a pair of tickets.

Q.   What time does The Empty Grave open each night of operation?

A.  7PM

 shariki utundu 

Please email us at [email protected]  to claim your prize.

If the winner does not claim their prize by Friday Night at 11:59pm, another winner will be announced Saturday morning. You’ve been warned. Please check your Private Messages on MiceChat or you might miss your chance to win a visit a really fun and unique haunted experience.