Fear Overload Scream Park
15555 East 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94578View All Details
Restrooms On-Site, Handicap Accessible, Food/Concessions, “Old-School” (Low Tech), You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Indoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction
Team In-Corpse-A-Rated reviewed this attraction on October 29, 2016.
Final Score: 8.53
When shopping at the Bay Fair Center in San Leandro, you will stumble upon something atypical for a shopping mall while searching for Macy’s and Foot Locker…the Fear Overload Scream Park. You won’t see any hi-tech animatronics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any scares lurking inside. Fear Overload offers two haunts: Insanitarium and the Grimm Fairy Tale Killer. Both haunts feature high energy actors performing in a high decibel soundtrack environment. It feels like attending a rock concert when we first get there. The intensity of Fear Overload is way off the charts. You can also say Political Correctness is not a priority here, because there are “Creepy Clowns” engaging with the guests in line, and Insanitarium is a “mental health asylum” theme. Despite the pressure certain interest groups have push on the haunt industry, Fear Overload sticks to its guns and moves ahead with its plans.
The actors of both haunts are believable, enthusiastic and intense. In Grimm Fairy Tale Killer, there’s an actor climbing the walls, using his hands and feet to straddle the hallway like American Ninja Warrior, and we had to walk under him. Once we passed him and turned the corner, he climbed over the wall and landed in front of us for a second startle. That guy certainly was an athlete! The actress at the start of Grimm engaged us in conversation. She told us to stay with her forever, so I asked what we will do if we stay. Her answer was, “You’ll die!” I have to give her kudos for staying in character. Most of the actors would startle us from behind corners, but a few banged walls with either props or their fists. A few actors crawled out after us from small openings at floor level, but crawlers never really scare us. At the end of Grimm, an actress startled us from a drop wall, and she timed it perfectly. Insanitarium had mental patients startling us from behind corners. They too, would bang props or their fists against the walls. Insanitarium’s actors didn’t talk to us; some would scream at us or stare at us with crazed looks. Fear Overload had plenty of actors in both haunts, and there weren’t any “dead spots” to be found.
The actors of Fear Overload were well dressed. Outside of the two haunts were two actors interacting with the crowd, wearing creepy clown makeup and wigs, but dressed in bad-ass biker gear. One of them was even revving his chainsaw at the crowd. They both had an intimidating presence. Insanitarium is an asylum haunt, so actors were dressed in patient clothing, and some in medical white scrubs. Most had blood splattered on them, and some even held dismembered body parts. Grimm Fairy Tale Killer was a much more open-ended, free-form interpretation of theme. The girl at the start wore a red dress and ghoulish grey makeup. Some actors wore masks and jumpsuits, like the wall-climber. A crawler wore a brown robe, like a Star Wars Ja-wa. There was an actor dressed in all black spandex who lunged at us from the shadows. The costumes of Insanitarium worked with the theme perfectly. The wardrobe of Grimm Fairy Tale Killer was good; they weren’t simple street clothes, but I did struggle to see how the costumes worked in a fairy tale theme.
Customer Service: 9.25
We found Fear Overload to be safe of hazards, and plenty of clearly marked exit signs. It’s located at the Bay Fair Center shopping mall, and upon driving into the property, there are various small sidewalk signs posted at various spots, saying “Haunted House” with an arrow pointing the way. The actual building does have a banner hanging above the doorway with the “Fear Overload” name and logo. Parking is free, but we happened to get there on a busy night. The haunt shares its parking lot with a movie theater so there weren’t many spaces available. When we entered the doorway, the ticket booth was easy to find. While waiting in line, the sound system had heavy metal music cranked up. It wasn’t deafening, but they had the place rocking! You might think we were at Ozz-Fest instead of a haunted attraction. The two creepy clown actors interacted with guests waiting in line. There was a booth where an employee was handing out free Monster Energy Drinks. The staff was very friendly and we got to talk to General Manager Cory Barrios for a short time… who was awesome in our book! Fear Overload has restrooms, a concession stand at the ticket booth and several set pieces for photo opportunities.
The outside of the building only offers the large banner to identify Fear Overload. Other than that, the outside is a typical mall parking lot. Inside is where the atmosphere comes alive. The metal music blasting gives intensity to the mood. There is a long mural of horror scenes painted against the wall, about 40 feet long. We saw a stage with caskets and headstones, and various scenic pieces for photos, and of course those biker clowns. The atmosphere sets the tone for a high energy haunt experience.
Special Effects: 8.25
Audio is a major component of Fear Overload. The decibels were cranking in the two haunts, equal to waiting area. Instead of metal music, each of the two haunts had a creepy soundtrack playing at high volume. The soundtracks certainly added to the intense environment. The scenes are well detailed. The walls are realistic, aged, and gritty and some are straight up gross. If there is a critique here, it’s that Fear Overload has used the same walls and same floor plan for a few years now. They will touch up what they need to adapt to whatever theme they are using, but there is that sense of déjà-vu, that feeling you’ve been here before. Insanitarium has blood splattered walls, multiple mutilated bodies, even body bags dangling from the ceiling, but there is still that same restroom with all of the stalls, and there is still that security room with the picture tube viewing monitor. Grimm Fairy Tale Killer still has that living room at the start, followed by the room with open windows with fishing nets. This year, Grimm added the names of different fairy tale characters in each room written in blood. The first room had Hansel, other rooms had Ugly Duckling, Snow White, Rapunzel, Pinocchio, among others. One interesting approach to lighting was in Insanitarium; every group was issued a flashlight. The haunt was very dim, so you needed the flashlight to find your way through. Grimm only had standard lighting.
The overall theme of Fear Overload is an intense and scary theme park. Each of the two haunts had an individual theme. Insanitarium is an asylum haunt where the criminally insane inmates have taken over. Its theme is well executed throughout the entire haunt. We had trouble with the theme of Grimm Fairy Tale Killer. We didn’t see how it related to the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Each room had the name of a fairy tale character written in blood, but we didn’t see how each character’s name tied in with the corresponding room. When I think of fairy tales, I think of renaissance clothing, but the actors weren’t dressed that way. The décor was modern, not middle ages. Perhaps they are referencing the TV show “Once Upon A Time” in some capacity, but we never watch it. The asylum theme of Insanitarium is a commonly used theme among professional haunts. The fairy tale those of Grimm are relatively new to Northern California. Fear Overload deserves some kudos for using an untapped theme, but it just so happens there is another haunt using the fairy tale theme this year, as well.
Fright Effect: 8.5
There were consistent scares throughout both haunts. Most of them came from startles from behind corners. The end of Grimm Fairy Tale Killer had an actress startle us from behind a drop wall, and she was very effective. The loud soundtrack and gritty walls had an unnerving effect that opened us up to scares. Overall, most of the scares did catch us off-guard. I did spot the actor in all black spandex, so that scare was a miss. The crawling actors just don’t affect it much at all. Several actors banged the walls with either props or their hands. A few also threatened us. We found Fear Overload to be one of the more effective haunts in the scaring department.
The General Admission price of Fear Overload is $25. It took us about 16 minutes to walk through both haunts, so we figure the entertainment value is worth 64 cents a minute. We feel that is below average. From what we can see, Fear Overload uses all available space and there are no dead spots. Fear Overload may be expensive for the value, but the actor’s scares do make up for it.