Heartstoppers Haunted House – Full Review

Heartstoppers Haunted House is a Haunted Attraction located in Rancho Cordova, CA.

2300 Mine Shaft Lane, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple HauntsCharity HauntHaunted Trail


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Paid Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Handicap Accessible, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, “Old-School” (Low Tech), “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction, Family Friendly

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This attraction was reviewed on October 5, 2019 by Team In-Corpse-A-Rated.

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Final Score: 8.74

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Heartstoppers Haunted House, led by director Joel Watson, has been haunting the Sacramento area in various locations since 2007. This year, they once again take residence in the Mine Shaft building at the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova. The Mine Shaft is an interesting place because decades ago, it was a family amusement center with arcade machines and outdoor miniature golf. Now, it makes a great venue for a haunted attraction, because not only is the Mine Shaft is a two-story building with outdoor space, but it also has a spacious basement. Joel Watson has made great use of this structure, as Heartstoppers plays host to four haunted houses. Upstairs is The Ward, which is an asylum themed haunt where the doctors are torturing patients. Outside is 3D Underland and Deadlands. The 3D Underland haunt, is themed after Alice In Wonderland with black lights and fluorescent paint, which requires guests to wear 3D glasses. Deadlands is an Old West town with cowboys, where zombies are attacking. In the basement is Murk, a catacomb themed blackout haunt maze where evil creatures reside. Our favorites were 3D Underland because of the great visuals, and Murk because of the psychological aspects of being in total darkness. We liked Deadlands with the costumes, set pieces, and use of air compressors. Sad to say, but we felt least satisfied with The Ward, because we wish it had more scares, but it did have some good actors. Heartstoppers also has a zombie laser tag game, however, we did not get a chance to experience it due to our schedule. For our purposes, this review will focus on the four haunts.

Cast: 8.48

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Heartstoppers had enough actors to keep the scares and entertainment consistent. We found them to be believable and convincing, as no one broke character throughout the four haunts, and the same can be said for the line actors. There were two standout victim actresses, one in The Ward being tortured and one in Murk who was warning us not to go into the dark. Several actors had memorable interactive moments in Heartstoppers. The cowboy in Deadlands shot a couple air compressor blast at us with his rifle. An actor in 3D Underland bum-rushed us at a sprinter’s pace, which made us flinch. Also, in 3D Underland was an actor in a camouflage ghillie suit who was able to hide in the dark space between the fluorescent painted scenes and startle us. We give kudos to the victim actress in Murk, because we got lost in the blackout maze, and found ourselves returning to her, where she kept in character, telling us in a panicked voice, ‘Don’t go back. Don’t go back’, which prompted us to turn around and keep going forward. The dialogue was appropriate for the various themes and characters we encountered. Nothing too clich������, but nothing really unique, either. The Queen Of Hearts in 3D Underland yelled, ‘Off with their heads,’ which is a signature quote from Alice In Wonderland. A doctor in The Ward held a knife and said, ‘I want some blood.’ In Deadlands, several actors kept referring to someone named Cyrus, as in ‘Watch out for Cyrus’. Also, in Deadlands, a ‘working girl’ at the Soiled Dove Saloon approached us, saying, ‘Hey Sugar, how about spending some time with me’. Heartstoppers does have a good variety of characters, which is a reflection of the various themes of each haunt. We did not feel like we were seeing similar or repetitive character while we traversed through each haunt.

Costuming: 8.86

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We found the costumes worn in Heartstoppers to be complete, finished, and appropriate to their respective scenes and themes. The most memorable costumes are in Deadlands, as the actors looked great in Old West gear. 3D Underground had an appropriate blue dress for Alice, a girl outfitted in a white dress with white makeup like a porcelain doll, a mermaid shimmering in the light off the side of the bridge, but the Queen Of Hearts wore mostly all black, which was a memorable standout. The actors in Murk wore black and blended in with the darkness, but the actor at the start had a nice gothic ceremonial robe and makeup of an upside-down cross branded into his forehead. The Ward had appropriate medical attire, from patients’ robes to doctors’ scrubs, but there was a homage to the Silent Hill game franchise with a patient wearing a pyramid shaped helmet, and there was a person in a black science fiction outfit that resembled the Borg from Star Trek. The various actors outside the haunts wore steam punk themed costumes. There was everything from top hats to long coats, Victorian dresses and a gas mask with hoses extensions.

Customer Service: 8.99

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Heartstoppers is very easy to find because it can be seen from Highway 50, and Mine Shaft Lane runs parallel to the highway. There is a $5.00 fee to park in their parking lot. The attraction is safe and nothing dangerous could be found. Only note to make was one handrail at the stairs of Murk was down, but it didn’t pose a tripping hazard. The staff overall was helpful, professional, friendly and willing to answer any questions. The staff were easy to find, because they all had Heartstoppers T-shirts. Security was a priority, as guests are required to walk through a metal detector upon entering the building. We did arrive early, but the doors did not open until 15 minutes after schedule. Heartstopper’s information is easy to find because they have a website and are located on various social media. The website is very nice, especially with the pictures and descriptions of their haunts.

Atmosphere: 8.75

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It was obvious from outside that we arrived at a haunted house. Heartstoppers has a huge banner on the side wall, facing the highway. The ticket booth was an Old West fa������ade. Two radio stations had promotional booth, and there was a food/beverage station and a few porta potties. The inside of the building on the first floor served as a lobby, featuring several props for photo ops, a sound effects Foley artist creating various sounds, a merchandise booth, food and beverage booth, a psychic reading booth, and artist booths. Outside of the building, there were more props for photo ops, line actors, and a singing bucky skeleton. The d������cor inside and outside did prepare us for the haunts, providing visual stimulation.

Special Effects: 8.74

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Sound effects were most prominent in Murk, where a train siren would go off at a certain part, and electrical shock sounds at another area. Visually, 3D Underland stood out with its use of fluorescent painted scenery and black lights. In that haunt, the spinning pile of books was a nice visual and the multicolored bungee cord room where we had to navigate through the cords was a unique addition. It also had a giant animatronic monster at the end. Murk’s beginning and ending featured a cavernous fa������ade, which invoked the catacomb theme, but it also had a giant animatronic spider, claustrophobia tunnel and a video projection effect of bugs crawling on the ground. Deadlands had Old West buildings which looked real, and had various animatronic effects, including a dangling man on a rope twitching, and a few air compressors blasting. The Ward had the hospital theme, with examining rooms, a morgue, and laboratories. Its front fa������ade was nice, but the rest of the d������cor was fair. It had a large animatronic device, but it didn’t operate when we walked by it, so we were disappointed at that. The special effects did help maintain our suspension of disbelief, but the only hiccup was when there was a bottleneck at The Ward. Overall, the special effects of the haunts worked together to provide scares and entertainment.

Theme: N/A

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This is tough to call, because according to Heartstoppers’ website, each of the four haunts has a loose connection to the town of Deadlands, but they don’t fit neatly in a proper era. Deadlands is 1800’s Old West, but The Ward is more modern to futuristic feel and 3D Underland is a world filled with fantasy and enchantment. Murk could have the best tie-in with Deadlands, because according to the website, Cyrus, from the town of Deadlands, dug through the catacombs looking for gold, but found evil entities. Murk doesn’t have a time period specific era, like The Ward and Deadlands does. Had we not read the website, that info would not have been obvious from just simply attending Heartstoppers. Outside of the haunts, there was a ‘steam punk’ feel to the various actors roaming the grounds, ready for great photo opportunities.

Scare Factor: 8.43

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Heartstoppers does have good scares, and the majority are from actors startling us, but this haunted attraction does make good use of scare props. Murk played on the psychologic fear of anticipation as we entered into a blackout maze. There were strings dangling from the ceiling that couldn’t be seen, but felt on our heads, which played upon previously seeing a giant animatronic spider, thus creating a spider web perception. The train siren blast and electrical sounds were good startles without actors. The few actors in Murk were dressed in black, which allowed them to blend in with the darkness and startle us. 3D Underland had an actor in a camouflage ghillie suit, who successfully startled us as he blended in with the foliage between the fluorescent d������cor. The porcelain girl was standing stationary and moving her upper body in a mechanical way. As we walked by her, we knew she was going to switch gears and startle us, but she didn’t let on as to when it would happen, so she did get us. Overall, the actors had good timing at startling us. The best finale was at 3D Underland, as the giant animatronic monster came hurling towards us from around the corner. With the 3D glasses it provided quite the scare. Deadlands had a good finale with various air compressor blasts at our legs. The Ward had an interesting ending with a female patient slamming her body against the walls like a possessed woman. Murk did not have a memorable ending, only a walkway with a catacomb d������cor similar to the beginning that led to a stairway back to the ground level.

Entertainment & Value: 9

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Overall, we were satisfied with the entertainment received in the four haunts of Heartstoppers. We wanted The Ward to offer a bit more in scares and Deadlands to be longer, but Deadlands did make up for the lack of length with good d������cor and animatronics. Excluding the main attractions, we enjoyed the photo op d������cor and visuals. The line actors would make comments in character as they walked by us. The Foley artist was good at making various sound effects, and the artist booths were interesting. The psychic reading and zombie laser tag charged extra money. The ticket price was appropriate for the entertainment received, and Heartstoppers made good use of all available space; no ‘dead zones’ to be found.

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