With this year’s Escape: Psycho Circus a mere week (and a day) away, we’re gearing up to present a revamped and frightening experience for our Headliners. Our seventh annual Halloween haunt returns louder and scarier than ever, with four stages stacked with intense lineups across two days, complete with new and captivating interactive attractions.

Building off the twisted and demented 30-room escapade from last year, the Asylum returns in 2017 with an even more polished and fully immersive theater experience planned. This year the journey comes full circle, and the illusion is never broken from start to finish. Guard stations and searchlights have been added to the outside of the Asylum to heighten anticipation while waiting in line. Once inside, Headliners will be checked in to the Asylum in the same way Stitches is in the trailer. For those daring enough to enter the Asylum, prepare to face your fears in the test to escape your worst nightmares.

We sat down and chatted with Bunny—Director of Imagination here at Insomniac, and the brains behind this haunted house from hell—about the disturbing details that went into the Asylum’s creation.

What can you tell us about the Asylum?
We’ve had a traditional haunted house [at Escape] for the last five years. It’s been cool, but it isn’t on-brand for what the festival is. Escape is based off of a horror version of Alice in Wonderland; that’s where [the original] Escape From Wonderland came from, and now it’s Escape: Psycho Circus. In the story we’ve made, the Psycho Circus [comprises] criminally insane people who have escaped the Asylum. We’re building a 30-room haunted house, and everyone who goes through it is committed to the Wonderland Asylum. You’re given your mental history, and you have to fill out release forms. You’re put into a straitjacket, you’re given your medication, and a mask is put on for your protection.

That sounds really hands-on.
It’s an immersive experience, similar to Sleep No More in New York. Haunted houses are just people jumping out at you the whole time. The Escape Asylum is based on the festival’s storyline from the trailers. Basically, you enter the world of the Hatter, and you relive the storylines from the last five years. You walk through the trailers like you’re walking through a movie. It’s basically a movie set. You can interact with the performers, and the experience is different every time you go through it. The actors aren’t doing the same thing over and over again. They have the ability to improvise; [it’s] improvisational theater in certain rooms. Depending on when you go, you’re going to get a different experience.

That sounds pretty wicked. What else?
If you make it all the way through, you get to keep the mask as a collector’s item. It says “Escape” in blood on the forehead of a matte-black, scratched-up hockey mask. If you don’t make it through the haunt, we keep the mask, and we stamp your head “Reject.” I don’t want to give away too much, but if you watch the trailers, all those scenes are in the Asylum.

I’m frightened yet intrigued.
This is not for the faint of heart. Not everybody is gonna make it through. Some people won’t even make it through putting the straitjacket on, but this is something that is special. There are 86 performers in the Asylum, which is almost as many as in the rest of the festival.

Escape: Psycho Circus 2017 takes place Friday, October 27, and Saturday, October 28, at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit the official website.

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