A zombie infestation has broken out beyond the halls of the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con at nearby Petco Park and horror fans are invited to see if they can survive it. The experience is called The Walking Dead Escape, named for the popular comic book (and subsequent AMC TV series) “The Walking Dead.” In celebration of the comic’s 100th issue, participants can immerse themselves in what’s both an exhaustive and exhausting adventure that puts survival skills to the test.
The Walking Dead Escape not only requires a love for all things zombie, but also the stamina to make it through a grueling obstacle course while avoiding each walker’s touch and infection. Much like a real zombie apocalypse might be, this course is no easy task. Those who take on the challenge can expect commotion, panic, and startles. Moreover, survivors are expected to run, climb, slide, jump, dodge, duck, crawl nearly non-stop for at least 20-30 minutes. It may sound like a lot to expect out of paying participants - and it is - but as soon as the first zombie breaks loose and begins its hunt, survival instincts kick in and there’s no looking back.
See for yourself in the videos below, one offering quick highlights and the other showing the the entire experience, with running commentary by me during lulls in the action. (Please pardon the bad acting.)
Video: The Walking Dead Escape overview at San Diego Comic-Con 2012
Video: FULL The Walking Dead Escape experience at San Diego Comic-Con
UPDATE (8/7/12): The folks behind The Walking Dead Escape have uploaded the full news reel loop that was playing on Petco Park monitors throughout the experience:
The story of The Walking Dead Escape begins as Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, has been overrun by infection. FEMA has stepped in to evacuate the premises, but won’t admit to a zombie infestation. Government control is anything but when walkers are involved, a lesson quickly learned within the first couple minutes of entering the experience.
Participants are guided along a linear path through the walkways surrounding the Petco Park field, up and down stairs, around corners, over barricades, under tables, and through doorways, never knowing what to expect next - other than more zombies, of course. A rapid pace is encouraged by those working there, playing into the story that everyone must evacuate as quickly as possible without being touched.
Much like in “The Walking Dead,” some zombies are slow and stupid, doing little beyond standing and staring. But others are faster on their rotting feet, quick to reach out with a bloody hand putting each and every participant at risk. It requires a constant awareness of surroundings, plenty of physical stamina, and even a bit of teamwork with strangers to make it through unscathed. And in the end, FEMA is the judge of whether each survivor can escape alive or must be quarantined - or worse.
Anyone familiar with haunted attractions around Halloween time might think they know what to expect from The Walking Dead Escape, but this is no ordinary haunt. It’s a strenuous activity that doesn’t have the goal of scaring, but instead creating a realistic experience as though the zombie apocalypse is really at hand. And when the adrenaline rush kicks in, it feels real. This is an entirely unique experience, not only because of its structure and story, but its impressive setting at Petco Park, where the massive stadium and surrounding urban sprawl offer an immersive experience like no haunted house can.
Those who buy a ticket should expect to encounter heavy physical stress on the body and be prepared to get messy. Clothes can and likely will get smeared with blood (fake, naturally) and may be ruined. And a minor injury or two is entirely possible. I left with a big rip in my shorts and a scraped, bloody (real) toe as a result of my shoe getting caught in and falling off of one climbing obstacle. The Walking Dead Escape is not for the meek.
Simply spectating is an option if all it all sounds too difficult. The viewing locations are on the fifth floor of Petco Park and offer a variety of entertaining portions of the course to watch survivors attempt to avoid zombies. Sights seen from the spectator area are shown in the photos below.
Those who decide to participate and make it through the course are rewarded with an exclusive special edition of “The Walking Dead” issue #100, while supplies last.
The Walking Dead Escape is a must-do experience for any horror fan, offering the most exhilarating and realistic portrayal of events that normally only unfold on a screen or in a comic book. But it’s only around for a limited time, continuing throughout the duration of San Diego Comic-Con, July 13-15, 2012.
More information and ticket prices can be found at TheWalkingDeadEscape.com.