By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by Joe Lumaya/Ventura County Star

Reign of Terror provides scares while supporting community

October 11, 2014

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Six themes designed around a certain scare, from claustrophobia in a mine shaft to bloody gore in a hunter’s shed, welcome haunted house-goers this Halloween to the Reign of Terror at the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks.

“What makes a haunted house successful is taking you out of the real world and putting you in a situation where you forget you’re in the real world,” said Bruce Stanton, of Thousand Oaks, creator of the Reign of Terror.

This year’s Reign of Terror features 70 rooms, compared to 60 last year. It is a walk-through haunted house with elaborate sets, props, lighting and sound that combine live actors with animatronics to create realistic and intense frights.

“What we offer that you can’t get at Universal, Knott’s Scary Farm or the Queen Mary is letting you inside in small groups so you have that intimate scare experience,” Stanton said.

Another unique aspect is that proceeds from Reign of Terror benefit the Conejo Recreation and Park District, which donates the money to the Thousand Oaks Teen Center and Young Artists Ensemble programs including Conejo Theatre for Everyone, an effort that showcases children with special needs.

“Janss Marketplace is providing the physical space for Bruce at no charge, and he leaves the haunted house up year-round,” said Brenda Coleman, recreation services manager for the Conejo Recreation and Park District.

With most haunted houses, “they erect them, conduct them and break them down and rebuild the next year. So you can imagine after multiple years, Bruce gets to grow it throughout the whole year.”

Coleman said the space donation from Janss Marketplace is a “huge blessing.”

The shopping center has donated the Reign of Terror space for five years, a value of $1.5 million, said Heather Danko, Janss Marketplace marketing director.

“In addition, we’ve donated an additional $58,000 to the Conejo Recreation and Park District,” Danko said.

The marketing focus at Janss Marketplace is to build relationships with neighbors in the Conejo Valley, Danko said.

“Rather than spend most of our marketing budget on commercial programs, we prefer developing events to help schools and community groups, such as the Conejo Recreation and Park District,” Danko said.

Reign of Terror is one of the top 10 ranked Haunted Houses in the U.S., Danko said.

“This allows people from throughout Southern California to drive to Thousand Oaks for this really scary experience and know their attendance cost is helping local youth,” Danko said.

The Reign of Terror initially began in Stanton’s home more than a decade ago.

“I just did it for fun because of my love for Halloween as a kid,” he said. “We got about 40 kids the first year.”

A few years later, 4,400 guests came through with associated traffic.

“The city paired up with me and said, ‘We love what you’re doing, but you can’t do it anymore in your home,’ ” Stanton said.

Janss Marketplace in 2009 donated a space in a shoe store that was about 8,000 square feet. It offered the current location, which spans 25,000 square feet, in 2010.

“The Reign of Terror is something you need to see,” Stanton said of the highly sophisticated theatrical production. “People can’t comprehend what we’re doing unless they see for themselves.”

Reign of Terror is open Fridays, Oct. 17 and 24 from 7-10 p.m. and Oct. 31 from 7 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, Oct. 11, 18 and 25, and Nov. 1 from 7 to 11 p.m.; and Oct. 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. General admission is $17, with VIP admission tickets available at the box office only. The $25 VIP ticket adds front-of-line access, and the $35 VIP ticket includes front-of-line access plus an “I Survived the Reign of Terror” T-shirt.

There will be two afternoon illuminated Reign of Terror Haunted House experiences for younger children on Oct. 19 and 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 per child with free admission for adults accompanying children.

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