Rotten Apple 907
With the onslaught of high-profile and big budget Halloween attractions, it’s refreshing to know that there are still local, homemade haunted houses. Created with hard work and passion at a family’s actual residence, these often feel more personal than the big corporate haunts. Starting in 1990 as a child’s birthday party, Rotten Apple has grown over the years to be a destination attraction in the San Fernando Valley.
Making it even easier to root for this Halloween house is the fact that they do not charge admission. That’s right–it’s totally free. Instead, the family asks for donations, and they donate 100% of the donations to a selected local charity. They don’t even take a share to pay for their expenses; it ALL goes to charity and stays in the community.
Every year a different theme is chosen, and this year it’s “The Portal.” A coven of witches has opened a portal to hell, and your experience traces the ritual process, starting in an almost old-fashioned witch’s hut in the woods, observing as they perform their ceremony, and then descending into the underworld itself. One of the hallmarks of Rotten Apple is that they have little to no gore, instead relying on their extraordinarily high quality sets and props. Many of them are sculpted or crafted themselves. Others are repurposed. Since the entire thing is built in their front yard, they need many walls to create the various scenes and rooms. Many of these rooms are salvaged from TV sets when the studio no longer wants them. As an amusing anecdote, the owner told me that this year’s theme was decided on when they had such trouble earlier in the year. Their storage of all the Halloween materials was caught up in a flood and buried in water and mud. Compounding that, they were a little lighter on helpers this year, unfortunate since this is when they were needed most. At one point, they jokingly said that since they were going through hell in order to save Rotten Apple, that they should just make it this year’s theme. So they did!
This year, the charity benefiting from Rotten Apple is one that has personal significance to me. The charity is the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelters. I volunteered with this group for two years, and they are a great organization, with truly dedicated leaders. Their mission to is to get abandoned animals adopted into loving homes and keep them happy and comfortable during their (hopefully brief) stay at the shelter. The donations from Rotten Apple are a huge boon to the group, and you can meet several of the volunteers helping out on each night of the haunt.
I am pleased to report that this homegrown effort, made by friends and family, is a wonderful success. Going through in small groups of 6 really allows you to check out the amazing artistry. Not to mention the ghouls inside will be more likely to scare you! This walk-through is not just about the amazing sets. There are people inside that will try to get you, usually of the jump scare variety, but not always. My friend (who was repeatedly shrieking with fear and glee) reported that one of the scare actors followed her for a bit, whispering ominous things to her. I thought that sounded like a fun touch. I would say that overall, it’s a family friendly experience, but I don’t want that to sound like a euphemism for “tame.” It’s not toothless, but the lack of gore does make it more approachable to younger kids…and to me! I’ve never been a big fan of gore anyway. There are scary parts though, and it’s dark with spooky lighting and of course, the actors inside. It should be up to parents if their kids can handle it, but from a content point of view, it’s definitely not R-rated.
Things to Know
Rotten Apple 907 is only open for 4 more nights. October 22, 28, 29, and 31 from 7pm to 10 pm. Be aware, the event is so popular that there is often a line of about an hour that stretches down the block. I recommend getting there before 7:00 to minimize the line…or just go with friends and chat while you’re in line. The experience only takes a few minutes to walk through, and by far the only drawback (if it can be called that), is that it was so fun that I immediately wanted to walk through again when I was done. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to wait in the line for a 2nd time.
I encourage everyone who’s considering checking our Rotten Apple to do so. It’s a great experience, hosted by a talented and generous family, with donations all going to support a local charity. Their website is here. The Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter have their own website here where you can learn more about them, apply to be a volunteer, and donate to them even if you can’t make it to the haunted house.
And for those that made it this far, you may be wondering what the 907 means. It’s their address! 907 N. California St. in Burbank. See you there!