A Los Angeles based haunted house opens in El Paso for the first time
Nothing sets the “spooky season” like the opening of haunted houses across El Paso. From the Eastside to the Westside, El Paso offers numerous attractions, with various themes. However, this is the first year that a Los Angeles production haunted house has introduced itself to the city of El Paso.
“The Asylum of El Paso,” owned by Danny Vasquez, is a new haunted house located at the Outlet Shoppes at El Paso, building G-700. Vasquez is the owner of the production company that is based in Los Angeles, California. He has been running this company for “about 20 years.”
El Paso was chosen as an attraction site for this haunted house after a visit made by Vasquez. He shared that there was no specific reason for choosing El Paso, and that he thought about what there was to do around town before deciding on to put the haunted house here.
The haunted house officially opened its doors for business on September 10, 2021, and plans to stay open until November 6, 2021.
“We’ll be here a week after Halloween, just to make sure those who weren’t able to make it on the big day,” Vasquez said.
According to their website, the hours of operation for The Asylum of El Paso are:
Monday-Thursday: 11a.m. to 8p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10a.m. to 8p.m.
Sunday: 10a.m. to 7p.m.
“It’s usually after 5 that’s the busiest,” Vasquez said. “We’ll be extending our hours as we get closer to Halloween.”
The Asylum of El Paso is not doing much advertising but receives publicity from press releases. “The word is getting out,” Vasquez said. “Media picks it up and they put it out there for us.”
As far as COVID-19, The Asylum of El Paso is following guidelines, but not requiring guests to wear masks.
“We’re asking people to adhere to those guideline,” Vasquez said. “If they don’t there isn’t really anything I can do to make anybody do that. At this point with COVID, everyone knows the risks involved.”
According to Vasquez, these risks are mentioned on their website when you purchase tickets.
“On our website when you purchase those tickets, you also understand that that’s a possibility,” Vasquez said. “If you come in and you’re interacting with other people or waiting in line in a crowd, that’s just something that’s out there.”
Tickets are $25 for General Admission, $30 for General + Fast Pass, $35 for General VIP, and $45 for General Platinum.
“The most expensive package gets you a picture with the cast and multiple entries,” Vasquez said.
Tickets can be bought online, as well as at the door. As far as the Los Angeles productions, tickets prices are a “little different.”
“The productions we put on are usually for our clientele,” Vasquez said. “It’s a different market, so it’s hard to compare.”
The Asylum of El Paso does not wish to compete with other local haunted houses.
“To each their own and more power to them,” Vasquez said. “What we bring is a little different than what’s already here.”
All actors were required to audition to be a part of this production. They all have to have experience, whether with “theater or taking acting classes.” Though Vasquez has had people offer, he said that he “wouldn’t feel good” having anyone volunteer.
“Everyone has a paying job here, from an acting position to a staff position.” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said that he has “at least a dozen, maybe more” actors for the haunted house.
“I start everybody at $15 an hour.”
Vasquez adds that running a haunted house is not at all stressful, but fun.
“It’s not really work,” Vasquez said. “You get paid to scare people.”
The actors are required to show up at least an hour before the doors open to get into wardrobe and makeup.
“Some actors do their makeup at home,” Vasquez said. “Some of them come already dressed up because they’re really into it.”
The El Paso Police Department, as well as the mall security, is scheduled to be present during the hours of operation for the haunted house. They are there to handle any people that may get violent with the actors or out of hand when going through the haunted house.
“We’ll remove them right away,” Vasquez said. “In house, when we have our groups go through, we’ll have a personal escort in the back that trails them.”
Security is also there to make sure that people do not mess with the props, set design, or touch any of the actors.
Vasquez shared that there is only “so many themes you can do,” in terms of the haunted house.
“There wasn’t any inspiration,” Vasquez said. “We usually go with an idea and run with it. There is no plan.”
With the asylum theme, Vasquez and his team was able to introduce new characters and actors, as well as set designs.
Vasquez shared that thanks to security, they “never” have to worry about damaged props which makes the cleanup process easy. In fact, they do not clean up hardly at all.
“We don’t really care too much for clean up,” Vasquez said. “The dirtier, the messier, the more chaotic it looks, the more organic it is.”
He adds that the element of trash on the ground is what adds to the haunted house and makes it look “better.”
Vasquez said that even though it may be “kind of nasty,” he and his team collect the dead black beetles they find around the building as part of the haunted house.
“We put them in a hallway for people to walk over,” Vasquez said. “When they walk in the attraction, they’re crunching on dead beetles.”
Having the haunted house at The Outlet Shoppes of El Paso seems to be working out well for The Asylum of El Paso.
“The mall just happened to be a really good spot,” Vasquez said. “The mall was really eager to have us on board.”
Working with his clientele in Los Angeles is “easy,” according to Vasquez because it is like working with “family.” He adds that it is not really considered work to him, and that on occasion he will hang out and talk with these celebrities.
By Brianne Williams