Comic-Con 2014: Inside The Walking Dead Escape at Petco Park

The Walking Dead Escape at Petco Park Comic-Con 2014

Many people, including myself, claim that they could survive the zombie apocalypse if it came down to it. So what better way to prove my survival skills than in The Walking Dead Escape during Comic-Con. This undead filled course was filled to the brim with walkers at every turn. Learn how I survived after the break.

As I type this, if it wasn’t obvious enough, I lived to tell this tale. It is filled with anxiety, sweat, laughter, and excitement. At first I was a little anxious because I would be taking my DSLR into the course to get first hand pictures of the experience. Based on the gallery and past courses, I thought there would be climbing elements. Apparently they got rid of that as it was a straight run/walk through Petco Park.

Before I entered the danger zone, attendees were greeted with a military officer with a megaphone helping survivors, the undead, and friends/family (spectators) find where they needed to be. This actor had his lines down because he had to have repeated them a dozen times within a 15-20 minute time frame. And he wasn’t delivering it as just a person, the guy was all into it for the show. And so were all the other brilliant actors who participated as other military personnel, city officials, and survivors within the zombie realm.

Once we began we were greeted with various actors that amped the energy of the crowd I was in. They wanted to remind us to enjoy this one of a kind adventure, but take the undead seriously. The Walking Dead Escape is not a timed run, just an experience that you should briskly run through so that it doesn’t get congested while another group makes their way in. The organization of channeling us survivors along the course was done rather well.

So we made it in, a military official is debriefing us on the situation, but then the undead started pooring in from behind us. The gates flew open and blind chaos greeted us. There was debris, cars, and other obstacles we had to maneuver around while avoiding the dead. (It must be said that the zombies and survivors are not allowed to hit or interact with each other physically – these are real people here – or else they would get ejected. It’s not like flag football where if they catch you and you’re out, the zombies are just there to get in the way, groan, and slightly nudge you.)

Once we got past the first wave of zombies, the real fun began. Like any professional baseball stadium, Petco Park is ginormous. We started on the ground level and we worked our way up stairs and ramps all the way to the top of the park. Zombies littered the ramps as we tried to ascend the stadium. This was the most exhausting part of the course, but it was fun nonetheless. I’ve never been inside Petco Park before, so this was quite the introduction.

As we made our way up to the top of Petco Park, alongside the zombies were actors who either pretending to be dying, bitten, portraying medical personnel, or civilians who lost loved ones or waiting out the apocalypse. (One fellow in a green shirt who was in my group thought it would be hilarious to take a selfie with every zombie, and it was. You can see him pictured below.) With every new area we encountered, the more authentic it became. The little details among the actors, props, and decor were great. And big recognition should go to the zombie make-up appliers who simply nailed it. I asked one couple who participated that the process only took a matter of minutes.

Because The Walking Dead Escape had participants running throughout a giant stadium, there were a handful of moments for some to catch their breath, and even some water and bathroom breaks. The course is easy enough for anyone regardless of their age or weight – you just have to understand that it is physical activity with a lot of ramps and stairs. Athletic clothing isn’t necessary, but if you don’t want to briskly glide/run in jeans or nice shoes, I would suggest sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt. One guy did have on dress clothes which baffled me.

Toward the end, I’m not too sure exactly if it was intentional or not, but before you reached the final check point there was an area that looped in a circle. If this one gate was missed to go on to the next area, I could see participants running in circles for quite some time. There was one actor waving people on, but you could honestly miss them if you weren’t looking in the right spot.

I’d have to say the full course itself took at least 25-30 minutes to walk/run and see everything there is to see and interact with. And when its all said and done there is a little fan appreciation zone for picture opportunities, food and drinks, and more. There were even some kids who paid to be zombies break dancing to the music. I don’t think they were part of the festivities because the security guards made us dissolve the dance circle as it was blocking the exit. It would definitely be cool to see them back next year as part of the celebration.

When we exited the course all attendees also received the first issue of The Walking Dead comic as well as a digital download code for The Walking Dead: Season 2 by Telltale Games for Xbox 360. Not a bad deal.

The Walking Dead Escape is a really fun time. I can see the price as a bit of a deterrent, but you could justify it by looking at the prices of fun runs or just the fact that it is Comic-Con. The price for the comic and the video game alone makes up for half the cost of being a survivor. I asked a few people who participated, walkers and survivors, and they all agreed that it was worth the price of admission.

Since this experiential obstacle course debuted at Comic-Con in 2012, they have expanded the experience across the country. Miami, Florida is next on their tour on Saturday, October 25th at the Sun Life Stadium. And then dates for Tampa, Jacksonville, and New Orleans have yet to be determined.

(Click on any of the images below to enlarge)

Thanks to The Walking Dead Escape team for giving me the opportunity to check this fun experience out!

San Diego Comic-Con 2014

You can follow me on the Twitter at @TyRawrrnosaurus

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