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Have you been to this haunted house in Wynwood yet? It’s so scary you need a safe word

It’s Halloween all year round at the Paranoia Horror Maze in Wynwood.
It’s Halloween all year round at the Paranoia Horror Maze in Wynwood. Miami Herald Staff

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The website for Paranoia Horror Maze in Wynwood lays it out clearly for you, with a stern warning on the homepage.

“Beware! This maze is NOT for the faint of heart, rather for everyone who is curious and open minded to test their limits of fear.”

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Yes, people pay to be scared out of their minds all year round. Madeleine Marr/Miami Herald staff

Paranoia is not a Halloween pop-up. So what the hell is it?

It can be best described as part haunted house, part escape room.

“A black-out horror maze experience that tests your limits of fear at an all new level, much more intense than anything you have ever seen or experienced. “Not for the faint of heart or those with disabilities including heart issues, epilepsy, pregnancy, etc…” reads the description.

Um, not sure what “etc.” is (maybe high blood pressure?), but safe to say, if you suffer from any anxiety disorder at all, head next door to the Unicorn Factory and take pictures with a neon rainbow, disco ball or adorable plush toy.

A ghoulish mannequin dressed as Death (missing an eyeball, with rotted out teeth) guards Paranoia’s entrance.

The “lobby,” where an oddly enthusiastic man with the unfortunate name of Quiquei takes your ticket, is darkly lit with candles and a character resembling Jason Vorhees kicks back on the couch.

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He has seen better days. Madeleine Marr/Miami Herald staff

Need to wee? Spoiler alert: The bathroom will remind you of the elevator scene in the “The Shining.” There may or may not be a dead body under that blood-soaked blanket. Hurry up and wash your hands. Quique is waiting.

The door to enter the actual horror maze is unremarkable. But you can practically smell your fear before opening the curtain.

“Are you afraid of the dark?,” Quique asks.

“Yes, actually,” you answer. “Very.”

Then Quique tells you the safe word (“paranoia”), which means if you freak, he will get you out of there, stat.

Then the curtain closes behind you. Pitch black. Like when you close your eyes.

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Someone needs to call the cleaning lady, STAT! Madeleine Marr/Miami Herald staff

You think to yourself that you can handle the labyrinth for a couple of minutes. You can handle anything for a couple of minutes. Plus, you’ve been to haunted houses before (hello, Halloween Horror Nights).

A light flashes and the wall reads, “GET OUT!” in red paint. There’s a bloodcurdling scream.

The hallway is narrow, claustrophobic, terrifying, but you move ahead following a tiny red dot. Someone in the dark touches you lightly.

What’s that safe word again?

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You don’t want to live at this address. Madeleine Marr/Miami Herald staff

To get an idea of how disturbing this roughly eight minute experience is, there’s a sign on the wall showing the number of people who have not made it through since its opening in September 2017.

On the day of our visit (May 23), 2,225 souls had not completed the task.



At the exit, there are signs to take selfies. The brave souls who complete the maze get to hold the “I Survived” sign. Others not so much: “I chickened out.”

Details

  • Where: 2602 NW Fifth Ave., Miami
  • Hours: 5 p.m.–1 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Wednesday.
  • Cost: $25
  • Information: 305-833-5998; paranoiamiami.com

Leonard Hartwig, who has performed for more than 30 years in the haunted house business, explains why he keeps coming back to scare visitors at The Edge of Hell in Kansas City’s West Bottoms.

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