Have you ever watched a zombie movie or TV show and thought to yourself, “No way do I ever get infected or become zombie food like these whiny dolts. I could totally kick some zombie ass!”? Well, the creators behind The Walking Dead comic book provided attendees of Comic-Con 2012 the opportunity to put their zombie survival skills to the test.
The San Diego Padres stadium, Petco Park, was turned into zombie-infested nightmare, complete with hordes of wandering undead attempting to feast upon your entrails. There were three ways attendees could participate in this event – as a spectator, a survivor, or a blood-thirsty zombie.
So I, along with my Screen Rant co-worker Anthony Ocasio, decided to lace up our running shoes and swallow our fear in an effort to bring this experience to our readers who weren’t able to make the trip to San Diego.
Was I able to make it out uninfected? Read on to find out. (Note: Anthony wussed out after signing the liability waiver and watched from the spectator’s area. You may heckle him on Twitter – @AnthonyOcasio.)
Check out this video of my epic ‘Walking Dead Escape’ experience below, then read on for the full account of my journey through the Zompocalypse:
STAGE ONE – INITATION
Before the we start fleeing for our lives, the
fresh meat survivors were told that in order to survive the nearly mile-long course, it would be in our best interests to group up. I took a moment to look over my options:
- A guy in dress slacks and loafers – Will be dead by turn one.
- A couple of power-walking 50-year-old moms in yoga pants – Worm food before the halfway point.
- Two 13-year-old kids in skater shorts – Too short to survive the course.
- A group of teenage girls who wouldn’t stop squealing every time a zombie growled at them from behind a fence – Good chance they die before the start.
- A couple dressed as Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw and Iron Fist – Now we’re talking.
- A nice guy name Aaron who walked up to me and said he was a fan of our site – Screen Rant, we love our fans.
I think it’s fairly obvious who my choices should’ve been. So Juliet Starling, Iron Fist, Aaron and myself formed a group determined to make it through the course alive.
As the FEMA guide took us around the corner to start the course (which they claim isn’t a race, but this is America – we make everything a race!) we saw soldiers using neck chains to transport zombies to a holding pen. As we gathered near the start point, the zombies overtook the soldiers then turned their attention to us. The FEMA guide screamed into a megaphone, “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! GO! GO! GO!”
The ensuing scene was reminiscent of a sale at Macy’s on the day after Thanksgiving, as a couple dozen survivors pushed their way through a tiny opening in the fence. I know for sure the women in yoga pants were infected by the pursuing Walkers after taking a faceplant just a few feet into the course – faceplants that I may or may not have caused.
At this stage, the obstacle was quite simple: climb up a wooden 10-foot ladder, then go down a slide while trying to avoid the two mindless zombies at the bottom. Sounds easy enough, but the zombies still managed to infect a handful of people. After dodging several more zombies in a twisting path, we made it to the first set of stairs in the course . Much like Po in Kung Fu Panda, I don’t do stairs.
STAGE TWO – FEMA RESUPPLY DEPOT
We headed up what felt like 700 stairs just to be told that we had to go back down a different set of 700 stairs. Apparently, electricity stops working during a zombie infestation and we weren’t allowed to use the escalators. It was at this stage I immediately regretted not properly hydrating myself before starting the course, as I had a severe case of dry-mouth and a splitting ache in my side.
The second obstacle we encountered had us climbing a cargo net, up 10 feet then back down 10 feet, but no zombies were lurking at the bottom to ensnare us this time. That’s because there were MORE stairs around the corner – and honestly, those were scarier than any of the zombies we encountered.
STAGE THREE – HERD HIGHWAY
Finally we hit a long stretch of open territory, where zombies peppered the course every few yards. The large number of zombies – combined with a lack of places to hide or avoid them – had survivors dropping left and right. Not my group, though. We managed to make it through stage three unscathed – or so we thought.
It was during the second part of a two-stage obstacle (where we had to crawl through tunnels while zombies lunged at us) that we lost the mighty Iron Fist. There was no time to mourn our fallen comrade, though, as there were still zombies to avoid – and the hardest part of the course lay ahead of us: yup, more stairs.
STAGE FOUR – ZOMBIE INFESTATION
By this point, fatigue had set in and my out-of-shape blogger body was struggling to maintain the pace Aaron and Juliet were setting. I had given in to simply walking past the zombies while performing a lackluster, but effective, “spin move” to avoid their deadly infections.
However, as we rounded the corner we were greeted by hundreds of spectators and I dug deep to find my second wind, determined to give the people a show. While most survivors were content to avoid the zombies using partitions strategically placed on the course, I decided it was time to face those Walkers head on.
With pep in my step and a war cry in my throat, I made a beeline for a female zombie. Just as she reached for me, I gave her the ol’ hand-to-the-face stiff arm, striking – what Anthony described as – ‘a zombie Heisman pose.’ The crowd cheered enthusiastically and I confronted every zombie in that area with the same vigor – tossing trash cans and barrels to the side in an attempt to cut off the zombie’s paths.
Another two-stage obstacle lay before us, claiming the life of Juliet; but Aaron and I breezed through with no problem. Our group had dwindled to two, and I had my doubts about whether I could make it across the rope bridge while still avoiding the flesh-craving zombies. After a Mexican standoff with a zombie that lasted about a minute, I thought all hope was lost. Fortunately
bait a 13-year-old survivor boy drew his attention away long enough for me to slip by and join Aaron on the other side.
STAGE FIVE – EVACUATION ZONE
There was just a little bit left to go and we would be home free, but first we had to avoid one last zombie confrontation. There were two of us and four zombies, so Aaron and I took the divide and conquer approach. He went one way. I went the other. It was working fine until Aaron got trapped in a corner. Poor Aaron. He was such a good partner, but during the zombie apocalypse, it’s every man for himself.
There was no obstacle to conquer in this stage, but rather we were sent through a decontamination tent where FEMA agents in hazmat suits inspected us for any signs of infection using black lights. If you were infected, then they gave you a “cure” in the form of a temporary tattoo to wear. I received no such tattoo because – unlike Anthony Ocasio’s trip to Tijuana during Spring Break 2005 – I made it through with no infection!
Overall, The Walking Dead Escape was a unique experience that, while a tad expensive ($75 to be a Survivor/$90 to be a Zombie/ $15 to be a Spectator), is a lot of fun and I’d recommend you check it out if you go to Comic-Con 2013. Hopefully next year we can get more of the Screen Rant crew to do this as a group – like a team-building exercise, except, you know, some team members get eaten.
Follow me on Twitter @MoviePaul and tell me how YOU would survive the zombie apocalypse.