July 12, 2012 2:32pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Comic-Con 2012: Inside 'The Walking Dead' Escape Obstacle Course (Exclusive Video)
The Walking Dead has invaded Comic-Con.
Zombies have taken over San Diego's Petco Park in a massive event designed to celebrate the 100th issue of the comic book on which the AMC drama is based. The Walking Dead Escape: San Diego is an interactive obstacle course where participants can relive the early days of the zombie apocalypse as a survivor, walker or spectator.
The event, which takes place at Petco Park in conjunction with the Image/Skybound comic created by Robert Kirkman, officially opens its doors to the undead Friday night, but The Hollywood Reporter got an early, exclusive look at the completed course.
Staged by a team of nearly 600 crewmembers -- in addition to the scores of zombies expected to scare the daylights out of fans as the creatures swarm and jump from out of nowhere -- the event took six months of planning and two weeks of building preparation before the four-level course was assembled in four days.
"What we've really done is build big builds, and the first one you get to is really challenging -- it's cargo nets, and you climb up a 10-foot ladder, go up another 10-foot cargo net, come back down and then go back down a slide," Liam Brenner, producer of The Walking Dead Escape: San Diego, tells THR. "Our goal was to create the apocalypse in an urban setting, and that's where all the zombies are going to be when the world ends. Here, as you're running through the stadium, every obstacle is themed to be something that should be very urban-like and apocalyptic."
An estimated 10,000 survivors are expected to participate, with 4,000 tickets sold to those interested in joining the fray as spectators and about 650 are set to transform into walkers for the course that features 15 obstacles.
With zombies lurking under cars, in huge nets and underneath "safe" passages hung from the rafters of the home of the San Diego Padres, the smoke-filled course was designed for everyone from athletic participants up for climbing walls as well as couch potatoes and Comic-Con attendees in costumes, with special arrangements made to accommodate Klingons and the like.
"The Walking Dead Escape: San Diego is a sight to behold," Kirkman tells THR. "You'd think I'd be bored with seeing The Walking Dead come to life after watching nearly three seasons of the show come together, but seeing this obstacle course for the first time really blew me away. In this version of The Walking Dead, the fans can actually experience it first hand."
Tickets run $75 for survivors, with spectators admitted for $15. The first 10,000 survivors receive a special edition variant cover of the 100th issue of the comic book, with Walking Dead special effects supervisor/co-executive producer Greg Nicotero and 15 artists on hand to transform participants as walkers into zombies worthy of the AMC series.
The kicker for the whole event -- which could take participants anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to complete -- will be finding out if you survive the apocalypse. With special material on the hands of the hundreds of zombies, a blue light at the end of the course will determine if you've been infected. Special treats -- bullet holes for the dead! -- await Escape-goers upon completion.
For more information or to buy tickets, go to The Walking Dead Escape's website. Check out the exclusive look inside the course, above, and imagine hundreds of zombies lurking in the dark San Diego night. Check back later for a full tour of the course and more insight from Brenner.
Bookmark THR's The Live Feed blog for more Comic-Con coverage this week, including Friday's Walking Dead panel with the cast and creators.