The worst thing about apocalyptic zombie outbreaks is that they always seem to spring up at the most inconvenient times.
Like when you're on a super important conference call, or at senior prom or even giving birth.
Just ask Paulo Moncores. He was at the happiest place on Earth when the virus struck.
More than 6,000 people shelled out between $20 and $95 for tickets to the sold out event.
"We were vacationing at Disneyland," Moncores said Saturday on a loading dock inside NRG Stadium — a buck-toothed Goofy hat on his dome, a flesh wound concaving his cheek. "It was a real bummer."
For thousands of super fans of the AMC series Walking Dead, Saturday was Z-day.
Organizers of the Walking Dead Escape brought the show's fictional apocalyptical world to life by turning the stadium into a giant zombie-laden obstacle course, giving fans of the show a chance to test their mettle as a survivor or lather up in fake blood and roam as the undead. More than 6,000 people shelled out between $20 and $95 for tickets to the sold out event, which organizers say is meant to be as close as you can get to the real deal.
The event — organized by a company called Skybound Entertainment, which is affiliated with producers of the show — was first launched in 2012 at San Diego Comic-Con and has since come to New York City and Baton Rouge. The Houston stop is part of a spring tour that includes cities across the United States.
"It's kind of like being part of a living video game," creative director Johnny Joslin said. "We have a fan base that really wants to believe this is plausible. It is our job to build an atmosphere where we plant a little seed of doubt as to whether or not they are able to differentiate between fantasy and reality."
Survivors dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged their way past the zombies in a series of obstacles meant to mimic a post-apocalyptic world.
That meant hood-hopping Oldsmobiles and crawling under cages to avoid being touched by the zombie walkers who aimed to infect survivors with a blacklight-reactive substance that coated their hands. The goal for the survivors was to make it out of the stadium and through a decontamination tent with an executioner doctor ("for the good of society you must die") unscathed.
"It's kind of like being part of a living video game. We have a fan base that really wants to believe this is plausible."
They didn't go light on theatrics. The fake blood came by the bucket load, but most of the zombies brought their own.
"Walkers were told to come creating a character," Josslin said. "Today you woke up as your character and looked out the window and something was wrong and at some point today, you died."
To maintain authenticity, the zombies had to act to act like the zombies in the show — only responding to what they can hear and smell.
That gave survivors like Wayne LaMont and Tyler Simmons a fighting chance.
Like most of the participants Saturday, the brothers are avid fans of the show.
Standing at the front of a line of fans that stretched around the parking lot Saturday afternoon, the brothers said they never miss an episode.
"Now, I'd like to see if I'm able to survive," LaMont said.