Halloween attractions continue to hold a power position in Denver’s rapidly mutating, nationally renowned immersive-art and entertainment scene. Namely: They were here first.
Whether or not you like them, haunted houses, corn mazes and their carnival equivalent (funhouses) already cornered the market on interactive, 360-degree entertainment decades before the immersive trend began. Is it not artistic to be plunged into dark corridors populated by jump-scare zombies? To lose your wits on a bumpy hayride? Maybe not. But it’s fun.
In honor of Halloween, here are five of the biggest metro-area haunted houses and attractions that will make you forget about the world outside, however traumatically. The selection of larger names is a bit thinner this year, following the absence of mainstays such as Parker’s Fright Acres, Henderson’s City of the Dead, and Denver’s Undead: Abominations.
What remains, at least, is suitably demented. (Coffin Simulator Ride, anyone?). And don’t forget about other family operations, such as Littleton’s historic Reinke Brothers (reinkebrothers.com, open now) or Fritzler’s Scream Acres (fritzlerscreamacres.com, opening Friday, Sept. 23).
See more fall and Halloween events at denverpost.com/things-to-do.
The Frightmare Compound
Westminster’s Frightmare Compound is one of the region’s largest and oldest haunted houses, having debuted more than 38 years ago. Despite advertising “something for the whole family,” Frightmare warns that kids 12 and under may find it too scary. That’s not hard to believe, given the attendant Monster Museum, mini-escape rooms and Coffin Simulator Ride, the last of which allows customers to experience what it would be like to get buried alive, according to the website.
“Imagine hearing the whimpers of your loved ones as they tell their last goodbyes at your funeral in Denver. Envision piles of dirt falling on your coffin surrounding your body with no escape. With our coffin simulator, you no longer have to imagine,” they write. Now that’s entertainment! Open now through Oct. 31 at 10798 Yukon St. in Westminster. Tickets: $30-$60. 303-467-2273 or thefrightmarecompound.com
The 13th Floor Haunted House
This year’s bloody bumper crop looks a little more immersive than past events. The thrills include Primal Fear (sasquatch/Bigfoot-themed), Midnight Mania (college slasher) and All Hallows Eve (supernatural/ghostly horrors); drinks at its on-site Shriekeasy patio bar; axe-throwing at Class Axe; mini-escape games; the Sensory Overload experience (which takes place in complete blackness); and VIP amenities. Phew. Open now through Nov. 12 at 3400 E. 52nd Ave. Tickets: $20-$35. 13thfloorhauntedhouse.com
Haunted Field of Screams
Cabin fever is fine for snowed-in caretakers at haunted Colorado hotels (such as The Stanley in Estes Park, which inspired a little book called “The Shining”). But here on the Front Range, we also like our wide-open spaces. A feeling of exploration and choice is part of the appeal at Haunted Field of Screams, where wide-open terrors lurk behind every cornstalk.
This year’s theme is “A Ride to the Riverdale Gates of Hell,” which is based on a real, 11-mile stretch of Colorado’s Riverdale Road said to be the site of gruesome crimes and accidents. And, of course, that’s where the 40-acre Haunted Field of Screams happens to be located. Open Sept. 30-Oct. 30 at 10451 McKay Road in Thornton. Tickets: $30-$40. hauntedfieldofscreams.com
Terror in the Corn
This Erie attraction also uses an open field as its entry point, situated inside the 10-acre Anderson Farms’ larger Fall Festival and activities. Those are decidedly family-friendly and run all day with games, food, rides and more. Terror in the Corn is billed as a haunted hayride and ghost town experience, so it’s not recommended for little kids. It’s also a surprisingly long and elaborate experience, according to recent reviews, so dress accordingly. Open Sept. 23-Oct. 31 at 6728 County Line Road 3 1/4. Tickets: $35-$39. 303-828-5210 or terrorinthecorn.com
Fright Fest at Elitch Gardens
Don’t fear, young visitors to Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park: You’ll be catered to from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in October with admission-included free candy on Trick or Treat Trail, and Halloween-themed interactive challenges. The darkness brings back Elitch’s Fright Fest, however, which starts at 6 p.m. on weekends, Oct. 1-30. This year’s haunted attractions are billed as “multi-sensory experiences” in a prison controlled by deranged inmates and a carnival graveyard, among others.
With names like Lock Up: No Escape, Big Top Freaks and Séance, what could go wrong? Haunted houses are part of general admission, which is $50 per adult (kids 2 and under are free). 2000 Elitch Circle in Denver. 303-595-4386 or elitchgardens.com/fright-fest