October 25, 2010
The GO! Scream Team, mostly kids in eighth grade, seemed as eager as ever to check out the three local professional haunted houses in the region.
“When will they outgrow this stuff?” I wonder, as we began on this annual trek.
Clearly, not anytime soon. One of the defining moments this year comes in Mind Seizure, when my son’s cute blond friend screams and clutches at his shoulder, and he whispers, “You can hold onto me, if you want.”
The intent to be frightened clearly now has other payoffs.
Quick tips: The haunts are intense, so they’re not recommended for those 11 and younger. Crowds tends to be huge after 8 p.m., so you might go early or shell out the extra money for a VIP pass, which puts you near the front of the line.
Although not as intense as its competitors, this indoor-outdoor haunted amusement park outside the Museum of Mining and Industry is clearly the grandest, most fun adventure.
You’ll crawl over and under obstacles, sink into quick sand, trudge through a haunted swamp and plunge down a mine shaft in a wild elevator.
It takes nearly 30 minutes to get through it, and, if your kids are like mine, they’ll want to run back in and try it again.
The Haunted Mines has been the handiwork of engineer Steve Roscio and his friends and colleagues. Roscio used to transform his Monument home into a massive professional-quality haunted house until his wife got annoyed with the entire town tramping through her living room. In 2007, Roscio and his army of volunteers started this non-profit haunt.
He appreciates that it helps the museum and allows him to channel both his passion for everything Halloween as well as his inner geek.
“Heavy timber construction, steel fabrication, hydraulics and pneumatics, animatronics, electronics, software, special effects, lighting, sound and so on,” he said. “It’s a step toward that dream job of working for Disney or Universal Studios.”
The Scream Team loved his work and found this the best overall haunt for the money. They especially liked Roscio’s finale — a riff on the “Saw” movies. They found it worthy of a theme park.
Where: 225 North Gate Road, Exit 156A on Interstate 25 north at Gleneagle
Hours: Opens at 7 p.m.-midnight through Sunday.
Tickets: $15, $20 for a VIP pass
Contact: 488-0880; hauntedmines.org
Vince Stites is giving me a tour through his haunted house, which, on the outside looks like a square fortress made of tractor trailers. But inside, each trailer is a stage on which to enact a frightening scene.
“We’ve had grown men running and crying like little girls,” Stites says.
He designed most of the scenes, but when he gets to the bloody, haunted nursery, he gives credit to some of his female assistants.
“They sing nursery rhymes,” he says, and gestures at the bloody baby dolls all over. “It’s horrible. It’s horrible.”
And then he laughs.
When Stites opened Hell Scream on Powers Boulevard last year, it was instantly the scare-your-pants-off hit of the Halloween season. Now, rebuilt on the parking lot of Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center, it has even more scares.
The chain saw that grinds against the fence, sending sparks everywhere is back. And added are some particularly intense scream-inducers, including one involving an electrocution.
Also new this year is a haunted trail, reminiscent of the old Joy Rides trail, if not quite as elaborate.
The Scream Team rated this the scariest because it’s so unpredictable. Things are constantly jumping out of places you least expect. The haunt lasts about 10 minutes.
Where: On the parking lot of Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center, 5825 Mark Dabling Blvd.
Hours: 7 p.m. to close (varies) through Oct. 31
Cost: $15 for the house, $10 for the trail, $20 for both, $25 for VIP for the house, $30 for VIP for both. (Discounts for bringing donations for Care & Share.)
Contact: 955-7220; biggcity.net
The granddaddy of local haunted houses, Mind Seizure started in the basement of Bob and Roxanne Glidewell in Craig about three decades ago.
They moved it to Colorado Springs as a mobile pay-for-scare haunted house in the mid-’90s. It was set up near The Citadel mall and an old hardware store at Austin Bluffs and Academy before settling on a spot at the Flea Market on Platte Avenue in 2001.
The current owners, Josh and Renate Carrier and John O’Brien, who had their own experience doing haunted houses elsewhere, purchased it in 2007 and moved it from a tent to an permanent structure.
This year’s haunt, which runs about 10 minutes, is certainly worthy of their legacies. It’s dark, loud and intense. One of the things that really freaks out our Scream Team is that, in the middle of the house, we’re separated and sent into different rooms, where we’re trapped (at least, temporarily) facing various fears.
One of our young screamers who has a major fear of needles was shuttled into a room where a doctor was wielding a giant needle and the walls and ceilings seemed to be lined with needles. I was led to a room where there seemed to be a pit that went down forever and was told by some ghoul that “the only way out is down.” (What really had me frightened, of course, was being separated from the kids I’d invited here ... and the word “liability” kept going through my head.)
“We’re getting a lot more up close and personal this year, taking people out of their comfort zone,” says Josh Olson, the general manager. “We’re trying to get to the heart of the scare. A set can be cool. And storylines can be neat, but they’re not scary, it’s a waste of time.”
The Scream Team doesn’t think a moment was wasted in the haunted house. They also like the additional features: the live displays of creepy creatures (snakes, tarantulas, etc., from Scales and Tales), the Black Hole spinning tunnel and Van Kitsch scary museum (the latter two of which carry extra charges.)
Where: Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave.
Hours: 7-11 p.m. today and Saturday, 7-10 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $15; $20 for VIP, $25 for Laser Tag Event, $3 for Black Hole, $3 for Van Kirsch Collection, Black Hole and Van Kitsch together, $5. by Ghouls Gulch Productions $3.00
Contact: 302-5605; mindseizure.com