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Haunted Utah 

A guide to all things Halloween

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BE VERY AFRAID
Utah's haunted-house architects up the ante on ghosts & goblins.
By Trevor Hale

There's no better way to get in the spirit of Halloween than wandering through hordes of zombies, deranged clowns and lunatics with power tools while trying to pretend you're not terrified. Haunted house season is upon us, and Utah has its fair share of some of the best in the country.

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Nightmare on 13th Nightmare on 13th is one of the oldest haunts in town and still one of the absolute best. Each year, the inside of the building is completely rebuilt from the ground up, never repeating itself and always offering the most frightening experience possible. This year, the haunt is divided into three levels—Swamp Blood, Haunted Hollywood and Delirium—with each section taking on a clear aesthetic design. Each set is jarringly different, making it hard to get accustomed to the surroundings before you abruptly switch to something else entirely. Whether it's the deranged, riddle-inspired assault on the senses of Delirium, or the quietly creepy and unsettling feeling of wandering through a haunted New Orleans bayou in Swamp Blood, Nightmare on 13th never allows you to let your guard down.
Highs: The attention to the little details throughout is incredible. The craftsmanship that goes into creating some of the set pieces and the makeup on the cast makes you feel like you're actually part of something horrifying and allows you to forget that you're just walking through a building.
Lows: Being the most well-known also means Nightmare on 13th is the most crowded. You're bound to run into the group ahead of you much sooner than you'd like, which causes you to miss out on a few of the bigger scares.
1300 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, dates and operating hours vary through September and October, $22-$37, free VIP upgrade when purchased online. NightmareOn13th.com

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  • Breck Gonzales

Fear Factory Fear Factory doesn't just want you for a little bit; it wants you for the entire night. Located in the old Portland Cement Works building on 800 South, Fear Factory has made quite a name for itself in just a few years. By using its massive amount of space, Fear Factory is able to offer a lot of things that other haunts around town can't. The structure of the building itself—from the cave-like basement to the painted tower visible from Interstate 15—is a natural kind of creepy that's amplified when it's brought to life with wandering costumed actors. Nearly half the haunt takes place outside, and the brisk night air builds a great B-movie atmosphere that starts the second you walk through the main gate. With a zombie bus that transports visitors from The Gateway, a couple of "extreme attractions" (a bungee jump "Fear Fall" from one of the towers and a zip line) and live entertainment while you wait, Fear Factory makes sure that you fill every last bit of your time before, during and after you've walked through.
Highs: The sheer size of the place is what's most impressive. The logistics that go into planning a public haunt that takes up nearly an entire city block is something to be marveled at, and they put all the available space to great use.
Lows: The size is sometimes a burden as well. Some sections feel a bit underpopulated by cast members, which leaves a lot of time to admire the intricate set designs, but also leaves a lot of time for the teenagers behind you to catch up.
666 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City, dates and operating hours vary through September and October, $25 with online purchase, $35 for VIP and one "extreme attraction." FearFactorySLC.com

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Castle of Chaos While it's still getting comfortable in its new Taylorsville home (the old building on 3300 South was purchased and torn down), Castle of Chaos proves it didn't lose any of its bite during the switch. The atmosphere upon arrival isn't as creepy as some of the other haunts, but it's hard to immediately establish an aesthetic in a well-populated shopping area called the Family Center, with a brightly lit Starbucks next door. Don't let that deter you, though, because once you're inside the double doors, it's dark, ominous and creepy for the rest of the way. Castle of Chaos is packed with movie and pop-culture references, and you're met by a dead ringer for Daryl Dixon before heading into a scene that looks like it was plucked directly from the set of The Walking Dead.
Highs: The Hands-on Horror experience (which costs extra) allows the cast and crew to have physical contact with you as you walk through. Most other places stop short of touching you, but here, you can sign a waiver and open yourself up to a new level of terror. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself physically separated from your group and forced to go it alone the rest of the way.
Lows: The set designers make mostly great use of the space, including the loading dock, but occasionally, you'll spot the exposed white rafters above and remember you're inside an old grocery store.
5600 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville; 1100 W. Riverdale Road, Ogden, dates and operating hours vary between locations, $25-$40. CastleOfChaos.com

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Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus There's something about clowns that's already inherently creepy and unsettling, but Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus in Draper, inspired by a traveling carnival, takes it to a whole new level. No time is wasted here: Once you're through the front doors and inside the big top, the show starts. The cast staggers groups by nearly 10 minutes each, so it's very rare that you'll catch up to the group in front of you, and this leaves more room for the well-trained cast to get a great scare out of you. There's a nice inside/outside atmosphere as you walk through a maze of more than 20 converted semi-truck trailers and outdoor sets that are some of the best-designed in the state. The cool night air is a welcome feeling, too, since some of those trailers get a little claustrophobic.
Highs: There's lots of different entertainment—prerecorded videos, DJs, dancers, magicians, etc.—while you wait, and it's nice to not have the bigger set pieces spoiled by being only a few steps behind the group in front of you.
Lows: The wait time can get a little out of control on busy nights, and there's only so many times one can watch Rob Zombie music videos before going crazy—though that might be the point.
98 E. 13800 South, Draper, dates and operating hours vary through September and October $23-$35, free VIP upgrade when you purchase online. StranglingBros.com

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Frightmares at Lagoon rolls out its version of a haunted amusement park and offers both kid-friendly versions as well as attractions that are "absolutely too scary for kids." Enter at your own risk. 375 N. Lagoon Drive, Farmington, prices and hours of operation vary by date. LagoonPark.com

Insanity Point at Cornbelly's offers several different attractions, all at varying levels of terror according to the "scream scale." Hayloft Horror, Cabin Fever and Cornophobia are just a few of the obstacles you'll try to make it through alive. Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi, prices and operating hours vary by date. InsanityPoint.com

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Haunted Hollow leads you down outdoor trails that wind through thick trees, mineshafts and swamps, and takes nearly two hours from start to finish. It's all outdoors, so make sure you dress appropriately. Each ticket also includes the Zombie Paintball Safari, which allows you to shoot paintballs at wandering undead corpses. 1550 S. 1900 West, Ogden, dates and operating hours vary through September and October. HauntedUtah.com

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Haunted Forest leads you through a variety of outdoor attractions similar to the Haunted Hollow, and also offers a separate attraction called Zombie War Z, which puts you right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse—armed for safety, of course. Dress appropriately for both. 6400 N. 6000 West, American Fork, dates and operating hours vary through October, $20-$25 depending on desired attractions. HauntedUtah.com

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