The Rocky Mountains have 13 haunted attractions sure to terrify CU students this Halloween season. Monsters and murderers lurk in mazes, tunnels and haystacks at these attractions, which all share the same goal: to make visitors scream.
The 25th Hour, owned and operated by the Walker family, is a haunted house based on a story about a bride, Roxanne, who was left at the altar by a man who ran off with her bridesmaid.
“The whole idea is that the mansion is for sale, and spectators are potential buyers looking at it,” said Stephen Walker, owner of The 25th Hour, The 13th Door, Slaughterhouse Gulch and CarnEvil. “At various points around the whole house, you run into Roxanne. She is out to kill everybody, because she is seeking revenge.”
Walker’s family – which includes his wife, two sons and their two wives – has been running haunted houses for about 16 years.
“Every year, about 20 percent of the haunted house gets changed,” Walker said. “We update (the houses), change the story line a little bit and change some walls around so when people come every year, they get something new.”
Walker’s haunted houses include effects such as special lighting, temperature techniques, sound systems, sudden drops, dummies, fog and spinning tunnels.
KathE Walker, a co-owner with Stephen Walker, said that throughout the year she and her family sit down and brainstorm about what they want to see in a haunted house.
“We think about what scares us,” KathE Walker said. “We sit down all the time and think about how we can (make the houses) better.”
Setting up the houses is a yearlong process and requires well over $30,000 just for the walls and building materials, Stephen Walker said.
The Walkers confirmed that actors in the haunted houses are not allowed to touch any audience member, but other gadgets may be used to enhance the scare factors.
“At (our) haunted houses, we tell the actors not to touch people, but they can certainly run each other in to each other. Sometimes we will have a rubber claw to grab the audience, but not a physical hand,” Stephen Walker said.
An urban legend has spread across the country about a certain haunted house that requires a signed waiver by attendees and gives money back to people who make it through each story. This has been given many different names, including “13 Stories.” KathE Walker clarified this legend.
“People will swear to you that they’ve been to this, but (my family) has been doing this for over 15 years – building and been in haunted houses for about 25 years – and there is no haunted house that does that,” KathE Walker said. “Maybe someday somebody will make it.”
Slaughterhouse Gulch is a new house this year that highlights major characters from recent horror films. Characters like Leatherface, Jigsaw, Edward Scissorhands and those from “The Grudge” make a show of attacking spectators for invading their territory, KathE Walker said.
The 13th Door, KathE Walker said, is based on the story of the Barrington Hotel, which burnt down in 1912. According to the story, John Barrington’s nephew asked his uncle for money to pay back his debt to other townspeople, but his uncle wouldn’t give him any. After that, Barrington supposedly went crazy.
Barrington ended up locking everyone from town in the penthouse suite and proceeded to kill them. He escaped, and nobody ever found him after he went through the 13th door.
Another interesting haunt is Frightmare, which is located in Westminster. This outdoor attraction lets groups of people wind through haystacks and crawl under trees through various scenes while being followed by goblins and killers.
“Frightmare was (my late husband’s) idea,” said owner Theresa Holder. “It was the spring of 1983 that he decided to put this on. He had the first one that October, and he was pretty much the originator.”
Like the other houses, the paths and scenes are altered a little bit each year to make Frightmare different.
“I go (to haunted houses) every year. They were by my house back home, and (I like that) it’s scary,” said Brett Andrus, a junior mechanical engineering major. “I’m usually the one in the middle hiding, trying to get away.”
More information about haunted houses and hayrides in Colorado can be found at http://www.haunteddenver.com/2006/attractions/index.html.