Written By Cathy Tarbet Webb, feature writer for My Local Utah
The weather has finally beckoned Fall, my favorite time of year. Looking at the foliage, we can see the leaves changing from vibrant summery greens to autumnal oranges. Local farm stands, and markets are selling bumpy pumpkins, apple cider, and all manner of veggies. Homes are decorated with every sort of Halloween adornment. Corn mazes are open, and the annual craving for scares can finally be gratified by going to some of the nation’s best-haunted houses that have already begun opening across Utah from Logan to St. George! Most scare attractions nowadays are full-on theatrical productions; they are no longer the simple spook alleys of the past, and they spend a lot of money to bring your worst nightmares to life! Our team (NOT ME!) has visited a few of the best-haunted houses in the state. They all offer something unique and fun for those who laugh at their friends getting scared. Because, of course, “I’m not crying, you are…”
Nightmare on 13th has been around for 33 years and is an icon in the industry. Their main attraction promises 13 Nightmares, with two new themes for 2023. You’ll be happy (or scared) to know they are now offering the Institute of Terror, a separate attraction that is more intense and interactive. For the littles and us Halloween-loving scaredy cats, a more family-friendly experience, there is the Day Haunt. The high level of set design and the fact that they change up the haunt each year to provide you with new scares and impressive scenes is why they’ve received honors as one of America’s Best Haunted Houses by USA Today and one of America’s Scariest Attractions from The Travel Channel. Nightmare on 13th has consistently ranked in the top ten haunted houses of the nation for 15+ years. They do timed ticketing, allowing a more personalized experience. They have 36,000 square feet of haunt filled with your worst nightmares come to life.
Fear Factory is located on the old Portland Cement Company site, with their ‘dilapidated’ looking industrial building as you drive down I-15 near 8th South in Salt Lake City. Fear Factory has been elevating the scare game with industry-changing strategies for twelve years and has received the Oscares Award by the Haunted Attraction Association. This place is enormous; it has six buildings, six stories high, and includes two underground passages. They even have a Zombie Bus to help you get to the location because parking is limited. The Zombie Bus helps set the mood before you get to the haunt. They also have timed ticketing, which reserves your time slot and helps keep your group separate from the others. The Fear Factory partners with Grimm Ghost Tours to offer private and public ghost tours. Please visit their website for an updated schedule—Grimm Ghost Tours, which hosts a public paranormal investigation at the Factory on Monday nights.
Castle of Chaos has been around since 2000, starting as an interactive theater, and is the first in the state to do “Hands-on Horror.” This optional ticket add-on now boasts five levels of fear, including you being hauled off into the haunt for your unique, personalized scare experience. But don’t wait too long because even though the truly brave would consider doing it, it has limited spots. You could attempt to do KRUSEBEL, a very extreme haunt experience, where you check in at night and try to survive the minions until morning. This is genuinely not for the faint of heart!
Last but not least- Lagoon’s Frightmares. For 28 years, Frightmares has had something for everyone. Frightmares is Utah’s number one destination for family-friendly Halloween fun, with over nine haunted attractions, Halloween-themed entertainment, and your favorite foods, rides, and games. Lagoon offers “no scare zones. In Kiddieland, the entire family can enjoy it! Don’t be fooled; however, Frightmares has five attractions labeled “Too scary for most kids & absolutely too scary for most kids.” SKIP THE LINE!
Time Warp Fast Pass wristbands are available for purchase. Enjoy the scares and thrills of Lagoon’s haunted houses without the hassle of waiting in long lines. The wristband includes short lines to Malevolent Mansion, Frightening Frisco, Nightwalk, Nightmare Midway, Fun House of Fear, and two extra passes for two of your favorite houses to experience twice!
There are more haunted houses than I can write about here, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t scary-good. Some of those are Evermore, Spookshow Haunted Screampark, Asylum 49, Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus, and Haunted Hollow. Most haunted houses get super crowded the closer you get to Halloween, but that’s part of the whole experience, gathering to sturdy the nerves together as a community. You all have at it because I’ll be at Kiddieland wearing my ladybug costume.
Utah is full of corn mazes, haunted corn mazes, and fall festivals. Several offer fun activities like hot cider, hot cocoa, picking pumpkins, slides, and hayrides. Check these local fun hotspots for Fall from MY LOCAL UTAH to find ones near you.