Nightmare on 13th: 29 Years of Fear


Courtesy of Nightmare on 13th

Soul Seeker at Nightmare on 13th

By Ray H., Arts Writer


Nightmare on 13th — which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown on 1300 S. —  is one of Utah’s scariest attractions. With over 29 years of experience, a considerable amount of thought, time and effort is put into creating new ways to trick the mind of the public. The annual effort has been enough to get the facility on Buzzfeed’s list of Top Haunted Houses. To increase the fear factor, four new attractions have been added to create an environment you won’t want to miss.

The facility — at 36,000 square feet — has two levels of wonder and fear to offer. With nothing but the best technology put forth, they provide an unforgetable family-friendly scare. Nightmare on 13th goes out every year, scouring their sources and coming up with new ideas to spice up the facility or create all-new areas. From this, the organization implements new technologies to make their scares much more realistic. That being said, the facility is not afraid to use manual attractions and functions made by the on-site staff to time the perfect jumps and moves. All these implementations make the experience even more enticing, which is saying something, seeing how the site brings forth a complete sensory experience to immerse the public in a true haunted house.

This year, Nightmare on 13th has added four new attractions to their site: Nightmare Castle, Helheim, I-Scream and XScream. The first one, Nightmare Castle, is a complete renovation of the building’s exterior. Three new turrets have been added to the outside of the building to advertise their completely new environments. Their newest turret is a 55-foot machine atop the building that took two and a half months to acquire and build. The area has new animatronics added that seem realistic when you first look at them, such as an eerie-looking demon, named the Slayer, spewing smoke from its nostrils as it glares down onto you with red eyes. 

Helheim is a completely new area of the main scare with the terrifying feeling of the Norse underworld. This accompanies some pungent smells, fog, twists and turns and well-placed beasts. 

If clowns are your thing, then the organization’s new I-Scream factory will be a treat. Nightmare on 13th also features a Disney-esque pre-show filled with animatronics and special effects while you wait for the main attraction. After the pre-show bit, a screening introduces the other new attraction that is separate from the main haunting experience which will likely catch your attention the most. 

XScream is the more interactive than the other attractions, with each year providing a new theme. This year is Area 13. Meant to be similar to Area 51, the aliens have escaped and are dying to interact with you. The XScream area brings you into a sensory-rich environment in which you will need to navigate through a maze of nightmares, set up to have you bumping into anything and everything. Fair warning, those who are faint of heart, scared of the dark or prefer to not be touched might want to steer clear of XScream. 

Nightmare on 13th has many attractions that bring people back year after year such as their amazing actors and strange environments, but sometimes it’s not enough. Innovations in technology to upgrade what already exists and improving on fear tactics are equally as important. This is exactly what Nightmare on 13th has accomplished. The crew has implemented new lighting systems and automations to truly surprise you at every turn, although the facility seems to still prefer to use actors where they can in order to balance out the experience with mechanical monsters and trippy rooms. 

The floors are textured and wonky in order to disorient you. Lights, lasers, mirrors and actors move about and make the experience unlike any other I’ve been to. Those with disabilities may be able to be assisted, but those sensitive to changing lights or loud noises should be cautioned. The actors hired are highly trained professionals, most of which have come back every year for the last 10-15 years according to Gordon Kerr, Nightmare on 13th’s marketing director. The business has been open for the last 29 years and they are “lucky to have such a dedicated and creative team,” Kerr said. “We have people who love this industry.” 

The facility’s crew takes two months off at the end of the year. Then, after visiting other places and attending trade shows in order to come up with new ideas and acquire new materials, they meet back up in January to start again and discuss changes to be made. Kerr adds that the business wants to always keep things unique and as family friendly as possible. The crew keeps from anything getting stale, prevents niche targeting and avoids becoming too gory so all can enjoy — and the experience is one that will leave even the biggest scaredy-cat in astonishment. 

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