Nightmare on 13th Celebrates 30 Years in the Making


Zoe Gottlieb

An outside view of the Nightmare on 13th grounds (photo by Zoe Gottlieb | Daily Utah Chronicle).

By Zoe Gottlieb, Arts Writer


Celebrating 30 years in the business, Nightmare on 13th promises this upcoming season to drive terror into the hearts of anyone brave enough to enter through its doors.

The haunted attraction’s latest promotional video highlights some utterly “terrifying” achievements — including the milestone of ushering 1.5 million customers through its gates. The video’s ghoulish narration beckons new customers through Nightmare on 13th’s doors, with a disclaimer that there will be a limited number of tickets on sale this season due to unprecedented circumstances regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Safety First

With the coronavirus creating more hotspots in cities across the country, many attractions have been forced to alter their business models. Seasonal haunts are both uniquely challenging in some ways and well-suited towards the pandemic circumstances in others. How could the haunted house business possibly be suited for handling outbreaks, when they are typically only in operation for a few months of the year? For one, there is the fact that actors are already accustomed to breathing through masks for hours on end. 

“There are actors that have full silicone masks on — they’re like a full silicone prosthetic that goes over their whole head. But actors are wearing a mask underneath that mask,” Jake Mabey, the general manager, said. 

He also mentions that with the haunted house’s pathways progressing in a “one entrance, one exit fashion.” The risks associated with breathing in recirculated, infected air are somewhat mitigated by this. Now, with parties more staggered than usual and time-slot reservations offered on their website, Nightmare on 13th assures that guests need only worry about two things — their visceral fears coming to life and more importantly, moving quickly to put the monsters through the previous corridor behind them. 

New Additions

In this age of unpredictability, safety is an important question that Nightmare seems to have tackled — as well as the thrill factor. What makes Nightmare on 13th a more immersive haunted house than its competitors? The answer is themes, themes, themes.  Some of the latest themes adapted by the attraction for this season include the Dark Ride of Terror and I-Scream.

The Dark Ride of Terror is Nightmare on 13th’s reimagination of a defective ride and the crazed attendants that occupy it. Stepping inside the room, it has a sort of a cavernous, barren feel. At first, guests may think they are gearing up for a physical ride but as it turns out, the main obstacle of this themed room is to navigate through it — without straying too far behind your party. 

I-Scream is a themed portion that guests will love and appreciate for its visual and interactive aspects. The interplay of intense colors, ultraviolet lights and theatrics can be jarring and at times, disorienting for those who cross the threshold. For this reason, the I-Scream portion of the haunted house increases the uneasiness factor and makes its “jump-scare” thrills all the more terrifying. 

Nightmare on 13th takes immersion to a whole new level with its rigorous actor-training program — if you linger around a themed room long enough, the creature in charge of scaring you will likely give you some insight into its personal history.  “There are all sorts of avenues for scaring,” said Mabey — including the likes of an entire stunt team designed to make you grab onto your friend in fear and beg for the nearest exit. 

I expect that even after three decades of thrills, Nightmare on 13th will continue to be a valuable Salt Lake City attraction. Despite the changes in technology and attractions inevitably shifting towards the virtual, it is hard to deny the allure of a good scare.


[email protected]