Nightmare on 13th Haunted House is open for the 2018 Halloween season.
From now through Nov. 3, you and your closest friends can walk through an elaborately decorated set filled with ghosts, killer clowns, and the occasional murderous housemaid.
Nightmare on 13th is one of the longest running haunted houses in the United States and has been voted one of the “scariest attractions in America” by the Travel Channel. The haunted house has been run by owner Mike Henrie for over 25 years.
“I pretty much oversee everything,” says Henrie.
The standard walkthrough of Nightmare on 13th takes anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes. Making your way through dim lit rooms, you run into a colorful cast of characters that all attempt to interact with you in some way or another. Some of the cast will talk to you specifically, while others hide behind corners and chase you through the narrow corridors.
Another aspect that makes Nightmare on 13th so terrifying is the set design. Ranging from creepy all the way to sickening, there’s something that can get to everyone. Examples include men swinging around chainsaws that actually reek of gasoline to narrow tunnels with spinning wall effects made to make the patron feel dizzy and disoriented.
The creative team has worked hard to deliver the most satisfying thrill a person can get.
This year’s newest attraction is creatively named the “X-Scream” walkthrough. X-Scream circles around the premise of a place called Area 13, where aliens are on the loose. The attraction is teased in the main tour with a found footage trailer giving backstory to what happened.
Once inside the walkthrough, you are thrust into a world of pitch black where your ankles may be grabbed and you may be unexpectedly touched. Patrons are even warned to take off their glasses and hats before entering as they may be snatched up once inside.
The process to run and create Nightmare on 13th is extensive and spans almost year round.
“We get started Feb. 1 and work all year round to create the nightmares,” says Henrie, when asked about the creative process.
He says he has a dedicated creative team that helps come up with all the designs and ideas for the attraction. When the haunted house is in the off season, Henrie says that he and his team work on budgeting, planning, and the construction so they can change it all around.
In order to make sure that Nightmare on 13th maintains its appeal and reputation as one of the scariest haunted houses in the nation, it is changed and reinvented every year. Henrie states that the hardest part is “getting all the parts together.”
“You’ve got art; you’ve got technical; you’ve got mechanical; special effects, and then costumes and characters,” says Henrie.
With over 60 thousand people attending Nightmare on 13th each year, there aren’t many slow or boring nights at the attraction.
“My favorite part is when we’re in operation, when I see the people get scared,” says Henrie. “It’s very satisfying that what we have here is scaring lots of people.”
Nightmare on 13th is a favorite of many locals in Salt Lake, and Henrie thinks it’s because the people involved work the hardest.
“I believe we change the most, we do the most elaborate stuff, and we’re kind of the ‘Disneyland’ of haunted houses in our state,” says Henrie. “We always do something a little more innovative and a little more fun.”
Tickets start at $25 a person, and if you have more, you can pay for options that let you skip the line or get into the brand-new “X-Scream” attraction if the standard tour isn’t terrifying enough for you.
Henrie invites everyone to come to Nightmare on 13th this year, even if they have been through it before, noting that they change “thirty to forty percent every year.”
Nightmare on 13th runs through Nov. 3 and opens at 7:30 p.m. most nights. A comprehensive list of dates and times can be found on their website.
Photo gallery by Autumn Lucas