Philip Wright, year-round marketing director for Salt Lake City’s Nightmare on 13th, had been eagerly awaiting this year’s addition to the haunted house – an attraction called Institute of Terror.
“That is what I’m most excited about,” he said. “We built [Institute of Terror] this summer, and it’s completely new. All new scares, all new everything.”
American Haunts ranked Nightmare as the nation’s third-scariest haunted house last year, and the all-new attraction brings another level of discomfort to visitors. After months of effort, the crew’s work and creativity paid off when the new attraction delivered wide-eyed, disoriented attendees who took a breath before laughing and discussing the terrors with their friends.
After attendee Shay Dover exited the Institute of Terror with her group, she took a second to readjust. Dover said the attraction interfered with her senses and had a creative layout.
“It trips you out because you can’t really use your eyesight,” Dover said. “You have to feel your way around, and there’s different textures on the walls and different smells and lots of different things going on.”
For Dover, the institute was her favorite part of the night, enjoying it more than the main attraction. Dover loved both, she said, but this year’s addition was “just harder to get through.”
Staffers from The Globe reported similar reactions when they attended the haunted house during Nightmare’s media night on Oct. 1.
Jonny Tollestrup, assignment editor for The Globe, entered Nightmare with no prior sway about haunted houses, and said he enjoyed the contrasting settings and characters within the house.
Tollestrup took note of a tunnel with spiraling lights and a small walkway, simulating a vortex. The room performed a mind trick of sorts on visitors, creating the feeling of tipping over as visitors cling to rails to navigate through.
“The little corridor was super disorienting, that was a really interesting change of pace throughout the haunted house,” Tollestrup said. “It almost lets you reset your nerves but kept you uncomfortable because you were completely disoriented the whole time.”
The many exhibits throughout the house each brought with them their own uniquely disorienting feeling, said McCaulee Blackburn, a staff writer for The Globe.
“[Nightmare] had some … really unique stuff,” Blackburn said, “It has some … exhibits in it that are really cool and disorienting, and there was always someone popping out.”
Nightmare on 13th will run throughout the entirety of October minus Sundays, with two additional days of operation on Nov. 4 and 5. Dates, times and tickets can be found on Nightmare’s website.