With the arrival of the fall season comes another time of scares and hauntings, and Salt Lake City’s long-running Nightmare on 13th is ready to deliver with two new “nightmares.”
As attendees make their way through the haunted house, they’ll be met with “The Howling” and “The Possession of Black Thorn Manor” – a necropolis where werewolves and vampires wage battle and a manor overtaken by demonic spirits. Alongside these are 11 other sections, which comprise Nightmare on 13th’s main experience.
When designing “The Howling,” Jimmy Dilley, creative director of the attraction, based the necropolis on “hundreds” of real-world crypts that he saw and photographed during a trip to Louisiana. That same trip inspired “Black Water,” a section that debuted two years ago.
“Every single crypt in ‘The Howling’ is based on a crypt I saw in New Orleans and was built as accurately as I could get it, while still [allowing] people to go through it,” Dilley said.
For Dilley, visual research, the authenticity of sets, and the level of their production are what elevate a haunted house experience – and all that falls under his creative drive. “This is my life, my religion, in a way. I love building the world,” he noted.
Last year, Nightmare on 13th facilitated the ability for attendees to better examine the sets and environments when it introduced Day Haunt, which allows people to walk through the main experience during the day with no scares. This year, staff expanded Day Haunt with more hours and weekends.
Although the day experience is generally aimed at families, Dilley said he’s noticed that people of all ages utilize it for reasons apart from wanting to avoid scares or actors.
“There’s a whole segment of people now, we’ve realized, who want to see the artistry,” Dilley said, noting that, for some, it may be hard to do when walking the house during regular hours. “It’s cool that we now have a way to do that, so they can stop and admire it.”
Gail Cutsforth and her son Lucas, who attended Nightmare on 13th last week, both praised the various environments. Gail Cutsforth particularly liked the representation of a kitchen within the main experience, as well as the swamp aesthetic of “Black Water.”
“It’s so incredibly well done,” she commented just after exiting the house, to which her son immediately added, “The detailing is insane.”
Attendees of Nightmare on 13th can also, as was the case last year, walk through a second, more heightened experience called “Institute of Terror.” To access this asylum-based experience, one must purchase a VIP or combo ticket.
Nightmare on 13th will run throughout the entirety of October from 7–10 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The attraction is closed on Sundays. Two additional days of operation will be held Nov. 3 and 4 from 7–11 p.m.