If you long for quick dashes from zombies through dark and deadly blood-spattered halls, then Fright Dome at Circus Circus is the place to be. The annual haunted attraction opens tomorrow night in celebration of its 10-year anniversary in Vegas. To honor the occasion, Fright Dome creator and owner Jason Egan teamed up with horror film icon George A. Romero to create an all-new zombie-themed haunted house named George A. Romeo’s Ward of the Dead.
While Egan and his team are still busy putting all the final touches on Fright Dome before opening night, he took a break to give VEGAS.com an exclusive first look at the new zombie-themed house. It was horrifying.
The new zombie haunt is almost 8,000 square feet and was designed to look like a mental ward where zombies were locked up but now roam the halls seeking flesh. Constructed with real iron doors, steel rods that cover the inside windows and brick façade on some of the interior walls, Ward of the Dead feels like stepping into one of Romero’s movies.
“This is the most highly-detailed haunted house we’ve ever done at Fright Dome. We’ve spent so many hours on it. We’re still working on it as we speak right now to create the ultimate experience for our 10-year anniversary. I’m super excited,” said Egan.
He and his team created almost every square inch of the haunted house from scratch. Egan has a warehouse in Vegas that operates year-round to fabricate props for Fright Dome and other clients seeking haunted essentials.
“That’s what’s important about Fright Dome, that we don’t go buy our stuff off the shelves. We actually make everything original,” said Egan.
Ward of the Dead marks the first time Romero has ever partnered with a haunted attraction. Egan worked closely with him to design everything in the house, from the storyline to finding the right zombies.
“He(Romero) had a major part in the characters, the design. He wanted it to look like a true George A. Romero movie. He wanted it to have that realistic zombie look. He wanted us to cast some of the best. You can see our zombies are top notch,” said Egan while pointing to one of his very convincing actors.
Later this month, Romero is embarking on another first by making a live appearance at Fright Dome on Oct. 25. The appearance will be his first at a haunted attraction.
Along with the live actors, Ward of the Dead is filled with gruesome and bloody prop zombies. The static undead lookalikes were custom made for the house based on Romero-approved zombie sketches. While walking through the dark passageways, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two, but you’ll figure it out once a zombie lunges out and tries to bite you.
“That’s the most important element to the haunted house. If you don’t have amazing actors, you’ve got nothing,” said Egan.
This year Egan cast more than 400 scare actors, creating the largest ensemble in Fright Dome’s history.
Ward of the Dead is just one of the new elements for the 10-year anniversary celebration. This season, Fright Dome features five all-new haunted houses and multiple scare zones. The new anniversary haunted house is a combination of their past houses including Cell Block 13, Hill Billy Hell, Fright High and Killer Clowns in 3-D. There’s also a new outdoor house called Camp Massacre and an urban legends house themed with fear-inducing elements like Bloody Mary, the paranormal and exorcisms.
“People can witness a live exorcism with a priest and stuff like that. We’re really pushing the limits this year and changing it up completely because the last thing I want people to say is, ‘Oh it was the same as last year.’ It’s not,” said Egan.
This year Fright Dome will also feature a different celebrity guest each weekend starting with the grand opening festivities on Sept. 29 – 30. The various special guests making appearances this weekend are Queen of Halloween Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; Linda Blair ( the actress who played the possessed child Regan in “The Exorcist”); and DJs Joe Letz of Combichrist and Megan Massacre from TLC’s “NY Ink.”
Some of the other special guests scheduled to appear later in the month are Zach Galligan (the actor who played Billy Peltzer in “Gremlins”) Oct. 5 – 6 and Macabre illusionist Dan Sperry on Oct. 6. Danielle Harris from “Halloween” and Doug Bradley who played Pinhead in the “Hellraiser” films are also scheduled to appear. There’s even a celebrity appearance by a car. Egan and his team are shipping the car used in the Stephen King movie “Christine” to Vegas for a special appearance at Fright Dome.
“Outdoing ourselves every year is a hard thing to do and we’ve teamed up with some amazing movie partners. We’ve teamed up with the movie ‘Saw,’ ‘My Bloody Valentine,’ ‘Halloween,’ and now I had to top it,” said Egan.
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