It’s that time of year again, when hiding behind a tree and jumping out at total strangers isn’t creepy AF, it’s Halloween spirit. But we don’t actually have that many easily accessible trees in Vegas, and you probably don’t have the kind of time to spend waiting for that perfect moment to strike. So to give you the chance to laugh hysterically at your friend who may or may not be needing a change of shorts, or to give the houses a chance to scare you out of your own pantaloons, here are the best and most frightening haunted houses in Vegas.
Where: Circus Circus Hotel and Casino
When: Thurs. – Sun. from 7 p.m. to midnight.
This is the haunt you’ve probably heard most about. Maybe it was a faint whisper in the elevator of a casino or maybe it was something more terrifying like a pop-up ad. Wherever the news comes from, we can tell you the hype doesn’t do justice to the fright. Fright Dome at Circus Circus takes the venue’s Adventuredome and twists and contorts the once wholesome space into a dark and macabre distortion of senses and villainy – and there are nachos.
Smoke and sounds fill the main space of the Adventure Dome. As roller-coasters rush overhead, you get distracted just long enough for a creepy person in a mask to come up behind you with a chain saw. Then you shriek like a wombat that just won “Price is Right.” Yeah, that is a weird simile, but Fright Dome is a weird place where you will lose all sense of appropriate comparison.
This is all just the outer space. This is the place where horrifying clowns and crazed killers taught you, especially if you’re a loud screamer. And it’s the place where you get to watch those hilarious, or scary, or hilariously scary, interactions while you wait in line for the real treats.
Fright Dome has six devilish houses for you to endure, uh, we mean enjoy. You’ll enjoy enduring the horror. You can insert your own Wilhelm Scream there. Let’s take a look at the six houses so you can decide which will be your ultimate fate.
This is just awesome. We’re even going to break the whole spooky language motif right now and just tell you Insanitarium is fantastic. First off, you go in alone. This isn’t one of those moments when you get to cling onto your friend for support. You are pushed inside, by yourself, without a lifeline. Yes, you can call out the safe word and leave whenever you want, but please do your best to make it through. It’s worth the trip. We won’t spoil any details, wouldn’t want you to have too much information before you go through any of these, but we will tell you that Insanitarium is where rational thoughts go when they need to be cured of that pesky rationality. It’s a hospital where the doctors are more messed up than the patients and the patients are just aching for a chance at revenge. It is a world of perpetual crazy that will leave you either trembling from the authenticity or giggling like a psychopath. Like we said, it’s super awesome. If any of your friends are in that latter camp, the giggling psychopath one, you should probably keep an eye on them. They might need a few more trips through the Insanitarium.
One of the popular movies this year was “Mad Max: Fury Road.” We’ll leave our review of that film for another day — *cough* didn’t need Max at all *cough* — and talk about the Wastleand. As you’re brought in, you may think that you just stepped into the Nevada desert and this is what it’s all like off the Strip. Well it’s not. We Las Vegans have better cars and like half as much cannibalism. But the wasteland does do a fantastic job of ripping you out of your comfort zone and showing you how well you’d really do in a post-apocalyptic, road-heavy, gas-worshipping civilization from hell on Earth. Hint, you would not do as well as you think. You’ll make it through, probably, just be sure to count your fingers and toes once you get to the exit. We wouldn’t want any getting nipped.
Oh the Dollhouse. Where do we start? Part of us wanted to stay forever and play with the pretties. And then the other 95 percent wanted to run like Presidential candidate. Many of the dolls, and people playing with the dolls, are adorable if a little dismembered. But that cuteness only increases the terror. You get a real sense that if you lose the group you might find yourself getting stitched up in ways you don’t want. But immediately after that, you start to think that it might not be a bad thing if you then get to freak out other people. A lot of conflicting emotions run around in there, but it all totally makes sense at the time. Just remember that this house can in no way affect that antique doll you still have in your bedroom right now. No, that one’s totally safe and has no chance of coming to life tonight.
Killer Clowns in 4-D
Disregarding dimensional physics for a moment, Killer Clowns in 4-D really does take audiences to a different realm. Freaky clowns aren’t really anything new, and Fright Dome does them really well, but this particular attraction adds to the mayhem with a set of glasses given to every patron that make the colors in the rooms pop and all your senses betray you. Walking through this funhouse of horrors is spooky enough, but when you can’t tell the depth of the walls or whether the clown’s toothy smile is right next to you or a foot away the space becomes a guessing game as to whether that wall really is staring at you – we know but we’re not telling. Just trust that the clowns aren’t there to kill you, that would spoil all the fun.
This is probably the most gory of the group. With body parts hanging from chains and people in either pig masks or with actual pig heads roaming about, Slaughterhouse is probably what meat eaters think vegans think the back room of an Arby’s looks like, but it’s actually even worse. The horror comes from the same psychological torment as other houses, but jacks it all up with blood and viscera. This is not the place for the faint of stomach, or anyone who just ate a bunch of spaghetti, but it is for anyone who loves a fantastic haunt and knows how to avoid getting butchered. Like all the haunts, you’re never in any real danger. That said, you might be opting for the tofu burger for a little while after this one.
And we finally get to some zombies. They’re super popular these days, and until the zombie bubble bursts we’ll continue to see them shambling toward us looking to devour our brains, probably to get at the precious Walking Dead spoilers we read on the Internet. SWARM is a house that makes no secret of its zombie nature and certainly doesn’t spare any chance to surprise you with the swiftness of their undead. And the dirt and grime and monstrous creatures don’t let up throughout the entire space. At times you feel like you’re in a forest of gore and other times you feel like you’ve fallen below the floorboards and will never find your way out. But as long as you don’t get bit you’ll be fine. So just be sure to… look out behind you!
Fright Dome is fit for most ages, and just because you’re in your thirties doesn’t mean you won’t end up with an embarrassing “accident” when something you thought was a prop starts chasing you. While we can’t guarantee you’ll be sleeping after you leave, we can guarantee you’ll have a great time with the houses, the characters, the rides and everything else at Fright Dome.
Where: 4245 S. Grand Canyon Dr.
When: Every night through Oct. starting at 7 p.m.
The Freakling Bros Trilogy of Terror is more than just a Vegas institution, it’s a renowned haunt throughout the industry. The houses have won numerous accolades over the years and have progressively increased the terror to levels that border on a Chipotle that’s out of guac. Yeah. It’s that scary. The Coven of the 13 gives you a horrifying show set against witches and darkness. Castle Vampyre is where senses go to scream. And Gates of Hell, self-dubbed the first and only R-rated haunted house in Nevada, is beyond senses. It crushes you and contorts you into what it wants and leaves you face to face with your own mortifying mortality. The Trilogy is terrifying enough, but the fourth attraction takes it all to a level you may actually not be ready for.
The Victim Experience is something else all together. We’ll tell you right now that we have not been through this one yet, nor are we sure we’ll make it this year. This is not for the faint of anything, and it’s literally not for people with heart conditions or other health problems. While it’s still comprised of actors, you can be touched. You can be harassed. You can be truly scared by more than just people jumping out at you. There’s a reason they call this one an experience, you will experience things you may not be expecting. We’ll warn you, the Freakling Bros experts will warn you, but we’ll also encourage you to go for it if you think you can. You only live/regret living once, right?
Asylum and Hotel Fear
Where: Meadows Mall near Valley View and the 95
When: Thurs. – Sun. starting at 6:30 p.m. for the rest of Oct.
Asylum and Hotel Fear are Las Vegas classics that we never want to forget. The attractions are the epitome of style and story as they take audiences through an asylum of terror and torment and a hotel complete with secrets and sordid lives. And they’re designed around and within transportable trailers, allowing the creators to completely utilize the space without having to worry about all the blood staining the carpets. When you want to see haunted houses created by purists for purists, Asylum and Hotel Fear are where to go in Vegas.