Vegas.com’s Halloween Countdown: Scarefest

With Halloween on the horizon (it’s next Friday people), our countdown continues. Are you excited? Of course, you are!

Instead of good-spirited fun fit for family and friends, today we’re tracking down terror. That’s right – five of the scariest, creepiest and most terrifying attractions are located in and around Vegas. But be warned, these aren’t for the faint-hearted.

Some of Sin City’s haunts are so elaborate – in terms of props and special effects – that they’re practically full-fledged Hollywood productions. And the folks who are responsible for creating them all share the same basic philosophy: Let’s scare the crap out of everyone.

From a huge destination scream park to the one-of-kind “victim experience,” we guarantee only one thing – that you’ll yell until you’re hoarse. And you’ll love it. At least you will if you make it out alive.

Jason Egan is the maniacal genius behind Fright Dome

Jason Egan is the maniacal genius behind Fright Dome. Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

Fright Dome

Where: Inside The Adventuredome at Circus Circus
When: Oct. 23 – 26 and 29 – 31 from 7 p.m. – midnight. A special “Afterlife” event in honor of the Day of the Dead will be held on Nov. 1 from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Cost: General admission tickets cost between $34.95 and $39.95 (depending on the night you attend). Add $20 if you’d like a fast pass. VIP tour tickets cost $89.95.

In the who’s who of blood-curdling horror, there’s one name you need to know – Jason Egan. For more than 10 years, he’s been the evil mastermind behind transforming Circus Circus’ five-acre indoor theme park into Fright Dome, which is ranked among the five scariest haunted attractions in the country.

So what does Egan have in store for you this year? Be prepared to test your nerves in five new haunted houses (six, if you opt for the fast pass). Just typing their names is enough to freak me out: the Isolation Haunted House, Hillbilly Hell Offspring, Zombie Quarantine 2.0, Dead End and Killer Clown 4-D with glowing, demonic clowns. Also watch out for Leatherface in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house. (Warning: Egan is really devoted to gore.)

Plus, there are four special scare zones at Fright Dome. Be on your guard when exploring the Dead West Zone filled with rotting cowboys and the Redrum Zone, where you’ll find chainsaw-wielding maniacs. More menacing clowns lurk in the Clown Overload Zone, and your senses will go into overdrive in the high-tech Hyper Charged Zone.

And if that’s not enough, you can scare yourself silly on all of The Adventuredome’s spine-tingling rides like the Canyon Blaster and El Loco roller coasters, Chaos, Disk’O, Inverter, Slingshot and many others.

Come and see horrors that abound in The Trilogy of Terror.

Horrors abound in The Trilogy of Terror. Photo courtesy of Freakling Bros.

The Trilogy of Terror by Freakling Bros.

Where: 4245 S. Grand Canyon Dr. (I-215 at West Flamingo Road)
When: Oct. 20 – 23 and 26 – 29 from 7 – 11 p.m.; Oct. 24 – 25 and 30 – 31 from 7 p.m. – midnight.
Cost: Circus of Horrors and Castle Vampyre cost $12 each; the Gates of Hell costs $15. You can purchase a Freak Pass to enter all three for $30 or an All Night Pass with unlimited trips through all three for $40.

There’s not one, not two…but three terrifying haunted houses here. It’s a menacing Halloween triple-header. Do you dare enter all them? For sure!

Up first, the Circus of Horrors. As the name suggests, it’s a tent housing a shocking collection of human oddities. So prepare to get up and close and personal with some sideshow freaks. Afterward, cover up your neck and head into the vampire-themed Castle Vampyre. (Tip: Try to avoid all the blood-sucking beasts.) Last but certainly not least is the Gates of Hell, which is an R-rated haunted attraction. Dubbed “The Darker Side of Freakling Bros.,” you’ll make a frightening descent into a fearsome underworld, where there’s a very good chance you’ll meet the Prince of Darkness. And if you do, go ahead and scream your lungs out.

The Victim Experience by Freakling Bros.

Where: 4245 S. Grand Canyon Dr. (I-215 at West Flamingo Road)
When:  Oct. 24 – 25 and 31 from 7 p.m. – midnight and Oct. 26 from 7 – 11 p.m.
Cost:  $120 on Oct. 24 – 26 and $150 on Oct. 31.

This is going to be a bit tricky to describe…and it definitely won’t sound like a treat. Perhaps Freakling Bros. has even gone a step too far in their mission of spreading terror. Last year, the company introduced something called The Victim Experience. Truly immersive and available for only four nights, it’s designed to put you through a mental wringer. There’s even a safe word (remember “purgatory”) in case you become overwhelmed – and, would you believe, last year nearly 80 percent of those who attempted The Victim Experience needed to use it.

Before entering, you’ll have to take an orientation and safety class. And then you should steel yourself for what’s described as “various forms of psychological, emotional and sensory torture” while putting up zero resistance. Not only will you undergo harassment and verbal abuse, but your clothing may also be damaged or removed. Still interested? You’re braver than we are!

The Asylum

It's frightmares galore for those who enter The Asylum. Photo courtesy of RJ Productions.

The Asylum and Hotel Fear

Where: Meadows Mall at 4300 Meadows Lane
When: Oct. 23, 26 and 29 from 6:30 – 10 p.m.; Oct. 24 – 25, 30 – 31 and Nov. 1 from 6:30 p.m. – midnight.
Cost: General admission is $15 for one or $25 for both; VIP admission (allowing you to bypass the lines) is $20 for one or $35 for both.

This attraction was created by Rich and Jan Strelak of R&J Productions and recently designated as a “Top Haunted Attraction” on the West Coast by Forbes magazine. It features two haunts, The Asylum and Hotel Fear, with an interconnecting storyline.

When you step into The Asylum, be prepared for a hair-raising trip. (Would you expect anything less from a dilapidated building housing the insane?) This is where Dr. Vander and his genius son – who don’t practice behavioral science by the book – cared for Mortimer Foeray. They tried to cure him of his criminal tendencies.

Following his “successful” treatment at The Asylum, Mortimer returned to Hotel Foeray (aka Hotel Fear) and killed everyone there – except a girl in room 13. If he hadn’t gone berserk, checking into this hotel might not be the frightful experience it is now. But suffice to say, Mortimer, the many people he killed and the weird Vanders all refuse to rest peacefully. As you wander through various rooms and secret passages in both The Asylum and Hotel Fear, their tortured spirits are likely to come torture you!

Botched experiments are among the horrors inside the secret government installation Project X. Photo courtesy ProjectXVegas.com.

Project X and XXX

Where: 1848 N. Las Vegas Blvd.
When: Oct. 23 – 26 and Oct. 30 – Nov. 1. Project X runs from 7 – 11 p.m. and Project XXX runs from 11 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Cost: General admission to Project X is $15 (with a $1 discount for members of the military with an ID); VIP/fast pass admission is $20. General admission to Project XXX is $25; VIP/fast pass admission to Project XXX is $30.

The idea of entering a secret government installation called the Global DNA Institute is frightening enough on its own, but then to learn that scientists have been conducting inappropriate research (aka Project X) while searching for cures to various diseases adds to the horror. Botched experiments have left many test subjects…well, not exactly dead, but not exactly alive either. When you tour the bunker’s maze-like corridors, you’re sure to encounter some of these shady scientists and their eerie patients.

And when the clock strikes 11 p.m., a transformation occurs. Project X becomes Project XXX, or rather a XXX-rated haunted attraction. So among the undead, some nearly naked zombie girls might just bump (and grind) into you.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.