Circus of Fear 2011

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall
Alex G891099
Alex K45876

Kris Kropelnicki

Who knew that the circus could go so terribly wrong in such a visually stunning way! This was a great 3D haunt, and coming from me that is saying a lot! I am not a fan of neon paint and 3D in general, but this was done very well and the effects lasted long after I came out.

Located at Fat Cats in Westminster, this haunt begins as you are walking up to it. One actress on insanely high stilts had great costuming and makeup, but the real treat was her acting. Take a few minutes to watch her and you too will be mesmerized. She was very intriguing to say the least! There was also a flame twirling act going on that was good and looked even better through the 3D glasses.

I really enjoyed the actors that take your tickets at the haunt entrance. Both were very good and I loved that we were drawn in close and told the back story for the haunt. Having that information really tied everything together and was a great touch that I haven’t seen elsewhere. The actor that told the back story did a superb job of appearing friendly with an undercurrent of malice which had me rethinking how close I was standing to him, as well as his rabbit friend that says nothing but manages to get his point across.

Once inside the circus tent, reality quickly took a back seat to some very creative use of 3D paint effects. Although a few of the designs are less than perfect, the illusions they produced are fantastic and for me, the lack of perfection gave the feeling that a twisted, troubled soul had added some of their insanity on the walls.

There are some great illusions here and they will really keep you guessing about what is real and what is not. One scene with a caged lion was a fantastic surprise because it was not at all what it appeared to be. The execution in this room was great!

The stairs were fantastic and really pushed my mind, forcing it to try and distinguish between fantasy and reality. This is an effect I have never seen before and it works very well.

The maze is done well and is perfect in length. It is long enough to get a person lost, but not so long that it becomes frustrating. Actors in here thoroughly enjoyed taunting our group and their wickedness made the torment jangle my nerves a bit.

Acting was consistently good as was costuming and makeup. Some actors have 3D paint as part of their makeup and it really makes their facial expressions come alive. Again, this is something I haven’t seen before and it worked well for them.

Sets and lighting are good with only one transition that broke up the flow of the haunt a bit. That was one tiny hiccup that really didn’t detract from the overall effect.

Not overly scary and an absence of the typical gore make this a great haunt for all ages although, young children may have a difficult time navigating through. If you are looking to truly blur the line between fantasy and reality, go see this haunt!!

Pros: 3D effects, stairs, lion cage
Cons: One transition

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Ryan Acker

Circus of Fear 3D is a true clown horror. Complete with a story line that includes an alien artifact and a savage monkey, this would be downright terrifying for anybody with coulrophobia (Fear of Clowns). As you walk up to Fat Catz bowling alley, you notice the big top complete with a fire dancer and a few actors setting the mood for the mayhem you’re about to experience within the tent. I must admit, I had my doubts about the 3D claim, but no false advertising is found here! The artwork and detail to the 3D design was so astonishing, it was even was present in actor makeup.

As you arrive at the entrance, you put on your 3D glasses which transformed your vision to view everything in a new perspective. You are then informed of the changes that have taken place within the once peaceful and serene circus. A monkey has escaped and morphed the circus and its joyful clowns into a demonic hangout. You then begin your trip into this story line. The artwork in here is unbelievable as portraits of sinister clowns line the walls and provide a plethora of color to overload your senses. Trying to process this much art in a short amount of time is nearly impossible! When we emerged in a narrow hallway, your eyes see that stairs are emerging from the floor, but physically it is flat ground. This was awesome! I could list all the 3D effects in this haunt from start to finish but the only way to truly experience the effects is to go and see it for yourself!

Actors in this haunt were great. Interacting with you through every twist and turn and even through a maze provided a sense of helplessness as you wandered through this circus. Everything from yelling at as, pulling an elephants tail, and learning that one actor was never hired, enhanced the scare factor even though we were out of the haunt! The positions for the haunt are volunteer but you would never notice. The determination these people put into having a good haunted house is remarkable. If you are into art and looking for some good scares, Circus of Fear would be a great choice!

Pros: 3D Art throughout, unique storyline, more to acting than just screams.

Cons: Somewhat short

Steven Acker

When you first drive up to Circus of Fear in Westminster, you definitely get the impression you’re going to "the circus", and there’s nothing that gets you in the mood for a circus like a fire thrower and a great crazy stilt lady waiting for you outside the big top tent!! We were even spooked out by a mystery psycho rabbit, whom no one from the haunt seemed to know who it was. A very nice touch about this haunt was that it actually came with a back story, and the whole haunt makes great sense if you take a few minutes to read the story while you’re buying your tickets.

Mystery rabbit aside, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we entered the big top but it started out great with the ticket taker, who was PERFECT in his character with a great accent and had you leaning at his podium, because you wanted to be sure that you didn’t miss a word of his instructions. Truth be told I wasn’t expecting big things out of the 3D concept but I was very impressed with what they came up with! Throughout several areas in the tent they had what looked like steps, complete with railings, only to find out that they were flat. About the time you thought all they had were flat steps, you come upon real steps, only it was a ladder with a surprise slide on the other side.

They kept you disoriented throughout the entire haunt. They had great 3D effects including very well done 3D paintings on the walls (some great skulls), a very nice effect with with a crystal ball alien where the eyes were literally popping out at you, and throughout the entire haunt you are expecting something to come out at you at all times. The best one in my book was in the polka dot room where, you guess it, a spook dressed in polka dots came "out of the wall" and gave us a great fright! You were actually expecting it to happen when you walked into the room, but just the way he/she blended into the wall was a piece of art on it’s own! Bravo, very nice!! Another great spot was the cage, it had a couple of clowns trying to keep whatever was in it from breaking out, but it did break out and it was a fearless lion!!! All right, sounds kind of corny when I say it that way but the production was great!

At the very end was the asylum room where all the crazy people were hanging out (I felt very at home in this room), including the back story star, Bubbles the monkey! All in all, I was very impressed with this haunt…if they keep adding rooms and ideas, it won’t take them long to be a top 5 haunt in Denver!!

Pros: crystal ball alien, 3D artwork, 3D concept, alien artifact outside the exit to add to the mystery
Cons: a little short but not bad, a couple of slow areas that could have used a spook

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Kathie Holt

This little circus full of freaks will grab you by the brain and drag you straight into its twisted realm of terror. Bubbles the monkey had gotten loose, and when he returned, he brought something very unnatural with him. This haunt is entirely 3D and yes, they provide the glasses. I was told that if I took them off the clowns would eat my face. However, it just wouldn’t be the same without them. The walls are painted with some of the most amazing images that will follow you and pop out at you and even make you miss a step. I was completely disoriented from start to finish here, and found myself just constantly giggling as if I had gone mad.

There is a flame juggler at the entrance and if you watch him in 3D it is pretty awesome. The very very tall mime out front will have you mesmerized just watching her watching you. Once you get inside the actors in this haunt had some of the best florescent paint I have ever seen and they almost make you believe that they are not quit right in the head. There are some very cool holographic images in here as well. Or are they? You will not expect a rabid wild animal to become life-like. Sorry NO spoilers folks.

The ground is painted too, giving you the illusion that you will be going up or down, when you really aren’t. There is even a slide in this little fun house, but you cannot see the bottom of the slide until you actually get there. The gypsy is very cool. Look into her crystal ball, and you may see someone. I almost forgot to mention the white rabbit. He is a bit creepy; he will lead you in and then randomly disappear and reappear again and again. There is a fun little spot to get lost in here and it will not keep you lost for too long, just long enough to make you want to get away from the giggling little circus freak that laughs at you and will deceive you. The polka dot room comes to life when the walls start walking around. That got me completely disoriented and I got turned around for just a moment.

They have done an amazing job with the story end for this haunt. You will meet Bubbles and finally understand just what exactly went wrong in this little big top of terror. I felt that the length of this haunt was perfect as you are truly disoriented and awed all the way through. You also get some pretty amazing perks with this haunt. Fat City and Dave & Buster’s have teamed up with his haunt to give you a full night of fun. So get to Westminster and check it out!

Pros- 3D effects, good story, good length, good acting
Cons- transition between tents

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Alex Gallegos

This haunt has a backstory!

I think that bears repeating, so I’ll say it again. THIS HAUNT HAS A BACKSTORY!

A haunted house isn’t about going in, walking around the dark, and letting people scream at you for 10 minutes to give you a couple good startle scares… at least not a good one. A great haunted house is an experience, and taking some time to set the story beforehand really works well.

According to the poster where you buy your tickets, the traveling circus you are about to enter used to be perfectly fine, but after rolling into Colorado and setting up shop, one of the monkeys escaped from his cage and got lost in the wilderness. His trainer went looking for him and found him a few days later, hungry, tired, and alone. To take shelter from the elements, he hid himself under what looked suspiciously like an alien artifact. The trainer approached the monkey kindly but by that time the poor thing had gone mad from fear, hunger, loneliness… oh, right, and ridiculous proximity to an alien artifact FROM SPACE. The monkey bit the trainer, and it seems that from there something has infected the entire circus.

It’s just a few paragraphs on a poster (nicely summarized by the actor taking your tickets as well in case you didn’t see it coming in) but it really added to the experience for me. Ask any other circus haunt why all the clowns have gone crazy and are out for blood and they’ll probably freeze in their tracks. “Because clowns are evil,” they might say. “Maybe they’re just tired of being clowns.” “Maybe all the kids at the circus annoyed them too much with the whining and the crying.” Or, the most probable answer of all, “Stop asking annoying questions.” Just the fact that someone not only came up with a story, but attempted to answer the question of what was going on started me off on the right foot, and I went in with the mindset that someone was actually thinking about what was going on.

I could rave about the creativity all night, but if I don’t make mention of the 3D effects I will be sorely remiss. The populace is divided on whether 3D movies are the wave of the future or not but in a setting like this everything definitely works the way you’d want it to. Faces come off the walls at you, stair cases appear to be leading you down when really you are on flat terrain, and even the very walls seem to be jumping out at you in places. Some of the actors are even wearing the 3D paint and that makes their faces stretch out at you as you walk by. Most haunts have good sets or props, but very few have visual effects with the exception of fog machines. This one does; it actually strives to make something interactive happen before your very eyes and the effect works really, really well.

Pros: Backstory sets the scene nicely, cool visual effects, has an artifact FROM SPACE!
Cons: The emphasis is on the 3D effects and the alien story, which creates a sense of mystery, intrigue, and wonder, but it’s not crap-your-pants scary if you’re looking for something to really terrify you. Sometimes the regular lights tend to hurt your eyes through the 3D specs. Haunt does not actually travel to space.

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Justeen Walters

Circus of Fear is a circus themed 3D haunt in Westminster. Before entering the haunt, there is a clown who will take your ticket and also tell you the back-story of what happened to make the people of the circus go crazy. I thought this was a very cool idea since most haunts do not really do this. There was a white rabbit that was at the entrance that I really enjoyed. He would lead us through parts of the haunt, then disappear and reappear later in the haunt. I’m not quite sure how he was disappearing so fast or where he went, but it made it that much better! Throughout the haunt, they use neon paint that makes everything appear 3D with your 3D glasses (which are provided.) They definitely used it well and it messed with your perceptions. For example, there was a place in the haunt where it looked like there was a set of stairs you had to go up, only to find out it was just painted to seem that way. They also used the paint well to hide the actors and help them blend in. The effects of the paint kept me very unsure and disoriented at times which only added to the fun and scare factor of it all! The actors were mostly clowns, which typically do not scare me, but they gave me some good scares! They all stayed in character very well, which almost made me believe I truly was stuck in a circus full of mad clowns. The costumes and make-up were both done very well! My favorite room was the room with the lion which had a nice surprise in it! At the end of the haunt, you will meet the star of the show, Bubbles the Monkey! The monkey who brought the craziness to this circus in the first place! This haunt could have been a little bit longer but overall I think the length was pretty good for the fun experience I had in there!

Pros-acting, props, costumes
Cons-length could be a little longer

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Alex Kratz

Circus of Fear 3D is a very unique haunt that tries to mess with your perceptions.

It’s always a welcome thing to see someone trying something unheard of. While Circus of Fear wasn’t really scary, it’s definitely a great concept they brought to the table. The use of neon paints and 3D glasses makes a really trippy effect for the eyes. There are some obvious flaws with this haunt, namely some sub-par acting, flimsy construction and I personally, don’t think clowns are scary.

The potential of the 3D effects at Circus of Fear are great. It’s kind of hard to describe what it looks like, but basically, the various pictures, splatters and other things on the walls and floors seem to shift and move around you. My immediate reaction was to reach out and try to touch the floating splatters in front of me. There were some really amazing uses of the 3D that will really throw you off. On the floor, multi-color stairs appear to take you down a couple steps, but in reality, it’s all just a flat floor. I had to tap my foot on it nervously ever time because it is such a real looking illusion. The fun illusions and great paintings on the walls are what makes Circus of Fear stand out, but unfortunately, the acting and scares are really where it falls apart.

I’ve never found clowns or circuses scary and I never will. Beyond that fact, the acting just wasn’t very impressive, except for one actor in particular. Most of the scares were just actors popping around corners. A lot of them didn’t even seem to give a good growl or anything. The one exception I have is the man who takes your tickets at the beginning. He has this whole crazy back story as to what happened to the circus. He draws you in, makes you lean in close and really sells the whole thing. It is nice to get a back story before going into something like a haunted house. Most places have a blurb on their websites, but to get it in such a fun narrative makes it all the better.

Circus of Fear 3D should be commended for being brave enough to try something so unusual and for the most part, it is really cool. I would really say to go see Circus of Fear. It is fun, unique and is a place that deserves customers.

Pros: great effects, cool back story, potential for more illusions
Cons: don’t like clowns, not very scary, acting could be better

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Marlena Baker

Circus of Fear 3D was a shock to me. I’m not big on clowns or circus themed haunted houses, or so I thought. This was an amazing haunt. It was freaky and it threw me off balance, even before I entered the structure itself.

The star of the show was the setting. The 3D aspect of the haunt not only worked well, but it was used well. They were very creative with the use of the 3D paint, to great effect. It messed with our perceptions, making images on the walls move as we walked, distorting people’s faces, and creating sculptures out of a flat space. The bright colors used to make the 3D effect blend themselves well to the theme of a circus. The sets are only enhanced through it.

The acting was great as well, alternating between just being creepy and jumping out to scare me. The darkness in the haunt was used well by the actors. They seemed to just materialize, bringing more mind bending 3D effects with them. My favorite actor was probably the guy at the door. He gave us a great back story for the haunt, drawing us in. He was a great character and very well done. He didn’t just recite the story, he told it to us like it had actually happened, conspiring with us about the circus and it’s origins.

Circus of Fear 3D is a wacky experience. It’s well thought out and executed through both the set and the actors. The 3D effects are used very well, disorienting me and changing the world around me. It’s a great time and very creepy, even if if I didn’t find myself screaming.

Pros: effects, acting, length
Cons: sparse