City of the Dead 2011

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall
Alex G9101099.5
Alex K89998.75

Kris Kropelnicki

I don’t even know what to say, or where to begin. My brain is still numb from my experience at this haunt, so cognitive thought has not returned yet. Forgive me.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this haunt is tame because of its location in the tent at the Mile High Marketplace. And don’t you dare lull yourself into a false sense of security because, “It’s not a REAL haunted house”. If you do, you will be sorry. Judge Graves will see to that. What an EPIC experience! Whatever you do, DO NOT run through this haunt or go through with your face buried in the back of the person in front of you. Walk through, eyes wide open and all of your senses on high alert and allow yourself to become fully immersed in the City of the Dead. If you do any less than that you will miss one of the most spectacular haunted attractions you may ever see in your lifetime!

This heart pounding, spine tingling, jaw dropping ride into complete psychosis starts long before you get inside. Step out of your car and you will immediately hear and feel the hum of the energy within. The levels are nearly nuclear!

Approaching the ticket booth you will meet zombies, and each one possesses their own brand of terror. Make up and costumes are created by some incredibly talented people. Their designs rival the best of the best in the industry, including film. The actors are completely transformed into their characters and nothing is overlooked. Every actor is authentic down to their smells, the way they feel, and every detail is present. I don’t think the actors chew gum or eat hard candy here. That tickles me to no end! It’s very disappointing to see an amazing actor in an equally amazing costume and set only to have them get up on you and smell like Juicy Fruit gum. A tiny detail like that can completely kill a scene for me. Picky? Why yes, I am thank you. I search for complete suspension of disbelief in a haunt and it takes very minute details to bring that suspension to a grinding halt. All of that said, City of the Dead seems to understand this, or maybe I just got lucky. I sure hope it was deliberate though. Don’t worry, none of the zombies have actual zombie breath; they just don’t smell like candy.

While you are waiting in line take a look at the new Scarevision monitors. Watch as your fellow humans get the life scared out of them inside. The great part is that you don’t get enough from the cameras inside to ruin the scares for you. Very well done.

Set design is impeccable down to the very last detail. I have only one recommendation and that would be to try and conceal actor entry/exit points in scenes better. There is so much going on within this haunt, most people probably won’t even notice them. If they do, they will quickly be distracted by the level of insanity happening around them and will forget it long before it even registers in their mind.

Upon entering the haunt you are led to the bench of the dishonorable Judge Graves by Sergeant Slaughter who will tower over you and make sure that you show respect for authority. The death penalty is handed down frequently in the court room and the sentence is a journey into madness that few have envisioned, even in their worst nightmares.

Did I mention that we are only in the first room of the haunt? Buckle up; your ride is just beginning. Once you enter the depths of the city, be prepared for sights, sounds and the vibration in your bones that something awful is about to happen. As you walk through the ruins of the city you will see that the familiar shops and businesses have been overrun by ferocious, hungry zombies and there is no place you can hide. Stop in at Dolly’s for some delightfully desecrated donuts and don’t forget to visit your grandma at the nursing home. She may not look the way you remember her, but she is there all the same.

Are you in need of blood? Stop in at the blood bank and get replenished if you dare! You may pass on this once you see where the supply is coming from! If you happen to bleed out and die, the morgue is open and has room for your rotting corpse as does the cemetery.

Wrecked cars everywhere, bodies strewn around like forgotten ragdolls, blood spilled everywhere in the streets, it is true mayhem at its finest!

The layout of the haunt is fantastic! I really enjoy the fact that the haunt is not linear. Guests are forced to weave their way in and out of sets and come face to face with their worst nightmares and it’s working very well!

This is a must see haunt for anyone who seeks full immersion!

Pros: Sets, costumes/makeup, smells
Cons: Can see some actor entrance/exit points

Ryan Acker

For the 2011 season, City of the Dead Haunted House ramped it up! The pure attention to detail expanded beyond the rooms and into the smells, the outfits, and every prop you could lay an eye on. The people who build this haunt have unbelievable talent as they successfully constructed a zombie infested city in a tent at the local flea market!

The changes this haunt made were incredible. Every room from Scalpie’s Barbershop to Dolly’s Bakery was infused with detail not seen in any other haunt I have encountered. The moment you walk through the entrance you are greeted with the arrival of Judge Graves and his officer, sentencing you to death as you proceed to wander through his city. Separating us into 2 groups, we then proceeded through tunnels of mass death where past victims now lay to rest. Soon after that, one of the best props was laying on a slab. Flowing blood emerged from his rotting corpse just draining into the city’s sewer system we would later encounter. The gruesomeness continued in every room from start to finish!

Besides praising this haunt for the entire review, I would like to point out some of its minor flaws. When exploring the city streets, following the designated path can be somewhat difficult. If you take a wrong turn here, you miss a quarter of the haunt. Also, I noticed black curtains throughout the haunt. These took away from some of the detail in the room and also allowed me to predict where some of the actors would emerge.

As we proceeded the darling inhabitants awaited our entrance. Actors jumping over damaged vehicles screaming at us to proceed set the bar high for the rest of the so called zombies and they delivered! The moods in this haunt constantly change as some actors are joyous to see some new “fresh meat” arrive and others just want your scent to leave their precious city. Each actor must really enjoy what they do as they are filled with excitement and intensity in order to provide you with a great scare.

The employees of this haunt are incredible at what they do. Expanding detail into objects you would never expect. The costumes include more details than some haunts can do in one set. When I walked out of this haunt I was in pure disbelief on what I just experienced. This year, they added new “Scare Vision” cameras to provide queue line entertainment and assure you that what you just experienced was real. For the 2011 season, City of the Dead will be a very difficult haunt to top.

Pros: Acting, Rooms, Sets.
Cons: Path somewhat hard to follow, Black curtains, lack of lighting in certain areas.

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Steven Acker

WOW, WHAT A HOUSE!!!! Best one yet!! This is located at the Flea Market on I-76, yes it’s in a huge white tent and you’re thinking, really? But trust me when I say that City of the Dead is FANTASTIC!! The sets were out of this world and the actors were truly enjoying their jobs! While you’re getting your tickets you start out by getting to meet a great 12 footish tall ghoul and another gentleman that had trouble keeping his food inside of himself, we knew right then that this was a very special place. The makeup and costumes were second to none, and that was even before we got inside.

Where else can I take you in this house?!!? In the line area they had TV’s set up with a scare cam…the cameras didn’t show enough of whatever rooms they were in so you couldn’t know what to expect when you hit a particular room, but the looks on the people’s faces were precious…great for some laughs while we were waiting to go in there so that we could get our petrified faces on the scare cam! You can still see the tent above you, if you DARE look up, but there are enough distractions and a lot of rooms where that’s not even a consideration. They start you off with a fantastic looking cop and Judge Graves sentencing everyone to death, then they split up the groups…uh ohhhh, this really can’t be good!

I could take you through every set and gag but let me save time and space by saying they were all great…I heard through the grapevine that the great Master Baitman couldn’t get a scare out of our fearless leader. Is she a rock or what!?! I can guarantee that he’ll get one out of you, though!! I personally don’t care for a haunt having floors that are too clean and polished…this place was the total opposite! The things that totally made this haunt the best yet were the details, it was the guts hanging out of a character and having to look twice to see if it was real or a costume (it was real AND it was a costume…that’s how good it was), it was the crunching below your feet while going through the graveyard and it was the enjoyment that the actors got out of scaring the pants off of you.

In closing, I can’t recommend this haunt enough if what you’re looking for is a fantastic, exciting night of entertainment!

Pros: Details, Costumes, Sets, Actors
Cons: ummmmmm, and then theeeeeeeee, ummm, they could use some work on the aahhhhhhhh….sorry, got none

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Kathie Holt

This haunt really got me going. I literally felt as though I was in a quarantined city of the living dead. I was freaked out before I ever got in the door and the new ‘Scare Vision’ broadcast is fun too. You get to watch others get scared while you wait. I truly loved everything about this haunt.

The city is alive with the dead to the point you can literally feel the ground vibrate beneath your feet. I have no idea how they pulled that off, but it was awesome.

It’s judgment day at City of the Dead. The sound effects are so genuine to a city that has lost all sense of order. Sirens are going off and loud semi horns that will make you think a huge truck is going to come crashing through the wall. Chaos and terror are everywhere and the actors here did an amazing job at convincing me that I was not going to make it out of there. The props were amazing and make me actually stop to see if the bleeding torso on the table was real. The sets are filled with real props and actors will fly out at you from them. The costumes are beyond belief. They are some of the best corpse masks and makeup design I have ever seen. The citizens do not want you there! Get out is heard a lot but it’s more of an “I cannot resist the smell of your flesh much longer” type of get out.

The blood bank in this city is stellar. Of course blood is what they crave and they are fully indulging. I nearly gagged but it was amazing. The city streets are alive with activity and give a real feel of chaos. I can honestly say that my heart was racing and I was feeling a bit anxious in here. There were several places that I was caught off guard and gasped or even screamed and felt the urge to run.

The very end would have to be my favorite part. This chainsaw wielding maniac WILL make you run for the exit. There is also plenty going out in the lobby area as well. Vendors with a great assortment of food and beverage items, and some novelty vendors with some really interesting things to offer. You will get a small taste of the city the moment you arrive at the ticket counter as well. I think this a nice touch.

This will be a must see again this year and next.

Pros: Hard to only list 3 but they are: The actors, The Props and FX, The vibration in the floors
Cons: the parachute tunnel (done to death), the meat locker was lacking something, and I truly cannot think of a third.

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Alex Gallegos

A city overrun by zombies is the stuff of horror movies, and something that most of us will never actually see in real life until the radiation finally seeps into the groundwater. If you just can’t wait until the toxic materials buried in the desert creep their way down to the water table, then City of the Dead is your haunt.

The city has been taken over by the hordes of the undead but unlike the mindless hordes envisioned by Romero, the government has actually continued to function remarkably well. The haunt opens in a courtroom where you and your fellow haunt goers await sentencing. Charge? You’re still breathing, of course! Unfortunately this makes you a criminal in the sunken eye sockets of the law and you’re sentenced. Fortunately you’re offered a chance to save yourself – the court is undead, not unfair – and if you can get out of the city alive you’ll be allowed to keep your breathing privileges.

The location allows for you to really feel like you’re moving through a city with a good mix of indoor and outdoor environments. I’d say there are at least 5 real, actual cars inside the city crashed into walls, some with their headlights still blaring and some looking as dead as the rest of the city.

I did have a bit of a hard time trying to get into the suspense before we actually got into the haunt itself; outside, two cars have crashed. And not just crashed, but crashed spectacularly. It’s as if they drove into one another, then both got rolled over by a semi and then, finally, spent several hours on fire. An 8-foot-tall man with a massive hammer stomps around the outdoors area, scaring guests. It’s creepy. Then the first sight upon entering is an entire corner lit blue with hundreds of glowing, spinning, blinking things, which have always struck me as whimsical rather than creepy. Once you get into the line, however, there’s no turning back and the suspense begins. If you’re lined up for a long time, you can watch the people before you get completely scared on a closed circuit feed from several cameras inside the haunt.

The details were astounding but I didn’t feel like I could see them all because of the low light level. It’s hard to strike a balance between creepiness and light, of course, but a little more strategic spot lighting on some of these elements would have been welcome. Posters from health organizations and other signs were scattered throughout, and it was obvious that someone put a lot of work into them, and it was just a shame that some of that couldn’t be readily enjoyed or appreciated.

Pathing through the haunt was exciting, and kept us from just going straight from the entrance to the exit. Rooms were built to force us to move around the major set pieces, thereby seeing a lot more than we might otherwise.

There were a few slight complaints, though none major enough that I wouldn’t recommend the haunt. I did find some of the inconsistencies off-putting as they broke me out of the illusion somewhat. For example, why did these zombies have chainsaws? Zombies that can run and speak are an acceptable break from what is considered an Undead Zombie for me, especially because it’d be hard to have good actors if they’re only allowed to say “arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” and stumble around. But once the zombies go for the power tools, the gig is pretty much up. This section at the end – even though it featured one of the best chainsaw actors I have ever seen in my entire life – just felt tacked on. In my opinion there needs to be a good answer to any potential addition to a haunt, and if the question is, “Should we have actors chasing people with chainsaws?” then there needs to be a better answer than, “Of course! This is a haunted house! Haunted houses have chainsaws!” Finally, the length was a little long for me… not so much so that it outstayed its welcome, but just enough that I started to feel like rooms were repeating themselves. “Oooh, look! Halves of corpses on operating tables! Kinda like the halves of corpses on the bunk beds before that, or the halves of corpses on the dining room table before that.”

Pros: Great acting, some of the best costumes I have ever seen, unique and unexpected experiences
Cons: Started to feel somewhat repetitive towards the end, chainsaw bits felt tacked on, insufficient lighting to appreciate extreme detail work.

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Justeen Walters

If I had to sum up City of the Dead in just one word, it would be PERFECT! In the beginning, you are led into a court room and get sentenced to death in the city for being among the living. After being released from the court room, you are sent to the city to try to survive. When you do get released into the city, the remains of someone that did not make it through the city are lying on a table in the middle of the room. The body is pumping fluids, and it is just so disgusting, it is awesome! Throughout the haunt you will see car crashes and zombies walking around wanting to kill you. The props, details, and smells of this haunt were so authentic it truly made me feel that is was almost real! The costumes were beyond amazing! There was one costume in particular that stuck out to me. The actor was a zombie with his guts falling out. The actors looked authentic and played their characters extremely well! The actors really made me feel like they were truly crazy and they weren’t anyone I’d ever want to come across on the street! The haunt was very good in length and they definitely used the space very well. If you only go to one haunt this year, I would definitely choose this one, it is well worth your money and you will get plenty of scares!!

Pros: Acting, props, length
Cons: None

Alex Kratz

Frantic, dark, cluttered and gruesome. These are just a few words to describe City of the Dead, a haunted house that just blew me away.

I’ve always been a huge fan of zombie movies so to see an entire haunted house dedicated to the idea of a zombie infested city made me excited. It wasn’t until I got inside that I really saw that it was even better than I could have imagined. Every part was so focused and cohesive. All of the props, animatronics, actors, sounds and even smells just screamed zombie apocalypse.

City of the Dead took no prisoners when it came to their set design. All of the hallways that transitioned to the next room or scene felt like traversing barren and desolate streets. The trashcans, use of real destroyed cars and even the small things like signs on the wall brought it all to life. While all of the rooms looked amazing, there were a few strange transitions. Being on street and then suddenly on the inside of some kind of electricity facility was a bit odd. I would like to make a special mention of the corpse props. They were all amazingly unique and fitted to each scene perfectly. One thing to appreciate is the just how gory and nasty it all was. They took some bold steps and it paid off.

While zombie movies know how to portray the walking dead, it’s not quite as easy for a haunted house. I must say though, City of the Dead’s actors were able to make sure you felt like a tasty morsel wandering in their territory. All of the actors had a role, a personality and a different way to try and scare you. There were just a couple of brief moments that felt like an actor could have been there but that was the worst of the acting.

City of the Dead was simply, one of the best haunted houses I have ever been to. Writing this review was difficult for me, however. I struggled to find anything that could use improvements, other than some minor nitpicks. There could have been a little bit more lighting in certain areas, a couple strange transitions, and a few blank moments. In the end though, this is a place any hardcore haunt goer would hate to miss.

Pros: Cohesive, scary, acting
Cons: Bit too dark, odd transitions

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Marlena Baker

Looking to get your zombie fix? City of the Dead is the place to go. It’s full of great scares, dark corners, and a healthy serving of the undead. Be ready for a city in ruin, lots of zombies, plenty of insanity, and a lot of gore. City of the Dead will attack your senses visually and through smell, giving you the feeling of being in a place that is literally rotting.

Hollywood would be jealous of this place. The set is well planned and executed. Props are realistic and well used. Each part of the city is put together for maximum scare and gross factor. There’s not a dull moment. It even makes you use four of your five senses as you make your way through the city, giving you a deeper experience. The smells were a great touch. From the very beginning they disoriented me and then threw me into a horror story. Each room was well done, with all the elements working together to make it clear what it had been before the outbreak. That was powerful. It was a lot creepier seeing all those familiar places in this ruined city. Not all the transitions between areas of the city were perfect, but it didn’t break my experience. The lighting was a bit on the dark side. There was a lot of detail that I wish I’d gotten a good look at, but the lighting helped a lot with the atmosphere.

The actors were dedicated and enthusiastic. Their costumes were mind blowing. However, I’d have liked more actors. There were some rooms that only had props and could have used some ‘life’. The actors did a great job showing us the range between horribly violent and subtly deranged. They were especially effective while we were outside the various buildings of the city. They jumped on cars and came running at us, delivering some great scares. There was no holding back.

City of the Dead is a whole lot of thrills and scares. Every room in the city introduces a new type of horror. You’ll never have a dull moment while you explore the city and avoid getting eaten.

Pros: theme, props, uses every possible sense
Cons: some details hard to see, sparse actors, some awkward transitions

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