Colorado Fear Fest 2014

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Kris | Alex | Jason | Peyton | Marlena | Kennedy | Regina

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Kris Kropelnicki

Colorado Fear Fest is back for its second year and together with the Circus of Fear crew has put together a haunted house attraction different from other haunts and is an eclectic mix of the circus and the old west. Not what I would have immediately chosen personally for a mix, but to my surprise, this bizarre haunted marriage somehow works, and it works well.

The haunt is located in a theater parking lot in tents and I was very skeptical about what I would see inside between the odd coupling of the two and the set up outside. As I approached the entrance, my skepticism quickly melted away as the parking lot gave way to a mini circus and the energy coming from the circus was palpable before I got inside.

The entrance is set up so that patrons enter into the circus area, purchase tickets and are asked for a phone number. Our group was informed that we would receive a text message when it was time to go into the haunt and we could enjoy the midway while we wait. This was a new concept for me as I had not seen ticketing done like this before and it was a refreshing break from the norm. Once inside, I discovered a mini circus that has a mix of funhouse mirrors, midway games and a stage for various performances. There was a young lady dancing with a hula hoop on the stage when I arrived. Initially, I thought the dancing was going to be a bit of a letdown but as the young woman got farther into her performance it became apparent that what she was doing, as well as her handling of the hula hoop, was quite complex and intricate. She was very intriguing and entertaining to watch.

The haunt is divided in two sections with the first being the Grisly Lodge and the second, the Dark Mines. The mines house the root of all evil that has stripped the employees and tenants of the Lodge of any sanity or humanity they may have once had.

The scares began immediately upon entering the Lodge. The desk manger was deranged and made sure to let us know that we would end up the same way.

As I made my way through the lodge I was victim to multiple jump scares that came from actors and even a couple of the sets themselves.

While the bulk of my scares came from within the lodge, I also found myself jumping in the mines as well. The mines had fewer actors and considerably less dialogue which reduced the number of scares that could have happened. Get the actors chanting around the root of all evil, bring the root to life with lights and sound and interact with patrons to raise the fear levels in here.


Acting seemed to follow the same path as scares and for that matter, the entire haunt; Inside the Lodge was stellar, in the Mines, needed some work although a couple of the actors there did stand out.

Consistent acting throughout, along with actors that are fully immersed in their roles will raise the bar here to unseen levels.

Costuming and makeup were well done in all areas and appropriate for the era they were in. Very well done!


Sets were outstanding in the Lodge and I found myself with full suspension of disbelief; I was immediately drawn into their world and the one I just left behind faded quickly from memory. I was completely immersed which was both delightfully fun and incredibly unnerving all at once. I felt completely out of control and at their mercy…excellent job!! Lighting, smells, details, everything worked really well to transport me to another time and place and that is a rare treat in a haunt. I loved it all!

The sets in the Mines were good, but they could use some details. I would like to see the root of all evil brought to its full potential. A few tweaks and it will have the same punch as the Lodge.


Overall length was good and there were tiny breaks between haunts that were filled with visits from some of the deranged that wandered around among us. There were a couple that were pretty darn weird…stilts guy…man, you gave me the creeps. I’m still bothered by your stalker ways. Very good job. Sticking with me long after the haunt means you rocked me!!


This is a really good haunt that is about to hit maximum density and blow everybody away. The potential here is huge and once they hit full stride, buckle up kids, it’s gonna get crazy!!! This is an experience and haunt that I simply must recommend, even if it’s for the strangeness of it all. It’s worth seeing!!


Pros: Set details, acting in lodge, circus performer

Cons: mines sets need details, mines acting needs work, overall storyline needs to be cohesive and clear between haunts

Alex Gallegos

I didn’t get a whole lot of scares at Colorado Fear Fest, but they still got me really good a couple of times, and I’m a firm believer in quality of scares over quantity. My personal rule is that if you make me scream you get a perfect score in the scare category, and Fear Fest managed it twice in the same room.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Colorado Fear Fest is a two-haunt attraction, and while you can do just one piece or the other, I recommend doing both. The two haunts each take a very different approach to their scares, something that I don’t often see from locations with two attractions. The first one, the Grisly Lodge, checks its guests into a hotel where evil is on the loose, and from the first steps into the lobby I had an authentic sense of an old hotel; bellhop, luggage carts, etc. Behind the desk sat a fellow who asked how many were in our party and promised us some hot spicy doom. Others tried to get us to turn back, a nice twist on the heavily over-used “get out!”. I will especially be always grateful one of the denizens who was insistent that I not let what happened to her (in her case a gaping head wound) happen to me, but she then turned around and insisted I was next and it was happening to me, and her rapid switching between kindness and creepiness was really jarring and unsettling.

The set work inside this haunt is really intriguing and the effects are well done, with windows shutters that move themselves and mad scientists cutting into live prisoners right before your eyes as you try in vain to find a key to free them.

The lodge ends and you get a short break in between haunts to check out the carnival games on the midway, getting a text message when it’s your turn to head to the Dark Mine, and while I appreciated being given something to do other than wait in a long line, breaking up the two experiences did lead to a loss of tension. The mood that the one haunt had created was dispersed a bit by the time I got around to the second one. Then again, maybe this section function as more of a palette cleanser, the ginger between the Spicy Tuna of the Grisly Lodge and the Unagi of the Dark Mine, because as I said, the two are very different.

Where the Lodge created a realistic hotel-like atmosphere, the Dark Mine certainly lives up to its name. It’s very dark. Here, the scares are subtler, more creepy, the unspoken and unspecific threat of unknown forces moving around in the dark doing far more to unsettle you than a large horde of mask-wearing actors would. I won’t tell you the exact circumstances of my two screams, but they happened in the Dark Mine, in a room that allowed actors to hide away from the audience almost perfectly, making absolutely sure that I only ever saw them when they wanted to be seem, and not the other way around, look as I might. Where the lodge was linear, the Dark Mine allows for a bit of backtracking and confusion as my team and I tried to find the right path, unsure several times if we were going the right direction. It was a fantastic feeling. But don’t think it’s all stumbling about in the dark… this place has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Pros: Great set design in Grisly Lodge, actors worked at some interaction, cool effects to disorient and frighten

Cons: Break in flow between experiences, can’t tell path from backstage in Dark Mine

Jason Peterson

Review coming soon!

Peyton Lucero

This haunted house is located at the Olde Town Arvada theater parking lot. Walking up, I see multiple huge tents and hear all kinds of excitement happening inside one of them. As we get our tickets, we’re told that we’re already in line and to roam around and enjoy the attractions until our name is called to go in the haunt. I thought that was a fun & awesome way to keep us entertained while we wait “in the queue line”. Inside seemed like I was at a circus. There was clowns, zombies, stilt walkers and fire breathers roaming around this show! There was also little side attractions to enjoy like tossing limbs and a hula hoop dancer.

We finally get called up to the first haunt. The outdoor facade was awesome. It was labeled as an asylum. Walking in, my eyes light up in awe! The set work and props that were used in this haunt were fantastic!

The actors that were in these sets did great on their acting & dialogue. Each one of them looked the part, with awesome makeup & prosthetics, great props to use and torn up dead costuming to finish them off. One of my favorite scenes was where a psychotic woman was playing with power tools and decided to use one of them on her victims while she was being suspended in the air by her arms. The way she used that power tool on her was pretty gnarly!

This was only the first half of the haunt. There is another haunt that ties in with the lodge, but this one is told to lead us to the root of all evil.

This haunt is called the Dark Mines, which had more of a darker, muskier feel to it. It was pretty dark when I entered and kind of hard to tell where I was going & what I was looking at. There was a little more silence going on in this haunt than the other one, which, in a way, made it even harder to distinguish where I was gonna get popped from. In a way I felt like their could have been more lighting in areas, but I also did feel like it was a cool way to get us a little bit out of our comfort zone and pull off a scare.

The set work added to this haunt wasn’t bad from what I was able to see. There was a vortex room that was filled with bats and another room that had black lights & crazy paintings on the walls to trip my mind, in which it also contained the root of all evil. I did feel like the actors could have used a little more emotion and dialogue when introducing us to the root, but altogether the room in whole flowed great and actors did a good job at incorporating the tree to their role and to us.

The ending of this haunt was a little different than I expected. When I was outside of this haunt, all I heard was a continuous loud pop that sounded like a bomb went off. I mean this thing was insanely loud and had people running and screaming from the exit. So I’m excited because I finally get to experience the ending. Excited for the intense sound at the ending, I’m faced with a guy who’s standing behind cattle blocking doors (or something of the sort) and staring directly at me. As I walk past with the bomb sound going off in my ear, I wait for the creeper to come out and start interacting with us. Instead, he waits until the very end to hit us with his chainsaw of fury. Although he seemed to be late on scare, he still followed through with his mission and went all the way until we were fully out of his room. He was determined to get us.

The length I had just traveled through was not bad. The darkness from the Dark Mines helped a little by making the haunt seem longer. The theme and role play through the Mines seemed a little sparse and lacked cohesion with the Grisly Lodge. Separately though, these haunts are enjoyable to experience. The atmosphere is great with all the side arcade games for everyone to play (kid & up), the 2 haunt attractions, live entertainment, and a concession stand for snacking or full on grubbing desires. Fun for all ages, but I’d say younger ones come with parents. An entertaining night to the max!

Pros: environment, detail in Grisly Lodge, disorientation in the Dark Mines

Cons: ticketing system can easily become clustered, queue lines are a little scrunched & hard to determine, needs more actors & detail in Dark Mines

Marlena Baker

Colorado Fear Fest is a little different, in a good way. When we got there, they took our phone number and when it was time for us to go into the haunts we got a text message. This meant that instead of standing in line we could wander the midway while we waited. It’s not a flawless system, but I think it’s a great idea.

The midway was fun. There’s concession, carnival games, and some stage shows. We had a good time watching their performances of hula hoop dancing, fire tricks, and an escape artist. There was also a fortune teller and the whole thing was staffed by by some seriously creepy dolls.

When the text came, we headed for the Grizzly Lodge. I loved the sets. Even from the door, with the creepy gate, there was some fantastic set work. Inside the hotel they paid attention to the details. There was even wallpaper on the walls. The tool shed was well done, with the right atmosphere. There’s nothing like being stuck in a room full of sharp objects with In the reception area they had a dead bellhop, who was still expected to do his job. The receptionist was a good actor and the intensity never wavered. There weren’t any “Get out!” lines either. Really, it was creepier that the residents seemed quite happy we were heading to our doom. The actors in the doctor’s room and the barkeep were fantastic. I got a lot of good interaction.

The Dark Mine was the second haunt. The tone for this haunt was somewhat different. Instead of the foreboding in the hotel, now we were with the monsters. It was much darker, with less detail oriented sets and more focus on disorienting us with darkness and fog. There were false trails and we totally fell for it. I thought I was going crazy. The acting was still intense, but the monsters were somewhat samey. It would benefit the haunt a lot to vary the noises the monsters are making. I’d love some screeches and growls in there to feed the imagination.

Fear Fest was a really fun experience. I have to give them props for trying to solve the issue of having to stand in line. It’s got some kinks to work out, but I like it. The carnival is fun and the haunts are well done. I’d like the connection between the haunts to be clearer, so maybe at the start of the second haunt we could get some of the story from the actor at the front. There isn’t much else to tweak, though. Overall I really enjoyed myself.

Pros: Circus around haunts, great set work, engaging actors

Cons: monsters need variety, connection between haunts unclear

Kennedy Horstmeyer

Colorado Fear Fest has a very different atmosphere to it than your typical haunt. It is lower key, calm and eerie outside the haunt which is nothing like what you normally feel.

There are a few really good startles but never anything truly scary. More actors would set up the chance for more scare factor. The scares present are very good and interactive. I think that the biggest scare came from a swirling vortex that completely strips you of your vision except within the light of the vortex.

The acting was really good. I would add more actors though. My favorite actors are one of the first in Grizzly Lodge and the actors outside Grizzly Lodge and Dark Mine. From the time you enter Grizzly Lodge and enter into the hotel you are put under the impression you are a guest and they are the lodge workers. Once into the Dark Mine there a lot less actors but they to put you into the haunt and played their role. I thought all the actors had excellent interactions and improvisation. Some actors are a little too personal for my liking which is just individual preference and not a major issue. There are a few actors who I would have liked to see more from whether in expressions, interactions or improvisation.

Detail was very abundant in the scenes. Waiting to enter the haunt the railings have small figurines and once you step in you are immersed into the scene. Immersion by set is so important to me because it truly brings everything together as one. Each scene had lighting, small objects, large objects and feel to tell a story of where you are. I think the only thing I would change is to add props to the Dark Mine in the few areas that are meant to be seen.

I felt this haunt was fairly short. I think it is the set-up of going in between two haunts with a weight time between that makes the haunt feel shorter. Dark Mines is definitely a perfect length by itself. Grizzly Lodge is shorter which has pros and cons. I do love how you are able to get so much in such little time.

At Colorado Fear Fest there is also a carnival to explore. The carnival is unique and I found it slightly creepy in a good way. There are games, performers, food. This little addition makes waiting a lot more fun, is different from the normal stand in a line and is just in general fun. I saw one performer who was doing a show with a hula hoop. Impressive.

Pros- carnival, vortex, detail

Cons- length, limited actors, wait in between Grizzly Lodge and Dark Mine

5550 Wadsworth Blvd.
Arvada, Colorado
  • $10 – General Admission One Haunt
  • $15 – General Admission Both Haunts
  • $25 – VIP Both Haunts
  • $10 – Not-so-scary tours
  • $1 – Festival Midway Tickets
Oct 3, 4, 10, 11, Nov 1 – 7 PM to 10 PMOct 17, 18, 24, 25 – 7 PM to 11 PMOct 31 – 7 PM to MidnightNot-So-Scary Tours 5-7 PM October 18, October 25, November 1
In a dark and dreary abandoned lot just outside of Denver lies a new terror… Colorado Fear Fest 2014 dares to bring you an unprecedented Halloween Haunt experience with two uniquely themed horrifying haunted houses and a demented Carnival Midway produced by those crazy clowns from Circus of Fear… all in one location!Check-in to the blood-curdling Grisly Lodge for the night if you dare where the tormented souls of the old hotel search for unsuspecting guests to terrify.Venture into the the darkness below in the old deserted Dark Mine where an unspeakable evil awaits as you try to find your way out! Don’t Come Alone!
Randle Snodgrass
May 18th, 1842Randle Snodgrass was an odd but simple fellow. His family acquired the old Grisly Lodge back at the turn of the century when hunting in Colorado was difficult but prosperous. Soon after his younger sister Miranda mysteriously disappeared, Randle starting noticing strange things in the old place… glimpses of a little girl wandering through the halls, dolls showing up in weird places, crying and other oddities. The phantoms of the night now haunt Randle at every turn and he is certain is is going mad…Sheriff Maurice Miller
July 31st, 1847Sheriff Maurice Miller was a proud but beaten man. He had become a puppet in the corporate takeover of the old Mine and was now just a shadow of his former self. Knowing what he did though, he was a liablity to the greedy owners who conitnued to try and find a way back into the Dark Mine to continue their pursuit of wealth. Maurice knew what happend many years ago but nobody would believe him… and who could blame them. Crazy tales of flashing lights and flesh-eating miners who had long been left for dead those many years ago. All he could do was watch in horror as the entire town became consumed by the terror with no end in site.