13th Door 2013

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Kris Kropelnicki

13th Door, oh how thou scared me!!! WOW!! This was one of my favorite haunts this year because of the way they brought everything together seamlessly for a truly great experience! It was all there: Authentic sets, solid, BELIEVABLE story line, solid acting, costuming and makeup. Then they threw in a generous helping of the most important ingredient. The ONLY needed in my opinion.  Simplicity of the scares. The one factor I believe firmly in from personal experience and that of friends and family. The KISS theory. Keep It Simple Stupid. KISS. They did that, they weren’t stupid about it by a long shot and they executed it beautifully!!

While elaborate, intense scares are great for some, they don’t always work well for someone like me. While I enjoy them and am very entertained by them, they simply don’t scare me because they just don’t feel plausible.

The KISS theory was demonstrated wonderfully in MTV’s old show, “Fear” where contestants were dropped off in an abandoned hospital, factory, prison, etc., given night vision video cameras and a good back story. They then set off to explore various rooms and get tidbits of the story given to them throughout to keep them moving from place to place.

There were story appropriate sets, (although most were empty), the storyline was not only good, it was continually interjected throughout the show and the scares came not from people popping out, crazed creatures or blaring noises. Nope. The scares came from the unknown. And these weren’t the great startle scares we’ve all had, these are the, “You may need to call an ambulance because I’m going to faint from hyperventilating, and I just might be having a heart attack from being SO freaked out” kind of scares. The unknown things that go bump in the night. You hear them, you feel them and you know that you are not alone. The real problem is that you’re just never exactly sure of who, or what, is in there with you, but you KNOW they are there. Those are the most effective scares, ever. Why? Because.  If given the right circumstances, people will terrify themselves all on their own, with little to no intervention from anyone. Allow the mind to wander and it will take a person places that Hitchcock would be afraid to go to. It’s human nature.

What does all of this psycho-babble have to do with the 13th Door? EVERYTHING. Again, you’re asking yourself why. I’ll tell you. The 13th Door has taken the KISS principle and they have put it to work for them. In overdrive.

Our group approached the entrance where a woman, dressed in a steam punk style jacket and hat that somehow fit the era of the haunt, was standing. From a distance, she appeared harmless enough. We realized quickly as we got closer that this was an inaccurate assumption.  Her dead stare from opaque, milky eyes was our first clue. The second was that although she never said a word, she communicated clearly and firmly EXACTLY what she wanted us to do, and do it we did. None of us wanted to challenge her in the least. She meant business. The way she dealt with one of my team mates drove icy, spiny fingers up and down my spine when she grabbed her hand, held it firmly while staring her down. She slowly moved in and oh so carefully, took a long whiff of her hand, looked her squarely in the eyes, then let her hand go. Very weird and VERY, VERY scary. It was her silence and yes, the unknown that did it as none of us ventured to guess her intent. We didn’t want to know. Remember, we haven’t even gone inside yet and already my ‘heebie-jeebies’’ meter is red-lined.

As we stepped inside, I found myself looking at a long ago abandoned hotel lobby that was very detailed. Out of nowhere appeared the elevator operator who quickly ushered us into a rickety elevator to take us to places unknown. She told us of Mr. Barringtons party and the fate of his guests after his sullen nephew Andrew had boarded up the Ballroom with the guests inside and ignited the hotel. It is during this scene that my one complaint lies, albeit a tiny one. While in the elevator, there is era appropriate music playing which is a nice detail however, the music, while not blaring, is loud enough to make it very difficult to hear everything the character is telling us. I really had to strain to hear the story and that pulled me from full immersion, but only for a moment. Adjusting the music volume will solve this tiny issue easily. The actress here also did a great job of engaging us and creeping us out sufficiently. She tells us near the end of our ride that in order to survive, we must find the 13th Door. The elevator opens, and off we go into the depths of the hotel on our quest.

As we moved from room to room, through hallways and beyond, I was impressed by the sets, the lighting, sounds and smells. I could hear the sound of hammering throughout the haunt, off in the distance. Apparently Andrew was hard at work boarding up everything that was left in order to seal our fate like he did the others. This was very unsettling and kept me on edge the entire time. The subtle smell of burning wood and smoke pushed me over the edge I was teetering on into the madness that was prevalent everywhere I went.  I was allowed to scare myself senseless because of the subtlety of the noises and smells. They were in there with me, I was just never quite sure where they were coming from and that got my mind reeling.

Subtle touches from unknown hands in the dark, whispers and lots of bumps and thumps in the dark combined with some of the most believable acting I’ve seen in a very long time, era fitting clothing, makeup, sets and dialogue to create the type of immersion in a haunt that I have longed for.

This is a must see haunt and you really need to take the time to appreciate every detail that has gone into this nerve jarring experience. Don’t run, walk through, eyes wide open and let all your senses transport you to another time. A time where madness reigns supreme and screams from the past echo in your mind long after you leave here. Fantastic job everyone!

Pros: Acting, sets, cohesion of them throughout

Cons: Elevator music too loud, some actors should have burns to completely lock in story

Alex Gallegos

The Michelin Guide certainly didn’t mention anything to me about the utter terror that was about to befall me when I entered the Barrington hotel – possibly because the sole survivor of the hotel’s tragedy was too shaken up about it to submit a letter to the editor. Immediately upon entering we were taken on a rickety old elevator into the hotel ballroom, where a bit of pre recorded narration told us about the terrible dangers we were all due to face. Apparently the owner of the hotel threw a Halloween party. His nepew, Andrew, buried deep under gambling debts went to his wealthy uncle for help, but John Barrington refused him. Andrew, in a fit of rage, boarded up the doors to the hotel during the party and set it on fire, brutally murdering everyone inside. One person made it out alive because he found the only unblocked exit, the titular 13th Door, and if you find it, it’s your ticket to survival as well, so off you go on your mission.

I have to say, I was immediately filled with disdain for the Barrington character at this point. The way he settles his family matters is to lock up and murder a boatload of innocent people? Really? At least Carrie had the decency to wait to burn her entire graduating class alive until they were all laughing at her.

At first it seems that it’s going to be easy to locate the 13th door, because you find doors 1 through 12 in pretty rapid succession, but then through the 12th door you find a cataclysmic vortex in time and space and that pretty much puts a damper on the whole rest of your day. I just want to reiterate that. You spend the first few minutes walking around a perfectly ordinary (if a little bit bloody and burned) hotel, then throw open a door and find a swirling space vortex of the type that would make Dave Bowman weep. If you’re still holding out hope that this is going to in any way be simple at that point, then I’d like to know what kind of drugs you’re on so that I can have some.

After this point it’s a pretty rapid descent into madness, as the haunted nature of the hotel manifests itself with creepy statues and paintings, creepy demons, and the burnt up, mutilated bodies of hotel guests including a bride waiting for her husband singing an extremely twisted version of the Wedding March to herself.

Overall the biggest plus for this haunt was the immersion factor, letting us feel completely enveloped in the story that had been laid out at the beginning; my favorite detail was the constant sound of hammer and nails boarding up the exits as we made our way through. There were a few places where the illusion started to break down though. One drop panel came down in a wall for an actor to pop out and “ooga-booga” at me, and I could see the “behind the scenes” section, including what looked like a snack table, behind him, something that could be fixed with a simple black curtain. I also wondered if the story had been completely and fully communicated to the actors. As I made my way through, several of them taunted me that, “Mr. Barrington’s waiting for you!” But wasn’t Mr. Barrington the owner, not the deranged killer? Maybe they mean Andrew, but then why refer to him with a title of respect anyway? Why not, “Jerkface” or “That stuck-up little entitled brat who killed me”?

Finally, we found the 13th door, which seemed to lead to the loading dock, proof enough for me that the sort of rich people who’d be invited to this sort of party are the kinds who would rather die than take a chance on being seen with a blue collar worker. And then, in a maze of chain linked fences we found… not Mr. Barrington (either of them). Considering everyone inside had been hyping up that encounter for the past half hour or so, just being chased out by a hotel employee wielding a chainsaw and, most importantly, not starting a fire, was a bit anticlimactic.

This is all a bit nitpicky, of course, but as a critic, that’s what I do. I pick nits, and if I can do it with an air of smug snarkiness then that’s all the better. That certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to the 13th Door – it’s an excellent haunt and it’d be a real shame to miss it.

PROS: Amazing set design, good scares, Immersion (with a capital I)!

CONS: The acting doesn’t stick to the story as well as the sets do, build-up didn’t have a payoff at the end.

Marlena Baker

This haunt has an interesting premise and a great follow through.  I loved the cohesion of the sets and the story as we moved through the haunt. They really built a story, a matching set, and a great cast.

The acting was very intense. There were a lot of cool creepy characters in the haunted hotel. It was fantastic how the characters in the haunt all seemed to play off the backstory. They belonged in the setting and the narrative. They had the traumatized victims, driven insane by the atrocities they were subjected to. They had new victims, begging us for help. Of course, the killers still stalk the halls too. There was some great dialogue throughout the haunt. I liked how some of the actors interacted with us, accusing us of the crimes committed, complaining to us of their torment by other ghosts, and so on. It was a really cool experience.

The sets were in theme as well. Hallways, the kitchens, bathrooms, guest rooms were all in there. The detail in these sets was good. They felt like complete rooms, lending to the feeling that I was in a real hotel, interconnected and whole. That feeling built a lot of atmosphere. It was also giving the actors something to play off of. I really liked how the maid was complaining about cleaning and cleaning, but it wouldn’t come clean. As the setting was a hotel that burned to the ground with victims inside, this gave the feeling of a phantom hotel. It’s not real, but it is a manifestation of that horrific event and the blood will never come off. What a great use of sets! Another cool element was the sound of hammering as we moved through, the hotel being boarded up so we’d all die in the fire. I do have one gripe about that part of the story. At the end we were down in the basement of the hotel, it seemed. That would have been a great place, to have a scene with the fire being lit that led to all these deaths. It could have lots of burnable debris, the smell of gasoline, and some of that fake fire, right as we make it out to safety, leaving the people we passed to die. It would have been the perfect ending. As it was, the end was kind of boring.

I liked the 13th Door. It had a lot going for it. I loved the backstory and the commitment to the setting of a hotel. There’s an experience in this haunt, that of a victim. The great sets, the banging of the hotel being boarded up and the creepy occupants all add up to a great atmosphere. There’s a little room for improvement, but it’s nothing that’s killing the experience. They’re doing a lot right and it’s a lot of fun.

Jason Peterson

Front door lady at this haunt was fun to play with, she said nothing , just offered an empty dark stare. She lets us in out of the cold and we are ushered through a large form complete with an extremely nasty little girl sneaking about with her half eaten teddy bear. We are met by yet another crazy character who takes us on an elevator ride. She explains a few rules and startles us off the elevator and into a beautful formal room where we get the story of the 13th Door. We then begin our quest to find the door while encountering many ghostly and horrific characters.

Acting in this haunt is killer. Timing was spot on and the sets had great details. So many dark areas in this haunt and the sets are fantastic. Loud banging down brick walkways with screaming coming from ahead! Then we are faced with a vortex tunnel. This was a pretty cool vortex, it was lit with black lights and had skeletons hanging inside that added to the disorienting trip through this spinning tunnel of madness. The next disorienting work of art came from the slanted room. I was very distracted with the entire set! All the furniture even the wall was at a weird angle. That’s when the loud scream came bursting from under the couch cushions. Great timing in this room!

The actress in the next area was pretty freaky. She couldn’t scrub the blood stains hard enough and was screaming for help! Her screams were authentic and her makeup was done well. The other Crazed scene that really stuck in my head (and yes my eardrums!) was the scene on the bedroom with the chained actress. She bursts forward with this blood curdling scream!  This is an old school gag that was performed to perfection. The other memorable baddy I enjoyed was the rather large brute with the English accent that blocked our path. He gave us all a 5 second head start before he began ripping us to shreds. I could hear him counting as I quickly hurried to the next area. No matter, though, he was pretty fast! I loved feeling like we were being hunted down.

This haunt was really entertaining with few missed scares and few dead areas. I may have missed an actor or two being the last in our group. I liked the ending I just wish it was a little more suspenseful.

Its a cool set that’s lit well. Just didn’t see scare in this set. The chainsaw might be more effective if it hit us while we were still in the strobing fence run.

Overall I enjoyed both haunts and even a huge Vortex tunnel set outside between the Haunt entrances. This is an extra long Vortex tunnel. Not for the squeamish!

Pros- Great sets/Great acting

Cons-Tired ending/To short

Peyton Lucero

    Standing outside waiting to enter, we are stared down by this vampire-like chick wearing a steam punk get up. No matter what we did or said,  she wouldn’t crack. She almost seemed like her lips were glued shut and set in one emotion. Good work. She moved the gate and pointed us the direction to our new path. Up comes walking a voodoo looking chick wearing a masquerade mask and had a cool accent. She lead us to this rickety elevator and brought us down to the 13th Door. We exit the elevator and are given luck on finding the 13th door and making it out alive.

Making a start to our journey we go through a hotel room where Mr. Barrington roamed, that is until he got out and was on the hunt for fresh blood. Continuing we encountered a lot of screaming and shouting, throughout the haunt. Women trapped in asylums, chained down on beds, and pissed off because they couldn’t get the stain out of their clothing. Also heartbroken brides, guilty mothers, and a man that gives you a 5 second head start before he starts the hunt. These were great actors and went with their set very well.

The set design throughout the haunt was pretty awesome. It stayed with the theme and each character had their own part to play. One of my favorites was the chick chained up on the bed. Her screams really sounded blood curdling and like she was in really on her death bed. She screamed even louder, trying to get our attention to save her. She was very believable and one better, she continued her dialogue as we were leaving the area. Job well done. There were quite a few actors who did great and others that could use a little help with the dialogue. It helps if you just think of the character you’re suppose to be, and think of what kind of evil and trash talk lurks inside. Once that happens, just roll with the flow baby!

There was one thing in particular that I thought could have used a little more of a twist to it. The ending with the chain linked fencing I thought could have used a little more detail work put in it. I felt as if it were a complete separate piece from the rest of the haunt. Especially because it was a kind of long ending, there was nothing really going on in or on the fencing and there were only two actors throughout the fencing that kind of tried to scare or didn’t scare at all until he had to grab the chainsaw. To help with creating a little more chaos in the room, you could maybe add 2 more actors to the mix, so that way they can run off each other a little better and add more distraction for the chainsaw guy. Also to help with the set in the room, maybe you can add a couple corpses or pile of them tied up, mangled, pinned to the fence, and anything else that shows that they died a torturous death and that once finding the 13th door, this is were all the bodies end up and that we will be joining them very soon! That might help the set and actors get into rhythm a little better and have more energy for a scare.

The 13th Door has a lot of ups, downs, turns and small spaces that you have to venture through. If you like small spaces, screaming, terrified girls, and crazy pathways, then definitely check this haunt out. It might be worth finding the 13th Door.

Pros- sets, acting, dialogue

Cons- ending, some make up, some use of props

Crystal Gallagher

My favorite part of this haunt happened even before I went inside. The door lady was in a delightful steam punk costume, with a rather stoic demeanor. She stood straight, staring at us. Our group remarked on various aspects of her outfit to one another, and her flat white eyes followed whoever was talking. Other than this, she was still. When it came time to mark our wristbands and let us in, she marked the first three of our bands. When I put my arm forward, she unexpectedly grasped my wrist in an iron grip. Slowly, deliberately, she leaned forward to take a long sniff of my wrist, keeping her eyes on mine. She gave me chills, and I absolutely loved her.

I really liked 13th Door overall. They stuck to their theme well – a hotel where someone boarded up the doors and set it on fire. We went through the different parts of the hotel, which had a good attention to detail throughout. Immersion was great. Lighting was used well to draw one’s eye where it was meant to go. Small details were attended to – as we walked down a hallway of doors to hotel rooms, we could hear banging on the other side of the wall – the killer boarding up the doors. I also really liked that the ground was not always even, sometimes slanting and stepping up or down, keeping me off balance.

The actors were also good. They played the parts of different hotel guests, some unable to leave, some rather mad. There wasn’t really a lot of room for a dialogue with the actors, but there didn’t need to be, given the premise. Actors stuck to their roles and their lines were fitting. One of them got me really good with a scare. I entered a room, a bit off balance from the sloping floor. Looking around, it was quite obvious that there was no hide for an actor – no one was going to jump out at me here. And then, someone did, and it was phenomenal. The chainsaw guy at the end was a bit out of place, but I did enjoy the buildup to him and the setting for it.

The only thing I would change about this haunt is that there weren’t many allusions to the fire which was pretty central to the theme. Some orange lighting and crackling, burning noises coming from behind doors would go a long way for me. Perhaps some actors who look a bit singed around the edges towards the end? And I really don’t know if any heat sources are doable given fire code restrictions, but if they are, adding a blast at the end, maybe on your way out, would be perhaps something to consider.

Eric Guetterman

WOW!!  This place is an example of why I LOVE haunted houses!  Solid scares throughout but most impressive was the scenic design and art direction.  Everywhere you looked was detailed without being cluttered.  It seemed as if no surface was left untouched by skilled hands.  A large plus in my book is that the designers did not feel the need to pack every square inch with props, bodies, junk, stuff  and things as some haunted houses rely on for scenic detail.  While clutter and overload are very effective scenic choices, and if done artistically can be beautiful, I prefer more accuracy, realism and focus in the art direction.  Often a carefully edited attention to thoughtful art direction can be more difficult to execute and require more skill than the junk and clutter approach – and this haunt succeeded beautifully.

This journey into terror begins with mechanically transporting the entire group – something I always love in a top tier haunt.  The consistently spot on timing of the actors and animated props/effects kept the intensity up in a way that wore me down and got into my head.  Time and time again I froze momentarily, practically paralyzed as I rounded another corner and audibly exclaimed “OMG – which one is real” over the cacophony of terror and pain.  Inevitably this was followed shortly by my shriek of terror as I discovered the answer to my own question.

Overall the 13th Door was beautiful and artistically lit in a horrifying and despairing representation of  evil.  The production value was augmented with some of the most skilled use of animated motion and scares I’ve seen in some time.  Instead of stuffing the space with clunky movements or animatronics stuck into the haunt just because they owned them, the producers of this attraction instead focused on the timing, placement and purpose of the gag.  More than one animated gag actually got me to jump in fear which is usually difficult due to the limited, relatively slow movement of most animated gags and the importance of impeccable timing, carefully controlled sight lines and quality sound effects necessary to work together for the scare to hit with anything near the impact of an average actor.

Most actors had obviously refined their scare skills through seasons of experience or through attending a perfected scare school with the rehearsal time necessary to perfect a character/scare able to repeatedly weaken an experienced haunt goer’s knees.  I like early season visits even though the actors in some haunts aren’t quite up to their full potential. Usually the smaller crowds and lack of long lines allows the flow of guests to be divided into very small well spaced groups that makes it easier to scare.  Our early season visit with these demented performers was enhanced by going through in a tiny group that never encountered other guests but was not hampered at by the usual opening weekend inexperience.  It sadly seems too often that a lack of run time with guests can soften the early season visitor’s scare factor, with many actors only ramping up their skill level as they continue to “rehearse” and perfect their character on paying guests as the season progresses (while the queue line wait times get longer and management must push through larger groups quicker in order to satisfy demand).  Luckily for us the 13th Door performers delivered over and over with great scares coming fast and furious straight at you – seeming to materialize out of the set right before your eyes.  Over and over I was punished by their impeccable timing or their quietly anguished, heart wrenching sobs that suddenly explode into ripped from the gut and torn from the throat shrieks that pierce your heart like a hidden rusty dagger.  I wish this haunt went on much longer but the well timed exit scare exponentially ramped in intensity as the noise, movement and blood thirsty creatures had me actually running out the exit.  Well done and thank you 13th Door!

3184 S. Parker Rd.Aurora, CO. 80014
  • $25 VIP Combo good only on preview weekend September 27-28, 2013
  • $20 (Save $1 with canned food donation)
  • $25 Combo with Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch and The Black Hole 45ft spinning tunnel ride
  • $35 VIP for both haunts; $10 VIP upgrade
Preview Weekend September 27th & 28th 7pm-MidnightRegular Season October 4th – November 2ndSun-Thurs. 7-10pm    Friday & Saturday 7pm-Midnight
13th Door
The original Barrington Hotel was condemned and closed in 1912. Local legend attributes the hotels demise to the owner’s sleazy nephew, Andrew. Gambling debt had made Andrew desperate for money and his Uncles refusal to help him had driven him mad. It was reported that during his Uncles annual Hallows Eve Ball, Andrew had returned to the hotel, boarded up all the exits, trapping all the party goers inside. It wasn’t the screams coming from those who couldn’t escape that would haunt the would-be rescuers that night. It was the horror they found once they had broken the doors down. Everyone was dead! Andrew Barrington was never found and legend has it that he and those he killed still haunt the hotel to this day. The only survivor of that evening lived because he found the 13th Door. Will you be as lucky?