City of the Dead 2013


Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Kris Kropelnicki

City of the Dead has long been known for its powerful presentation, over the top set design and revoltingly accurate smells. These elements are next to impossible to contain and they ooze out of their confines like a sickening fog creeping across the frosty ground. Before I even set foot inside, the intensity was pulsating, gnawing its way under my skin, crawling through my veins like maggots, squirming in their frenzy to eat me alive from the inside out. While this is all taking place I have a frightening revelation: I’m still standing by my car.

The premise of this haunt is a city that has been overrun and taken over by crazed, flesh starved zombies that will stop at nothing to get their next meal. You. Make the mistake of walking the streets of this city and you may not live to regret it. Zombies are everywhere you look, wandering the uninhabited streets, climbing over wrecked, long abandoned cars and lurking around every corner. There’s no opportunity to regroup or catch your breath in here. Let your guard down for a second and you’ll pay for it. Dearly.

As I stepped inside the haunt, I was immediately transported into a whole new world. A world filled with haze, grime, gore and dread. The dim lighting coupled with the acrid haze that hung in the air like deaths veil, wrapping itself around me, engulfing me and drawing me in to the core of its existence.

It’s no secret that City of the Dead has been one of my favorites since its inception and that certainly hasn’t changed this year.  What did change this year was the haunt itself. While the City has not undergone a complete facelift, it has had some nice updates that are working well.

The biggest modification is the layout; if you feel like you’re retracing your steps from last year it’s because you are. To enter the City one must now go in through the out door and out through the in.  Make sense? It’s amazing what the simple act of going backwards through a haunt can do to revitalize it. Familiar sets and props appeared to be new scenes simply because I was seeing them from a different angle. I truly was surprised how different the sets looked just from going through backwards. It was as though new life, (or is it death?) had been breathed into this City where the dead rule and the living are in grave danger. Add to that detailed lighting, well hidden entry/exit ports for actors and a fresh splash of all things gory and you have a fabulous outcome!

Some of the most innocuous things become terrifying within the City, especially leaf blowers!! Yes, you read that right, leaf blowers!! One of my team mates, Alex, had a bit of whining to do last year over being trapped in an area and ambushed by chainsaws, which apparently rubbed his fur backwards. Well, I had the misfortune, (or maybe fortune) of going through the haunt with Alex and the City had cooked up a special treat just for him and his sensitivity to noise from chainsaws. As I entered the bait shop I encountered my beloved, Master Baitman. Master Baitman, or MB for short, greeted me in his disgusting way and then informed my group that because Alex was traumatized by the roar of chainsaws last year, they had toned it down this year, just for him. MB then summons Butch Butcher and out he came like a bullet from a gun, wielding a leaf blower over his head like Leatherface, jumping around, and screaming like a lunatic!! My heart was pounding, I was breathless and backed into a corner by this bloodied, horrible creature…and then it happened. Butch Butcher stopped dead in front of me, cocked his head, turned the leaf blower on and attacked us with……..AIR!! HAHAHHAHA…it was EPICALLY FUNNY!!! MAD PROPS to MB and BB for pulling off the prank of the decade!! That made my season!!! (Who says haunts can’t be scary and funny??)

The sets are so detailed; I could walk through a thousand times and notice something new every time. The fine tuning that has been done here is truly a work of art. Placement, lighting, sounds and smells all come together to turn fantasy into reality. The smells in certain scenes are chosen well and fit the scene perfectly. Matched with the sets, the combination creates seamless, fully believable scenes that are truly divine.

Although I don’t scare easily, I have no problem feeling uneasy, nervous and scared the entire time I’m inside. There are great scares coming from every direction, some come from dark sets and gory props, but the bulk of them come from the actors.

The City has some incredible talent ranging from the silent, but extremely creepy types to the snarling, intense, in your face kind. The actors who do speak all have great lines, are great at handling interaction with guests and they are so expressive with their eyes and facial features, I catch myself wondering if this is an actor in character or this thing like this in real life. Very well done by all!

Actors here are costumed in the most original costumes in the industry. Every costume is handmade, crafted from the minds of maniacs, they make Hollywood costuming look novice and thrown together. Every detail is present and at times I wish it weren’t. I have to ask myself over and over, “Is that real??” Makeup is no slouch here either; every actor has flawless makeup that transforms them from their human form into something that I’ve only seen in my worst nightmares. Shading, blending, blood…everything is flawless and looks fantastic in any lighting. No need to hide these works of art in the dark!

Every element comes together to create an experience unlike any other and should be experienced, not just seen. Open your eyes, don’t run and get ready to be blown away! Warning: Not recommended for the super squeamish or young kids.

If you’re looking to see the best in horror from the Goretastic Masters, head on down to the City, you won’t regret it!!

As you run out of he haunt, (and you will run!) slow down long enough to check out the Carnival of Carnage!! All your favorite carnival games are there, along with some creative new ones, but these aren’t cutsie games here…OH NO!! The same level of gore and disgust that rules the City is present in the games!! It just doesn’t get better than this!! Tic-Tac-Toe with the X’s and O’s replaced with incredible pieces that you’ll just have to see for yourself! Did you love the game ‘Operation’ as a kid? Trust me, their grown up version is MUCH better!! Make sure you play everything there, no additional cost!!!

Pros: Sets, Acting, costuming/makeup

Cons: It ends…

Alex Gallegos

Oh, City of the Dead. What more can I say about you? We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but no matter what, you’ve always been one of my favorites. There are few haunts that devote as much attention to detail or design as you do, and every year there’s something new to see.

I’ll delve into the details later but suffice it to say that if you’re thinking of going to a haunt, and you pass on an opportunity of any kind to visit the City, then you’ve made a huge mistake. On the other hand, if you’re not planning to go to a haunt this year at all, first of all, what are you doing here? And second of all… *smack*. Go to a haunt this year! And, you should probably make it City of the Dead.

As is usual for City of the Dead, you’ll be hard pressed to find a grungier, dirtier environment outside an episode of How Clean Is Your House? and, quite honestly, it’s a toss-up as to which of the two is more likely to give you tetanus just by laying eyes of the level of squalor before you. Yes, my eye-tumors were growing tumors of their own just a few minutes into the haunt, where huge drums of radioactive waste and pipes spewing disgusting and unidentifiable liquids into enormous vats seem to be the norm rather than the exception to some sort of rule. In fact there are huge sections – whole entire rooms – that have undergone a process I can only legitimately describe as “grungification”. It’s like everything in the place is coated in a thick layer that science will discover is 10% fecal matter, 5% rust, 5% mud, and 80% despair. Still, the level of detail is amazing, especially in one of the restaurants which featured crullers deep frying in a pool of liquid malevolence.

The sense of scale inside the haunt is fantastic to behold, and I’m never sure if it’s because they have more square footage, or if they’re just twisting me around the same areas with enough actor misdirection that I just don’t notice. It’s probably a mixture of both, and I’m appreciative of the way they can make me take a linear path and not realize it.

I’m a little unsure what the story is this year – there’s no expository section at the beginning, they just let us jump right into the experience, and while I thought that was a strange move for the first half a minute or so, it actually lent itself to the experience, turning your wandering through the city from a crazed, “why did I come here and how do I get out as quickly as possible?” to a more interested, “what’s going on here” feeling, until you get to the end and realize just how much the sewer system overflow is about to collide with the rotational atmosphere management system. It’s turned the “Here is your purpose in life now run” message from the beginning into a climax I now don’t want to spoil instead, and letting me discover slowly and carefully that something insane has happened (well, more insane than the things you can already see right in front of you) was a particularly good tactic.

Ultimately you’ll have to discover the secrets of the City yourself but if you have a healthy sense of fear and you often find yourself entertaining fantasies in your head about taking up arms to defend your loved ones against the coming apocalypse (unlike the reality, which would in my case be hiding under a table with a colander on my head weeping) then you’d be remiss to miss the City of the Dead this year. And be sure to leave some time to hang out afterwards for the Carnival of Terror, which takes several common carnival games and turns them into a bizarre, gruesome parody of the same.

PROS: Incredible actors, a sense of oppression and doom from beginning to end, grime that looks like it could give you a disease

CONS: Sometimes it’s too dark to take in the amazing details of the sets, can be too loud to hear the actors in their scenes at times

Marlena Baker

Wow. City of the Dead is so full of amazing stuff that I don’t even know where to start. I guess I should start with my number one concern with any haunt, immersion. City of the Dead has got it figured out! Sights, sounds, smells, and even a bit of textural changes are used in perfect harmony to give you the full experience of walking through a city overrun by the walking dead.

I was never thrown out of the immersion. The actors rocked, selling the haunt one hundred percent. Key element to the formula of greatness, give each of your actors a character. I’m not talking about a handful of scripted lines, but a character that they can get into. The actors in City of the Dead were not thrown by anything. They didn’t have any awkward pauses if we responded to them, they just responded in character, with the same level of intensity as any other line. From rabid zombies to survivors driven insane by said zombies, they were so good. It was fantastic acting with next to no generic lines.

One of the really cool things that City of the Dead did was in the layout of the haunt. Through certain doorways, windows, and down the street it was possible to see other groups as they moved through the haunts. It was not something I would expect to work, but it gave the city the feeling of being a single space with many parts, and like a city, there are things going on all over the place. Not that they needed the other groups to convey that, really. The sets are very dense. If they weren’t so on target, I’d call them too dense. It works here, though, to set the scene of a decaying city. No one’s left to move the wreckage out of the way.

City of the Dead lives up to its name. It’s a chance to take your favorite gory zombie film and live it. The sets are that good. The acting is top notch. It’s the full experience, and I loved every minute of it. After you’ve survived the zombie apocalypse, be sure to make fun of your trauma by playing the carnival games at the end. They’re VERY well done and super fun.

Pros: Great sets, strong acting, built a wonderful atmosphere
Cons: *crickets*

Jason Peterson

Pulling in to this event I can always hear and feel the rumble from the parking lot. As usual we meet with the owner out front in the gorgeous ticket booth adorned with wicked zombie murals and menacing reapers. I’m surprised as soon as we enter giant event tent. Instead of hanging a right we go left to enter the dreaded city and all its dead inhabitants. While passing the time the City decided that patrons needed some extra room to unwind and have some fun. A large sidebar was built for this and it sits adjacent from a new and improved City attraction they call the Carnival of Terror!

Once in line we get the siren call to enter the city. Strangely enough things seem very familiar but different. Then I realize they have reversed the floor plan from last season’s haunt. Great way to keep up the changes without breaking the bank! This idea works. I do feel it could have gotten a few more new sets but I was very fulfilled with the amount of detail this season. Tons of little things you couldn’t possibly see with just walk through this mega sized attraction.  Like the Donuts bobbing around in the fryer or subtle little things like posters and writings everywhere you look. The characters and sets all worked very nicely. Some appear to be new in their roles and warming up to life as an inhabitant within its city walls. A few key monsters and chefs alike were not there to scare us this year though! A shout to Miss Dolly, we missed yer cookin’ sugar pants! Get well – your city needs you!. With that said we also missed the presence of Big Death, the giant sized hammer wielding soldier for the COTD. He did leave his new throne behind for us to remind us of his sheer size.

There was however a few very familiar villains that attacked and stalked our group in and outside the various sets they they have reclaimed in their deadened states possibly memories from when they lived. Hard to explain really! Especially when it comes to Master Baitmans swamp and shack area! This lunatic and his Chainsaw Minions are a riot. If this trio of crazies swinging saws and talking about your mother don’t scare and amuse you I’m sure one of the many other fine actors or actresses will.

Makeups and costuming always amaze me, the green zombie was one of those “what the hell was that” kinda encounters! Then he hit me again outside of the Dentist’s office. This time he wasn’t so animated – he was freaked out violent and loud as hell. Nice job zombie hulk Elvis guy.

To the faithful City fans the subtle change in simply running its haunt in reverse from the years prior could be seen as not enough new bang. However I felt that enough added detail and some path changes outside of doing our walk through backwards it remains a must see on any haunt goers list.

Shortly after my near decapitation from yet another Chainsaw wielding madman we were faced with The Carnival of Terror. It has various games, my favorite being life size zombie Operation. Our Carnie-style undead host was fun and really helped with the overall creepiness of the carnival. The bar was pretty cool; it faces both the scare vision monitors that hang in front of the haunt to keep guests entertained while they wait.

Pros-Detail,Makeup,Props and sets

Cons-Better lighting in a few spots. Sound in some scenes overpowerd the actors diolgue

Peyton Lucero

Pulling up to this haunted house is always an excitement! Loud noises full of chaos and destruction and ticket booths with zombie murals painted on the sides. This year I noticed a huge metal looking, bone like throne. My guess was that chair was for Big Death,  the zombie roamer of the streets. Unfortunately he was missing this year, but I’m sure I’ll run into him soon. As we walked in, right away I noticed a change. I went to take a right like normal and found out the queue line was on the opposite side of me. I was already liking the change. Lots of attractions to look at that kept your eyes and mind busy while waiting in line. Even some late night snacks and a beer if you’re craving it!

Sirens are going off  and that’s when I know its our turn to enter into our doom.  We start making our way through the haunt, through the treacherous twists and turns of the decrepit, run down city. Oh, may I include the horde of zombies attacking, sniffing, and scrounging around our personal space. I have to say I enjoyed that but didn’t, if you get my meaning.  The city’s theme stayed consistent throughout the haunt and nothing seemed out of place. What really stuck with me was the asylum room. Not so much the room but the actors in there were pretty intense! They were in my face, sniffing and using great dialogue that would definitely make you feel disgusted. Most definitely in my comfort zone and more than once! Fantastic zombies!

There weren’t as many smells in the haunt this year but there was definitely more debris and distractions throughout the city! Right when you think the haunt is going to end, it spits us out into the Carnival of terror! There were multiple arcade vendors that were filled with all kinds of twisted, demented, and downright dirty, games that definitely threw you off guard. Very fun to play and somewhat interactive with the characters. Even better, you get both attractions for one price! Great detail and what an awesome idea to throw a dead twist to childhood games!

Going through this haunted house is always a blast, granted I did notice that the only big change they really had from the season prior was making us go through in reverse. Other than that, the set work is always amazing and close to spot on in detail. I definitely love the triage! I’m a blood freak and seeing that room always gets me pumped. Awesome work and love the props. Babies everywhere! Actors are always amazing and the make up was spot on! Each actor had their own make up and costume to go along with the theme of their character.  There were a few actors who didn’t know what to do with the dialogue or the set so instead they just let us walk through with no scare.

We ended up catching up to a group so we waited outside the room before we went in. The actor noticed and instead of being apart of the character and running with the dialogue,  he stayed quiet and gave off that awkward energy while we made our way through. To help with that situation so they don’t get confused or scrambled, as they are going through their role with the first group and happen to stumble upon another, keep the dialogue going. Make it interesting and disgusting at the same time. They could even play with both groups and run off one another to get some sick dialogue going and making everyone uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to really get into the character! Let go of your own self and thoughts and let that evil character of yours take over! That’s what makes the set complete!

City of the Dead is an intense haunt, with amazing set design and energized, full-on in-your-face, zombies that have taken over the city. If you’re a zombie lover like me and are looking for intensity,  insanity, and destruction, City of the Dead is the haunt that has it all!

Pros- set design, actors intensity,  added attraction

Cons- few actors for a big haunt, repetitive dialogue, hard to see some detail

Crystal Gallagher

This haunt was, quite simply put, amazing. It lived up to all of my ideas of what a haunt should be. From start to finish, I was completely immersed in a cohesive, complete world. The sights, sounds, smells, even the ground beneath your feet transitioning realistically for the setting – it all combined to create a believable experience. The attention to detail in every aspect was incredible. Everywhere you look, there’s something else to see. I intend to go back later on, and I suspect that I will notice many new things that I didn’t see the first time around – there’s quite simply too much to take in in one go.

Now, a very lot of this detailed scenery is very gory. However, it is within the setting of the world, and I found that contrary to my expectations, I didn’t mind the gore. I’m the kind of person who cannot, will not watch gory scenes in movies, even ones considered mild by many of my friends. Perhaps it’s because movie special effects are rather different from haunt props. Regardless, I will say that the often present gore of this haunt was well done.

The building of suspense was fabulous. Many of the actors were very mobile, appearing from unexpected places. The ones which stayed within a certain spot always had a specific, believable character. Many of them were also willing to engage in dialogue and responded to comments. Their costumes were detailed and believable. I cannot think of any way in which the actors could have been better.

I had two complaints about this haunt, both of which I count as fairly minor. The first is that the noise level is sometimes very high. There were a couple of parts with sirens that hurt my ears. Now, granted, I’ve had multiple ear surgeries and my ears are sensitive to very loud noises and certain pitches, so this might not be a problem for everyone. However, these noises were sometimes loud enough that I could not hear what the actors were saying, and I would rather have liked to. The other detraction was that we kept running into the group ahead of us, and the group behind us ran into us a time or two. There were not a lot of people when we arrived to go through, and our two groups along with the one ahead of us entered in very quick succession. It would have been better to spend a few minutes waiting in line for the trade-off of not needing to worry so much about pacing once inside.

The Carnival of Carnage after the haunt was awesome. The same attention to detail present in the haunt was also present here, only there was time to stop and examine it at leisure. The games were delightfully disgusting and terribly entertaining. The actors present here were welcoming and delightful to interact with, and the games quite fun.

Pros: Setting very well done; believable, interactive actors; cohesive theme; great length

Cons: Very loud at certain points

Eric Guetterman

This haunt impressed me with it’s length and the density and consistency in set design.  The frequent use of movement in their twitching, writhing props and corpses also added a lot to the production value but what really put it into the top tier is the flowing, bubbling water, sewage and blood.  There was some original set design that stood out, but overall there were only a few beautifully executed, well lit scenes and instead the haunt engulfed you in the feeling of the destroyed, toxic, waste filled, scavenged and looted city that stretched on into a very entertaining and creepy journey.

There were some standout actors in their crew and many that have obviously had experience with developing their character, their voice and the skills of timing a scare.  There was one memorably athletic actor and another very disturbing creature that, from the spine freezing sound that escaped it’s body with a command to “get out of my house,” could not possibly have been human. There were quite a few great creepy characters that seem mainly there to unnerve you but can still hit you with a snarl and a startle.  While this type of scare is great, on the opening weekend date that I visited the haunt there was a disappointing lack of head-on startles that almost knock your knees out from under you.

Overall the haunt felt un-artistically lit but it was despairingly dark so the lighting did not prevent the quashing success of the environment.  I do feel like they have an opportunity to improve on the sound design.  I am a big fan of organic noises in a haunt but that was practically all I noticed here other than one very well executed recorded sound effect.  The sounds were largely limited to disturbing horns, sirens, bells and banging and unfortunately most everything seemed drowned out by the nonstop full rev drone of the overused chainsaws which often enough prevented me from hearing actors.  Most experienced haunt fans have mixed feelings about chainsaws and this haunt definitely tipped the scale heavily into the over used, diluted, distracting and unoriginal.

After you exit the haunt itself I was excited to see that the event has more to participate in.  I am always disappointed after exiting most haunts because the Halloween fun ends so quickly.  At the City of the Dead, the disturbing carnival that is waiting outside the haunt exit (but still within the shelter of the tent) allows guests additional entertainment opportunities to play some wacky Halloween themed carnival games, take photos with haunt props, get startled by pneumatic scares (or even more fun watching others get scared by it) and interact with some beautifully made up or masked creatures creeping about.  You can also get a drink, a bite to eat, or a beer, although the offerings and starkly lit atmosphere may not be all that appealing.  I wish more haunts offered more than a hopefully comfortable, efficient queue line and a good scare out the exit door.  I’m always happy to see clean and accessible bathrooms, safe & clean parking, food options more than snacks and candy, alcohol and maybe even queue line entertainment or at least good queue line visuals through décor, FX or audio/video.  City of The Dead’s welcomed efforts to offer more for your entertainment dollar than just the haunt itself are hopefully an example of a coming trend in the industry.

This haunt is very entertaining and offers a lot, so go and enjoy suffering your way through the desperate City Of The Dead as it’s evil engulfs you, even if it doesn’t take your breath away or knock your knees out.

Pros:    excellent length

engulfing, despairingly dense sets

some great live creatures (face, costume, sound, scare, everything!)

Cons:   diluted uncreative chainsaws

Lack of knee weakening scares

overall design quality, (sets, lighting and sound didn’t all work well together)

7007 E. 88th Ave.
Henderson, CO. 80640
  • 2 attractions, 1 location, 1 low price!
  • General Admission – $20
  • VIP Express Line Admission  – $30
  • September 27 – November 2
  • Thursdays to Sundays and the entire last week of October
  • Thursdays and Sundays – 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays – 7:00pm – 12:00am
  • Monday – Wednesday (Oct 28-30) 7:00pm-10:00pm
  • Closed 10/3 and 10/10
City of the Dead

A vast City, built on one premise.  Pure Fear.

Welcome to the CITY OF THE DEAD……

a wretched City born of the UNDEAD where Zombies live like people but their city shops and streets take a much more twisted turn.  Beware of hungry zombies as you venture into this untamed City of destruction and terror and come face to face with your biggest fears!

You may visit the City of the Dead but will you survive long enough to get out?

Massive in size, the City of the Dead boasts an intense 20+ minute journey through ultimate horror.   It is the longest and largest indoor Haunted House in Denver and has been voted one of the Best Haunted Houses in Denver 5 years running.    Completely updated for 2013, come see the all new City of the Dead as you’ve never seen it before!

Want more?  Step right up, step right up. Life is a game in this twisted Zombie town, can you play long enough to stay alive?  Enter the Carnival of Carnage, our brand new Midway Side Show attraction located next to the City of the Dead.  Where warped zombies lurk around every corner and test your survival skills.  Twisted carnival-style games, arcade games on open play, side shows, and scare zones abound in a festival of fear where YOU are the main attraction!

Are you ready for the Zombie apocalypse?  It’s coming……..

  • Big Death

    Big Death seats his throne Friday and Saturday Evenings. The amount of exhaustion killing and eating sooo many of the living keeps him asleep 5 days a week.

    • kskrop

      Welcome aboard Big Death!!!! We hope you find your stay here enjoyable!!! Need a beer and a footrest?

      • Big Death

        Beer is for the weak, warm blooded creatures. Do you have any diesel fuel? Id settle for a couple shooters of Agent Orange or a handle of Strychnine too.

        • kskrop

          For you Big Death, ABSOLUTELY!!!! How about a cocktail of all 3?

  • haunted house lover

    this is one awesome haunted house ! have gone these past 2 weekends ! and plan to go again,,best one yet I have been too ! keep up the scare factor guys !

    • kskrop

      Have to agree with you Haunted house lover!!! The City knows how to get it done!!