The leaves tremble on the trees, knowing they, too soon, have to fall to the earth.
Trembling is appropriate these days. It's October, and the leaves know what comes up from the ground in October. Ghouls, ghasts, wights and other wickeds rise with the night and inhabit the dark corners and abandoned homes, hungry for human victims. Which is exactly why it's time to hit one of Denver's top haunts. Here's our list of the six best
The Field of Corpses 13251 West 64th Avenue, Arvada
Something's come up from the wheat and the weeds out in Arvada. Or is pulling itself up. Neighbors report sightings of children wandering about in the field, and links to the White family, all victims of mysterious deaths, abound. This three-acre, indoor-outdoor arena de scare keeps popping up each year as the place to lose something -- sanity, maybe. Nerve. The chills last a half-hour -- as long as you're running in the right direction. Open Thursdays through Sundays through October 31. Tickets are $16, cash only; $25 for VIP entrance. Find a $1 off weekday attendance coupon here; we hear there are also some super-special Rockstar cans with $2 off deals floating about the marketplace.
The 13th Floor 4120 Brighton Boulevard
Otis Elevators estimates that 85 percent of the buildings operating with their elevators do not have a 13th floor. Certain buildings use 12A, 14A or M and simply avoid use of the number; others allow entry only from freight elevators. The 13th Floor Haunted House's website suggests the hidden floor they've gained access to is "a subterranean storage facility of the unexplained. It houses artifacts [..] deemed not acceptable in the modern world, items with supernatural powers, [..] fantastical creatures and animals of both the mammal and reptile variety, and portals to mysterious worlds."
The organizers will also toss you through the Undead Haunted House before you ascend to this floor, and if you make it out and are the 113th hauntee of the day, you get the cost of general admission back.
The 13th Door The intersection of I-225 and Parker Road, Aurora
You've heard the whispers: "You mean the 13th Floor?" No, the 13th Door, the only door from which you can escape this hotel, according to the now-ghoulish Robert "Bones" Benifield, who haunts the place. The host's legend has it that J. Barrington, a millionaire, hosted an All Hallows gala each year -- until the year his nephew Andrew came seeking aid. The young man was deep in gambler's debt and his uncle, "more Scrooge than benefactor, refused his pleadings and had [him] thrown out." Hell hath no fury like a gambling debt ignored, yes? It was swift to the knife and the arson for young Andy Barrington. Light the fire, lock the doors, and disappear into the night, accompanied only by the echoes of screaming victims. The remains are left to you. The season runs through November 2; the 13th Door is open from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $21, or $20 if you bring a canned food donation; $25 VIP. Combo tickets -- which include admittance to Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch (Haunted House) and The Black Hole (a 45' Tunnel Ride) -- are $25 GA $35 VIP. Buy tickets here or any Front Range King Soopers.
City of the Dead/Carnival of Carnage I-76 and 88th Avenue
"Built on one premise: Pure Fear...where Zombies live like people but their city shops and streets take a much more twisted turn." according to the City of the Dead website. Folks compare the haunting to a high-end movie set: two-story buildings built within the Mile High Flea Market, with upturned cars and incredible undead make-up among the sights. Chock on the coveted Best Chainsaw award by Native Gorilla last year and blazow, horror magic. Plus, it's a double event:
The Carnival of Carnage or, if you prefer the Spanish, Carnaval de Carniceria (which conjures up images of hung pigs and swinging hooks and slabs of red red meat), is the place for "carnival-style games," "twisted drinks," and arcade games on open play. Sounds the perfect kickstart to a trek through haunted streets, no?The Asylum6100 East 39th Avenue
Those same craft-artists of the 13th Floor have tunneled down two levels from the Nightmare Factory and found Gordon Cottingham's Hospital for the Mentally Insane, which seems as much run by the insane as inhabited by them. This deep underground is also home to such old friends as "spiders, rats, snakes and the endless screams of...tortured souls," according to the Asylum's website.
For a complete schedule, look on the website. There are many package deals; it's $25 for general admission to Primitive Fear and Asylum; $35 for fast pass and $45 for immediate access. Combo tickets (admission to Asylum, Primitive Fear, 13th Floor and Undead Haunted House) are $42 for GA and $57 for fast pass. You an buy tickets here.
Elitch Garden's Fright Fest 2000 Elitch Circle
Two houses have opened within the normally ghoul-less Elitch Gardens: the Flesh Factory and the Terror Chamber. Explore either the Kenworthy Biological Facility, where a once-thriving scientific organization has fallen in dark fashion, or be handed a flashlight and explore the work of a sinister secret society. The entire park has been themed for the fest, and there are variety of sideshow elements (a Freak Show!).
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Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October 27. Admission to Elitch is $45 at the gate for those over 48" -- but only $35 online here. Sub 4-footers are $32 regardless of where you buy the tickets. The houses are additional charge: $8 for one attraction/$12 for two/$15 for three (there is a mysterious séance taking place as well). VIP is $30 for front-of-the-line access to both houses, and $50 nets you a VIP Rapid Ride pass (see here): one ride on the paid attractions and front-of-the-line access to all three haunted attractions.