Denver newcomer Danielle Look is visiting the city's spookiest sites for this month's Mile High Haunts series.
When you ask people about the best haunts in the area, 13th Floor Haunted House always comes up — and it definitely lives up to the hype.
Amazing set designs, realistic props and monstrous animatronics are just some of the features that make 13th Floor such a talked-about attraction every fall, and this is the haunt's seventeenth year in Denver. The adventure begins the moment you step foot on the midway, where you can buy snacks, play carnival games and interact with monsters lurking all over the lot. Adding to the festive environment this year is the ShriekEasy, a beautifully decorated bar.
Heads up, though: There’s plenty of parking on the streets and in the field nearby, so don’t be fooled into paying for premium spots closer to the door…unless, of course, you think you'll need to make a quick escape. And no matter how you get to this attraction, you won't find much signage for the entrance. If you do pay for premium parking ($5 with a card, $10 cash), ask one of the attendants with the mini lightsabers which way to go; I saw several people get out of their cars and unknowingly walk in the wrong direction.
The queue-line actors here are abundant and engaging, while trivia flashes on projection screens — thoughtful touches to keep guests entertained while they work their way to the front. Since this popular haunt has a central location, the lines are long on the weekends, and get even worse as Halloween comes closer. So go early in the evening, and take advantage of cheaper tickets on weeknights. Last pro tip: Dress appropriately on nights with inclement weather, as your wait will only be partially covered.
Finally, the fun really begins when you're locked in an elevator and dropped down thirteen floors. The operator lets us know how crazy we are to be heading into this, and says he definitely isn't going with us, either. When the doors open, we're thrust into a chaotic testing facility overrun with monsters at every corner.
Don’t rush through this haunt. Move at a moderate pace and look up, down and around to catch all the details. Just about every room has some kind of movement, be it people or props. In one room, you're led across the top level of a dark stairwell (take a moment to look over the edge!); a wobbly bridge further on really makes you question your footing.
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Other standout scenes include a creatively executed swamp room, a steep-tilt room that's fun to climb, and the opening of the Possession (the nun-themed attraction), with towering bookshelves, levitating books, warm lighting and creepy, believable actors.
You can stretch the fun even further when you’re through the haunt (which will take you about twenty to thirty minutes) by getting prints or merchandise with your photo from earlier in the night. Or put your puzzle-solving skills to the test with a ticket in one of the escape rooms.
13th Floor Haunted House
3400 East 52nd Avenue
$19.99 to $33.99
Daily through October (except Monday, October 8 and October 15), limited run in November