Denver newcomer Danielle Look is visiting the city's spookiest sites for this month's Mile High Haunts series.
Two mainstays in the Denver haunted-house scene are now under one roof northeast of the city. Asylum (formerly at 6100 East 39th Avenue) has joined the fifteen-member family of haunts managed by the Denver-based Thirteenth Floor Entertainment group, and moved to the Mile High Flea Market, where it now stands alongside City of the Dead. It's a match made in hell, resulting in more scary bangs for your Halloween bucks.
Parking is easy and free, with clear direction from the attendant and helpful signs posted everywhere. Once you’ve parked and gotten your tickets, you head to an entrance to City of the Dead guarded by two giant reapers, so have your camera ready for photo ops before you hop in line. (Pro tip: Be sure to dress appropriately on nights with inclement weather, as your wait will only be partially covered.)
The haunt itself is erected under a giant tent that looks like a mini version of the Denver airport but feels surprisingly compartmentalized and not at all like a giant, singular room. Be prepared for loud noise and sound effects inside many of the areas, a din that sometimes drowns out the actors’ lines.
The City of the Dead theme works well, allowing for a variety of sets and characters ranging from evil surgeons to backcountry kinfolk. All you need to know is that they’re all dead (or undead), and pissed that you’re in their place. Standout rooms included a child’s playhouse that you have to squat-walk through, and a hallway of zombies that takes real courage to get past.
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The haunt’s second half, Asylum, puts you at the front door of — you guessed it — a mental hospital. After a quick exchange outside with a friendly nurse, you’re sent on your way to meet the institution’s creepy inhabitants. The patients are fun, popping up again and again to scare us as they mumble about getting shocked or simply make an odd buzzing sound in our ears.
The whole trip through should take about twenty to thirty minutes. We found City of the Dead more fun and lively than Asylum, but it’s worth noting that both haunts have more than a handful of “dead” rooms with no actors, no animatronics or jump scares, which was disappointing. Fortunately, it’s not over ’til it’s over. And at the end of the attraction, you’re still able to play free arcade and carnival games — including a twisted version of Operation using a life-sized burn-victim dummy.
City of the Dead and the Asylum
7007 East 88th Avenue, Henderson
Tickets (includes both haunts): $19.99 to $33.99
Dates: Daily (except Mondays through October 22) through October, and against November 2-3.