Denver newcomer Danielle Look is visiting the city's spookiest sites for this month's Mile High Haunts series.
When your GPS leads you to a nondescript strip mall on an unassuming street in the middle of Colorado Springs, trust us: You’re on the right track for The Haunted Mines. This attraction has no menacing facade, and you won’t find carnival games, a fancy snack shop or a merch store where you can have your souvenir photo printed on a mug. But the Haunted Mines doesn't need any of that: You’re here to get scared, and scared you shall be.
Parking is easy, with plenty of helpful staff out front to let you know where to go. After a short walk around the building to the rear entrance, we stepped inside a warm, covered waiting area with orange lights and lots of props and actors. After an awkward exchange with an odd woman who had managed to get her head caught in a trap, we set off for the mines. But first, we had to pay the troll toll to cross the bridge that would lead us there. The first scare of the night was an original one that caught me so off guard, I broke a nail — a sign that signaled a wild, rambunctious ride ahead.
Next thing I knew, we were in an elevator with a spirited skeleton man who set an ominous tone as we descended to an underground village hidden deep inside the mountains. As we stepped out of the elevator onto a metal grate, I couldn’t help but notice the bottomless pit directly below my feet. When I looked up and around, realistic cave walls surrounded me. It seemed like we were really in the mines!
As we meandered the narrow halls, I glanced back and saw a large, creepy cave creature gaining on me. I screamed and hurried on, darting left and then right as we were attacked over and over again by cave monsters and undead miners.
The Haunted Mines stands out for the intensity of its scares, sometimes two or three in a single room. The actors here are experienced, employing much more than overused, canned lines like “Get out!” and “Play with me!” One girl drew me in by curling her index finger, only to deliver a piercing scream when I got inches from her face. Later, when I asked a clown if I could hold his balloon, he blew a puff of air into my ear.
The Haunted Mines offers the perfect balance between original scares and over-the-top (but often out-of-the-box) production. Many haunts, like the 13th Floor, rely on a very big budget to buy goliath-sized animatronics and shocking special effects. The Haunted Mines employs some of that, but also manages to stay grounded with innovative set designs and interactive elements, like the neon merry-go-round room that put me eye-to-eye with that crazed clown as he spun us in circles and laughed maniacally.
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Just when you think it might be over, you’re handed a pair of 3-D glasses and enter the tamer leg of the attraction, which gently leads you through a blacklight neon circus. Here, the props, actors and walls are all adorned with special paint and colors that give everything an extra dimension of terror. The change of pace and environment gives you a chance to catch your breath; take your time and catch all the eye candy. And a heads-up: When the circus is over, the attraction isn’t…so don’t let your guard down just yet.
From the excellent actors to the attraction’s wickedly original design, the Haunted Mines creates a terrifying experience that's definitely worth the drive to Colorado Springs.
Moreover, general admission tickets to the Haunted Mines are just $22, about ten bucks less than most GA tickets at haunts closer to Denver. For thirty minutes of nonstop entertainment, that's a steal. And if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, pick up a $36 combo pass and hit up nearby Hellscream, too.
The Haunted Mines
3910 Palmer Park Boulevard, Colorado Springs
$22 general admission, $30 VIP ($36 GA combo pass to the Haunted Mines and Hellscream)
Thursdays through Sundays in October, also October 30-31 (Lights Out November 2-3)