I am so excited that I get to experience Colorado haunted houses. Over the last decade I've heard a lot of different things, but never got to check them out for myself. The one name that's been mentioned the most?
13th Floor in Denver.
I decided to see what all the commotion was about this past weekend!
The experience starts at booking, and The 13th Floor made it easy to find the information. I had bought a couple tickets a month or so prior during their discounted rate of $13 for their 13th year in Denver. The night we went, general admission rates were $20. Going into October you will only see that price if you go on a weekday. On the weekend you will pay between $28-$33 for general admission. If you want access to the higher ticket levels, they offer Fast Pass, Skip the line, and platinum VIP tickets, ranging between $40-$100 depending on the add-ons you decide to include.
If you purchase online, you will be given a QR code for each individual ticket. You are also able to purchase tickets at the door. The system has you book your ticket for a time slot, but for $5 extra you can get a "flex" ticket and arrive anytime during the night you booked for.
Driving up to the haunted house, to be completely honest, I couldn't spot it and didn't know where it was. We drove up during daylight hours though, so I'm sure it's lit up at night and easier to spot. Driving past the area you see a large fenced-in and walled-in area, followed by a sign that is somewhat hard to spot with all the cars parked on the street.
Parking for this haunt is a bit of an adventure. We managed to find parking on the street, but otherwise it looks as if neighboring businesses are offering their parking lots for a paid rate. Attached to the 13th floor is an ax throwing bar with fun themed ranges. We were rather early, so we decided to wait there for a while until the main gates opened.
Once the gates were opened, us alongside a small line of other customers were ushered in through security. Here we walked through a metal detector, they checked our bags and even my little travel wallet for anything dangerous. I can definitely say that I felt safe on this premises. I suggest you leave any large bags at home.
Once past security, we finally got a look around at the 13th floor property. The first thought that came to mind; Theme park. Everything was very clean, and they have huge metal stanchions where you get in line. The outside of the 13th floor is a stark contrast visually to the area it is located in. The sides of the building are covered with giant images of their characters, and there are some line actors entertaining people as they waited.
Don't want to get in line right away? There is a bunch of little side shows you can also partake in (for a price). These side shows include ax throwing, mini escape rooms, and even a secret bar (ID required). This is in addition to the bar and food trucks on the premises in case you need to take a moment before getting in line. You can purchase entry to all of these online when you book your ticket.
We opted to get right in line and skip all the other attractions. As we were heading that way, an employee beelined for us and asked if we needed any help, and recommended we go to the bar before heading into the line. We politely declined and got in our general admission queue.
We chose the 7pm time slot, and were in line around 7:05. The queue line winds all over the place, and feels like its own mini maze. In the first row of the queue, the line actors were working the crowd. I jump easy at any loud noise; they quickly picked up on that and singled me out, especially the slider who had a sledgehammer. I later asked for the name of the character, to which I received the answer "I don't have a name."
While in line, 13th floor personelle walked through scanning tickets. I had 4, he only checked in 3 and said he would find the fourth one a different way. We made it to the front of the line by 7:25, when we were waved inside the main building… into a second line. This confused all of us at first until we were told we'd be going to take a pre-haunt picture available for later purchase.
We get our picture taken, then walked through the door… into a third line. This was frustrating for some of us, but a couple people in my group said they liked this because it made them feel like they weren't waiting as long. To my understanding the lines are set up this way to accommodate for their different "skip the line" levels of tickets.
On the walls of this third queue line were posters of actors and lists of rules/warnings. Only a couple of these were well lit enough to read. At the front of this line was a lovely young lady doing timing and telling the rules. She made sure everyone in our group was paying attention before starting her schpiel.
Once done, we happened to glance through the archway to see a large animatronic. We joked around with our greeter about how she called it "fluffy" and how cute a name it was for it. She motioned us forward when it was time and told us to go straight. I am glad she did, as another employee darted in front of us into a side alley they wasn't very well blocked. I can see how people may get easily lost if not directed otherwise. We entered the haunt around 7:35.
Once inside the haunt it was a whirlwind. The first thing I picked up on was how narrow the walkway was. It allowed for us to only go in a single file line, and at a couple parts I was forced to brush against a wall in order to keep moving. There were quite a few actors in the first portion of the haunt, but I felt like it was mostly jumpscares. One of these got me pretty good, and the people directly behind me laughed cause they saw it coming. The back of our group though was left wondering why I screamed. After this point I noticed all the nooks and crannies that could have been utilized for scares, only to be disappointed when nothing happened.
We were led into an elevator, whose operator did a great job freaking out members of our group while we were getting tossed around the moving room. Then the door slid open to what seemed like scene after scene after scene of animatronics in well done exhibits. The sets in this haunt are honestly top tier. It felt very Universal Studios-esque with details over every inch. In some places this did make it feel like I was in a museum for animatronics.
After this point I had become somewhat numb to the scares that were targeted at our group. I also became overwhelmed a bit by the sheer amount of constant movement. There were hardly any breaks or calmer transitions between the barrage of animatronics.
At one point we even caught an individual taking video of one of these animatronics. We quickly scooted past. Please don't take pics or videos of a haunted house. It can ruin the experience for others walking through, or it can spoil the experience for others if they see the video before attending the attraction.
At the halfway point we hit a conga-line. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is when groups catch up to each other, creating one long line of patrons. One actress at this choke point did an awesome job trying to break up the groups. She lept out in front of us, dressed as a police officer and made the area we were about to enter feel like a crime scene, forcing space between us and the group ahead of us. Once we entered this scene though, we immediately ran into the group ahead of us again. It was like this the rest of the haunted house.
The second half of the house felt like it had fewer actors than the first half. However some of these actors did well despite having lulls between them.
Some shoutouts here are the frat boy with the beer hat, the candy man, and the person who was attached to a wall.
Unfortunately in this haunt there was so much fog sometimes that it was hard to see. In one area I couldn't even see a large animatronic, which I could tell was lunging towards me from the sound and shadows. I also couldn't see the actor in this area either, and had a small moment with breathing due to the fog's thickness.
Another notable thing we all commented on was how pleasant the entire haunt smelled. It smelled like patchouli, which is lovely, but not something I would expect in a haunted house.
The costumes were also very well done, very professional just like the sets. The makeup included detailed masks, and great shading for the most part. Some actors only had some scratches or bruising however, and felt out of place compared to the scene they were in.
Another thing that felt out of place was a series of screens seemingly promoting a character from the queue line. It was very disjointed in comparison to the other scenes we had just walked through.
There were a couple of fun pathing tricks in the second half, which group concensus was our favorite part. Notably, there are exits everywhere, some of which I nearly mistook for our actual path. I do wonder about how those with mobility issues would do in this haunt, with the narrow walkways and pathing situations. They may have bypasses or detours, however I didn't see anything on their website about this issue.
The ending scare felt a little half-hearted, but this may have been because they were trying to scare the long line of people leaving the house. I also noticed the queue was completely empty. We exited the haunt around 8:05, so it took us about 30 minutes to get through. I would have been okay with waiting in line a bit longer if it meant not hitting a conga line, especially since there wasn't anyone in line after we got out.
I asked one the the Icon leads, the Witch, about crowd control inside the building. She very kindly informed me that they have several spots where they place dual actors to help break up groups.
She also told me they are expecting to see around 50,000 people this season. It was the 3rd day of this season for this haunted house, and she explained they probably saw about 500 customers that night. She never broke character while giving me this information.
Afterwards I found out from friends that there were several themes that they change out every year. The company wants to keep these themes under wraps until people go through, so I'm opting not to say what they are. I will say however that during our walkthrough I had no idea there were any themes. I couldn't clearly see what the transitions between them were until later when we talked about it as a group. I also learned they are continuously training actors as they head into season. Hopefully this means the house will seem more full than when we went.
Overall, if you want an experience for spooky season that is entertaining but not too scary, with theatrical grade sets, and some extra side-attractions; this is the haunt for you. Their sets are top-tier and fun to look at, but for me the overall experience left something to be desired.