Dark Side of the Abbey is a haunted attraction I’ve been hearing about for years, and have wanted to go to, and I am incredibly glad I got the opportunity this year. It played on many innate fears, and I later learned it is all put on by the Boy Scouts as one of their only yearly fundraisers.
You may see a bit of a repeat in the ticketing and parking details between this article and Disturbance at the Monastery’s. This is because they are at the same location, but the experiences are so different I felt it was only right to give them their own articles.
Driving to the haunted houses is a little tricky, but this is due to the layout of streets in Cañon City. Trust your GPS to get you there, where you will drive right past the parking lot. People here park both in the lot and along the street. When we arrived, the parking lot was full, and this appeared to be due to a wedding reception happening in a building near the attractions. That’s because both are located where there are churches and other buildings. We parked in the street, and headed to the ticket booth.
You can purchase tickets online or at the door. General admission tickets are $25 dollars for each house, or $40 for a combo ticket to both. They also offer a limited number of speed passes each night, which I assume are the “skip the line” tickets on the website for $10. I also learned at the venue that they also offer VIP passes for $20, however I do not see this option on their website.
It quickly became apparent that there is no line set-up for the ticket booth, and it got a little messy with people trying to figure out who to talk to. However, it soon cleared up, and we managed to talk to the staff about possibly getting VIP tickets so we could experience both attractions before they closed for the night. They were kind enough to get us into the VIP line for the Dark Side of the Abbey, which had a 2 hour wait.
One member of my group also got to check out the main line for the Dark Side of the Abbey, as we had heard that it’s a work of art. There are pictures from the line here in this article, and I honestly wished I got to see it with my own eyes. Instead we spent our time waiting in the VIP line, which is out on the side of the building, and feels a bit unstructured.
The ticket taker at the front of the line was incredibly kind and informative, and told us the rules for going through their attraction. She waited for a cue, then let us into this haunt, with me in the lead.
The sets in this haunt immediately made me feel like I stepped into a video game. To me, this is important, because it means we are going to be in an immersive experience. We began clambering our way through the halls of what looked like a home, having to crouch to avoid low ceilings. This, all while getting scared and terrorized by monsters lurking just outside our line of sight.
There are doorways you have to open yourself, a small crawling/leaping down section you have to go through, and stairs to climb up and down. There were one or two scenes that were PTSD inducing for members of my group, so keep in mind there are themes that may be disturbing. This is a haunted house however, so there is a level understanding that scenes like this exist.
I want to highlight several scenes that got our group, or that literally sent shivers down my spine. At one point, we walked past a wall that stretched and moved as we walked past. This made the blood drain from my face and other people to get really excited over how well it was done. Truly a beautiful execution.
Next, something I've learned from going to haunted houses this season is that if something scares me to my core, a slew of curse words fly out of my mouth. I apologize to the actors that heard these, as I later learned the actors range from 14 - 21 years old. They got me, and I absolutely showed that I have the vocabulary of a well-educated sailor.
One of these points was in the hospital wing. A smaller figure darted around us getting our attention, allowing for a looming shadow to take up the entire space in the hall and charge at me. This got me to curse, turn around, and run right into my group behind me. This made my friends laugh, especially when he made sure to get me again as we shuffled to the next area. Their teamwork really helped sell the scare.
After climbing through a tight area, we found ourselves in a bathroom. I turned around to help the other members of our group, and this is when a crawler slid into the scene and made me nearly pee myself. I screamed another string of curse words, and was thoroughly shaken as we were then forced to continue on our journey.
Again, some of the scenes in this haunt reminded me of the video game Outlast, and I was expecting to see something come barreling down a hallway at me. Their sets are beautiful, and I wanted to stay and look longer than the time we were afforded. There were even spaces that allowed for actors to climb and crawl overhead.
Later in the attraction, the fog got so thick that I could barely tell where I was walking, and stumbled into a few things that gave me bruises. This did however give the actors a great veil to hide behind and execute scares very well. This is around where we caught up to other groups, and had to wait as they figured out how to go through a claustrophobic hallway.
The ending was relatively straightforward, unfortunately I don’t think the ending scare got the space it deserved to really make an impact, especially since they couldn’t really chase anyone out due to stairs being right outside. It also didn’t help that we were stuck in a conga line through it too, so this actor was in a constant “go” mode.
Overall, the costumes and makeup were also very well done, the characters fit their scenes very well. Some did look a little clean here and there where the lights were brighter, though I believe this is intentional.
As I mentioned in the beginning, both the Dark Side of the Abbey and the Disturbance in the Monastery are put on by the Boy Scouts in Cañon City. The owner of the haunts told one of my group members that it is one of the only fundraisers they do all year, and it allows for the local Boy Scouts to do everything they need to, including going on trips as a troop. I am thoroughly impressed by this, and think this is an amazing way to fundraise.
If you have the time to take a trip to the Dark Side of the Abbey, please do! It was a haunt on my list that I very much wanted to visit, and in my opinion it was well worth the hour drive from Colorado Springs. I can’t wait to see what they do next year with their attractions.