Blood drenched fluffy woodland creatures… not what I was expecting to see on a Saturday night.
Forest of Doom. This little haunted attraction packs a big punch - one that my group was not expecting. It's a little bit of a drive out to this haunt out in Bailey, CO. Personally, I feel like this adds to the middle-of-nowhere-oh-my-god-are-we-lost vibe this place is going for. You will drive a winding pass into the mountainous area, so keep that in mind as you plan your trip.
Pulling up to the exit off the highway, it took us a moment to see where we were supposed to go. Trust your GPS (we used Google maps) as it will get you to the parking lot of Forest of Doom. There is a sign that indicates where this is, along with trees covered in Halloween themed lights. From there, follow the path to a small ticket booth, where you will be greeted by the quiet host.
You can purchase your tickets online or at the door for $15. The queue line is right next to the ticket booth and is easy to find. Once it becomes your time to proceed, you will follow the somewhat unhinged rabbit to the entrance.
Something really unique about this haunt is they cater to all ages during different time frames. It's worth noting that this is something I haven't seen anywhere else in Colorado. From 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., they are a kid friendly production, complete with trick or treating through their maze.
After 8:30 though? All bets are off and it's now geared for an adult crowd. This includes language, scares, themes and potentially more. As they re-energize up to open for the "adult" crowd, you can hear the monsters and owner chanting and hyping themselves up- ending with "without further adieu, we present the Forest of Doom!" You can feel the weird unsettled energy build as the actors scurry to their places.
We weren't sure what to expect from this haunt, as it is smaller than the ones we've seen so far, but wow do they really give it everything they've got. Upon entering, we almost took a wrong turn, but were corrected by our rabbit guide and a taunting voice from behind a nearby wall. This was hilarious, as well as set us on edge because we didn't realize we were being watched from all corners.
I really enjoyed the use of pallets, metal sheets and what appeared to be tarps or plastic walls that made up the structures of this haunt. It also dips into the forest for a bit, and uses tea lights and nature to its advantage. During this hike, I felt like we were waiting to be murdered by someone, or something, that we couldn't see. I love this use of their surroundings, as it is a different take on an outdoor haunt compared to what I’ve seen so far this season.
The atmosphere and the acting is a testament that people are what really make a haunt special. Yes, a beautiful set is something you can look at in awe and wonder, but it may not actually achieve the goal of scaring the customer. Actors in this haunt scared my fellow group-mate, so much so they peed a little. This is amazing because they had started to believe they were going numb to "scares" after working in the haunt industry for so long.
There were a few instances where actors were caught off guard, but they recovered very nicely and put on a show that either set us on edge or entertained. Both are great from a customer standpoint. Others would appear out of the darkness of the woods, feeding on a primal fear I was unaware I had.
Several had great lines and improvisation that made my skin crawl, or made me laugh from being nervous. Afterwards we made it a point to watch who exited the haunt. Here we saw everyone from teens to grown men running in fear. If you have mobility issues, remember this attraction is completely outside and built within a forest, so it will be a bit of a literal hike. Everyone going here should wear good shoes as well for this reason.
I got the opportunity to speak to the owner, Ryse, who was also acting while the attraction was in operation. I learned that the Forest of Doom hasn’t had a permanent home for several years, but it’s likely to be at its current location for several years to come. This is her 8th year running haunted houses, 6 of which were here in Colorado. I also found out that the haunt evolves over the course of the season, as they are continuously building and adding on to their current site. They even include this in the tag line for their haunt "It's Never The Same Path." I personally hope to experience this haunt later in October for this reason.
The feeling of a small attraction is different, nostalgic, and reminds me why so many people love haunting in the first place. You can clearly see how much enthusiasm and love everyone at the Forest of Doom has for all things scary. They scared me more times in 10 minutes (which felt so much longer) than some of the more commercialized haunted houses had in 30+ minutes. It was simple, effective, and made me want to get into costume to join them. I recommend making the drive to support this business, and I sincerely am excited to see how the production and the actors grow moving forward.