It's here, ladies and gentlemen! The season of spiced drinks, soups, pumpkin patches, and of course my favorite, haunted houses.
Spooky season is upon us! I am so excited that I got to kick it off with a visit to Westminster's Frightmare Compound. It honestly made for a magnificent start to the season.
First: finding information about this haunt was super easy with a great social media presence and easy to navigate website. Tickets for general admission are $32, with VIP going upwards of $60+. With the haunt taking us right around 35-40 minutes to complete, I'd say it's well worth the price, especially as the season ramps up and crowds become heavier.
Driving up to the haunt, it was well-lit and easy to recognize. Upon first glance, It looks like a saloon or ranch property from far away, and as you approach, their massive outdoor signage tells you you've arrived.
Parking was nothing short of impressive. This haunt has a parking attendant with a baton light. This person does a great job guiding cars to their spaces. At first, I was worried their parking lot may be a little small, especially with their expected turn out this season, however their ticketing system may help to get rid of the potential parking issues.
Crowd control starts with your ticket purchase online. There are time slots you select, and you are expected to be in line within that time frame. If you did not book online, you also have the option of purchasing tickets at the door. However, be aware that if you purchase tickets online, you will be emailed a QR code. Make sure to check your spam or junk folder as well if you don't see the confirmation email. If for some reason you do not receive one, as in my case, they have a secondary way to look up your reservation. We chose general admission, for the 7:30 time slot, and were in line by 7:28. We waited in line for just over 30 minutes.
The queue line was clear and easy to follow, and was themed as an old farm shed, complete with pyrotechnics. They also have snacks available for purchase as you wait in line, alongside several well-placed trash bins for any garbage you may have collected. The rules play clearly over the loudspeaker. Please listen and follow them, they are there for the safety of the attendees and actors alike.
Next, I highly suggest you read the newspaper clippings and bulletins on the walls of the queue. These give insight to the haunt’s theme, backstory, and scenes within the haunt. The front door staff appeared to be letting a general admission group into the haunt, then a couple VIP groups, followed by another GA group and so on and so forth. I totally agree with this, as VIP pays a substantial amount more to be in the shorter line.
The entrance! Oh, the entrance is hidden, intimidating and so well-executed. I'm not sure who was in charge of the spacing between groups, but it felt like the actor who greeted us was also doing timing. If this is the case, this actor is pulling double duty and it's a feat for sure, especially since they were quipping back and forth with us like a pro. Kudos, because we didn't run into another group even once.
This haunt has beautiful sets, and it starts right when you walk in the door. You would not expect the property to be as big as it is, and the pathing is extremely well done. Though I will say that if you are someone with mobility issues, this is not the haunt for you. Right out of the gate, there are stairs, low ceilings, tunnel-like paths, and slopes that may not accommodate your mobility concerns. These, however, often serve as beautiful transitions between scenes and make you feel as if you are descending much further than you actually are. We regularly found ourselves getting caught up in the set details, which include caves, water features, disarming floor features, and even an RV and refrigerator with very special details that the actresses alluded to very well.
I honestly felt like I was going through Meow Wolf sets in some places. One of the staff members later told me they start rebuilding the day after season ends, and I absolutely believe it. You can see the work and dedication that went into this haunt.
Now, this was night 2 for the season for this haunt. This means that newer actors are still getting warmed up, finding their voice and honing their skills, and I cannot wait to see what they do when they have more experience under their belt. That being said, our group was scared several times, and at one point, we had one of our members run ahead of the group in fear… from the very back of the pack. She later told me something was chasing her from behind, making inhuman movements and noises.
The veteran actors were easy to spot for me; they were confident in their movements and words, and made it a point to get within well-thought out and uncomfortable distances. They also had these veterans well spaced out, and this really brought the haunt together. We do have a red herring in our group, who is a typical target for scare actors, and when the actors found she wasn't easily scared, they would immediately turn their attention to the others who were clearly uneasy. Overall, the actors did a good job of scaring our whole group.
The costumes felt a tiny bit repetitive after a while. I found myself thinking I had seen some actors several times throughout the haunt. Please note that this may be intentional. I also felt like some of the costumes were a bit too clean for characters who were outside. With that said, some of the costumes were grungy and gross, and looked professionally done.
You could see quality work in the makeup as well. The front doorman was shocking. There was also good makeup throughout the darker areas, with shading and blood that stood out well. However, in the more well-lit areas, some of the actors appeared to be wearing very little makeup. Again, this may have been intentional. The prosthetic work was PHENOMENAL. I saw several that blew me away and I couldn't help but give these actors compliments.
I would also like to point out this haunt had absolutely NO clowns, so if you have a fear of clowns, go to the Frightmare Compound!
There were a few actors my group really enjoyed and asked me to highlight as well:
The radioactive guys near the barrel scene! They really appeared to know how to work together. Their masks were a highlight, and the way they moved through the scene was so intentional and unnerving.
Near the beginning, there was an actor doing a pure sound scare. Beautifully done with great vocals! I hope they have cough drops on hand, because I know that it hurts after doing it all night.
The bride and groom really caught our attention as well: haunting, deliberate, and did some good crowd control as they worked around us.
The mid-haunt detour scene threw us all for a loop. We were not expecting to get turned around the way we did, and in no way were we clued into what was about to happen.
To the ladies near the end, thank you for sarcastically responding to us when our group started talking to you. You have clear improvisational skills that are so amazing.
Once the haunt concludes, you are led by a rope walkway to the museum and gift shop. Here, you can take all the pictures you want. You can also ask the attendants to take pics of your group too if they aren't too busy.
Lastly, I do think the exit walkway needs a bit more lighting, as our group nearly tripped over the black rope meant to lead you back to the parking lot. With the street right there though, I do appreciate there being a walkway at all, as some places do not have this.
All in all, I was blown away by the Frightmare Compound, and left thinking, "Well crap, they just set the bar for this season REALLY HIGH." It was definitely worth the drive from Colorado Springs, and I can't wait to see what this haunt does moving forward.