Aliens in the Barn

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Fright Dome Experience @frightdome #frightdome #lasvegas

We went to Fright Dome last night and, wow, what an experience! We showed up early. Right before they opened the doors, clowns and ghouls ran by the crowd with chainsaws. It reminded me of childhood Halloween at home, waiting for John Snook's Haunted Hotel to open its doors and my oldest brother running through the street with his chainsaw. I do believe the difference is that my brother kept the chain on it, lol. That nostalgic moment aside, it was pretty electrifying with a thousand people cheering and getting more and more excited to be admitted to a night of terror fun.

Just getting through security was an experience. Man, they really had that place locked down. Anything that could be used as a weapon was confiscated and I was surprised to find combs among the stuff confiscated. We were super prepared since we didn't take anything with us but an ID and some cash, all of which fit in my zipper pocket. (The tent in the background of this photo is not the dome; it was the security check-in only.)

Fright Dome is housed in Circus Circus's Adventuredome. I've seen advertisements for Adventuredome around town, but I may be the only one who didn't actually realize it was a full-on amusement park, with actual roller coasters. Not dinky little town-fair twirlers and merry-go-rounds, but no kidding Six Flags quality stuff. Because, honestly, even with the advertisements, I thought it was of the dinky town-fair variety. 

So, as we go inside, I'm blown away by the roller coasters. And, well, my husband was too. We're totally going to go back when it is simply the Adventuredome, just for that.

Of course, the difference with it being turned into Fright Dome is that you get to ride the roller coasters in the dark. So, it's like Space Mountain... on steroids, which is glorious.

But, we weren't exactly there for roller coasters. We were there for the six haunted houses. Finding ourselves in an entire theme park transformed into a giant Halloween horror zone where the roller coasters are still running throughout the night was more than we thought. There aren't many videos or pictures to truly get a feel of what this is. I think that's done on purpose, because the unexpected was so much more fun and a better overall experience.

Anyway, they warn on the Fright Dome website that it's dark and smoky. Well, that's entirely true. Our eyes adjusted to the darkness, but it was still hard to figure out where the lines started for each attraction, especially the difference between the general admission lines and the fast pass lines. And sometimes the smoke was so thick, we simply just had to keep walking forward and hope not to bump into a wall or a table or something. Bumping into people was a constant. But, the smoky atmosphere led one janitor to wear a surgical mask while he went around cleaning up bottles and such. Even though he wasn't an actor, he was probably the most creepy person there, lol.

At any rate, there were helpful employees at haunted house to let us know where to go, as well as scary clowns, chainsaw killers, and creepy dolls ready to jump out and scare everyone at every turn. There was even a lady, who had no legs, chasing people on her hands. She was so fast! And her creepy zombie makeup and dress were very well done.

The haunted house I was looking forward to the most was Krampus. I haven't actually seen Krampus, but I know the story and mixing Christmas with Halloween horror is one of my favorite things. So, we went to that haunted house first. It did not disappoint! Christmas music along with killer grandmas, chained children, corpses wrapped with wrapping paper were the kind of Halloween/Christmas horror fun I was looking for. 

A life-size doll standing in a corner that turned out to be a real person totally got me! I wasn't expecting it to be anything other than a prop, so it was perfect. I laughed and clapped and told him/her "That was good." The only thing I was disappointed with in this one was that I wanted to see someone all dressed up as the creepy devil-looking horned Krampus seen on the advertisements. Instead, it was some animatronic thing in the end that you couldn't see because of too much smoke shielding it.

We made our way to Clownz next, where they gave us glasses that distort light, so every blacklight glowing dot, spatter, or line in the place looked like it was 3D, especially the orange coloring. Even the floor had glowing paint that seemed to move as you walked over it. The clowns were, or course, wonderfully creepy and there were corpses wrapped in cotton candy and it was all craziness. It reminded me of "Killer Klowns from Outer Space," with all its creepy hilarity.

At the end, there was a large spinning tunnel to walk down that messed with the senses and made you feel like you were going to fall. I tried running through it, laughing the whole time, of course. At the end, there was someone with a survey that asked what my favorite part was and I said it was the spinning tunnel. But then I wished I had said that it was the people dressed in all black with glowing dots on them that made the walls look like they were closing in. Really, that was a good special effect.

Then we went to Five Nights at Freddy's. Neither one of us knew what this was. A couple of years ago, my great nephew wanted me to play the game with him while I was visiting, but we never got around to it. Even then, I thought it was some kind of Nightmare on Elm Street thing. Wrong. And, boy, were we super delighted by what we found!

When we walked into the haunted house, it was a pizza joint. It had everything from a hostess table to menus to kids play areas to a ball pit and prize tables, games... 

So, here is the mid-age person analysis. Remember Showbiz Pizza, with that ape and his animatronic animal band, the Rockafire Explosion? This was before Chucky Cheese Pizza, but Chucky Cheese is another great analogy to this. Oh gosh, here we go:

I imagine that the creator(s) of Five Nights at Freddy's used to go to Showbiz as a kid and that animatronic band scared the piss out of him. I mean, look at that these photos, LOL! 


The manifestation of his childhood terror must have turned into the creation of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, where the animatronics come to life and kill everyone. We were so delighted with it that we laughed all the way through. I mean, I think many kids of the 80s were traumatized by that band at Showbiz.

Hellcatraz was next. It was shorter than the others and my least favorite, but there was a lady on a body of bones and gore in a jail cell that made me smile. This was getting closer to the cut-'em-up Halloween gore I expect and look for in a haunted house. I so wish I could have seen the Insanitarium from a couple of years ago, because that would have been right up my alley. As it was with Hellcatraz, I was the last in line and someone waiting until everyone passed to unexpectedly jump out of a corner totally got me. I laughed. "You actually got me!" I think that person was pleased.

After that, we went to Wasteland 2. Another haunted house based off of a video game we don't know anything about, but Freddy's was a fun surprise and we had fast passes, so we wouldn't have missed it. I still don't know much about Wasteland, but this was exactly the gory, cut-'em-up, body parts everywhere kind of haunted house I love to see during Halloween. 

And in the extreme. There were body parts, bloody gore, even lifesize foamy pigs hanging from the ceiling that you had to walk through. I was last again and this guy with a chainsaw was really trying, putting it very close to my back and neck, close enough where I could feel the heat and got choked by the exhaust. Sorry, dude, chainsaws aren't scary, but I do love them in a haunted house and you really tried, so kudos. 

With the fast pass, we had exclusive access to the Ouija haunted house, but there was a giant airline quality strobe light blinking blinking blinking, blinding blinding blinding right on the crowd standing in line for that one. Even with fast pass, the wait was 90 minutes and we physically were not able to stand there with that strobe intensity. We were either going to A: go blind, or B: have a head explosion, so it wasn't worth that to us, which is regrettable. 

With the fast pass, it only took an hour and a half to get through the 5 haunted houses, so we walked around and watched the performers scare anyone that could be. Then we looked for access to the roller coasters, which it did take us some time to figure out in the dark. We made it to El Loco first and the confusion of which line was the fast pass for that, but figured it out after asking someone. 

There was a wait, but not too bad and we jumped right in the front of one of the cars. It speeds up an incline and immediately drops us into a negative G drop that is, of course, thrilling, but then we go up another turn...and the whole thing stops.

So, we're sitting there on top and the view of the rest of the dome is pretty good. We could see the Canyon Blaster fairly well and the Circus Circus sign through the dome glass, the lighted lettering on the hotel. And all the smoke and strobe lights, etc., etc. For the most part, it was just dark. That's when I say, "I'm keeping my head against the seat, because it's getting ready to blast us over."

My husband says, "This isn't right."

We sit there a little while longer and I'm still talking about how it's getting ready to shoot us through there. There are some electronic sounds and clicking.

The husband. "I don't think so. Everything is all wrong." Several minutes go by.

Ten minutes go by.

Next thing we know, lights come on on the catwalk next to us. Then two safety people climb up and ask, "Is everyone okay?"

We're good, "As long as we're not going to be here for an hour." Because, now it's clear we're stuck.

The guy explains what they are going to do with our car and how we're getting off of there. After about 10 or so more minutes talking on a walkie talkie, he asks if we're ready and the car slowly starts moving, gradually corkscrewing around the next loop. Let me just say that a slow-motion corkscrew leaves a lot to be desired. Once it stops at the next flat scaffolding, just a little ways closer to the ground, another person comes up and gives us a safety speech on how we're getting off the ride. That's when I realize, "Oh, you mean, we're getting off from way up here."

The restraints come up and we slowly climb off the car as we're being coached how to do it, preferably not to our deaths straight down. There was a railing they made us hold onto and once everyone was off and standing there single file, they led us down the scaffolding and off the ride. What an experience that was!

We weren't deterred from the ride in the least. We told them we still wanted to ride when they got it fixed, so we were led to the exit area where we were allowed to get back into a car right away. We're sitting in the car and nothing is happening and this is about the time I was thinking maybe it wasn't a good idea. The restraints come up again and they say we have to get out. Lots of people moved on after that, but we decided to give it another 10 or so minutes. They sent the cars through a couple of times without anyone on them and then we were allowed back on.
The funny thing was how short the ride turned out to be, but it was a good one. After that, we were pretty hungry and it was 10pm and we had had no dinner. That's when we found out that food is where the Fright Dome is lacking. They could really do a good hot dog and hamburger business if they'd just had them. So, we left the dome to go see what we could eat in Circus Circus. 

Fright Dome was an awesome experience! Once we move away from Vegas, I would fly back just to go to the Fright Dome. One thing I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to go would be to pay the money for the fast pass. With fast pass, we were able to get through 5 haunted houses and 1 roller coaster in 2 hours. With general admission, the line for each thing was no less than 90 minutes, which means general admission folks can't get through everything in the 5 hours that Fright Dome is open each night.

People often ask why haunted houses and horror experiences don't scare me. As an archaeologist, I have excavated entire cemeteries in my career. People dressing up like zombies, fake body parts, and general dead are simply not scary. But, I'm always fascinated by the creativity of Halloween horror and Fright Dome was a step up. Bravo!

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