Ready for some scares? A roundup of Halloween attractions around Utah

Published: Thursday, Sept. 29 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

Heidi Evans, left, and Michelle Hunt prepare their costumes for Frightmares at Lagoon in Farmington.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

This Halloween season, scares take shape around Utah in the form of a train ride, a river cruise, a traveling circus and an abandoned factory.

There are plenty of unique venues in this year's lineup of Halloween attractions. There are also a good number of kid-friendly options.

After all, some kids — and some adults — just scare easier than others.

"We all know that Halloween is such a big deal now that I'm sure there are going to be some younger kids … wanting to go through (the haunted attractions)," said Dick Andrew, executive vice president of marketing at Lagoon, home of Frightmares.

Andrew says he's seen all ages lining up at some "really, really scary" attractions. To thwart any problems, Lagoon created a scare scale "spider rating" on its website. With one spider meaning "not scary at all," the more spiders a Frightmares attraction receives, the scarier it is. Lagoon also posts warning signs outside its scariest attractions.

Other places, such as Green Canyon Farms and American West Heritage Center, simply offer a variety of activities in hopes of providing less scary — but fun — alternatives for children.

In compiling this schedule, the Deseret News spoke to a variety of venues. Many were willing to provide an age recommendation. With a little research, Utah residents can find everything from haunted trails and houses for the older kids and adults, to storytelling, crafts and hay bale mazes for small children.

Provo Canyon features two out-of-the-ordinary offerings that cater to young children. CLAS Ropes in Provo offers a Halloween Cruise down the Provo River, while the Heber Valley Railroad offers a Haunted Canyon train ride.

"A lot of families come and thank us for a family activity where they can enjoy Halloween without the blood and gore," said Benjamin Allen, owner of CLAS Ropes. Allen says they had 5,000 to 6,000 guests last year who enjoyed the Halloween ride, a 25-minute round trip that features 100 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns, scary stories told by the captain and a pirate interrupting the ride to pass out candy.

Further up the canyon, the Heber Valley Railroad allows families to wear their costumes aboard the train ride while listening to haunting stories of Provo Canyon. It's a "spooky adventure" but appropriate for younger children.

"When the train leaves Vivian Park, the lights are cut for a spooky story that comes alive through spooky outdoor scenes that are set against the blackness of Provo Canyon," said Suzanne Hansen, business manager of Heber Valley Railroad, via email.

This Is the Place Heritage Park takes the idea of a haunted house and amplifies it to its entire village. The venue draws on its mix of original and replica buildings to create an inherently scary setting once the sun sets on its shadowy streets. Age?

But there are also plenty of options for older thrill-seekers, from the traditional haunted house to unique spins on Halloween attractions.

A new site uses 23 semitrailers in addition to a large circus tent to create more than 50,000 square feet of haunt. Visible just off Interstate 15 in Draper, Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus has drawn curiosity.

"There's been a lot of mystique about it," said Bob Tillotson, partner and creator. "People see a huge tent and semitrailers and don't know what it is."

Tillotson said the use of movable trailers creates a likeness to a transient circus.

"We are building on something people have a natural fear toward," he said.

The Fear Factory is another new attraction that uses setting to its advantage. Located in an abandoned cement factory, the venue features changing elevations, underground tunnels and the constant creek of railroad tracks.

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