The season is upon us. My favorite of pagan holidays, Halloween, is just around the corner. And like other holidays that offer a lot of commercialism, but little substance (I’ll leave you to fill in that blank), Halloween comes with its own traditions, especially if you live in or near Salt Lake City.
I think it’s obvious that Utahns love things that go bump in the night (again, fill in your own interpretation). The proof being that the Beehive State boasts more haunted mansions, zombie-fied cornfields, and eerie, apparition-filled mazes in the month of October than Transylvania does the other 11 months out of the year. As a horror aficionado (yes, I love me a good slasher movie) I’ve been to most of the SLC Halloween creep shows, however a fairly new one has sorely eluded my ethereal radar…until now.
Fear Factory SLC, located at 666 W 800 S in Salt Lake City, is housed in the former Portland Cement Factory, which literally takes up just about an entire city block of prime downtown real estate. Long abandoned by the industrial world due to unexplained deaths and dismemberments, the brainy demons behind Fear Factory SLC took over the property in 2010 and promptly turned it into one of the best scary attractions to grace the Salt Lake Valley since Capitol Hill opened the Utah Legislative session to the public.
Dueling Cheese Curdles at Fear Factory SLC
Because we’re always looking for field trips about which we can later discuss (read: banter) during our Dueling Cheese shows, my partner in crime, er I mean, comedy, Tony Oros and I decided to crash Media Night at Fear Factory SLC and check out what all the haunted hubbub was about.
Full disclosure, I LOVE scary stuff, the freakier the better. So if you’re going to get all up in my business with your zombie-like schtick, you’d better have peeling flesh and limbs falling off your body so realistically that I can practically smell your rotting corpse. (Yes, I’m a little twisted that way.) Tony, on the other hand, is not big on some dude with a carved up face chasing you around a locked enclosure with a functioning chainsaw.
So obviously I would be the tougher sell on this little excursion.
I’m happy to say, however, that Fear Factory SLC did not disappoint. Before you even get your wallet out to pay, a cast of carnivorous characters greet you in the courtyard, donning full make-up that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud. Coming from a career in Hollywood filmmaking I’m always looking for cracks in the veneer when it comes to these spooky attractions, and I have to say the ghouls at Fear Factory SLC take their jobs as the walking dead seriously.
They never broke character once, which is my biggest pet peeve when I pay good money to have the living bejeezus scared out of me.
I could tell you blow-by-blow what it’s like to go through Fear Factory SLC, but like a good horror flick, I don’t want to ruin it for you. So let me just hit a few highlights to whet your fearful appetite. Before you even enter the maze, your senses are assaulted (and I mean that in a good way) by Hollywood special FX that include things like a giant shadow of some poor schmuck hanging from a noose, projected on the side of a huge building. In fact, the shadowy image is so big you can see it from the I-15 freeway.
The scariest part for me was when we ascended the main tower on open grate steps, and then had to cross to the next tower on a narrow, open grate catwalk at least ten stories up. Being afraid of heights, I couldn’t help but look down and notice the death-defying drop between my feet. I literally got queasy and had to hang onto to the rail to get across. I would’ve hung on to Tony, but he ran across the catwalk like his ass was on fire. Once on the other side, he noticed my hesitance, but instead of coming back to help me he decided it was safer (for him) to coach me from afar. (Suffice it to say, we will be discussing this little adventure at our October 10 Riff’s Radio Hour show.)
Once at the top of the tower there are only two ways back to solid ground; either by snaking down a very long (and fast) pitch-black tube slide or careening down an outdoor zip line. We did both, because, well, I just love that crap, and Tony had little choice but to go along with it.
Well Worth the Price of Admission
So if you think it’s fun to be scared, if you lean more toward Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as opposed to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, then check out Fear Factory SCL. You won’t be disappointed. It takes about 45 minutes to go through, a little longer if you want to go back up and take the zip line down (which you should definitely do).
Parking is free, and even more fun if you park at the Gateway mall and ride the free Zombie Bus to the Fear Factory compound.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to do some laundry. I have some soiled pants that need cleaning. And here’s why…
Fear Factory SLC
666 W 800 S, Salt Lake City
Open Thrs, Fri, Sat between now and October 19
Nightly between October 21 through November 2
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Stacy Dymalski is an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage. For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.