Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fright Dome

Less than one week until Halloween--Hallowe'-en, short for All Hallows Evening, the celebration of the night before the old Pagan celebration of All Saints' Day (later co-opted by Pope Gregory III, who, in Papal tradition, sought to divert attention to his deity by moving the Catholic All Saints' Day from May to November 1); also known as Samhain, from the Gaelic word for summer's end--a celebration of the end of the light, fruitful days of summer, and the beginning of the lonely, scarce days of winter's darkness.

Last night there was a zombie walk down on Fremont Street; I unfortunately had to take a pass on that, but I'm very anxious to hear how it went (I suspect Mercedes will blog it). The reason I missed was entrapment--my daughters got caught in the kind of dramatic turmoil of which only school age kids are capable; and, long story short, I should know better than to let schoolkids coordinate events without close oversight, and the only way for me to keep my weeks-old promise to my daughters to make sure they get to Fright Dome this year was to take them myself.

So...anyway, the thing I really wanted to talk about was Fright Dome. If you've ever been to Las Vegas, Fright Dome is built inside of the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus. (note: I couldn't find any good pictures of FrightDome in action...I suspect the fog makes photography almost impossible).

If you've never been to Las Vegas, let me 'splain what this is, so you can get an idea of the coolness of this thing: imagine a glass-shrouded dome about the size of a small football stadium. Inside of the dome is an amusement park, including a roller coaster, water ride (a la Disney's Splash Mountain), 6 or 7 big carny-style rides, a midway, video games, kiddie rides, concessions, and sideshows, all anchored in the center by a massive faux-stone mountain.

Every October, that park takes on a new life as Fright Dome, a massive haunted village that is only open at night. The Circus Circus takes that amusement park and turns off all of the lights, fills it with thick fog, adds lightning/thunder generators, laser light shows, stobes, and high-end Halloween decorations: pneumatic monsters, flying demons, echoing screams filling the dome. That alone is pretty cool, but that's just the beginning.

They close down a few areas, like the laser tag maze and some of the winding caverns underneath the mountain, and construct five large, elaborate haunted houses. This year they did a licensing deal with the producers of Saw, and had a haunt called Jigsaw's Revenge, complete with live actors and electronic/pneumatic props acting out torture scenes from the movies. Very cool. There was also a hillbilly maze, a haunted hospital, and a couple others.

Roaming the haunts and the hallways in between are dozens of actors in makeup, whose sole purpose is to scare the hell out of guests. The overall theme is evil clowns, but they also had hooded hillbillys with chainsaws (real, but no chain attached), mad scientists, popular baddies like Jason, Mike Meyers, etc, flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz, and dozens of generally weird characters.

In all it was fun--I loved the creepy ambiance of seeing big rides like Chaos and The Inverter running in the dark, their signage lights barely visible through the fog, and the packs of kids running and screaming while being chased by a green-haired clown with a chainsaw. The waits were killer, though...about 40-50 minutes on some haunts, which wasn't fun. Also, I was probably amongst the seven oldest people in the building, security guards included.

As much as it sucked missing the Zombie Walk, the kids had a good time, and I can say that I've done the Fright Dome. Finally.


Anonymous said...

Totally missed you at the Zombie Walk, but the Fright Dome with the kidlets definitely sounds worthwhile!


Cate Gardner said...

Tell me the Fright Dome was built post 1998 (when I went to Vegas) because I so never went there. :(

Jamie Eyberg said...

That sounds like a fantastic time. I have another reason to want to go to Vegas now.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Mercedes: I was a fun trip, but I only get to hang out with grownups a few times a year and grownups dressed as zombies are proven to be 3x more fun than regular grownups.

Cate: the Adventuredome was built in the early 90s, I think, back when the strip casinos were still courting families...not sure how long they've been doing the FrightDome there. (they've since torn out all of the family attractions, Adventuredome is the only one left).

Jamie: yeah, if you can come in October, it's definitely something to see...although Vegas is pretty entertaining all year round.