By Jacqueline Monahan
Fright Dome Turns 15 With Raging Horror Moans
Now in its 15th season, the ghoulish sensation that is Fright Dome once again takes up residency within the walls of Adventure Dome at the Strip’s Circus Circus Hotel and Resort. Ghastly clowns, madmen (and women), Michael Myers, chainsaw murderers, and walking corpses crawl out of the woodwork to shriek, “I love what you’ve done with the place!”
Black Carpet Guests
All Photo Credits: John Hardin
Night replaces day. Fog replaces crystal clarity, and monsters literally roam the circular passages. The rides are all in operation, though dimly lit, and you’ll hear many more screams than usual. The dead have come out to play and YOU are their terrified toy. It’s October in Las Vegas.
Well, almost. Opening night happened September 29 and was kicked off with a “black carpet” event hosted by TV personalities Jaymes Vaughan (former Chippendale dancer, Amazing Race contestant, and TV host) and Megan Telles (TV Anchor ABC10 and talk show host) with appearances by Fright Dome’s owner and “hauntrepreneur” Jason Egan – blame him for the nightmares – and Dana White, current president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Egan relayed the news that Fright Dome was named the number three attraction in the nation by…at that point there was a chainsaw at my ear so forgive me for not quite getting the source of that new statistic.
Hosts Jaymes Vaughan and Megan Telles
UFC President Dana White (left) and Fright Dome Creator/Owner Jason Egan
Past “black carpet” guests and attendees have included Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Linda Blair, Kevin Hart, David Copperfield, Paris Hilton, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, and Stevie Wonder. The late, great Michael Jackson once visited as well. The attraction appeal factor seems to be its squeal factor. It’s hard to remain silent and odds are you won’t.
With six haunted houses and five scare zones (all themed) combined with a freak show, laser lights, immersive fog, and a pounding heavy metal soundtrack, Fright Dome continues its reign as one of the Top 10 haunted houses in the nation (USA TODAY). The Travel Channel recognized the Las Vegas sensation as one of the best haunted attractions in the world.
Tall, Dark, and Neon
(Read these next lines in Rod Serling’s (Twilight Zone) voice:
You are on five acres of dim, smoky terrain. Shadowy objects and gore-clad figures seem to orbit your path. Call them scare-actors in this macabre production. There’s a sense of someone right next to you, no, behind you. A low growl rumbles near your ear; you turn to see a grotesque, leering face right next to yours – and he follows you.
The Iconic Trippy the Clown (Stalking)
Your screams mingle with those on the thrill rides (Canyon Blaster (loops) and El Loco (G force drop) roller coasters, The Inverter, an upside-down-and-hold pendulum, the Sling Shot, with its 4G acceleration, Chaos, a three-ranges of motion octopus-like whirler, and Disk’O, a spinning, dipping saucer upon which you straddle bike-like seating along the edge). Remember, it’s dark, which can cause enhanced sensations of all kinds.
And you’ve not even visited one of the six haunted houses yet. New this year is the 15,000 square foot Zombie City. Think zombies are slow moving? Think again, as you try to avoid being infected. Egan teamed up with the late George Romero to insure that the brain-eating abominations were as living dead as could be.
Send in the clowns you say? There they are in 4D splendor, specifically Killer Clowns in neon, luminescent ferociousness. Special glasses won’t save you from them, just help you see every dimension of what’s lunging toward you or creeping up behind you. Don’t blink.
Give Them a Hand
Happy Hellidays doesn’t stop at Christmas carnage. There’s plenty of gore to go around for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Even the Easter Bunny smiles with bloody teeth. You’ll be grateful that you’re not the feast in this Thanksgiving. Hex is a confounding voodoo maze of genuine creepiness and Chainsaw Massacre will have you wandering through meat carcasses, not all of them from animals. The heart attack known as Lights Out (exclusive to VIP and Fast Pass holders) is done isolation-style. You go in alone, armed with only an old flashlight to walk among creatures who don’t take kindly to beams of light. Do you dare?
(Okay, back to normal…er…abnormal voice)
Walking around the perimeter does not mean that you are safe from wandering ghouls. One passageway contains an effect that creates an illusion of cutting off one’s lower body so that it appears that only heads and torsos are moving about, tinged in laser light piping. Careful, it’s awfully dark, and chainsaws, hammers, and swords can be mere inches away.
Shrieking, growling or sometimes, the odd squeak toy in your ear, so oddly out of place that the sound is unnerving rather than playful accompanies your stroll.
Scares zones, spaced throughout Fright Dome, feature Clown Havoc (they’ve taken over the circus after years of being squashed into tiny cars, and they’re pissed!) Infectious Point, where the hotbed of zombie contamination awaits, Marionette Madness, a kind of revenge of the puppet people, no strings attached, and New World Disorder, where looters and anarchy reign supreme. The Fright Club is the laser and strobe-lit dance floor right in front of the main stage – open for spontaneous dances or hideous writhing all evening long.
The main stage hosts live shows at intervals and this year’s acts include illusionist RJ Cantu (America’s Got Talent, Masters of Illusion) Freak Show, full of the oddly talented, sword-in-throat, spikes-in-nose, contortionist, bed of nails types, and Joe Trammel, billed as “the machine gun blast of pop culture.” At Fright Dome, there’s some “thing” for everyone.
RJ Cantu and Assistant
Suspension of Disbelief
Fright Dome owner Jason Egan employs some 400 actors, stagehands, ushers, ticket-takers and security officers each year. The production’s scare-actors can get aggressive but manage to keep a decent quarter inch between you and personal mayhem. With action so startling, Fright Dome deems itself inappropriate for those under 12.
Fright Dome is open select nights from 7 p.m. to midnight, Sept. 29 – Oct. 31.
Just remember, here, you ARE the prey, so pray.
For Further Information:
Fright Dome (since 2003)
The Adventure Dome at Circus Circus
2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
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