Something about this is scary
Do haunted houses have broad enough appeal to be permanent fixtures in Las Vegas?
29 October 2012
I often tell my out-of-town friends that it’s Halloween every day in Las Vegas.
Between sexy cocktail servers, bedazzled entertainers and amateur street performers in superhero getups, you never know what you’re going to see when you go out in our city.
Little did I know that another element of Halloween was going to make its way to Las Vegas’ public stage.
Those haunted houses that pop up around town in early October (actually, late September this year)? It now appears that at least some of them are going to become permanent fixtures in the city’s repertoire of entertainment.
I’m not sure yet whether this is a good or a bad thing.
Las Vegas is known for being on the edge. The city’s marketers have branded our adult freedom, inviting visitors to experience something they aren’t likely to in Des Moines.
A lot of that is based on extremes. You can see extraordinary gymnasts perform daring routines every night at Cirque du Soleil. You can seek out the world’s best chefs, and eat meals you’d never get at home.
Adventure seekers don’t have to look far for thrills. Ads abound for white-water river rafting, ziplining over desert hills and valleys, off-roading in remote outposts, rock climbing, repelling and skydiving.
I understand how all of these can offer an unequaled adrenaline rush. For me, it’s riding roller coasters.
In Southern Nevada, we’ve had six of them. Three are still running today: the Adventuredome’s Canyon Blaster, which opened in 1993; Buffalo Bill’s Desperado in Primm, which opened in 1994; and New York-New York’s Roller Coaster, formerly known has the Manhattan Express, which opened in 1997.
Three others are gone: the Lightning Bolt at the MGM Grand Adventure theme park, which closed in 2000; the High Roller, atop the Stratosphere Tower, which was dismantled in 2005; and Speed – The Ride, which closed last year with the shuttered Sahara.
But the Stratosphere still has a nice inventory of thrill rides that capitalize on people’s fears. So the jury is out on whether roller coasters and thrill rides remain a Vegas staple or have jumped the shark.
The latest trend for the city appears to be permanent haunted houses. Eli Roth’s Goretorium was the first to open on the Strip, across from the Cosmopolitan, followed by the Screamont Experiment in the Las Vegas Club downtown. That was developed by the Amazing Johnathan, an illusionist. The Goretorium promises a long run, while Screamont says it is evaluating prospects.
The common theme of the two — special effects and illusions that scare people silly. The Goretorium is rife with dismemberment and blood, while Screamont is more about inflicting psychological damage.
Las Vegas marketers have long talked about making Halloween a true Las Vegas holiday experience, but I’m not sure that the Goretorium and Screamont are what they had in mind.
Should severed body parts and creepy death scenes be a part of the Vegas experience? Are the developers of these attractions onto something?
Or, in a few years, will those attractions be dead?
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