Beating Fright Dome’s freak-outs with basketball skills

Scenes from the 2011 production of Fright Dome at Circus Circus Thursday, September 29, 2011.
Photo: Sam Morris
Jason Harris

I never thought I’d say this, but basketball has ruined haunted houses for me. Well, that plus I used to work for a similar attraction, so I know all the ins and outs.

SPOILER ALERT: Most people get scared at haunted houses because they focus on what’s ahead of them. While some scares are head on, most come from the side or behind. And that is where basketball comes into play. Knowing the patterns of scare tactics—the short corners, the open spaces, the jump-outs—I went into Fright Dome at Circus Circus playing help-side defense, always keeping one eye ahead of me and one eye to my periphery (in basketball terms: man-you-ball).

While I didn’t do much fright-jumping, there were plenty of other things to enjoy. Fright Dome has five haunted houses that range from the lame Camp Massacre—your basic Friday the 13th homage—to more interesting offerings. Not very impressive were the two zombie units, Infestation (Fright Dome’s take on a zombie invasion) and George Romero’s Ward of the Dead, about as uninspired as his worst movies. And lines for the houses sometimes reach up to three hours. You could watch Leprechaun and Leprechaun 2 while you wait.

The two most creative houses were easily the best. Anniversary House had a cool layout and a 4D element (that’s one extra D!). You wear 3D glasses, and hyper colors reflect off the house’s creatures, adding a surreal element to the haunted experience. Also highly entertaining was the Urban Legends station, where they pay tribute to different, well-known horror stories. Murderous clown + old lady with her hand chopped off in a garbage disposal = fun!

However, even with my knowledge of the haunting genre, nothing prepared me for the scariest thing I saw: a set of parents putting a sheet over their young child in a stroller and wheeling the kid through the attraction. People like that are raising America’s future generations?! Now that’s frightening!


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