Each month, we ask our social media followers to nominate their favorite Utah-owned businesses and select one to feature here. This month we asked fans to tell us their favorite haunted house in Utah. Want us to write about a business you love? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram @utahbusiness.
Ghosts, zombies, creepy clowns and screaming customers—that’s a routine night at Fear Factory, the haunted house built in the old Portland Cement Works Factory. The two-and-a-half-acre property is purported to actually be haunted, adding an element you won’t find in any warehoused horror attraction. It’s the unique combination of history and innovation that has made this seasonal business a stand out.
“Every time you come there’s going to be a new experience and something different that you can try,” said co-owner Heidi Dunfield. “You can do the zip line, do the fear fall, the virtual reality. Even as far as the Grim Ghost tours on Monday Nights now, people that don’t want to go through the normal haunted house and have actors jump out and scare them can go walk through with a flashlight and hear about the history of the people that have died there.”
Also new this year is an app called Dare to Scare that allows customers waiting in line to view what’s going on in the haunted house and even trigger scares.
As if being a seasonal business isn’t challenging enough, the scale of their production is even more daunting. “The challenge is that Halloween only comes once a year, but we’re trying to come up with different ideas to try and do stuff in the offseason. Friday the 13th weekends we’ll open in the spring and summer,” said co-owner Rob Dunfield. “It’s a huge production, and it’s kind of like a huge event where it hits really hard and you have to get everybody ready and going, fast up to speed, then it hits really hard and its over in terms of the show part. Then the rest of the year we’re planning, rebuilding and revamping things.”
This season they’ll employ over 200 actors, with anywhere from 100 to 140 performing on a given night—and that doesn’t take into account the rest of the staff working in ticketing, customer service and running their extreme rides.
“It’s a huge thing to have to get that many people to come together for a short period and give up their evenings for a while,” said Rob.
“That’s the thing we’re lucky about: in Utah, people love Halloween. It’s easy to find employees that love Halloween,” said Heidi. “The hard part is finding a lot of them.”
Customers seeking out the paranormal hot-spot and manmade attractions of Fear Factory can take the free Zombie Bus from The Gateway for easier parking. While the company tries to be transparent about wait times, it is recommended attendees plan ahead and go on a less busy weeknight to avoid the potential long waits of this unique horror attraction.
“You’re not just going for the theatrics, you’re going for the history and the surroundings. You’re not walking through a warehouse with decorations, you’re walking through a piece of history,” said Heidi.
For more information on attractions, tickets and the haunted history, go to fearfactoryslc.com.