Are you afraid of things that go bump in the night? Do you watch scary movies through the cracks between your fingers, with your hands covering your eyes? Do you need a friendly arm to squeeze when going through haunted houses? If that describes you, you may be afraid of taking advantage of scary Halloween attractions in Las Vegas when you’re traveling solo. But it is possible! All you need to do is find a group to “adopt” you for a short period of time.
During my July trip, I was offered a free pass by the folks at Eli Roth’s Goretorium to come check out their infamously gory attraction at Harmon Center. (Sadly, the Goretorium is closing on October 2, 2013 for financial reasons.) I’m all about attractions in Vegas, so even though I’m a big ol’ scaredy cat, I figured I’d give it a try. (It was free, after all, and I knew if it rattled me too much, I could always have a good stiff drink afterwards.) I never thought for a second I might actually be going through the Goretorium all alone.
To get myself in the right frame of mind, I wandered through the retail shop first. It was pretty creepy on its own—severed heads, bloody knives, zombies, scary instruments. You’ve got to admire a place that is totally committed to its theme like that. (Plus hey—lots of ghoulish photo opps to show your friends back home!)
The “haunted” part of the Goretorium was set in the Delmont Hotel, where guests “check in but don’t check out.” Live actors playing very, very scary characters interacted with guests. (Eli Roth, for those of you who don’t know, is a director of horror movies like Hostel, so you can imagine that the attention to detail here is skin-crawlingly good.)
There were maybe 10 people standing in line when I arrived. One of the staff came down a steep set of stairs and led a handful of people at the front of the line upstairs to the haunted Delmont Hotel. There were five people remaining in front of me, a mother with her four teenage children. I began chatting with them, asking how often they took groups through, and how many people they took at a time. That’s when I learned they bring groups into the “haunted hotel” by party.
As a “party of one,” I didn’t like the sounds of that. Well, this could be a dealbreaker, I thought. And not just because of the “fear factor”.
I’m night blind. The last time I went through a really dark attraction by myself was the Mummy ride at Universal Orlando. At one point, the queue got so dark, I could no longer see where I was going. I didn’t want to trip and fall, so I felt for the nearest wall and stopped walking and let other people pass me until I finally saw someone wearing a white shirt. I followed that white shirt all the way to the ride (I did stumble on a stair or two, but luckily, no damage was done).
So I knew I was in trouble if I had to go through the Goretorium by myself.
You know what they say about the kindness of strangers? When you’re a solo traveler, you learn the kindness of strangers is everywhere. I’ve been “adopted” by more couples while traveling solo than you can imagine. I’ve had strangers stop in foreign cities to help me get my bearings without me even having to ask for help. But I’ve never been adopted by a mom and her four teenagers before.
Rosie, the mom, was a kindhearted soul. She had a fierce mane of blonde hair and looked like the type of woman who didn’t scare easily. She and her kids seemed to be having a blast together in Vegas. The older boy and girl were fair-haired, like mom, while the younger boy and girl had darker hair. They were all laughing and joking—and poking fun at the oldest boy, who they were sure would be the biggest chicken of them all.
I began chatting with Rosie, and finally expressed my nervousness about going through the attraction alone. That’s when she uttered the magical words: “Well, why don’t you come with us, then?”
She didn’t have to ask me twice.
When the Goretorium staff member came back downstairs to collect them, Rosie let her know that I was going to be joining them. We had to go upstairs separately for a photo opp (I saw their family photo afterwards and the expressions on the boys’ faces were so BRILLIANT, I almost wanted to buy the photo myself. Mine, not so much). Then I joined them at the beginning of the attraction.
At first, it was like a gory version of Disney’s Tower of Terror or Haunted Mansion. The scares started almost immediately when Vincent, the deranged son of the Delmont’s owners, dragged our guide out of the elevator and hacked him to death in front of us (of course, we saw this through cloudy glass). As we wound our way through the hotel from bottom to top, things got decidedly more and more gruesome. How scary was it? Let’s just say I saw things in there I wish I could unsee. (You’ve got to seriously question the mental state of whoever created each freakish tableau in this attraction.)
Luckily for me, Rosie and her kids led the way, so 99% of the time a deranged psychopath jumped out at the group waving some scary weapon dripping with blood, it was Rosie’s kids who screamed, not me. A couple of times, the deranged psychos followed the group from behind, which left them breathing down my neck, which made me walk a little faster. Once or twice, the path grew so dark I couldn’t see where I was going, but I was able to follow their
It’s a damn shame the Goretorium is closing, because it would have been the perfect Halloween activity if you wanted to get in the holiday mood and have the bejesus scared out of you. But luckily, there are other haunted attractions all over the Las Vegas area (including Circus Circus’s Fright Dome). If you like visiting haunted attractions at Halloween and but you’re afraid to do it solo–you’re probably right to be. So try to befriend a group who will let you join them. Once again, big, big thanks to Rosie and her kids for taking pity on this poor solo scaredy cat.
Disclaimer: My admission to the Goretorium was comped, but my opinions are 100% my own, as always.
Updated on 9/30/13.