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Murray spook alley carries on in nightmarish times

Oct 21, 2020 11:59AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Masks required, even scary ones. Dead City Haunted House will operate with COVID precautions. (Photo Courtesy of Dead City)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

It might seem like there are enough anxiety-inducing things in the world lately, so a frightening Halloween venue might be the last thing people want. Yet owners of Murray’s Dead City Haunted House (5425 S. Vine Street) think now is a perfect time for patrons to get a supernatural scare.

“Entertainment via escapism is always needed in the darkest of times. We can’t expect everyone to feel comfortable participating this year. We can, however, do everything possible to guarantee safety procedures are in place for those who do,” a Dead City spokes-monster (wishing to stay in character) said. “This industry has its fans and artists that desperately need a distraction; we understand the responsibility not to disappoint, having invested in all the necessary resources to keep everyone happy and healthy.”

Dead City Haunted House is one of Utah’s newest indoor haunted attractions, now in its third season. They are featuring over 50 rooms of fear, with three all-new areas for 2020. Owner Tim Riggs has a history with the local spook alley industry, dating back to the Utah Fun Dome Haunted House, Rocky Point, and more. 

With the COVID pandemic, attraction organizers have had to address customer safety by adding additional precautions and mothballing certain practices.

“We can only do this together, so face masks are mandatory—to keep the screams safe. The show has been completely overhauled this year while maintaining as many scare spots as possible. Hands-on options have been suspended, while all actors are kept at socially distanced positions inside the show,” the Dead City spokes-monster said. “Surfaces are cleaned regularly, several UV air filtration systems have been installed above the show to run constantly, and nightly fog sanitizes surfaces from entry to exit. All mazes and claustrophobic tunnels have been removed to maintain group distancing and avoid touching. Online ticket purchases are encouraged at a discounted rate.”

All staff and cast members have temperatures checked before being allowed backstage. Employees communicate and operate through personal mobile devices, and all backstage meetings are kept outside whenever possible. Cast members apply their own makeup, with very few needing it due to the heavy use of masks this season. Bridges have been built above the tighter areas to give actors the ability to operate some new surprises from a safe distance.

As part of keeping staff and patrons apart, Dead City will employ puppets or animatronic monsters to provide the screams.

“You will all have to come see if you can tell who (or what) is real or not inside the show and what they (or it) might do. Very cutting edge to our knowledge, just one of the many custom creations by our engineering owner that helps make Dead City Haunted House unique to Utah,” the spokes-monster said.

Halloween isn’t Dead City’s only exclusive holiday; they have adapted their attraction to multiple holidays this past year. They hosted a “Krampus Night” in December, based on the central European tradition of a half-goat, half-demon that visits naughty children on Christmas, a complete opposite of Santa Claus. The Krampus event allows Dead City to give the Christmas season a monstrous makeover with a visit by Krampus and his minions. Dead City also hosts “Love Bites,” a vampire-themed Valentine’s Day experience that they hope to do again this coming year.

Krampus Night caught national recognition, and Dead City was recognized by HAuNTcon and Haunted Attraction Network as “2020 Haunters to Watch.”  The award stated, “Dead City Haunted House impressed us with their video creation, narrative tie into their overall theme, social media contest, and overall use of a limited budget.” 

Dead City is open 7:30 p.m. every day in October (except Sundays) and a few weekends in November.