Haunted house honcho piles on the scares

Vancouver native adds two more attractions, carnival after debuting Confront Your Fears last year

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter




Confront Your Fears

What: Three haunted houses and a Halloween carnival at Vancouver Plaza. "Apocalypse" is based on a story of scientists investigating the Mayan 2012 prophecy and accidentally unleashing chaos. "Morbid Nightmares" is a labyrinth of dreams gone awry. "Circus Insane 3D" is the story of menacing circus freaks, with bright 3D paint effects on the walls and the actors -- 3D glasses provided. "Carn-Evil" is a fall carnival with family rides and games and a smaller haunted house designed for kids called "Ghost Party."

When: Open Wednesdays through Sundays through October. Wednesday, 7-10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 7-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The haunted houses will be open on Halloween, but "Carn-Evil" ends on Oct. 28.

Where: 7701 NE Vancouver Plaza Drive.

Cost: $25 covers all three haunted houses. $35 for a VIP pass to skip the lines at all three haunted houses. $45 for an all-you-can-fear pass that includes unlimited haunted house visits and "Carn-Evil." $20 for unlimited access to "Carn-Evil." $3.50 per individual "Carn-Evil" ride, or $15 for five rides. Save $3 by signing up online with promo code CYF12FB.

Information:Confront Your Fears, Confront Your Fears on Facebook or 360-944-3019

A Haunted Walking Tour of Downtown Vancouver

What: The Clark County Historical Museum will host two tours of downtown Vancouver, with stories of ghost sightings and tales from some of the darker aspects of the city's past.

When: Friday, Oct. 19. Tours begin at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Recommended for ages 13 and over. Bring a flashlight.

Where: Downtown Vancouver. Call or email the museum to sign up.

Cost: $5.

Information:info@cchmuseum.org or 360-993-5679.

Four Horsemen Haunted Houses

What: Two haunted houses spanning more than 18,000 square feet. "GrimmTales" is based on stories such as Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and the Pied Piper. "Pestilence" brings back the Black Death as the undead rise to torment the living. Kyle Paradis, an Evergreen High School graduate, is one of the creators and a part of the ticket revenues will go to local nonprofits and arts programs.

When: Through Nov. 1; 7-10 p.m. Oct. 21-25; 7-11 p.m. Oct. 28-30; 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 19-20, 26-27, 31-Nov. 1.

Where: 1223 N. Hayden Meadows Drive, Portland.

Cost: $18, $5 for re-entry, $28 for VIP package.

Information:Four Horsemen or 503-807-3322.

photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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photoConfront Your Fears haunted house at Vancouver Plaza.

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Dismembered hands and feet hang from chains along the twisted hallways of the "research facility" that has been Brian Mudgett's home away from home for the past year.

Across the way, gangs of evil clowns stroll through a bright maze of three-dimensional special effects, as inmates, zombies and other unsavory characters pop through secret doors in their own labyrinth that surely comes from someone's nightmares.

Mudgett, the 30-year-old creator of the trifecta of Vancouver haunted houses called "Confront Your Fears," has been tweaking, building and expanding his attractions for the past year.

He also invited a carnival to set up in the parking lot of the Vancouver Plaza shopping center, turning the retail center into what looks like a Halloween theme park.

"We wanted a destination where people can go and not just be done after one haunted house," Mudgett said. "We wanted them to have other things to do and more things to see."

Last year, Mudgett opened his main attraction, "Apocalypse," which tells the story of a research facility investigating Mayan prophecies that the world will end in 2012.

The Vancouver native and Skyview High School graduate had been working on his creation since it closed the day after Halloween, adding intricate details into the walls, building waterfalls and jungles and adding at least 25 new animatronic creatures to the 30 or so that it originally had.

"Last year, we only had two months to set this up," Mudgett said as he picked up a large and gory pile of plastic dismembered heads, dropping them on top of a metal barrel and giving them a quick artistic jiggle. "We've had since November to improve it."

In 2011, Mudgett had worked with Scream Haunted Houses to help promote Apocalypse.

He split off from them after that show, and he and his father, Mike Mudgett, have gone into business for themselves.

"My father and I, since I was 14, we would build little haunted houses on our front porch each year," Mudgett said. "That was my first experience with haunted houses."

He's loved playing around with sets and scenery ever since, he said.

You can tell, because the pair's front porch decorations were always a bit beyond standard haunts, Mike Mudgett said with a knowing smile.

"It was so scary that some of the little kids wouldn't come up to our door," Mike Mudgett said. "We had dark plastic sheeting, rattling chains, all sorts of things."

Not satisfied with just having one attraction, Brian Mudgett decided to build two more in the offseason.

"Morbid Nightmares" is more of a classic haunted house, with separate rooms based on a variety of themes.

"That one is more of a traditional-style slasher haunted house, it has a lot of actors and it's kind of like you're going through a bunch of dreams," Brian Mudgett said.

"Circus Insane 3D" is the other side of the spectrum, with vibrantly colored 3D paint effects all over the walls, floors and even the actors. Visitors wear 3D glasses as they wander through, which makes decorations appear to move and twist.

"It's completely, 100 percent, three-dimensional," Mudgett said. "Things just pop out at you. It's the only attraction in the Pacific Northwest that's completely 3D, and it's here in Vancouver."

While the father and son were planning out the three houses, they also realized they didn't want to leave younger kids and families out of the fun. The haunted houses are recommended for those age 13 and older.

They invited "Carn-Evil," which is usually a regional fall and spring carnival, to partner with them.

"We wanted to have something for the little kids to do," Mike Mudgett said. "So they even built their own kiddie haunt so they can have some family fun."

Pat Davis, who runs the carnival as part of Davis Shows Northwest, said it seemed like a natural fit.

"We've got smaller carnival rides and our kiddie walk-through area that isn't as scary," Davis said. "We're really a family carnival. We have rides for both the younger and older kids, some of our crew will be dressed up. It's good fun."

So far, "Confront Your Fears" has been a raging success this season, Brian Mudgett said.

When it opened on the weekend of Sept. 28, 650 people showed up to check it out.

"That's a record-breaking first weekend," he said. "That's about five times what we had at last year's opening weekend."

This will also be the last year for "Apocalypse." On Nov. 1, he'll start work on next year's haunt, which will be completely different.

"This has to be the last year for Apocalypse because (the Mayan prophecy that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012) may not happen," Brian Mudgett said. "Well, at least we're hoping it won't happen."