Three different mazes, a graveyard, a freak show and an axe murderer's home await visitors to The Nest Haunted House at Rawhide, opening tonight.
The 55,000-square-foot haunted attraction begins with Mirror Mania, a short mirror maze filled with secret doors that actors may open at any time. From there, visitors enter a cemetery where the live and fake zombies look too similar to tell apart. Once people get through the cemetery they enter the 3-D maze full of bright colors and creepy clowns. After the 3-D maze, there's a freak show before entering a pitch-black maze. Inside the darkness there's hidden doors for characters to slip in and out without being noticed.
Finally, visitors reach the home of Jacob Kell, a serial killer from northern Arizona, who supposedly killed more than 30 people in 1945.
"We actually created the haunt to fit that house with the backyard, with the porch, with the kitchen," said Glenn Rea, co-producer of The Nest. "A lot of the things in that house, we created.
"We blew it up a little bit so a lot of people can come see it, but it's very authentic for the home Jacob Kell would have lived in."
The home contains state-of-the-art animatronics and each room contains secret hiding places for ghosts along the way.
The home is so authentic and the story so unique that movie makers actually approached Rea and his co-producer Steve Kopelman and asked to make a movie based off their haunted house.
The movie, titled "Jacob," is set to open in theaters today to coincide with The Nest's opening day.
"When we started building haunted houses - Steve Kopelman and I have been building haunted houses together for almost 25 years - a lot here in the Valley and all over the country and sometimes even out of the country, we used to build haunted houses in tents," Rea said. "If anyone has been here long enough to remember a tent in the parking lot of Los Arcos Mall, that was us.
"We've built many, many haunts. We really feel like this is a culmination of all that. We've gone a little over the top, as I think you'll agree.
"Even those who have been here before, I think you'll really get to see something out of us that you have not seen before. As opposed to making a movie, we make a movie every night."
Rea estimates nearly $1 million went in to setting up this year's attraction. Each night, 125 actors will help run the attraction and scare any who dare to enter, he said.
The Nest will be open through Halloween. Military members and public servants (like fire, police, and EMTs) will get in free tonight with their families by showing a valid ID.
The Nest is also running a special this year to give those with poor credit a break on opening night.
Anyone who brings in a credit report of 600 or less, or a recent declined loan or credit card application, will get in free with their family tonight only.
For more information on prices and exact hours, visit www.frightened.com.
Though The Nest itself is really only meant for ages 12 and older, the location at Rawhide - 5700 W. North Loop Road in Chandler - provides fun for the entire family.
Rawhide will be open through Halloween and features games and shows for kids and adults in its annual Doomtown.
For more information on complete activities, prices and hours at Rawhide, visit www.rawhide.com/doomtown.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org