Frisco Haunted Mansion ups the ante with more scares
If you go
What: Frisco Haunted Mansion
When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1
Where: Former Frisco community center, 110 Third Ave. (corner of Third Avenue and Granite Street)
Cost: Admission is $7 per person, $5 for students or $20 for a family four-pack and is recommended for ages 7 and older
More information: Visit www.townoffrisco.com
Round a corner in this year’s Frisco Haunted Mansion, and you might not get what you expect. Tim Pare, director of education for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, said even the most seasoned of haunted-house visitors will be shocked with where the scares happen.
“We found a lot of really incredible hiding places throughout the building and worked as a team to come up with scares,” he said. “There are several scares and frights in each room, so it’s boom, boom, boom; you don’t have a chance to breathe as you go through.”
The Haunted Mansion opened Thursday, Oct. 30, and has its final run Saturday, Nov. 1, from 6 to 10 p.m. Each year, the town of Frisco partners with the Mountain Mentors Teen Program, Activities Run By Youth, to create the ghoulish gallery, and this year, they enlisted Pare’s help to make it even more theatrical.
“We were not producing our haunted house like we did last year, so this was an opportunity for us to do the same thing, get involved with a similar concept,” Pare said. “We met with Mountain Mentors and the kids in the planning stages, talked through a concept, described what we did last year and how it would fit in with what they did this year.”
“This year, we have kind of taken a risk with different rooms and structure to the rooms,” said Erani Tenorio, a high school junior and Mountain Mentors team leader. “The rooms and how you exit from one to another is really good this year, something we had never tried before.”
Pare said he worked with the student team leaders to come up with the layout of the Haunted Mansion, figure out where the scares should be and come up with a story line, which guided the acting and direction within the house.
“I would go through as they were building and decorating and give my insight into how I’d do it but let the kids drive the ship,” Pare said. “I helped the kids with their makeup plots, told them what I would have approached it with and what they could use to decorate their faces all gory. I helped direct each room, choreographed the inside, where the scares happen, what’s going on so that it’s cohesive all the way through.
“It’s a bit more advanced than kids just screaming at you, more advanced from a typical haunted house where they’re just shouting at you.”
This is Tenorio’s fourth year working on the haunted house, and she said her favorite part of participating each year is the creativity that goes into the final creation.
“You have to do it from scratch, so we have to come up with all the ideas: what we want in each room, characters and props,” she said. “It’s really fun.”
The Haunted Mansion isn’t just about scaring the pants off children of all ages. It’s also a social platform for teens to connect and learn leadership skills, said Shawna Lane, Mountain Mentors program supervisor.
“It’s something positive for them to do with peers their age, as well as they’re learning work skills,” she said. “The students who built the haunted house, they’re staying on task, learning construction work and using their creative skills. Students come out of their shells and interact with other friend groups they wouldn’t normally interact with. It’s empowering to the students to be a part of a project and feel good about themselves, and it’s something positive to do on Halloween.”
“My favorite thing about the haunted house is putting yourself out there to make new experiences with your friends and bonding with other people you don’t know as much and making new friends,” said Joseu Razo, also a junior and another team leader. “And having fun and scaring people.”
All of the money raised from the project goes back to the students who put all of the time and effort into building the house, mirroring a real work experience, Lane said.
“We keep track of hours, and all the ticket proceeds go back to them for their work hours,” she said. “In that way for them, too, it’s a positive experience for them to learn about those work skills and putting in their time to make some money.”
The program keeps kids coming back year after year to participate. Razo has been involved with the haunted house for six years, he said, and each year it’s been different. Both he and Pare said their favorite fright of this year’s Haunted Mansion is “the twins.”
“The level of commitment of the kids, in the acting and portrayal of the characters, is on another level,” Pare said. “It’s really incredible. There’s a room with these scary twin girls — very ‘The Shining,’ that sort of motif at the end of the hallway — and it’s sure to take your breath away or at least make you scream.”
“This year has been one of our scariest years yet, and come on over if you don’t believe me,” Tenorio said.
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