The Haunted Circus transforms the typical haunted house

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Mikaila Cottrell


For the past three years the Haunted Circus has rolled into Draper and set up a unique haunt just for Utah. This year, Haunted Circus is at it again, seeking to transform the traditional haunted “house” into a scare that can make Utah proud.

“We have to set up our tents for several days,” said Amanda Smith, casting director for the Haunted Circus. “You can literally see the circus coming into town for this big event.”

Each year seems to make the Haunted Circus one step closer to becoming Utah’s most visited haunted thrill. Last year listed it under “Seven haunted houses that will scare the living daylights out of you.” This year, they have made the circus longer and added more detail to increase the thrill.

“We have two new trailers that haven’t been done before in Utah,” said Smith. “Everything else has been improved and added on to to give a completely different feel.”

The experience starts in the line located under a huge white circus tent, visible from the I-15. While customers are waiting in line, dancers from the Odyssey Dance Theater, who are decked out in frightening zombie costumes and makeup, taunt and entertain them. They also perform a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on a stage at the front of the line. There are also comedians, musicians, scary videos played on a large screen and loud music playing.

Haunted house attendees are usually accustomed to long wait times in line and the Haunted Circus is no different. This is because the employees space each party a good distance from each other so that there is no running into other people while walking through the haunt. The entertainment additions to the line seek to ease the customer anticipation while they are waiting. The “waiting” tent is as incorporated into the experience as anything else.

“Once you get those tickets and you’re waiting in the tent, the scare starts,” said Smith. “We try to make the line a part of the experience as much as possible.”

The circus is still a walk-thru haunted house but with unique features that make it feel as though you are in a circus. Semis are used as the house part of the haunt as customers make their way through it. There are a few parts that customers walk outside as part of the haunt, and it is made up like the back alley of a circus. They still play on people’s fears i.e., claustrophobia, but the characters in the circus cannot touch customers and customers cannot touch the characters. Smith said that many of the characters are from different schools in the area that really enjoy acting out their scary characters.


“We have things that will surprise you, but I don’t want to give away too much. We don’t want you to expect it to happen,” said Smith.

The authenticity of the circus is undeniable as the circus literally rolls into town. During the day, the employees are constantly adding new features and fixing things to enhance customer experience for that night. They want to provide customers with a new experience every year.

“I think our main objective is just to give people in Utah something they love doing but with a new experience,” said Smith. “We want to give them something they’ve never seen before.”

This is the third year for the Haunted Circus in Utah, however, its owner previously owned and operated the well-known Haunted Forest for 24 years, and they just opened a new Haunted Circus in Texas this year.

“We’re looking to expand nationally, so I don’t know what that means for Utah Valley… it is a possibility,” said Smith.

From the beginning of the line, which starts in a traditional circus tent, to the end when you are still trying to catch your breath, while frantically scanning your surroundings making sure one of the clowns isn’t still following you, the circus knows how to scare you in a very real way.

The Haunted Circus is open weekdays 7:30-10 p.m., weekends 7:30 p.m-midnight and closed on Sunday. It will be open until 11:00 p.m. on Halloween night. The attraction will stay open until Nov. 2. The Haunted Circus offers a $5 discount for UVU students who present a valid school ID when purchasing a ticket.