Hi again, ghosts and ghouls! I’m back, but with something a little bit different this time around. This won’t be a film review, but more of a review of an experience that I had…I had the privilege of being at the opening of Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum in Las Vegas!
Before I jump into my review, I want to take a moment to address the tragedy that occurred while I was in Las Vegas around the time of the opening. As most, if not all of you, know, the largest mass shooting in modern American history occurred on Sunday, October 1st. It was a day of pure, nonsensical violence. I mourn the loss of all of those beautiful souls that were lost that day. I was lucky to be about a mile away from it all, and I was able to get to safety away from the violence and the panic; there are too many people that did not get to go home.
With that being said, the museum pushed their opening back to Tuesday instead of Monday, out of respect for the victims. I thought I wasn’t going to get a chance to go while I was there- we were leaving Wednesday and as of Monday, their announcement only said “will open at a later date”.
Now, for those of you that have been following the opening closely, there was not much notice given before the actual opening date was released (and that was only announced a few weeks before). That is the one issue I had with the museum…the communication was not great. They only really updated their Twitter feed (even their website was relatively cryptic and under wraps), and I figured out the release date only because I googled the museum about a week before leaving. There was never a formal announcement on any of their social media, which I found strange. After they decided to push the opening date, they also never answered our messages about the situation with our tickets. Luckily it wasn’t an issue.
We drove by on Monday just to look at the place from the outside; I knew I had to at least see it in person. There were a few people standing in the parking lot as we drove by, so we figured we would ask if they knew anything…and behold! They told us they were opening the next day! I actually squealed in pure joy, and they all laughed at me. Whatever. No shame.
The very next day, we arrived at the museum around 6:00 pm. The opening was at 1 so the chaos had died down, and we were met in the parking lot by none other than Aaron Goodwin, who was genuinely just hanging around to talk to fans because he wanted to. He’s so sweet and kind and funny- he immediately hugged us and asked if we were okay after all that had happened, thanked us for coming out, we talked about the show…I want to say we stood and chatted with him for almost 20 minutes. Then it was like a scene out of The Bachelor where another group came up to us and asked if they could steal Aaron for pictures. “But this is my date!”
We walked around to the front of the museum, queued up, and got ready to enter. Hanging out with us was “Angry” Joe in a full suit with a top hat. He told us all about his life in Alaska, his experiences as a cop, and his interest in paranormal investigation. He said it took Zak calling him four times to get him to come out that day, but we got lucky that he agreed! Honestly, a huge highlight of the day was talking to him.
We were then brought into the “holding room” of sorts. The best way I can describe it is the room you’re shuffled into when you ride Tower of Terror in Disney World. Complete with a television set playing an investigation of the museum itself, creepy relics, and a (very somber) bouquet of roses with photos of the tragedy, the room is very much a perfect setting to get people ready for their tour.
Now, on to my real review! I don’t want to give away much (and I don’t think they’d want me to either), but I will say this: your tour is LONG (just over an hour), incredibly interesting, the tour guides clearly love what they do, and there are relics that any true horror fan would drool over. I know I did.
I’ll give you a run-down of what to expect: Zak’s greatest nightmare personified in one of the weirdest displays I’ve ever seen, CLOWNS (including but not limited to circus clowns and original drawings by John Wayne Gacy), serial killer relics the likes of which I’ve never seen, an entire room full of dead celebrity belongings, and the most haunted object in the world: the Dybbuk Box.
Each room is themed; complete with music, temperature changes, some moving props…it’s beautiful. It’s like a haunted house/museum hybrid. You’re truly getting an experience out of this- you’re not just walking around and looking at objects. They’re explained to you, shown in a way that really respects what they are and where they came from, and everyone gets to be involved…some more than they would probably like.
I was one of those people that was involved…I really didn’t know what to expect. My tour guide Craig asked if anyone knew what coulrophobia was. No one answered, so I did. He asked if I had coulorophobia. I said no (I really don’t). What he put me through next was 2 minutes of sheer terror that left me lightheaded and hyperventilating because it was so unexpected. It was awesome.
Another girl on our tour came out of the Dybbuk Box room in tears with scratches down her back. They do warn you at the start of the museum, though…staff is not responsible for any way that spirits may try to connect with you. They’ll show you the big disclaimer in the front. They also sell sage in the gift shop if you need it.
There are some truly sinister, freaky relics in that museum that anyone even remotely interested in the paranormal should see. If you’re more than remotely interested and you’re a huge horror fan, you’ll have an absolutely incredible time. I genuinely feel like it was a life-changing experience for me having been there.
Zak popped in and out of our tour twice, and I thought that was the end of it. I was glad I saw him, but upset that I didn’t get a picture. We were released from our tour and we headed back to the parking lot, only to see Zak setting up a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting (because really could he be any more perfect?). We approached him for a picture, and he told us he was really sorry he wouldn’t get a chance to chat but he would take a quick photo.
He truly went above and beyond with this creation. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, planning on going, or are unsure if the museum is worth the visit, GO. Please, go. It’s an absolute work of art and Zak has put his heart and soul into it, and it’s very clear. He’s a great guy with a heart of gold, so down to earth and sweet and I would love nothing more than to see this place be successful because he so deserves it.
It’s fun, scary, entertaining, interesting, and so worth the money. If you’ve gone, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear about it!
For more information on Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum visit https://thehauntedmuseum.com/