Haunted house veterans Greg and Chris Reinke have come a long way since pushing a shopping cart full of neighborhood kids around their parents’ basement in what would be their first of many spooky attractions.
The Reinke Bros’ Haunted Mansion started out 50 years ago as a few hanging blankets, rubber masks and a penny admission fee. Now it has evolved into a full-scale haunted house during the season and a Halloween superstore year-round at its current Littleton location.
“I tell people I retired at 12,” Greg Reinke joked. “I have no résumé, there’s nothing that says ‘I was here, I was here.’ I have one job for 50-some years!”
The Reinke Bros’ Haunted Mansion is one of the longest-running haunted houses in the country.
Don’t expect any blood, gore or weapon-wielding monsters — it’s less about chills and more about the thrills. The Reinkes entertain with fun scare tactics that rely on illusions, animatronics, professional actors and elaborate set design.
Self-guided tours take visitors through dozens of distinct scenes, including a voodoo swamp, a clown-infested toon town, a vertigo tunnel and an underwater shipwreck.
The fine attention to detail that goes into the set design and store layout would marvel Walt Disney, so it’s no surprise that Greg’s early inspiration for creating wonder came from a family visit to Disneyland and a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.
In the Disney mold, the Reinkes want to offer a memorable family experience that appeals to folks young and old. That’s one of the reasons they offer lights-on, behind-the-scenes tours of their Haunted Mansion.
“We just send the monsters to lunch, turn on the lights, and let them see, touch, feel, push the buttons, make the fog, and see the difference between fantasy and reality,” Greg Reinke said.
After a years-long hiatus due to considerable damages from a 2014 hailstorm, the Reinke Bros’ Haunted Mansion reopened this season, just in time to mark its 50th Anniversary as a family business and Halloween tradition.
Even after the season ends, the Reinke team will stay busy. Planning for Halloween 2019 starts early, especially as they gear up for a complete rebuild of the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion is open through Nov. 4, 2018.