Haunted Vault opens in The San Francisco Mint building for Halloween

KGO logo
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Haunted Vault opens in The San Francisco Mint building for Halloween
San Francisco's old Mint building is transformed into a one-of-a-kind Halloween haunt.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Mint building has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind Halloween haunt.

It's something only San Francisco could produce and after nine months of planning, the first ever Terror Vault is open at the old Mint building downtown.

ABC7 news was there to get a look at the opening scares.

The evening started in an upstairs room of the mint, filled with Terror Vault's actors, painting their faces black, white, green and blood red all getting into character for the unique haunted experience.

"She's just glopping it on at this point," said production designer David Flower, as a makeup artist covered his face in demon-like makeup. "We felt that there should be a really great haunt in San Francisco and there wasn't one," explained Flower who is from Massachusetts and has produced eight different haunts.

Flower is friends with famed San Francisco drag performer Peaches Christ. Flower says they are both "haunt nerds" and spent a lot of time looking for the perfect, haunted, space in San Francisco.

"San Francisco, as you know, rents are high," said Peaches Christ, while dressed in her custom satanic drag costume for the show. "To actually produce an event like this in the city, to find the room to create a massive art installation, a dark art installation, is almost next to impossible."

But Peaches Christ had a connection to Bay Area venue management firm, Non Plus Ultra, which leases the building from the City and County of San Francisco. "The San Francisco Mint has been underutilized for years. We took over the space about a year and a half ago," said Non Plus Ultra President, Jordan Langer.

Built in 1874, the building, which Langer says once housed about half the U.S. gold supply, has its own built-in horror stories, that are all part of the immersive Halloween experience, which includes escape room-like elements and group puzzle solving. "It was a maintenance worker who was basically collecting gold flakes and killing rats, slicing their bellies open and hiding the gold flakes inside," said Flowers, recounting one of his favorite mint legends and Terror Vault storylines.

Opening night was not without its pitfalls. A few hours into the shows, the fire alarms went off and everyone had to leave the building. SFFD firefighters showed up and confirmed the "haze machines" (similar to fog machines) caused the alarms to go off. The show was then allowed to go on.

Despite the early exit, guests said they enjoyed the experience. "High production value. I was genuinely scared a handful of times," said San Francisco resident Kyle Skahill who went through with friends and his girlfriend, Sarah Bernstein, who said she had a great time. "I screamed a lot. It was different than any other experience I've been in."

Terror Vault is open through November 3 at The San Francisco Mint at 88 5th Street. Tickets are available here.