Survive KC: Battle zombies at Union Station’s latest attraction
It’s like a scene from TV’s “The Walking Dead.” Cold, flesh-eating zombies lurk throughout a dimly lit maze with intent to terrorize intruders in the eerie attic space of Kansas City’s Union Station.
Survive KC, which opened Friday, is bringing a new experience — along with the living dead — to a hidden, unused space in the downtown landmark. The attraction combines high-tech laser tag and extreme theatrics. It is not for the weak-willed.
You have been warned.
In the entrance, a blood-stained zombie torso with an ax through its chest awaits your arrival in the corner. Gory body parts hang on the wall nearby. The experience is only getting started.
Teams enter two or three at a time, like a military or law enforcement video game come to life, with camouflage gear and helmets, and, of course, laser guns, to sweep the old attic space and keep the zombies contained before they bite.
The 15 to 20 minute maze is designed so everyone can enjoy, says owner Jason Mendez, who brought Escape Room KC to Union Station’s lower level three years ago. “If you can find something that caters to not just young people, but old people and everybody in between … then you found something because people are always looking for a good time,” said Mendez, who says he’s a big horror movie fan.
Mendez said a lot goes into designing an end-of-the-world laser tag attraction. The maze includes 10 scenes, such as The Kitchen, with old appliances and roaches climbing the walls, and Dollhalla, with bloody doll parts hanging from the walls and ceiling.
The idea of Survive KC wasn’t as complicated as the construction. Crews began working in Union Station’s sixth and seventh floors in May 2018. And the work is still not complete.
“Not only was this supposed to be set up for a zombie apocalypse, it’s also supposed to be set up for Halloween,” said Mendez. He said he hopes over the years the attraction can evolve.
Tristan O’Brien, one of the zombies scheduled to work opening night, said, “Every time we come in, it feels like there’s something a little bit different. A new section of the maze, a new mannequin there.”
For now, Survive KC is open only Fridays through Sundays, but Mendez hopes to expand hours later on.
He said this project was one of the most time consuming and challenging he has done. Built in 1914, Union Station has only two elevators on the west end. But only one elevator, accompanied with narrow stairs, leads to the sixth and seventh floors.
“Personally, I’m so exhausted,” Mendez earlier this week. “Knowing that, this weekend is the weekend that we’re going to open it … it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.”
“This space has been pretty much unchanged since 1914,” said Jeff Julian, a home builder who helped Mendez with the construction. “So nobody has updated it.”
Mendez, Julian and 50 to 60 people had to carry up 460 sheets of sheet rock. Julian said only about four to five sheets could fit in the elevator at a time.
“Everything else had to make their way up here too,” Julian said.
To make matters creepier, Union Station is said to be haunted by the ghost of bank robber Frank Nash, who died in the 1933 Union Station Massacre along with four peace officers. The spookiness was featured on an episode of “Ghost Adventures” in 2012.
Both Mendez and Julian said they’ve experienced some unusual activity in the attic. They were working late when they both heard voices coming from one of the four emergency exits, like two people having a conversation.
“Nobody should have been there,” Julian said. “We checked down the stairwell. There was nobody there,” said Julian.
That, Mendez said, makes the space the best place for a zombie apocalypse.
If you go
Survive KC is open 3 to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays on the sixth and seventh floors of Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road. Tickets are available at a kiosk on the main level. Adult packages start at $27.99; $15 for children under 13, who must be accompanied by an adult. See SurviveKC.com.