Ripper’s Cove at Evermore is the Nation’s Best Murder Mystery Dinner (5 stars PLUS)
There’s nothing like it. Over 17 years the writers of Events INSIDER have been on a hunt to find weird, mysterious, outdoorsy, and interactive events, including murder mystery dinner theaters, of which Ripper’s Cove is best yet. It’s a unique interactive theatre experience. First, you eat dinner, then you watch a short stage performance, and then you stroll an extensive outdoor theme park, meeting characters and trying to solve the mystery.
It’s all part of Evermore Park, a year-round fantasy theme park set at the foothills of beautiful mountains in Utah. Everywhere you look you see long views, with the mountains night sky stars watching over you. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. (See our review of Evermore Park.)
Let’s start with the dinner, which takes place Vander’s Keep, a purpose-built 19th-century fantasy dinner hall on the Evermore grounds. You could easily imagine it repurposed as a cult ceremony room or Viking mead hall. The corridors have paintings on the walls and gold lettering. The dinner hall has a high arched ceiling, sturdy dark wooden beams, and walls of stucco, decorated with red lighting and red drapes, a chandelier, and walls displaying deer horns and weapons. The red colors are spooky and the setting completely puts you in an old timey mindset. Haunting piano music played as we arrived. It’s available for private rental and seats perhaps up to 100 people.
Part of the fun is dressing up in Victorian garb. If you know what a LARP is, you won’t get a specific personality or name, but you will get assigned an “archetype” (a profession). So attendees came dressed as members of the military, dock workers, scientists, high society socialites, and more. Guests got to chose which role they wanted to play when they purchased tickets — perhaps based on what costuming they owned — and some roles sold out faster than others.
We saw some remarkable costumes! We saw suspenders with bowler hats, ball gowns with bonnets, military uniforms with Scottish caps, and so much more. My favorite guest was a woman wearing goggles around her neck with an ashen face like she had an explosion in her laboratory, and she did win the costume competition at the end! At some events that allow costumed patrons it is difficult to tell them from the characters in the show. Event staff all wore a glowing red pendant so that you could tell them apart. With the dinner hall’s high ceiling, the noise of the guests talking wasn’t overwhelming. One could hear others speak easily.
Murder mystery dinner theaters usually cut back on food to save money, and Ripper’s Cove was similar. So it was a good but modest meal. Servers brought a strawberry walnut salad with goat cheese and spinach leaves, and then a main course of asparagus, a small slice of chicken, and mashed potatoes with gravy. Throughout dinner, characters from the show walked around to each table introducing themselves. Dessert was just an eclair.
After dinner, about an hour into our experience, staff put on a short performance that introduced the murder itself and offered the initial clues. Guests got brought into the show by making magical gestures at the right moment.
To this point, the experience was a superior murder mystery dinner. These dinners usually take place in a rented space, not a purpose built space, and guests don’t usually dress up. But now the event was about to go to “nation’s best” when they released us outdoors into Evermore Park to explore, meet characters, and solve the mystery.
Wow! Evermore is a full theme park, by which I don’t mean roller coasters and carnival games, but rather an entire campus of old timey buildings. We’ve been to dozens of Renaissance Fairs, LARPs, Halloween attractions, and murder mystery dinners. These usually have only a few rough looking tents or plywood, or even just nothing but a hotel ballroom and costumed actors. Sometimes at a theme park or Halloween attraction, you get a movie set level of detail, with good looking facades but nothing inside the buildings, or even some real buildings, but not with the creativity and interactivity that you’ll find at Evermore.
Evermore has the best of both worlds. It’s got a Disneyland level of real set design, with sturdy, purpose built buildings, and creative, interactive theatre experience that you just wouldn’t get at a Disneyland or a living history museum. The entire location was not open for Ripper’s Cove, but we got to walk extensively through the grounds, which were well decorated and had plenty of lighting for safety.
Pathways were decorated with lit pumpkins, and each building was filled with mysterious props in cabinets and along shelving, with electric lighting disguised in old time looking oil lanterns. The grounds have a natural olde town feeling with stone pathways and courtyards, red and purple lighting, trees, statues and gravestones, and of course the mountains of Utah looming over you in the distance. The sets balanced looking fantastical and mysterious, but not so fantastical that you lost your suspension of disbelief. You really could feel that you were in another world. See more in our Evermore review, which covers the entire park experience.
You’ll also find a “nation’s best” level of interaction at Ripper’s Cove. At most Murder mystery dinner theatres, you stay seated at your table while hosts come up to speak with you and drop clues. At Ripper’s Cove, you walk outdoors and speak with hosts each in purpose-built indoor or outdoor settings. Hosts dress as a variety of characters, each also divided into archetypes such as military, dock worker, or scientist. You discover documents, you find a mysterious science experiment, and you are sometimes sent on quests. For example, one character hinted to me that perhaps I should take a photo with my phone of a vial of liquid and go ask the scientists what it was.
We were never confused as to which very few props were hints in the mystery, freeing us from needing to study the hundreds of other props on the ground. Clues were almost entirely obtained by speaking with the host characters who themselves usher you into their world. Evermore puts much into the detail of the characters who are dressed in unique costumes so that you could easily discern who was of what archetype. Details such as makeup and accessories all play into creating immersive and interactive characters.
We slowly figured out that archetype host characters preferred to speak with guests of the same archetype. So if you were a guest dressed as a scientist, you were more likely to be dropped clues by a host scientist. If you were dressed as a dock worker, the high society host characters wouldn’t tell you anything. This meant that to piece together all of the clues, guests had to work together. It was a brilliant game mechanism to force you to mingle and speak with other attendees from outside of your own group.
The event is not spooky like a Halloween attraction. Nobody jumps out to scare you, and there is no gore or deliberately horror-themed decorations like vampires or demons. The event was very accessible. Any child old enough to handle walking around at night speaking with the hosts trying to solve a murder would have fun.
The acting was good, with host characters playing up their roles for fun and including everyone in a group and encouraging shy guests who seemed unsure what to say or do.
The level of fun and energy at the event was sky high. Everyone seemed so happy walking around speaking with the hosts and trading ideas and theories. It was so entertaining to banter with the hosts, using my campy, fake English accent. “Oy! ‘Ello Guvna!” There were two hosts that I continually accused (without any evidence) of being in on the murder, and they accused me right back. Guests were thrilled to be there, and it was delightful to speak with the hosts, even if you couldn’t ultimately solve the mystery.
At the end of the night, hosts gathered us before the outdoor main stage and had us vote on whom we thought the murderer was. Then they had a big reveal and arrested the criminal. After they held a short costume competition to reward those that put the thought and effort into playing up their archetypes.
On a personal note — to someone like me, who’s written and played in LARPs, and seen dozens of interactive Halloween attractions and Renaissance Faires, and our Editor Matt who has worked behind the scenes at such places — this was one of the most immersive theater experiences that we’ve ever seen. Evermore Park is certainly the most immersive outdoor experience and can boast Hollywood level sets and buildings. Ripper’s Cove and Evermore Park is absolutely a nation-level attraction worth traveling for. Salt Lake City and Utah are major destinations with many attractions to supplement your trip since Evermore Park is only open Fridays and Saturdays.
We’re glad to give Ripper’s Cove at Evermore our rate five stars PLUS rating, and to name it the America’s best murder mystery dinner theater.