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  • Writer's pictureChandler Clouser

Pennhurst Asylum - 2018 Review

  • Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Pennhurst Asylum

  • Website:

  • Location of Attraction: Spring City PA

  • Date of Review: Friday September 28th 2018

  • Total Number of Attractions Available: FOUR

  • Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 9.5

  • Entertainment and Food Rating: 9

  • Atmosphere Rating: 9

  • Overall Costume and Make Up Rating: 10

  • Overall Cast and Crew Rating: 10

  • Overall Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 10

  • Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9

  • Overall Feedback: Pennhurst Asylum brought the scares to a whole new level in 2018 as they delivered a TOP NOTCH and downright HORRIFYING experience! Edging out the competition so far in our September haunt experiences, Pennhurst Asylums’ mix of atmospheric grounds, high caliber acting and extraordinary set design brings Pennhurst to the number one spot thus far in 2018. When you experience Pennhurst, you begin feeling the tension far before you enter the attractions. The grounds are accessible just beyond a small town, accessible by a long and winding road that feels like it goes on forever. As you creep down the path in your vehicle, you are surrounded by woods and silence on all sides. Roll down your windows and arrive after dusk to truly build the tension. You will pass the silhouettes of several buildings of Pennhurst, long abandoned with empty, black, ominous windows. Pay attention! Someone in our squad thought they saw movement in those said windows. Once you exit your vehicle, you will begin a long walk — in deep darkness — all the way onto the grounds of Pennhurst Asylum. Keep your flashlights off and your ears on high alert and you might just hear something spooky. Is it coming from the forest, or the asylum… we’ll let you decide! Once purchasing tickets and passing through security you will venuever through the grounds of Pennhurst Asylum. The old and rustic buildings certainly set an extra eerie vibe for the evening. Pennhurst Asylum made some tweaks to their midway area for 2018. The seating area, food stand, gift shop and photo booth can now be found underneath one tent. Pennhurst Asylum by far always has some of the best roaming actors and line entertainment anywhere in the haunt industry. The roaming actors engage with customers and deliver a perfect combination of laughs and scares. Fire breathers, sword swallowers, fire jugglers and more are staffed to entertain guests as they wait in line, and entertain they do! To begin our evening we started off with the main attraction, Pennhurst Asylum! Welcome to the asylum, where from the moment you enter the building you will have to question who is the doctor and who is the patient. This attraction truly delivers. Put aside all notions that you have seen it all and experienced it all in the hauntworld when visiting this haunt. The actors are all so deeply in character that you will start to question if this is real. The actors never break character, and no line they use seems forced. They will target you and tailor their acting to your responses. You will be grabbed, separated from your group, touched, and maybe even pulled away… don’t get left behind! We can’t forget to mention the amount of changes that were made to the scenes. At least half of the scenes/set designs in Pennhurst Asylum were updated during the off-season. Many new surprises can be found and they’ll certainly keep you on your toes. The actors truly delivered stellar performances and really made the scenes come to life. As we neared the exit one of our members got abducted and locked in a cell… now that’s downright terrifying! Next up we headed for the newest attraction, The Morgue! The Morgue, which used to be the Dungeon of Lost Souls, NAILED IT, especially when it comes to the props and set design! The cadavers throughout the attraction looked so real that you truly felt as if you’re traveling through a real life morgue. We noticed several heads on “corpse” bodies that were so uniquely detailed that they seemed to be cast from life. Kudos to whoever designed and staged the big guy on the slab with the belly wound - we had a hard time determining if he was real or just a sculpt. Quite jarring and extremely effective! Along with notable actors, there was a character who had a combination of gray spray paint and sparkles in her hair to make her look like she had really been in frozen storage. And we can’t forget the girl who showed us her rat (we had just enough time to process that it was real before she shoved the bacteria covered, bitey-teethed rat head into her MOUTH and spun away back into a dark corner). Now that’s commitment to providing a scare. The only thing that we can think of that would truly elevate this experience (there have been many successful changes and polishing of the walk-through this year) is adding the element of temperature to some of the scenes. The Morgue had all of the visuals, with actors and props of having bodies lined up on shelves in cold storage, but the rooms felt notably warm. As you exit the Morgue, you are sent to incineration, where fire flickers up suddenly around you on both sides, “incinerating” you — but again, no change in temperature. They’ve changed so many things about Pennhurst that we are truly encouraged by their constant improvements and adjustments and hope to someday experience the incorporation of temperature into the attractions. It would be downright impressive to walk into the mortuary freezer and feel a cool chill in the air or as you walk through the incinerator you feel heat from the flames… but that is just us nitpicking as they really went over the top with their newest attraction The Morgue! To finish out the three main attractions we headed for Containment. Containment is a fairly new attraction to Pennhurst as they added it newly for the 2017 haunt season. Last season we felt that Containment fell short and did not meet the typical Pennhurst standards we had come accustomed to. In 2017 we felt that the theme of Containment was not accurately carried through the entirety of the attraction, often making us feel confused. We also felt as if the actors felt lost and unsure of what to do. Well for 2018 Containment stepped up their game and delivered the experience we have come to expect from the Pennhurst folks. First of all, the actress staging people to lead them into Containment was amazing. At Disney World, princesses are trained to pick out something about your clothing, hair or mannerisms that allow them to engage in instant banter with you. Well, welcome to Pennhurst’s darker version of that with an unintentional introduction to the meanest, cleanest, spookiest, most hilarious version of a waiting line controller; get ready to meet the Queen of Hygiene. This “hygiene Queen” laser focused on members of our group, keeping us laughing, shocked and engaged for a solid 5-10 minutes as they were experiencing some technical difficulties with the attraction. Once again many changes with set design was noted during our journey through Containment. There was a much better consistency in the theme and it was carried throughout the entirety of the attraction. The same great props that we have come to love from Pennhurst were littered throughout the attraction. The actors were much more immersed in their roles this year which really upped the scare factor and overall experience in general. It’s safe to say we were very pleased with the experience Containment provided this season! To round out our evening we headed for The Mayflower After Dark. This attraction is a self guided tour of the Mayflower Building, reportedly the most ghostly active of all the locations on the Pennhurst campus. No actors or props, visitors are sent at their own risk to wander through the building witnessing exactly what it looked like 25+ years ago. Included in the attraction is a museum of Pennhurst State School artifacts with real former employees taking you back in time to what life was really like for the patients. For 2018 we felt there was less lighting throughout Mayflower After Dark which helped add an extra creepy vibe to the atmosphere. It is definitely thrilling to wander through this old rustic building, admiring the artifacts and the building itself. What works about Pennhurst this year is that they removed a lot of the scenes that lacked cohesiveness that was happening between sets, creating an experience that truly immersed you into a story. That, combined with truly top-notch fully in character improvisational dialogue from the staff makes this place excel as a haunted attraction. We can’t forget to mention the quality costuming and makeup that the actors possess. The costuming and makeup are over the top and just downright phenomenal, it certainly helps add that extra real life feel to the attractions. Hinters happen in each scene, on each set, on each floor, with each actor so that you feel like you have woven your way through an entire 3-part story that ends with containment, fleeing through the underground tunnels of the asylum to reach safety. So many improvements to the overall haunt, the new addition of the Morgue, and the actors who phenomenally have the ability to change the interaction and engagement with you each year, each walkthrough, makes Pennhurst worth a visit again and again. If you thought Pennhurst Asylum delivered a spooky and thrilling experience in years past then you are in for a special and terrifying treat this haunt season! All haunt enthusiasts MUST pay Pennhurst Asylum a visit this season… you won’t be disappointed!

Individual Attraction Review:

  • Attraction Name: Pennhurst Asylum

  • Overall Attraction Rating: 9.5

  • Cast and Crew Rating: 10

  • Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 10

  • Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9

  • Attraction Name: The Morgue

  • Overall Attraction Rating: 9.5

  • Cast and Crew Rating: 10

  • Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 10

  • Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9

  • Attraction Name: Containment

  • Overall Attraction Rating: 9

  • Cast and Crew Rating: 9

  • Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 10

  • Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 8

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