25
Oct

review-9-things-that-pennhurst-asylum-needs-to-change-to-become-awesome
Review: 9 things that Pennhurst Asylum needs to change to become awesome

The front of Pennhurst Asylum:

I had been waiting anxiously since October 2009 for Pennhurst Asylum (Spring City, PA) to open. Randy Bates of the really awesome Bates Motel (Glen Mills, PA) was working on this haunt. I expected for Pennhurst to be comparable to The Bates Motel in at least a small way. I even cut them some slack because this is their first year.

I still cannot recommend this haunt to you. Pennhurst was really disappointing on a few different levels. It really seemed like this was more of a proof of concept than a finished haunt. Here are 9 things that I hope Pennhurst Asylum will change in the coming years so that they can become really amazing.

1. Questionable wait times with no entertainment: I have heard from other haunt fans that they have waited for hours in line for this attraction. I arrived at 7:30ish (opening time) on Friday, October 22nd to avoid that. I waited about 15 minutes, but the line quickly grew to enormous proportions behind me. The area has a winding pathway that you must follow to get to the line for the attraction. There were hardly any scare actors at the route (I counted only 1.) to get to the line and absolutely none around the line at all.

2. Linear implementation of the traffic flow: There was a band playing and a bonfire set up at the entrance to the path that led to the line. This was pretty cool. Unfortunately, you couldn’t really enjoy them. They were not visible from the line. The way that the area was set up prevented you from returning to this area after you go through the attraction. It’s just a fact that no one will wait to get in line for a haunt. I don’t get why some haunts have to make their grounds linear like this. They’d make more money if we were able to enjoy the band and refreshments without worrying that we’ll have a really long line growing in front of us.

The bonfire area:

3. Overuse of mass-produced animatronic props: The majority of the scare actors inside Pennhurst Asylum seemed to be animatronic props. I felt like I was walking through a Halloween costume store. I really could not get into it. These props actually made the Pennhurst building seem less scary than it probably was.

4. Wide, well-lit rooms are not scary at all: The rooms were too well-lit and too wide. They really need to build the walls inward to provide better hiding places for the scare actors. I could see everyone coming a mile away. It was so lit that I couldn’t help but notice how cheap their plastic Halloween masks were. This is the first haunt I have ever been to that I felt the urge to laugh at and make fun of things as I went through.

5. Sparse distribution of scare actors: Maybe it was the size of the rooms, but it seemed like there weren’t that many scare actors working.

6. The attraction is REALLY short for what you are paying: They are billing this as 2 attractions – Pennhurst Asylum and Tunnel Terror. This is kind of ridiculous because both of these “attractions” are linked together and only last 15 minutes total. In my opinion this is one short attraction. You will probably spend about 7.5 minutes inside Pennhurst Asylum and 7.5 minutes in the Tunnel Terror and you’ll pay anywhere from $20-$25 for it.

7. Tunnel Terror is absolutely awful: It sounds really cool to enter the bowels of a messed up haunted place, right? Well this was just annoying and boring. At first a few scare actors were just standing around hitting mallets into metal drums near the occasional strobe light. Then the lights kept getting dimmer and dimmer. Then it got pitch black. Big problem – It was far too dark to see where you were going. This caused a traffic jam. The people behind us pushed in front of us by accident. The people in front of them had stopped because they couldn’t see. It just got nuts really fast. It wasn’t scary – it was a really annoying mass of confused people in the dark. The hallways were extremely wide so you couldn’t even feel your way through. You couldn’t even see any scare actors to get scared. I don’t think there were that many scare actors down there, though. The emotions my group felt during this attraction were annoyance and nervousness of accidentally pushing into another person.

8. Puddles of stinky water: The floor in the tunnels were soaking wet for some reason. There were puddles of water everywhere.

9. No storyline: It’s an Asylum. Boogity boogity. Big whoop. None of the scenes really made sense. There was a preshow area where a doctor is supposedly interviewing you for acceptance, but really nothing said or done here had any impact on anything. I can enjoy a not scary haunt if they are telling me a story. I can forgive a story-less haunt if it’s really scary. Pennhurst was both not scary and lacking a storyline. All we got was a random amalgamation of scenes that had a hospital theme to them.

I really wanted to like Pennhurst, but I probably won’t be returning for about 5 years because I am hoping that they will have fine-tuned it by then. I hope that they make some serious changes – including opening the building up for day tours. I believe in this haunt, but right now it is too short, absolutely not scary at all (I didn’t scream even once), and full of mostly animatronic props with no real storyline other than “OMG ASYLUM”. The coolest thing about Pennhurst was the hype and the graffiti on the exterior.

For $20-$25 we really should be getting more than this.



Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.

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16 Responses to “Review: 9 things that Pennhurst Asylum needs to change to become awesome”

  1. [...] See the article here: Onezumi: Art + Theme Parks = Life » Blog Archive » Review: 9 … [...]

  2. Mayo says:

    Did you REALLY just say Boogity Boogity?!?

  3. [...] do with it. Because of this I expected it to be awesome, but it really fell short in a major way. Here is my post about why I was not happy with it in 2010. I am sure that with Bates on board this will become a [...]

  4. Rach says:

    Overall, Pennhurst is hands-down a must go attraction for 2011. They must have made some improvements since last year as I don’t really agree with all of the 9 improvements listed. There were a few things that took down my excitement while there, but still made it worth the trip. If you compare the whole experience, where you really are at, and how other haunted attractions compare in Pennyslvania…it’s the best around.

    I did a lot of research before going here and actually think it hindered my experience. I was so hyped up and ready to be terrified and it simply didn’t happen as I had expected. There is also a review on uTube by October Panic who had me extremely excited and quite frankly added to my slight disappointment. I don’t know what he was smoking but it wasn’t terrifying like he said. I would recommend to not do a lot of research before going. Just know it was a real place, bad things happened, and there is a lot of paranormal activity that goes on there. That will give you enough build up to be anxious upon arriving.

    The school itself – I would LOVE to come back here during the day and just be allowed to walk around and explore. They could definitely make money during the rest of the year if they create something like that. It was a consistent theme we heard a lot of people saying. The creepy atmosphere, the old buildings, hopes of seeing a ghost….it was very cool! There are two entrances, however, if you don’t arrive before they open, you won’t get a spot at the best entrance. They need to somehow create more parking so that the “main” entrance can be used by more people. We found it but didn’t get to enter by it. If you are walking in, before going to the entry line, look to your right. There is a building (they had a port-a-potty there) and what looks to be a hallway. Walk down it and come back through….this is the creepy entrance. So cool! You are just waiting for people to be jumping out of the woods or building to scare you before even going in. They don’t…but it’s a great feeling. We really wish we could have entered from here!!

    Ghost Hunt – This was our biggest disappointment. People say they saw or felt something…we didn’t see or feel anything. There are almost too many people in there for anything to happen. We waited the longest for this. A plus to it, you go at your own pace and explore. Pretty cool – but that’s why the line is so long. Once inside….it’s not just a walk around in the dark with 1 flashlight for your whole group….everyone had their cell phones out so it ruined the effect. They need to require NO cell phones in there and keep it strictly to 1 flash light per group. There are people in there to answer questions who can make everyone put them away. This is held in the Mayflower building which has the most paranormal activity and there is still some stuff left behind (not props) and is pretty cool to see.

    Dungeon and Asylum – these were both cool. I felt a little sad at some parts such as seeing the cages that patients were kept in, etc. They did really good with using what was there when they purchased the place. There is a lot of original “stuff” that they use and display. Their props and makeup are by far the best around. They really do a good job. They are touchy feeling which adds to the suspense and excitement when it is a surprise. We were in the front of the group for both of these and that always has it’s plus and minuses.

    The Tunnels – everyone definitely should do this last. # 1, it takes you back to the parking lot. #2 – it is AWESOME! If it wasn’t for this attraction, I would have probably rated it a 2 or 3 overall. It is so cool! They should not change a thing in it other than maybe some more actors and surprises. The surprises, flooring, fog, and the all of a sudden someone is in front of you in the strobe lights…..fantastic!!! I jumped a lot in here! It was by far the best attraction I have ever been to! This made it all worth it and excited to come back next year! I recommend falling behind from the group you are sent in. The girls in front of us were walking faster than us and got way ahead that we couldn’t see them. This was perfect! You can’t see and the parts that you can…you don’t want ruined by seeing what happens to them. Just hearing the screams are cool enough. Allow separation and it will make your experience in here so freaking cool!

    The order that I would recommend to someone is the following, 1 – Ghost Hunt, 2 – Dungeon of Lost Souls, 3 – Asylum, 4 – Tunnel of Terror. Also, they send you in groups of 10 so that is a perfect number of people to gather and go. The wait…yes….you are going to wait a long time! I’m not sure why they make you wait in lines before going to your first attraction, then go wait again???? This was annoying. We had an almost 2 hr drive so we wish we would have purchased the VIP tickets. On the other hand, if you aren’t waiting in the regular lines, you won’t get to see a lot of the buildings and experience fully where you are. More actors….I agree too….the more actors = the better. Have some entertaining the people waiting. Have more to “surprise” you in the attractions. I thought the amount of actors inside was fine but more is always better. DON’T CHANGE THE TUNNELS…they rock!

    • onezumi says:

      So glad you posted this-I spoke with someone working on Pennhurst and heard from another source that they massively changed it for 2011. I’m going to try and get there this week to check it out.

      Bates worked on it, so I have no doubt in my mind that it’s gonna get good. :)

  5. DHC DEMON says:

    i didn’t enjoy this article, a lie, bates motel and pennhurst asylum are easily the two BEST pro haunts ever. i am not a blogger, but rather a real haunter. oh yeah and randy bates is the BEST haunter in the industry by far. pennhurst is easily the best location ever to start an attraction. randy and his amazing crew can’t control the room sizes, they were built this way 70-100 years ago!!!!!!

    • onezumi says:

      Bates Motel is amazing. Sorry, but when I went in 2010, Pennhurt was not nearly as good at Bates Motel. It needed work. This isn’t unusual for a first year haunt, and I am sure he’s gonna tweak it and make it better.

      I didn’t go in 2011, but I’d love to be able to go back and see what changes they made next year if I have time.

  6. Karen says:

    Just came from Pennhurst. This was my second year there. I think it was a lot of fun and the girls I took (4 between age 12 and 16) loved it. Will probably go again next year.

  7. chastity says:

    uhhhhh im trying to find out like what’s goin on.
    a group of us went about 2 weeks ago… on a sunday. the 14th of oct.
    in the mayhflower building literally every picture u take there are orbs in. nothing strange…
    we live over an hour and a half away from pennhurst and as we were getting home, about 2 mins away from the house our friend in the back seat sits up and shes complaing that her back burns, we looked at her back & there were SCRATCHES everywhere and theyre in the shape of a tree??????? they went away by the next day & now 2 weeks later, she had another experienbce of scratches last night. hhhhhow do we get rid of this? did this ever happen to anyone else???

  8. chastity says:

    no but I think I emailed u? lol let me know if u got it. the subject is PENNHURST.

  9. [...] the scare factors. We decided in fairness to not do a real review for that year, but to provide a list of tips we felt they needed to work on in order to make things [...]

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