Again, I had to brace myself to write this review because OMFG you guys.
Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares are 2 haunted houses that are in an old hotel in Saylorsburg, PA. They have the good fortune of having a large space that they can build in all year round. You can expect to see large rooms filled with elaborate sets. One reason why they are far scarier than any other haunted attraction I have ever been to is the fact that the set pieces are not fake-looking. It looks like the entire hotel died and this really grew in it’s place.
People asked me while I was at the ticket booth which one of the two they should do. The answer is BOTH. I can’t not call you a dumbass if you skip one of the attractions. They are both strong and both are can’t miss affairs. $30 gets you both of the attractions. Each attraction feels about 20-30 minutes long. You definitely get what you pay for.
Every single one of the actors in there are the best actors I have ever had the pleasure of being tormented by. They aren’t just good, they are, “you will think about them days later and wonder what their back story is” good. They are, “Oni considers canceling the rest of her haunt tour so she can come here every week” good. If you asked me to point out actors who are on the level of the actors in Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares it would be only a few, but no one nails it like these guys and no one has this level of character development plus insane location.
Both years that we visited there was one person in particular who stood out to us as probably the best scare actor we have ever seen in our travels touring the haunted attraction scene. I referred to him before as “the bloody priest”, but now I know that his name is The Penitent, a masochistic priest who tried to free the spirits of the hotel but ended up being trapped himself. Last year he was in the middle of the attraction right before the giant goat head man. This year he is in the first room of Altered Nightmares and sets up the story for you as you enter the attraction. This guy’s performance is nothing short of mind-blowing. He actually managed to own everyone else on the planet in just 30 seconds. This is THE GUY that I talk about when I am describing HoH/AN to someone who has never been here.
The fact that they were willing to touch on religion, which is something most haunted attractions don’t have the stones to touch anymore is unique. The sad idea of someone being trapped in there after having gone in with good intentions, and the way this guy delivers his lines, is just CRAZY!
If I ever had a fancy wedding I would ask this guy to officiate first. I am not even joking. We are his biggest fans.
All of the actors in this house are on par with this level of intensity. They do not do their B Game here. Only A Game.
I believe this fellow’s name is Sparky. THIS GUY IS SCARY!
Then THESE THREE OMFG, the girl chased me:
I just named that image “OMFG”. That’s what I named it. You can hover over it with your mouse to prove that to yourself.
Probably by next year I will know more of their names to be able to tell most of them apart. And that is part of the magic of Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares – you feel as if the whole damn place is alive year-round.
There is a reason for all of this. Marlo Ambrosio, the owner of this attraction let me know that they have an 85% retention rate of their actors. This is why you can come here on opening night and still get your face rocked off. These guys have been perfecting their characters and their back stories for a year or more. They even just started a blog about some of this. My understanding is that she also lets the actors adjust the room to fit with their stories.
In the haunt industry this is unusual. You see “scary clown”, “scary mask guy”, and “scary chainsaw guy” everywhere. None of them usually have names. Most of them are usually not firing on all of the guns on opening weekend like these guys are because most other haunts are still training their dudes.
It’s gotten to the point that I can’t take any “Top Haunt” list seriously if HoH/AN is not in it. If they aren’t on there get the hell out of my face with your fake list of feeble know-nothing bullshit.
Harknell and I are jaded. We have seen every trick in the book. These guys still obliterated us. We left the attraction and we were SWEATING. He actually ran into my back screaming and knocked his glasses out of alignment at some point in there. I ran and did the “OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!” screaming dance. HoH/AN is an insane combination of both the scariest haunted attraction I have ever been to coupled with the best implementation I have ever seen. This is classic horror without the modern-day pandering to political correctness and cheesy gimmicks.
OK, I just realized I haven’t even told you about the attractions yet because I am too busy losing my shit here.
This year Hotel of Horror’s theme is The Miner’s Curse. It’s based off of local history. They had some amazing skeleton head miner guys in there with gloves that would click. There also were a lot of women looking for their babies and witches. It was incredibly haunting and well-done.
Altered Nightmares is a house that attracts and captures souls. You get to meet all of them (see above).
For both of these attractions I recommend that you do not race through the rooms. They all have a quick act that they can do for you (which is basically messing with you) – don’t leave before they are done! (as if they would let you!)
One thing that we did not do last year is the Museum Macabre.
It’s only $5 extra so we did it this year. I was very surprised – the museum was EXTENSIVE. Do not miss out on this. They have displays of old school surgical, funeral, and insane asylum equipment.
The room is highly themed as well. This was the ceiling of just one room:
It took us about 15 minutes to get through the entire museum. The staff member was very knowledgeable and even told us some info on the haunt as well.
We were making comparisons to Universal Studios all night because all of the attractions, including the museum, are that high-caliber. We liked it so much that we plan to return later this season just for fun.
If you are a haunt fan at all and you do not do Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares this Halloween season, you are jackassing yourself. DO THIS ONE.
Also? Be sure to check out my other haunted attraction reviews.
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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