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Archive for the tag “Haunted Attractions”

Terror on the Hill

waverly-hills-sanatorium

I went to the haunted house attraction at Waverly Hills that I posted on before.

Beginning to arrival

The people who went were Mark – the husband of my best friend; Stephen and Alice – recently married; and me. Another person had agreed to come but she didn’t realize that there would be actors.

I made everyone take flashlights, which took some time to accomplish since people needed batteries and so forth. I refused an offer of gloves or a hat. I did visit the restroom before we left. (This is all pertinent information.)

Mark’s GPS had a skeletal hand pointing the way and a Vincent Price voice giving directions. We liked it and then forgot about it. Stephen, Alice and I were startled when the voice said, “pay no attention to the noises in the trunk.” Alice and I shared ghost stories.

Parking to Ticket

The parking lot was unlit ($2 parking) and we were glad we had flashlights. When we reached the gate, a woman told us to go to the front of the line to buy tickets and then return to the end of the line.

On our way up the line, we saw a couple of concessions stands and a tent with golf carts and a sound system. The music was blaring “Thriller.” One of the workers came over to us and tried to convey something. We could tell he was angry but we couldn’t hear him. It turned out that we were in the way of dancers whom we hadn’t seen. That was dispiriting so we trudged up the hill to buy our tickets.

The woman I bought my ticket from had strange white contacts on – creepy and effective.

Later, in line, we saw that the dancers were wearing dark clothing and they were in the corner without any lighting.

I read some wrong information on the website: You can buy tickets at 7:30PM and the gates open at 8PM. It did cost $20 for a ticket so that part was right. It also turned out that we couldn’t use our flashlights. I carried a mag light in my pocket through the tour for nothing.

Beginning of the line to entrance

At one point, Mark and I had to use the rental potties. Mark figured that even if he managed to sneak into the woods, he might pee on the dancers. So we went to the row of rental potties that was at the head of the line. When I entered it, I discovered it had been placed on a slight rise that tilted the front of it toward the asphalt. When seated, I realized that I had closed but not latched the door. I reached to pull the latch. Because it was leaning downward, it started to open. I almost exposed myself in front of the ticket holders, the concessions workers, the camouflaged dancers, and two cops. That was a couple of seconds of terror. But I grabbed the door in time.

Mark reported that the tilted potties made the urinal a challenge.

We were bored waiting.  Some of us claim it took 45 minutes and others an hour and 10 minutes to reach the head of the line. The weather was clear but chilly, and we were shivering. I regretted not accepting the hat. Mark played some songs on his cell phone and then Stephen played some on his. Finally, the others started telling dead baby jokes, which helped pass the time. Then, we reached the head of the line, and it was too noisy to talk. Stephen started dancing to “Crazy Train.”

Alice and I tried to look at the building itself which was impressively large, although we could see very little of it. It looked abandoned still. I tried to imagine what it might have felt like to arrive as a TB patient, look up at the building, and know that I might not leave.

Because we spent so much time in the line, it was hard not to notice people around us. One man had apparently gotten his lip pierced recently. He said nothing but spat the whole time. There was a woman who talked loudly and bitterly to one of her parents who was divorcing the other. Then she hung up and glared around for a few minutes. Then she called some one else and quarreled with them.

Alice and I were most disturbed by the third man who was clearly on drugs. He only occasionally opened his eyes and he swayed until someone pushed him and he’d stumble a few steps ahead.

We were relieved when the worker let the four of us join the next group and separated us from ‘High Guy.’

Details of haunted house after cut.

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Haunted House Attractions

Haunted house stories are for me the most potent kind of horror story.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve moved around a lot but moving into an old house can be unsettling.  I don’t think my worries are as practical as worries about plumbing.  It’s more of a sense that a place has been much lived in, and some living is deeply unhappy.

Thus, haunted houses are more fun and scarier to me than most CGI monsters.  I read an article by John Seewer in which he listed a lot of haunted house attractions.  They all look spooky but I like the ones best that are held in old buildings.

Eastern State Penitentiary has a yearly haunted house named Terror Behind the Walls.   The living here must have been lonely since the penitentiary had implemented a system based on isolation of the prisoners.  It has also been used as a setting for several films such as Twelve Monkeys.  The website for the haunted house part lists several scary areas:  intake, the experiment, lock down, and night watch (with flash lights).  The tour has actors. A new section is the infirmary.  The building looks surprisingly attractive in its decay.

Winchester Mystery House –  I have read about this house in several of  those guides to the usual books, and Mrs. Winchester seems to have been quite the eccentric.  The story I read held that she was heir to the fortune made from the patent of the Winchester rifle.  She came to believe that the ghosts of the victims of the rifle would find her.  To counteract this ghostly persecution, she resolved to erect a bewildering home with stairs leading nowhere and doors that open to blank walls.  The more mundane story is that she was crushed by her grief over her husband and baby’s death and she designed the house as a kind of distraction.  She lived till she was 83 so something must have been working.  The house has a flashlight tour but there seem to be no actors.  Here is a guide to the house with lots of photographs.

Waverly Hills Sanitorium – This was a hospital for tuberculosis.  I used to think that tuberculosis was kind of an antique disease but apparently it’s still active.   However, it used to be a common and deadly illness.

At the turn of the twentieth century more than 80% of the population in the United States were infected before age 20, and tuberculosis was the single most common cause of death. By 1938 there were more than 700 TB hospitals in this country. David A. Cramer, MD

The misery that this place has accumulated over the years is a bit staggering.  I think it must be a happy place now since it’s being renovated and has tours for history buffs and psychics all the time.  I gained a few more facts and legends from a very entertaining book Weird Kentucky by Jeffrey Scott Holland.

  • it is located in  Jefferson County, which at the time had the highest number of people afflicted with the disease in the country.
  • 1 person died an hour at the height of the epidemic
  • corpses were removed via a tunnel so that the living patients would not be distressed (where the haunted tour is held)
  • it was later used as a geriatric hospital but closed because of patient abuse
  • Room 502 – legend has it a nurse hanged herself there
  • Legend has it that a girl without eyes and nicknamed “Mary” appears on the third floor
  • In 2000, an alleged psychic and one of the present owners found a photograph of a girl inscribed with the name “Mary Lee”

The tour is called the Body Chute.  You are required to bring a flashlight and there are actors in place.

I’m going to make a post on fictional haunted houses and virtual haunted houses.

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Due to the new necessity for full disclosure as discussed here and here and here, I will be candid about my resources.

John Seewer article – received a newspaper clipping from my mother which I have since discarded.

Weird Kentucky – read the essay on Waverly Hills from my sister’s copy which she borrowed from the library.

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