Number 7 on our list of Top Haunted House in the USA goes to Pennhurst Asylum. The history of this place is creepy enough to give you chills even before you show up at the house or step foot in one of the four attractions.
Pennhurst Asyum is built in the buildings of the old Pennhurst State School mental institution. This place opened its doors in 1908 under the name Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, and then had them forcibly shut by court order in 1986 for the abuses that took place there.
And in 2010, they reopened the doors, but this time as a haunted attraction. Or actually, as four different attractions: Pennhurst Asylum, The Dungeon of the Lost Souls, The Tunnel Terror, and Ghost Hunt.
You start in Pennhurst Asylum, set up in the old Administrative Building, then move through The Dungeon of the Lost Souls. Both of these feature a host of complete rooms that include recreations of the horrors that caused the place to be shut down. And the creepiest part: Many of the props and equipment that they use are actual equipment left over in the asylum when it was shut down.
After the Asylum and the cells in the Dungeon, you head through the Tunnel Terror. In the old days, these tunnels were used to move patients between buildings, but now they’re 900 feet, or the length of three football fields, of light-flickering darkness and creepy effects.
Pennhurst Asylum gets major props (pardon the pun) for their use of authentic equipment for props and for their talented actors. This haunted house is all about the chills and creepiness, and the actors capitalize on that to turn it into scares.
The last part, the Ghost Hunt, doesn’t actually have any actors, but that’s what makes it creepy. You’re let on a self-guided tour of the old Mayflower Building, which is left in exactly the same way it was when it was abandoned 26 years ago. Just you, in a darkened building with a flashlight.
Good things to note:
There is a shuttle bus from the nearby lot, and in the second half of October there’s valet parking. It’s only about a quarter mile away, though, so the walk’s not too bad.
Tickets are bought for each attraction individually, or in a discounted combo pass. Online and VIP tickets are available to skip the line. The attraction is open Thursdays through Sundays, and they recommend coming on Thursday or Sunday or early in the season to avoid the crowds. This is especially important for the Ghost Hunt, which can lose it’s effect if there’s too many people around.