Hotel of Horror 2021 Haunted Attraction Review

Hotel of Horror  (Saylorsburg, PA) and its companion attraction Altered Nightmares are mature, sinister attractions that are designed to scare and terrorize their guests with some of the most disturbing visual imagery and quality acting you can EVER find in a haunted attraction. This season’s show is genuinely disturbing from start to finish, and not enough praise can be given to the quality performers that bring to life the “art of horror” in such a twistedly grand fashion that will disturb even the most hardened guest. While the entire “Lake House Hotel” property is aesthetically “terrifying,” and each room/corridor and hallway is submerged in an atmosphere of darkness, chaos, and brutality. A sense of permeating evil and the ominous feeling of being “stalked” permeates this mature, adult-themed haunted attraction.

This is your WORST Nightmare!

While a “no-touch” attraction, the interactions each guest has with the inhabitants of this infamous Hotel are unsettling, and the design of each room, from visual to auditory stimulation and deprivation, creates a genuinely “scary” experience. Each attraction is custom-designed built from the ground up. Flashing strobe lights, periods of darkness, scene-specific audio, and imagery that is not for children, each attraction is the perfect backdrop for engaging, terrifying, scare performances.

Perhaps, reaching their pinnacle is the performance of the actors/actresses. Each room is brought to life by actors and performances. This is a haunt that is not for those who are looking for a family-friendly experience; it is for those looking to experience serious moments of fear and a constant, unnerving sense of paranoia driven by the combination of scene/theme design audio, visual stimulation, and first-class acting. Horrifying characters straight from the depths of hell are brought to startling life in each attraction. From the large hulking actor that rips out a “baby doll” from a corpse’s womb to a vial clown that stalks from room to room and a human “bear faced” living doll rocking back in forth with glee, so many unnerving characters live in this nightmare. Vampires, satanic worshippers, psychopaths locked in padded rooms, witches, and so many other talented performers believe in what they are doing, use the scenes as a stage, engage in “character-specific” banter with guests, crawl, hang from ceilings and work tirelessly to create memorable moments.

History of the Lake House Hotel

Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares haunted attractions are located inside the infamous abandoned Lake House Hotel in historic Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The legend of the Lake House Hotel spans more than two hundred years and serves as the backdrop for the sinister haunted attractions brought to life within its confines. The tales begin with the original stagecoach stop, circa the late 1700s, whose foundation only remains, sheathing the furthest basement rooms’ walls under the encapsulated Victorian mansion. The destruction of that original stagecoach stop gave birth to a tavern referred to as The Saylorsburg Hotel and Inn for Travelers, built by Charles Saylor in 1847. Over the following 53 years, it saw much expansion and construction. The first “rebirth” of the Saylorsburg Hotel came around 1882 to 1888 with the railroad’s coming, removing the roof, building a third story, and renovating the exterior to celebrate the magnificent architecture of the Victorian Era. This remarkable mansion still exists inside the grand hotel addition constructed sometime between 1894 to 1900 and remains the same in size that you see today. The Hotel hosted the entire Monroe County Battalion of six soldiers of soldiers during the Civil War and was also used as a residence to see its share of births and deaths. The local mines and railway used the Hotel at several points in its early history to house their business operations and the infirmary and place of “pick- up” for the next of kin when tragic accidents would occur. It is recorded that many men died on its front porch waiting for a family to arrive after suffering significant injuries in those local mines and railway construction.

In October 1918, the local press reported that the Spanish Influenza had arrived in the Pocono Mountains, bringing sickness and death. The recently built county hospital was inadequate, and temporary hospitals were established in local resorts surrounding Stroudsburg.  Then in 1929, again in October- just a few days before Halloween, investors in New York City began to panic- stocks bought high started to drop, and so the Great Crash of The New York Stock Exchange devastated the economy. Guests of the Lake House, having left New York in shame and despair, not knowing how to provide for their families, checked into the Hotel, had drinks in the bar, dinner in the dining room, and saw their final night on earth in the guest rooms on the second and third floors.

At that time, Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, became known as “The Place to Hang Yourself.” In the late 1940s and 1950’s the basement area housed the Vickie Lee Blouse Company, employing ladies who worked on original textile equipment with minimum safety precautions. It can only be imagined the injuries suffered in the Lake House Hotel’s lower level during this time. After the close of this company, the lower level was used as a barbershop. Then a state liquor license permitted the serving of alcoholic beverages in this same lower level, in addition to the first-floor bar.  The basement was turned into a marine-themed bar, and in 1985 a failed robbery attempt left the owner of that time entirely incapacitated and resulted in the Hotel closing for good. It was purchased in 1990 and turned into an Antique Co-Op, and then in 1992, it saw its first haunted house attraction.

The Attractions

Hotel of Horror is a genuine, realistic nightmare that has evolved and exists solely with the intent to disturb and scare. Make no mistake, even during a year plagued by a pandemic, this attraction is relentless be design, tenacious by its history, and resolute in the “spirit” of fear which transcends the floorboards of the abandoned “Lake House Hotel.” Fear, cultivated by a constant sense of paranoia, generating imagery so holistically disturbing yet engaging, creates a desire to explore this relic of time, a cross between a 1950’s stylish hotel and a celebratory labyrinth of one’s darkest fears and disturbing imagery. Far from a “family-friendly” haunted attraction, be prepared to live a horror story, cross paths with the demonic, and come dangerously close with a barrage of twisted “scare-actors” that thrive off the energy of “fear.” 

Hotel of Horror is perhaps best described as a never-ending ascension into a living horror movie; just stopping for a moment creates a lasting mental image of scenes that are “real” and not created by big-budget props or special effects. Each room features diversity in thematic design but has so much “character” in terms of disturbing items, oddities, and, at times, disturbing creativity it is easy to become trapped in this entire “experience” of terror. Carefully implemented designs are augmented by slow strobe light effects, scene-specific stylistic vintage music, sound, moments of darkness, and periods of violent creativity that haunt each hallway. The culmination of years of collecting and creating disturbing items, heirlooms, and understanding how the mind processes “fear” has resulted in a most chilling, hauntingly beautiful, yet always unsettling. A genuine immersive experience, the “reality” of the “Lake House Hotel” is the perfect backdrop of pure horror, pumping adrenaline and fueling a curiosity of the unknown.

Hotel of Horror or the “first” half of the journey has received extensive improvements and additions, including a gleefully disturbing psychedelic “funhouse! Hotel of Horror focuses more on the grittier, darker aspects of haunted attractions with character designs that convey a sense of violence set upon the backdrop of scenes that feature the most intricate of nightmarish details. Extensive work has been undertaken to add a new level of complexity to the Hotel of Horror’s interactive mazes. Each scene is themed almost entirely, allowing twisted scare actors to create unique personal interactions with guests, stalk, disturb and change their performance to meet the responses of each guest. The “funhouse scene” is brand new and really stands out as a surprise as opposed to the dark and sinister design imposed by the rest of the attraction. A black-light, almost three-dimensional style attraction. This funhouse, extremely well-designed and oddly interactive. Characters and performance art is critical to the success of this attraction and the “clowns” interacted with props and even a band set up in this new area of the “hotel.” Furthermore, the Hotel of Horror continues to promote dark themes, from a satanic worship scene to a children’s playroom straight from the depths of hell, be prepared to be disturbed. Scare performers are aggressive; they engage in vial acts and have no qualms about tormenting guests. A hulking monstrosity ripped a “baby doll” from the “womb” of a corpse, and vampires chased guests into the arms of darkness; this is a fear-focused haunted attraction!

Altered Nightmares embraces the sinister “magical” side of horror, with an emphasis on demonic, dark themes; “The Other Side – What really happens when it’s time for your journey through the gates?” Featuring witches, disturbing voodoo themes, twisted carnival, dark séances, and possession, among other concepts, and evil Christmas/Santa scenes, there is a distinct sense of insanity that permeates each room. As was the case of the Hotel of Horror, the scare actors and creativity in character design, coupled with a desire to explore the unknown, make this attraction stand out. Visions of child abductions, torment were stricken across each room, and this attraction utilized sensory assault to augment fear. While most attractions feature “chainsaws” as a part, Altered Nightmares has evolved into a surreal horror experience and is the perfect finale for one’s visit to the Lake House Hotel!

Final Word

Hotel of Horror is the perfect haunt for those looking to “grow up” in the haunt industry. This is a severe and mature-themed attraction that combines classical/traditional haunting with such a dark, sinister, evil twist that we cannot praise these attractions’ approach enough. As one cautiously explores each room, sick and wicked imagery dominates the scenes and creates such an uneasy feeling that it is best described as a never-ending nightmare. Atmospheric sound, periods of complete darkness, blinding lights give way to scenes of graphic horror and characters that are all so very real in their vision and execution. With an even stronger emphasis on quality acting this season, the entire attraction was executed flawlessly. The imagery created by some of the horrific creatures brought to life in the Hotel will forever be etched in memory.

The evolution of haunted attraction design and presentation is starting to take on a more visceral, psychological approach to target the innermost fears of veteran haunt fans yearning for a personal, immersive experience. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmare’s Haunted attractions have mastered the art of using psychological triggers to spur real “fear” that goes beyond the traditional expirations associated with what is best described as a “boo” haunt. Traditional tenants of haunted attraction design, coupled with sensory-based triggers, augment a twisted, nefarious approach to attraction design, allowing one to live out their darkest fears. One must let go of preconceived notions and open themselves up mentally to an immersive experience to inspire real-life nightmares challenging social and cultural norms. Both attractions housed within the Lake House Hotel’s confines are unapologetically mature and, at times, downright brutal. A constant sense of paranoia spawned by disturbing artistic and theatrical designs complements the demented scare acting, as well as the exploitive nature of this gritty, “real” horror attraction. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares thrive on psychological horror, encouraging careful exploration while challenging one’s innermost fears.

Hotel of Horror is not for those easily offended by gore scenes; crude humor and disturbing themes are hallmarks of this terrifying attraction. You will see scenes of satanic worship, demented clown rooms, a witch “dinner,” grotesque bathrooms, and many sets that embrace violent imagery. In between each room/set design, sensory triggers such as periodic darkness, blood-stained walls, strobe lights, fog, visual effects, and incredible soundtrack built a constant sense of paranoia that increases from scene to scene.

Over the years, the Hotel of Horror has become one of the most terrifying and genuinely shocking haunted attractions on the East Coast. The Lake House Hotel is the perfect backdrop for a horror movie quality experience, and not enough praise can be heaped upon the talented scare performers! Hotel of Horror’s characters are so creatively disturbing and designed, they can be scripted into their own horror genres. Taking the familiar themes of child’s playrooms, to even a visit with Santa Clause and turning them into moments of evil is the norm, the flashpoints of insanity that bring to life disturbing visions that are etched in memory and need to be experienced in this unique event.

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