Pennhurst Asylum- 2022 Review

Pennhurst
Pennhurst

Introduction

Pennhurst Asylum (Spring City, PA) is an over-the-top, terrifying, twisted adventure into the mind of madness. This mature, terrifying destination is fueled by nonstop aggression, boasting scenes of graphic horror and movie-quality scenes. An infamous, iconic property that is one of the BEST locations for a haunted attraction, Pennhurst is a spectacle of aggressive horror and one that is operated to the highest standards of operations and performance art. With a barrage of chaos, dark humor, and gruesome brutality, Pennhurst is a horror fan’s nightmare/dream come to life. While the entire atmosphere, history, and reported “paranormal” activity at this iconic location are enough to disturb, an emphasis on the “show” aspect of fear dominates the current direction of this destination event.

Furthermore, despite the incredible set, scene designs, and special effects, not enough praise can be heaped upon the scare performers that have become residents of this infamous facility. A long-standing attraction, this season is perhaps the most intense, extreme event yet that is relentless in its drive to inject fear into those brave enough to enter. The “fear” is not only “real,” but the level of gore and intensity on every level has been ramped up to the boiling point of terror. You will feel dominated, at the mercy of the insane, and sometimes question why you ever decided to venture into the asylum.

Every performer pours their heart and soul into scenes of the macabre, the strange and disturbing that convey a sense of utter violence and pure chaos. The actors’ performances add a level of dimension and nightmarish reality to the fantastic set designs that serve as their twisted playground. They fit their “scene,” and they go beyond the traditional few lines to feel like “real” characters. Performers will interact with guests within the context of their characters; they don’t scream “get out” or yell “help me” as so many others do elsewhere, they act and respond to the guest(s) reactions. Strong performance art coupled with some of the highest quality scenes/costume designs and the actual property combines to make an unforgettable, horrific nightmare that is very much alive and real. At times mentally exhausting, Pennhurst is blunt; it is designed to scare and torment the psyche of each visitor.

The Attractions

Pennhurst Asylum (Administration Building)

The main “attraction” is a trip through the old “administration building” at Pennhurst, endless rooms and hallways of pure chaos featuring extensive upgrades and new scenes this season. Many of the scenes from previous years have been completely revamped, adding a new freshness to this core attraction and the perfect backdrop for crazed performances. Larger-than-life freakish experiments, some resembling giants, mutilate the bodies of helpless victims. The realness of these massive new animatronics adds to the insanity inside the already heavily detailed attraction.

Each scene is exceptionally detailed, featuring rooms of violence and settings almost too gruesome to view. No two rooms are alike, and at times Pennhurst Asylum feels more like a twisted funhouse of medical torture housed within the infamous abandoned facility. 1950’s era music bellow throughout the halls of this horrific facility, as patients scale their bunks, pop out of showers and bathroom stalls, nurses force patients to take their “medicine,” patients gleefully torment guests in their bedrooms, the smells, and sites of a grotesque shower/bathroom defile one’s senses and the newest “residents” massive horrific monsters torment helpless victims. Hollywood-quality special effects, lighting, and sound create surreal nightmares that leave a lasting impact on one’s psyche. Animatronics and props distract from the actors who will taunt you, make you feel uncomfortable, and try to do everything to disturb and creep out each guest. Capped off by a violent, gory cannibalistic finale, the opening attraction sets the tone for a terrifying experience at Pennhurst Asylum. A visual and psychological hellacious nightmare, this attraction aims to push guests to their limit.

The Morgue

“From draining blood to incinerating bodies, The Morgue at Pennhurst is your full-service mortuary.” “The Morgue” balances “reality” with “fiction” using old, abandoned hospital remnants with the latest in “scare-technology.” “The Morgue” plays on one’s senses; from frozen bodies to “incineration,” the fear of death is played upon during this attraction.

Doctors and freaks perform unnecessary mutilations on “patients,” Others threaten unsuspecting guests to ensure they take their “medications.” Sound and visual special effects accentuate the experience, for example, rooms submerged in “steam,” coupled with blinding lights, slow strobe lights, and blaring sound effects hide the crazy actors, and at times, it is impossible to differentiate between what is “real” and not “real” in this action-packed attraction! The style of the “Morgue embraces gore and violence,” and the story of those that operate the asylum itself gives a depth of characterization to the entire haunted attraction package. Hulking actors in costumes that defy reality are perfect for this attraction, making a guest feel vulnerable and at the mercy of those brave enough to face the “Morgue.”

Tunnels

“The Tunnels” is a terrifying adventure into the underground abyss of the Pennhurst Asylum, a secret bio-governmental facility-in part of the torture and vile experimentation. Scientific mutations and almost “post-apocalyptic” scenes have been added to the extensive “tunnel system,” which matches perfectly with a theme of “trapping” lost souls within the confines of the Pennhurst property.

Guests must escape this technologically advanced series of chambers that transform the asylum into a futuristic facility, or perhaps a demented fallout shelter that spares no expense in its creative design with massive props and detailed set pieces that add to the already disturbing atmosphere of the labyrinth-like system of tunnels. “The Tunnels” utilizes psychological terror and old-school techniques to generate reactions juxtaposed to the intense high-tech scares. Being lost in complete darkness, guided by a slow strobe light and taunting actors, is quite a terrifying experience and one that again injects reality into the experience. The “fear” is real at Pennhurst, and “Tunnels” continues to be an epic conclusion to a horror adventure that challenges even the bravest to escape.

Final Word

One of the most terrifying haunted attractions in the country, the level of intense fear and constant barrage of horror unleashed at Pennhurst cannot be understated. The level of detail and quality of each attraction has risen to a fever pitch, its finest level of horrific excellence in this famous must see  attraction. Pennhurst Asylum is a world-class, intense, scare-focused haunted attraction that features some of the finest acting/performances in the industry with scenes that are larger than life and, at times, disturbing and realistic.

A destination event, a “big budget” show, all three attractions have received upgrades this season, with scenes that captivate and performers that fit their respective themes perfectly, each working tirelessly to breathe life into madness and generate genuine reactions that are very “real.” Very few, if any, other haunted attractions perfectly capture the spirit of dark, twisted humor, along with moments of violence and pure insanity quite like Pennhurst. While the scenes, props, and animatronics are beyond impressive, the performers shine. In so many attractions, acting is generally a weak point, and in those cases, “less is more” in terms of acting. However, that is far from the case at Pennhurst, as each actor seems to embrace and live their respective characters, adding depth and life to the impressive, immersive horror scenes featured in all three individual attractions. The fear is very “real” at this attraction, and it is remarkable to see such commitment to excellence in performance, the injection of dark, twisted humor, and a constant barrage of insanity that fills the grim halls and tunnels of the infamous Pennhurst Asylum!

Strengths

  • Atmosphere/Environment (no place more “real”)
  • Costume/Make-Up Design
  • Theme
  • Special Effects; Sound, Gore
  • Acting and Performance Art
  • Brand New Scenes, expensive/realistic animatronics and interactive sets

Room for Improvement

  • Length of Show (we wish the show was only longer!)

Website: https://www.pennhurst.com

Location: 250 Commonwealth Dr, Spring City, PA 19475

Credit: Matt Herzog-Pennhurst Asylum and Rogues Hollow for Photos