Pennhurst Asylum 2023 Review

Pennhurst Asylum (Spring City, PA) has evolved to embrace not only its infamous, alarming “real” environment. Still, it has constructed a large-scale, larger-than-life “Scarepark” integrated into the former Pennhurst State School grounds. What has been constructed at Pennhurst Asylum this season, from EXTENSIVE renovations to the core “haunted attractions” to a “pumpkin forest” filled with massive scenes and animatronics that are brought to haunting life, and a brand-new midway, this is one of the finest, most complete horror/haunted attraction experiences, one can EVER imagine. It is hard to find a more terrifying, detailed and “real” haunted attraction that continues to find new ways to terrorize each season.

Pennhurst Asylum is an awe-inspiring, genuinely at times unnerving site to see, a complete immersion that melds numerous Halloween entertainment themes amongst the terror of the all-so-real, yet surreal nightmare featured at this must-visit attraction. As we generally focus on the quality of the attractions themselves, it is hard press NOT to be overwhelmed by the entire “experience” built at the attraction this season, creating an event that allows guests to experience the horror, the fear in all its horrific fullness. A next-level show by any measurable sense of imagination, Pennhurst Asylum is at its apex of show quality. We hope they continue adding scenes and open areas to the “haunt” that are structurally stable and continue down the path of being a serious, intense, horror-focused event.

Pennhurst Asylum 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. It 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. Big Budget, NEXT LEVEL scene, set, and interactive props/animatronics bring horrific scenes that can only exist in one’s nightmares, and the performers themselves also work tirelessly to breathe life into unique personalities that lurk in 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 dimension and nightmarish reality to the fantastic set designs that serve as their twisted playground. They fit their “scene” and 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 combine to make an unforgettable, horrific nightmare that is alive and real. At times, mentally exhausting, Pennhurst is blunt; it is designed to scare and torment the psyche of each visitor, and it is structurally/environmentally enhanced on practically every single level, exceeding all expectations.

Attractions

Catacombs (VIP ONLY)

Catacombs is a VIP-only attraction that is a redesigned area once used in the former “Tunnels” attraction at Pennhurst. A fast-moving but lengthy excursion, the underground theme, with ominous evil “monks” and creatures leading to a rather macabre Satanic-inspired worship scene, adds a nice bonus for those purchasing the upgraded experience. Not many customers seemed to think this was an attraction at first, and the attendant was not managing any type of line or pacing (just ripping tickets and allowing in). However, once inside, we could pace ourselves and become more “lost” in the underground theme.

Pennhurst Asylum (Admin Building)

The first core attraction, the Pennhurst Asylum, has undergone extensive upgrades and changes throughout the entire facility, with practically no room or hallway left, the same as in prior seasons. Already boasting some of the most intense, gruesome, and larger-than-life props, scenes, and animatronics, EXTENSIVE investment has been upgraded into more freakish scenes…  you will not only see gruesome scenes of medical torture but also scenes that bring to life surgical experimentations that are augmented by these sick props and animatronics that are almost ALIVE, eating the flesh of helpless patients, some that are simply massive in scope and creating such a horror movie-like experience that never becomes too over-the-top.

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 /sci-fi torture housed within the infamous abandoned facility. 1950’s 1950s-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 impact one’s psyche. Animatronics and props distract from the actors who will taunt you, make you uncomfortable, and try to do everything to disturb and creep out each guest.

Once again, the actors are phenomenal; doctors, patients, and other inhabitants assault each guest in a dizzying experience. Pennhurst Asylum is no longer “silly” by any means; comedy has been replaced by scenes of violent horror; there is such an effective use of blinding light, sounds, and misdirection it is almost impossible to know what is next, and visual mapping that creates “ghost” scenes in throughout the corridors. As the entire comes to an exciting conclusion, we are left floored by the monstrosity, a biological nightmare of a ” freakish mutated spider” like creature busting out of a containment unit to feast on those trying to escape. A technological, scenic masterpiece of fear, the Pennhurst Asylum has undergone an entire renovation; with scenes that are so impressive we were shocked. As usual, we only wish this entire experience was longer!

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 who 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.”

The Tunnels

The final core attraction at Pennhurst is the infamous “Tunnels” attraction. Another major overhaul has taken place with this attraction, turning the attraction into its most terrifying form yet. While some of the more sci-fi, mutation-based elements remain, extensive effort has been undertaken to maximize the “psychological” horror aspect of the tunnels, using creepy visualities, bodies wrapped in sheets, a sense of evil worship, and darkened corridors blacked out by moments of pitch black, fog and light that hide the horrific inhabitants that lurk in this realm.

The Tunnels attraction is terrifying and filled with surprises. It is a sensory-based experience that removes other “lighter” themes, such as caverns or swamp creatures from prior seasons. Simple is sometimes even more effective in this system of horror; for example, as candle lights illuminate the ominous hallways, periods of bleak darkness, fog, and disorientating bangs/sounds, etc., allow for the actors (generally deranged and aggressive “insane” patients) aggressively appear out of thin air. The Tunnels builds paranoia; we never expected to see such dark imagery and violent characters in an attraction that generally felt somewhat fantastical in prior years. After years of wishing it would happen, the Tunnels are genuinely terrifying and cap off, leading to a haunting/chilling view of lights and the awe-inspiring “pumpkin forest/midway.”

At the end of the attraction is a brand new “pumpkin forest” walk-through with some of the most expensive, talking/moving animatronic pumpkins lit up hauntingly amongst the backdrop of the Pennhurst Asylum buildings. The amount of money and design effort placed into this extensive end-of-show walk-through is staggering. It leaves guests with a lasting memory of this mesmerizing yet terrifying property.

Final Word

One of the country’s most terrifying haunted attractions, the intense fear and constant barrage of horror unleashed at Pennhurst cannot be understated. Each attraction’s level of detail and quality has risen to a fever pitch, its finest level of excellence in this famous must-see scare park set upon the grounds of the infamous former state school. 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 attraction, 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, 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; in those cases, “less is more” in 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!

Website: https://www.pennhurstasylum.com

Address250 Commonwealth Dr, Spring City, PA 19475

Credit: Matt Herzog and Rogues Hollow Productions