The Haunted Hotel at 3000 S Fourth St has been in the scare business for 23 years but has new creators this year. According to their web site, it is the longest running haunted attraction in the state of Kentucky and one of the longest running attractions in the country.
The Haunted Hotel was a lot of fun to go through. Before entering, they take a photo of you and post it to their Facebook page; they don't really ask permission. You might want to duck behind a friend if you hate to be photographed. When the door slides open, you see the front desk. The bellhop welcomes you, grabbing your face and doing his best to creep you out. I wish he would have been a little more considerate of my glasses, but he really unnerved my friend. He then shoves you onto an elevator, which is the best part of this haunt. Everyone in my group agreed that the elevator was their favorite. The elevator has a strange little creature in it that you are in a close space with. The elevator dings and seems to be going upward in a rickety fashion as a strobe light makes it surprising that this guy ends up above you and then next to you in several strange positions before the elevator fails and comes crashing down.
After the elevator, you're pushed through a variety of scenes with startles behind every corner. Compared to other haunts, I'd say that Haunted Hotel is more prop heavy with less staff. There were a lot of hydraulic props. Many of the scenes were disturbing, and I could see that the space would be a hotel full of demented guests. I also think there was a lot of stuff "thrown in" for the sake of it that did not fit the theme. Although startling, I didn't think a semi-truck prop that turns it's lights on and honks as you come around a corner fit being inside a hotel nor did the alligator at the bottom of one set of stairs, although I guess an alligator in a hotel makes more sense than a truck. However, these props did their job of startling passerbys. Maybe the truck was coming through a window directly at the building. We were moving through the haunt pretty quickly.
The rotating meat hooks were pretty awesome, and the actors all did a great job at being extremely creepy. The dancing nazi was pretty disturbing, especially when he starts shooting at you. He was probably my favorite character. Throughout the haunt, there was a huge amount of varying musics, chants, etc. The songs changed to fit the scenes and added to the feeling that perhaps this haunt throws in too much to really fit a central theme. It makes the experience a little all over the place but doesn't take away from the fun.
Another moment of confusion for me with the overall theme was the maze outdoors that leads you out of the haunt. It's got a carnival theme but then leads you through an ambulance. You literally climb in the side of the ambulance and out the back. I think the ambulance was a missed opportunity to have someone pop out of the drivers seat once you are in the back to chase you out of it and through the maze. Dolls are tacked up to the walls here and there, but that part felt kind of unfinished or sparse. There could have been a lot more ambient work/lighting in the maze. There was also a spinning tunnel to walk through, which just seemed like it was there because it was cool rather than being part of the theme. The maze kind of seemed thrown together to extend the walk-through time and work in a few more cool ideas or props.
A word of warning for parents. The "F-bomb" was yelled several times during the walk-through by actors and there were some very graphic scenes. I'm not sure that parents taking young children to haunted houses are concerned with censorship, but just wanted to put it out there.
Don't let me theatrical snobbery stop you from enjoying this haunt. People who work behind the scenes often notice things others don't. Overall, the 20 -25 minute haunt was disturbing, fun, had some good startles and was appropriately priced for the area at $18 a ticket. It is longer than some other haunts with similar pricing. The hotel is definitely a hellish night that would make baby Jesus squirm, and there are plenty of chain saws to keep you squirming while you wait in line. You can bypass the wait with a $27 speedpass. They're open Thursdays and Sundays in October from 8 p.m. to midnight and Fridays/Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Another perk: they've got killer t-shirts for just $8 that any horror fan would love. (Parking is across the street next to a real hostel.)
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