LESTER HAUNTED HOSPITAL
Our next stop on our 2021 Haunt Tour brought us to North Alabama and Lester’s Haunted Hospital in Lester Alabama. Lester Haunted Hospital is located way off the beaten path, in what was formerly the county hospital in Limestone County and later a drug rehab center. We learned that many people were brought down specifically from Memphis, TN to this facility while it was a drug rehab center. One of the owners who we met has a very personal connection to the old hospital as his grandmother worked there during its time as a hospital. Fun fact, we learned even more about this hospital from Star’s father who was in medical sales and sold directly to Lester Hospital. We honestly believe some of the old hospital equipment that is still there could be items her dad sold to them. Lester Haunted Hospital is a local charity haunt, supporting the local schools and staffed by members of the football team and other local extra-curricular activities.
Arriving at Lester Haunted Hospital is a bit odd; you park near the exit of the haunt. Way ahead you will see a small ticket booth. You approach the booth and purchase tickets and are instructed to walk around the building to the back fenced area. Once you make your way to the backside, you will find the que area. This area we learned was the area where ambulances brought patients into the hospital. There was a small concession area and music playing over a PA system. Several actors stalked those waiting in line, getting very quality scares. While no outside activities are offered, guests did not seem to mind and were engaged with the outside actors who were happy to take photos with folks after giving them a proper scare.
With a limited budget, visuals at Lester are still very appealing. Props are predominately old medical equipment within the haunt. There isn’t much use of color or wild lighting, on the contrary this haunt uses the absence of light to their spooky advantage. Why spend resources on flashy aesthetics when you can deliver a darkness, both figuratively and literally? A dark haunt also ensures a longer experience, which we liked. You will experience the usual blood and gore, but the disheveled medical equipment combined with the actors is all the visual you need in order to be properly scared.
This haunt presented us with a concept we have not experienced before, a guided Haunt Tour. We had our own personal plague doctor who escorted our group throughout the haunt. Every group apparently gets their own guide, so each experience is a little different. This works in many ways.
1) keeps the haunt moving so you do not end up with super groups
2) ensures that nobody accidentally walks into an unsafe area as you will pass backstage through several hallways between scenes
3) ensure that there are no dead areas. Some areas where you would expect dead areas the guide is able to trigger things and interact with you the guest
Be prepared to walk, duck, crawl, and squeeze your way through this haunt. There is never a dull moment.
One of the more unique scenes that caught our attention was a crawling area. You are separated from monsters by plexiglass “portals”. We learned the young actors working that scene were the children of many of the actors. The plexiglass portals gave good scares, while protecting the child actors. This is something that we found extremely engaging and very creative, unlike anything else we have ever seen in another haunt.
The actors at Lester Haunted Hospital put a lot of passion into their characters. You will see some common horror movie faces, but also a lot of original characters as well. The actors utilize the space within their scenes very well. You might see actors of all ages within this haunt, and no matter what their age the cast collectively brings an energy that leaves nothing to be further desired. Within the first moments of entering the hospital, performances are top notch. Special shout-out to “Limp Noodle” for his unforgettable performance, one of the best we’ve ever seen in a haunt. Also, very often within a haunt, exceptional improvisational skills can really make or break a scene. There were numerous moments when a witty back-and-forth between us & the actors made for highly entertaining moments. Actors were predominately vocal, however those that were not offered balance within the scene they were working. I was impressed with the quality of makeup application; however, masks were widely used among the actors.
Having been a bona fide hospital in the 20th century, the inherent originality is a given but how the cast and staff use their collective creativity is what catapults this particular haunt. It would be easy to count on the hospital to deliver scares and to go easy on the rest, but this team’s creativity takes their show above and beyond. The disheveled props and the actors bring the creativity alive in each scene within the haunt.
There isn’t terribly too much that is “lacking” with this haunt. What they do not have in resources (sponsorships, widespread advertising, etc.) they make up for with an energetic cast and a freaky abandoned hospital setting. We encourage any and all fans of Southeastern haunts to definitely give this haunt a go – consider it a proper referral
-REVIEWERS PERSONAL NOTES-
Danny’s notes: Lester Haunted Hospital is a very fun haunt and worth the trip. Do not expect high dollar animatronics here, instead, expect actors with a TON of passion for what they are doing giving you some impressive entertainment. Additionally, the owners and all members of staff were some of the nicest folks we have encountered in our time of doing this. If you have not been there, I recommend making a trip to see these guys. It’s worth spending a night in the general area as you have multiple haunts you can hit in the same night much like we did.
Star’s notes: Apparently, my father used to provide medical equipment to this very hospital back in the 1960s. I took photos of the exterior and showed them to him, and I could see the nostalgia in his eyes. Some of the props within the haunt could very well have been abandoned equipment that he himself sold to the hospital, which made me happy to think about while walking through the building. Also, the old “60s/70s mental asylum” sub-category of horror has always been one of my favorites. Being extraordinarily fascinated by the evolution of mental health care practices during the 20th century no doubt enhanced my fascination with this specific haunt. All-in-all, I had a blast & I adore this haunt!