Friday, September 18th marked our third visit to The Haunted Hotel in downtown Louisville. This haunt has earned a reputation as one of the more intense attractions around with their hands-on, high-intensity scares and by the adult nature of the show. We can attest that this reputation is well earned as the Hotel was awarded BodyBags "Scariest Haunt" Award in 2018 and is continually ranked at or near the top of several other review sites that visit the Hotel each frequently.
HH is housed in an old historic multi-level building that looks rather menacing with its old brick exterior and blood-red lighting. The ticket booth is located on the right side of the building near the exit towards the back. Out front is where you'll find the outdoor queue line, which is usually quite full of patrons as it was on the night of our most recent visit, this is quite a popular place. The best thing about waiting in line is the cast of roaming actors that are some of the best that we have encountered before, although we didn’t get a chance to interact with them much on this particular night.
The costuming/makeup has a distinct look that makes it HH’s own unique brand. The majority of the characters have a dirty, grimy, and absolutely filthy appearance as if they hadn’t had access to a shower for months. Our favorite aspect of the costuming and makeup here is that all characters look quite realistic which really adds to the intensity of the show.
The hotel has had a strong cast each time we visit and this year was no exception. Our favorite actors were those that we had an extended dialogue with such as the guy who told us that the “pool was closed”, the man in the bathroom, and the sisters who said they ‘couldn’t touch us but they could mind f***k us”. Our favorite performance of the night, however, didn’t have any actual dialogue! The actor of the night for us was the sobbing woman during the first ⅓ of our walkthrough. She stole the show with her cries of utter despair, which were honestly the best cries we’ve ever heard in a haunt before. It sounded so real and so painful that my review partner and I are still talking about it. I also have to give a shout out to the chainsaw guy who made me eat my words when he started his chainsaw with precision as soon as I said “hah, bet you can’t get the chainsaw going”. Also of note just about every actor we encountered either entertained us, scared us or made us laugh. We found the cast to be funnier as a whole than during previous visits.
Group spacing was excellent; we didn’t see or hear any other groups during our tour. The hotel has a cool layout that is loaded with unique environmental features like moving floors and walls which made our journey a lot of fun. We also always enjoy ascending the beautifully lit staircase to the second floor, which adds a sense of realism that you are indeed walking through an old decrepit hotel. We also like to note that unlike a lot of places we visit, there was virtually no
sound bleed from scene to scene which is quite an accomplishment considering the fact that in several rooms there is a metal soundtrack that is cranked up to high levels.
Bang For Your Buck
General admission is $25, but we highly recommend a “fast pass” or “front of the line” ticket on busy nights ($40 & $60 respectively) as waiting in line can extend into 3 hrs plus range at this very popular haunt. Our total tour time was 15 minutes, which gives us a Minutes Per Dollar Spent score of .60.
Special Effects / Visual
The best compliment that we can give about the set design of the HH is that everything we saw looked real and authentic. The rooms were nicely detailed and expertly distressed to give it that authentic old decrepit look. While there are some impressive animatronic terrors lurking inside the hotel, our favorite effects were the lighting and sound effects. The lighting is absolutely spot on making everything in the room’s standout just enough without looking unnatural. The hotel’s metal soundtrack fit perfectly with the vibe of the show and the sound effects were quite realistic. There are also several really cool environmental SFX like moving walls/floors, a room that shifts, and an elevator ride straight to hell.
Was It Scary?
As mentioned earlier HH has made many Scariest Haunts lists, including our own in 2018, for a reason...yes it is indeed scary. Scares were equally dispersed by the actors, and by the environment via SFX. We did get startled quite a few times from both.
HH definitely has its own distinct brand of haunt. They aren’t like any other haunted attraction we’ve been too personally, and there’s a lot of originality to the show as we have already mentioned in several other categories.
Did I Feel Safe?
Yes. All staff, cast members, and customers wore face coverings, groups were spaced out inside for social distancing, and the hotel crew was busy sanitizing common touchpoints. Normally a “touch haunt”, this year the actors kept their hands to themselves for safety reasons.
After visiting the Haunted Hotel a third time we can say with the utmost certainty that this is a haunt that we are likely to recommend with each visit. It’s a highly original show with a talented cast, excellent set design, great scares, and a very high fun factor!