Tag: Pennhurst Asylum



Few things divide haunted house fans like whether or not they want to be touched by the horrifying characters lurking within. Here is our list of haunts that push the limit by invading your personal space and literally wrap their icy fingers around you.    

Note: This feature is updated frequently. Please email contact@ravenblackcat.com regarding any information that is no longer accurate or to add a haunted attraction.


Our list ranges in intensity from the most extreme (haunts that grab you violently, lift you off your feet, grab you by the throat, have sexual undertones or touch you with electricity, ect.) to a subtle and spookier use of an unexpected soft touch or touch with an object. 

New York, New York

18+, Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Must Enter Alone, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word.


Las Vegas, Nevada

Gates of Hell Attraction: 17+, Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Uses Electricity, Must Sign a Waiver, Rated-R. There is a safe word.


Pataskala, Ohio

Extreme, Violent, Sexual Undertones, Parental Advisory Explicit Content


North Conway, New Hampshire

18+, Extreme, Violent, Must Enter Alone, Encounter Live Animals, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word. NOTE: The Cult will not return for 2013. **Fingers Crossed For 2014**


Suffolk County, New York

Completely New Every Year, 16+, Violent, Must Sign a Waiver. There is a safe word.


New York, New York

Violent, Being Touched is Optional, Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 10 will be admitted.


Spring City, Pennsylvania

No age requirements are specified.


Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

No age requirements are specified.


Mountville, Pennsylvania

Not recommended for children under 10 years old.


Mishawaka, Indiana

Use of light touch. No age requirements are specified.


Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

Use of light touch, No age requirements are specified.


Jefferson, Louisiana

No age requirements are specified.


Taylorsville, Utah

Optional 18+ Hands-On-Horror and X-Scream Upgrades, Must Sign a Waiver.


Newnan, Georgia

Optional 13 XTREME Attraction, 18+ and Must Sign a Waiver.


Abington, Massachusetts

For 2 Nights Only, Barrett’s Haunted Mansion turns off the lights and allows their ghouls to touch you. There is a safe word. Not recommended for children under 7.


Cedar Rapids, Iowa

On Specific Nights: 18+, Must Enter Alone, Must Sign a Waiver.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For The First Time Ever: Being Touched is an Option, Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No children under 7 will be admitted.


San Diego, California

18+, Extreme, 2-3 Hour Experience, Must Sign a Waiver.


Etna, Pennsylvania

18+, Enter 1 or 2 at a time, Sexual and Violent Situations, Must Sign a Waiver.


Los Angeles, California

17+, Interactive Horror Theatre, Must Sign a Waiver.


Los Angeles, California

18+, Secret Location, Psychologically Spine-tingling Experience, Must Go Through Alone, Must Sign a Waiver.



Pennhurst Paranormal Association
Church Street & Bridge Road
Spring City, PA

Have you ever watched a marathon of ‘Ghost Hunters’  or ‘Ghost Adventures’ and wondered what it would be like to venture into an abandoned historic building filled with the tortured souls of the deceased?

Well, now you can. Pennhurst Paranormal Association is offering both Private and Public Investigations of the Mayflower Building, one of the oldest buildings on the Pennhurst State School campus. When it was built in 1908, the school was known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. It was designed to separate developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals from traditional society.

Unfortunately, there were no guidelines for admittance; in addition to diagnosed patients, the School was also home to the criminally insane, unwed pregnant teens, wards of the state and disobedient children. The expansive 1,400-acre estate wasn’t intended to be a dumping ground for anyone deemed undesirable to society, and within two years of opening there were reports of overcrowding and understaffing. Despite the grandiose exterior, children spent years in cribs, conditions were unsanitary and unsafe, physical and sexual abuse ran rampant and many patients died within its walls.

Pennhurst Paranormal Association gives you the opportunity to connect with some of the spirits that still roam the abandoned campus. 

Pennhurst State School circa 1934

Pennhurst State School circa 1934

It’s 9pm, as we slowly make our way down a bumpy, unpaved road.  Thanks to the full moon we can see Pennhurst Asylum looming in the distance. I can’t help but wonder what the hell we’re getting ourselves into and if it’s a good idea to spend the night in such a terrifying place. As we pull up, we’re greeted by Mara, a member of Pennhurst Paranomal Association…who also happens to be a medium. We sign a waiver and go over the rules for the night: No Provoking, No Séance or Ouiji Boards and No Alcohol. That’s it? Then Mara takes us on a tour of the building. She points out particularly active rooms and tells us about what she’s experienced at Pennhurst — whispers, footsteps, objects being thrown and people being pushed down stairs. You don’t need to hear her spooky stories to know that something is looming within the walls of the Mayflower building. When you look past the peeling paint and graffiti, remnants of daily life in the Asylum are a chilling reminder of the horror that happened at Pennhurst – adult sized cribs, rubber furniture with restraints, communal showers and windowless classrooms.

Before our imaginations get too carried away, John and Katie from South Jersey Soul Searchers take over the group. John is the founder of SJSS and hosts the Dead Air Paranormal radio show.  Katie is SJSS’s case manager and lead investigator. They introduce us to a slew of technological gadgets to assist us – electro magnetic frequency meters, the ovilus ghost box, thermal gun, laser scope, and a plasma globe. Since many of the spirits are children or child-like, they also bring candy and toys to entice activity. Night vision video cameras and audio recorders are used to document the investigation, later they’ll review them to see if we can catch an Electronic Voice Phenomenon. EVP recordings are the holy grail of ghost hunting and actual proof that spirits are trying to communicate with the living. We grab a video camera and head out to explore the epically creepy building. Pennhurst’s Paranormal investigations allow you the freedom to choose your own experience. If you’re a veteran hunter or just crazy enough to want to wander alone, you’re welcome to. If a guided experience is more your style, you can spend the entire 6 hours with John and Katie. We chose to do a little of both.

So, did we meet any Ghosts?

We’re not sure. We’re new in the paranormal circuit and it’s definitely something we’d like to continue exploring. We didn’t see any apparitions or feel anything touch us, but we experienced some interesting moments throughout the night:

When we were in the back stairwell, the ripped window screen shook when we asked the spirits to play with us. We thought it could be a fluke, so we asked for a repeat and the spirit gladly obliged, two more times.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s2nBAKXFQE?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=640&h=480]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvInq6GvywM?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=640&h=480]

We also had a fascinating experience with a ball on the 3rd floor. Once again, we asked if anyone wanted to play. At times, it seemed as though the ball was rolled right out of my grip and later, I could feel the ball pushing into my hand. It was surreal.

There was a closet door on the 3rd floor that seemed to be locked shut. John had each of us take turns trying to open the door. One by one, we knocked on the door, asked to be let in and tried to open it. As I pulled on the handle, I could feel the door start to open, suddenly it was violently pulled back to shut. Other members of the group had a similar experience and there was some banging that seemed to come from within the closet.

So… that was really creepy and weird, but the Jaded New Yorker in me has to ask:

Could there have been three strong gusts of wind moving the ripped window screen? Was the ball some kind of trick? Was there someone actually locked in the closet?

I could create a hundred excuses, but my gut tells me, No.

Pennhurst Paranormal Association separates itself from the Halloween haunted attraction. The owners have dreams of restoring all the historic buildings and educating the public about the atrocities that occurred there.

All I know is that we’re dying to go back. We had a blast exploring the equipment and techniques used to connect with the other realm. We’d also love to have a historic walking tour of the property and explore the other buildings—especially the tunnels. I know it sounds crazy, but 6 hours definitely isn’t enough.  

The Pennhurst Paranormal Association offers both private and public paranormal tours and investigations from March through August. Tickets are $125 each for the public investigations and $1,000 for private investigations with up to 20 guests.  

 If you’d like to learn more about the dark history of the Pennhurst State School, watch “Suffer The Little Children,” the 1968 NBC10 Expose on Pennhurst State School (below) or Read the Autobiography of Former Patient, Roland Johnson.

Additional Information

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG33HvIKOgQ?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=640&h=480]


In October, we reviewed the Pennhurst Asylum Haunted Attraction, but tomorrow we return to Spring City, PA to experience Pennhurst Paranormal. A 6-hour Paranormal Investigation of the Mayflower Dormitory Building on the abandoned campus of the Pennhurst State School & Hospital .

The Pennhurst Paranormal Association offers both private and public paranormal tours and investigations. Tickets are $125 each for the public investigations and $1,000 for private investigations. Care to join us tomorrow? Buy Tickets Now

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter from 9 PM – 3 AM EST to Live Chat and Receive Photo Updates during our 6-hour Paranormal Investigation.

Additional Information

  • Official Website
  • Pennhurst Paranormal Facebook Page
  • Twitter 
  • Pennhurst Asylum Haunted Attraction
  • 2012 Pennhurst Asylum Review

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    Pennhurst Asylum
    Church Street & Bridge Road
    Spring City, PA


    Nestled in the woods beside Spring City, Pennsylvania lies the remains of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital (originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.) The massive compound for the mentally and physically disabled was built in 1908. It was completely self-sufficient with its own power supply, dairy, green houses, fire department, movie theatre, and underground tunnel system. At the turn of the last century, it was thought best to segregate disabled individuals from the rest of society, but a 1968 exposé uncovered that over-crowding and under-funding had led to conditions that were unsanitary, inhumane, and dangerous. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found institutionalisation to be unconstitutional (Halderman vs Pennhurst State School) and Pennhurst was abandoned in 1987.

    The buildings and everything within them were left to rot for the next 23 years. Pennhurst became popular with trespassers (particularly those with an interest in “urban” exploring and vandalism) until it was reopened as the haunted attraction Pennhurst Asylum in 2010 by hauntsmith Randy Bates (The Bates Motel.)

    Our Visit

    We arrived in Spring City, PA late on Saturday night. The Victorian architecture of the town is lovely, but under the mask of darkness it takes on a very different aesthetic. 

    We arrived at the address listed on the Pennhurst Asylum website and were directed to park in a field. Reaching Pennhurst requires a 10 min walk through the woods. Go ahead and read that last sentence again and really let it sink in.

    The buildings rise out of the woods and you are instantly transported to the early 1900s. Pennhurst Asylum  is straight out of your worst nightmare. The haunt is made up of 4 separate attractions: ‘Pennhurst Asylum’ in the old Administration Building, ‘The Dungeon of Lost Souls’ explores the basement of the Administration building, ‘Ghost Hunt’ is a self-guided flashlight tour through two floors of the abandoned untouched remains of the Mayflower Dormitory, and ‘The Tunnel Terror’ a walk-through haunt located in a 900-foot section of Pennhurst’s underground tunnel system. There is  a centrally located ‘picnic’ area with food and refreshments if you need to take a break.  

    Is It Scary?

    According to their Facebook Page: It was “Voted the Scariest Real Haunt in America for 2012!”

    The Raven & Black Cat says:  We agree! Fear is subjective, but the remains of the Pennhurst State School would be terrifying on its own. Pennhurst Asylum is a top-notch haunted attraction that can be placed in two very exclusive categories:  A Real Haunted Location & The Actors Can Touch You. 

    Here’s A Tip

    Visit Pennhurst on a Thursday or Sunday, or spring for the VIP Pass to cut the lines. Without timed admission, you could be looking at some outrageously long lines. 

    What We Loved

    Wow. There is a LOT to love here. The attraction entitled ‘Pennhurst Asylum’ is housed in the old Administration Building. You walk through the actual rooms of the historic building and greet deliriously dark staff and human experiments of the mad Dr. Chakajian. (A fictional legend, in which a mad Austrian Doctor houses his human experiments in abandoned Pennhurst buildings, was created in order to be sensitive to the history of Pennhurst.)  Many of the rooms contain equipment and artifacts that were abandoned in the buildings in 1986.  Animatronics and clever special effects are employed to  distract you while actors grab at your ankles. The element of soft touching is very effective. It is quite unsettling to have your personal space invaded in a traditional walk-through style haunt. One girl even tried to stick her fingers in my ears!

    The ‘Ghost Hunt’ Attraction is what we wanted to do from the moment we set foot on the Pennhurst campus. The Mayflower Building was featured on ‘Ghost Hunters‘ and ‘Ghost Adventures‘ and was found to be a hot spot for paranormal activity. It is outrageously creepy. The walls are covered in graffiti from the vandalism years. The odd messages commingle with remnants of dormitory life in a state institution like an abandoned metal walker still labeled with a patient’s name and ward number. The energy of the building is heavy with human suffering and I honestly believe I would be in tears if I had to sit in there for an hour by myself. It is that scary.  

    What Could Be Better

    ‘The Tunnel Terror’ is another fabulously inventive attraction with gorgeous elaborate sets. The lagoon section, in particular, is amazing, but I couldn’t help but wish that I could see the walls of the historic underground tunnel system. Perhaps by accident, we caught a glimpse of the original tunnel through an open door that was propped open by a chair. The tunnel is something I could not dream up. It is real life horror complete with secret passageways. A fifth attraction walking through a portion of the original tunnel would be an incredibly scary experience.

    The attractions of Pennhurst Asylum are so detailed and effective that we were surprised that they didn’t capitalize on the opportunity for a large and definitive ending for any of them. Instead of building towards a memorable last scene, all of the attractions end very abruptly. Creating a unique and memorable way to exit each attraction would be the perfect finishing touch to what is otherwise a flawless, fun, and frightening experience. 

    Final Thoughts

    Pennhurst Asylum is a must-see. It is a chilling and effective haunted attraction masterfully combined with the horror of human history.  

    Pennhurst Asylum Runs

    September 21st – November 4th

    Ticket Information

    • Pennhurst Asylum: $15.00  
    • Dungeon of Lost Souls: $15.00
    • Ghost Hunt: $15.00
    • Tunnel of Terror: $15.00
    • Combo Pass (All 4 Events): $40.00  
    • VIP (very important patient) PASS: $75.00


    •  $5 OFF All Tickets (Promo Code: ghost ) – CLICK HERE!
    • 13Haunts Coupon: $5 Off Combo Ticket (Thurs. + Sun.)  – CLICK HERE! 

    Age Requirements

    No age requirements are specified.

    Additional Information

    Then (1922)

    Then (1922)

    Now (Google Maps)

    Now (Google Maps)

    Pennhurst Haunted House