Are you looking for a thrilling and chilling experience this Halloween season? If so, you might want to visit Pennhurst Asylum, Pennsylvania, one of the most haunted places in America. Pennhurst Asylum is not your typical haunted attraction. It is a real former asylum that housed thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for almost 80 years.
Many of them suffered from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment at the hands of the staff and the system. Today, you can explore the asylum’s grounds and buildings, and witness the haunting tales and spooky attractions that await you. We will give you an overview of the history, the hauntings, the tours, and the attractions of Pennhurst Asylum, as well as some tips for planning your visit.
History of Pennhurst Asylum
Pennhurst Asylum was originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. It was authorized by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1903 and opened in 1908. It was designed to house and care for people with physical and mental disabilities, who were considered unfit for society and a menace to the peace.
The asylum also admitted immigrants, orphans, and criminals, as it became a dumping ground for anyone deemed undesirable.
The asylum was divided into two departments: the educational and industrial department, and the custodial and asylum department. The residents were classified based on their physical, mental, and dental conditions. They were also assigned jobs such as farming, laundry, sewing, or shoemaking. The asylum functioned as a self-contained city, with its power plant, water supply, fire station, hospital, and cemetery.
However, the asylum soon became overcrowded and understaffed. The residents were subjected to harsh and inhumane treatment methods, such as electroshock therapy, lobotomy, sterilization, isolation, restraint, and experimentation. They also faced physical, mental, and sexual abuse from the staff and other residents. The living conditions were deplorable, with poor hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, and medical care. Many residents died from disease, injury, or neglect.
The public was largely unaware of the horrors that took place at Pennhurst until 1968 when a TV reporter exposed the asylum’s atrocities in a series called “Suffer the Little Children“. The report sparked outrage and activism among the public and the disability rights movement.
In 1974, a former resident filed a lawsuit against Pennhurst for violating the constitutional rights of its residents. The lawsuit resulted in a landmark court decision that ordered Pennhurst to close and relocate its residents to community-based settings. The closure process took 13 years, and Pennhurst finally shut down in 1987.
Haunting Tales of Pennhurst
After Pennhurst closed its doors, it was abandoned and left to decay. Many of its buildings were vandalized and looted. However, some people believe that Pennhurst is not empty.
They claim that the spirits of the former residents still haunt the asylum’s halls and rooms. Some visitors report hearing voices, screams, moans, laughter, or crying from unseen sources.
Others claim to see apparitions, shadows, orbs, or mists in various locations. Some even experience physical sensations such as cold spots, touches, scratches, or pushes. Some of the most haunted places at Pennhurst are:
Mayflower Hall: This was one of the first buildings constructed at Pennhurst, and it housed some of the most severely disabled residents. It is said to be haunted by a ghost named Emily, who was a young girl who died there.
She likes to play with toys, and sometimes moves them around or makes them light up. She also likes to interact with visitors, especially children.
Quaker Hall: This was another original building at Pennhurst, and it housed some of the most violent and aggressive residents. It is said to be haunted by a ghost named Roy, who was a tall man who suffered from gigantism. He was often bullied by other residents and sometimes fought back. He died from a heart attack at age 52.
Roy likes to show himself to visitors, especially women. Some people have seen his shadow or silhouette in various rooms. He also likes to make loud noises, such as banging doors or throwing objects.
Devon Hall: This was one of the largest buildings at Pennhurst, and it housed some of the male residents. It is said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a boy named Billy, who was electrocuted by a faulty wire in his room. He likes to turn lights on and off and sometimes flickers them in Morse code. He also likes to play with balls or marbles, and sometimes rolls them across the floor or down the stairs.
Another ghost is a man named Walter, who was a former staff member who committed suicide by hanging himself in the basement. He likes to make his presence known by whispering, breathing, or growling in visitors’ ears. He also likes to tug on their clothes or hair or push them away from his spot.
The Tunnels: The tunnels at Pennhurst were used to connect the buildings and move people or things. Some ghosts haunt the tunnels, such as Elizabeth and George.
Elizabeth was killed by another resident and she screams or attacks visitors in her tunnel. She also leaves blood marks on the walls or floor.
George was a worker who died of a heart attack and he fixes or moves things in the tunnels. He also talks to visitors and writes on the walls or boards.
Exclusive Tours at Pennhurst
One of the exclusive tours offered by the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance (PMPA) allows you to learn more about the history and the hauntings of Pennhurst Asylum if you are interested.
The PMPA is a non-profit organization that aims to preserve and restore the asylum’s buildings and grounds, as well as educate the public about its past and present. The PMPA offers two types of tours:
Historical Daytime Tours:
These are guided tours that take you around the asylum’s campus and show you the exteriors of 16 buildings. You will hear stories about the asylum’s history, its residents, its staff, and its role in the disability rights movement.
Also, see some of the artifacts that have been collected and preserved by the PMPA, such as documents, photographs, furniture, equipment, and personal items. You will also hear from former Pennhurst employees who share their experiences and insights.
These tours take about three hours, and they are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $25 per person, and tickets can be purchased online or at the gate.
Paranormal Nighttime Tours:
These are investigative tours that take you inside some of the asylum’s most haunted buildings and locations. You will have access to four floors of Mayflower Hall, as well as the underground tunnels of Philadelphia, Devon, and Rockwell.
You will be accompanied by a Pennhurst paranormal expert who will answer your questions and help you use various equipment to detect and communicate with spirits. Bring your equipment or use the ones provided by Pennhurst.
These tours start at 7 p.m. and end at 2 a.m., and they are available on select nights throughout the year. The cost is $99 per person, and tickets can be purchased online only.
Spooky Attractions at Pennhurst
If you are looking for a more thrilling and chilling experience at Pennhurst Asylum, you can visit one of the spooky attractions within the asylum grounds. These are haunted houses that feature actors, props, effects, and scares that will test your nerves and senses. These attractions are:
Pennhurst Asylum: This is the main attraction that takes you inside the original administration building of the asylum. You will encounter some of the most notorious residents and staff members who still haunt the place.
You will also witness some of the horrific treatment methods and experiments that were performed on them. This attraction is not for the faint of heart, as it features intense scenes of violence, gore, and terror.
The Morgue: This is a new attraction that takes you inside the former hospital building of the asylum. You will see where some of the residents died or were disposed of. You will also see some of the medical equipment and instruments that were used on them. This attraction is not for the squeamish, as it features graphic scenes of blood, guts, and body parts.
Containment (Tunnels): This is another new attraction that takes you inside some of the underground tunnels of the asylum. You will see where some of the residents were locked up or escaped from.
You will also see some of the creatures and monsters that lurk in the dark. This attraction is not for the claustrophobic, as it features tight spaces, low ceilings, and dim lights.
Catacombs: This is an exclusive attraction that is only available for VIP guests who purchase a VIP pass. This pass grants you access to all four attractions, plus front-of-the-line privileges. The Catacombs attraction takes you inside some of the oldest buildings of the asylum, such as Quaker Hall and Devon Hall.
You will see where some of the first residents lived and died. You will also see some of the secrets and mysteries that are hidden in the walls. This attraction is not for the curious, as it features surprises and scares that will make you scream. This attraction is not for the faint of heart, as it features extreme scenes of horror, fear, and terror.
Visitor Guide and Tips to Visit Pennhurst Asylum
To plan your visit to Pennhurst Asylum, here are some practical information and tips that you should know:
Spooky attractions are open on select nights from September to November. You can check the schedule and buy tickets online. The tickets range from $20 to $78, depending on the type and date of your visit. You can also buy tickets at the gate, but they are subject to availability and may cost more.
The exclusive tours are available on select dates throughout the year. You can check the availability and book your tour online [here]. The tours are limited to a small number of guests, so it is recommended to book in advance. You can also join a waiting list if the tour is sold out.
Asylum is located at 100 Commonwealth Drive, Spring City, PA 19475. You can get there by car or by public transportation. There is free parking available on site.
The asylum has some rules and regulations that you must follow for your safety and enjoyment. Some of them are no smoking, no alcohol, no weapons, no flashlights, no photography or video recording, no touching the actors or props, no running or pushing, and no refunds or exchanges.
It’s not recommended for children under 13 years old, pregnant women, people with heart conditions, or people who are easily scared or offended. The attractions and tours are designed to be scary and intense, and they may contain graphic images, loud noises, strobe lights, fog machines, and other effects. You enter at your own risk, and you must sign a waiver before entering.
To make the most of your visit, you should wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are suitable for walking and standing. You should also bring a jacket or sweater, as it may get cold inside the buildings or outside at night. You should also bring some cash or credit cards for food and souvenirs.
To enhance your experience, you should immerse yourself in the atmosphere and story of Pennhurst Asylum. You should also interact with the actors and staff, who will entertain and scare you along the way. You should also respect the history and legacy of Pennhurst Asylum, and remember that it was once a real place where real people lived and died.
Pennhurst Asylum is a haunted attraction with a dark history that will give you an unforgettable experience. You can explore the asylum’s grounds and buildings, and witness the haunting tales and spooky attractions that await you. You can also learn more about the asylum’s history and hauntings by joining one of the exclusive tours offered by the PMPA. Pennhurst Asylum is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves horror and history. Plan your visit today and prepare to be scared at Pennhurst Asylum.
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