BY CJ GIBSON
This Halloween, a new horror attraction has come to Hays: a haunted hotel.
This Haunted Hotel was brought together by Stephen Brummer, Ashley Green, Megan Pray, and Adam Pray.
Stephen Brummer has been working with haunted houses for the past 20 years.
Some of the organizations that have helped out with the Haunted Hotel have been the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Youth Organization (IHM CYO), the Hays Accessible Recreation Complex (ARC) Park, FHSU’s Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and FHSU’s Disc Golf Club.
Funds raised from Halloween night will help with the building of the ARC Park.
The Haunted Hotel is located at 1108 Main. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for youth ages 16 and under.
The Haunted Hotel has been open Thursday through Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to midnight for most of October. It will be open tonight and Halloween before closing until next October.
When it comes to COVID-19, the Haunted Hotel is taking precautions to make sure that visitors don’t have to be scared about getting sick.
“We’re trying to manage the restrictions and follow the Hays guidelines with requiring masks….The workers are all seeming to be feeling very healthy,” Brummer said. “We have a thermometer up there to check temperatures if we need to. Your experience through the haunted house lasts on average 10-12 minutes, so you’re moving through at a decent pace where you’re not really interacting with a lot of people.”
When asked what is different about the Haunted Hotel from his past works, Brummer said the decorations and props are a lot more extensive that what they have had in the past.
“Back when I first started, when we had our haunted house down at the armory, we got pretty creative,” he said. “We did some fun things, but one of the new things is the vortex tunnel in the maze, and some of these mechanical props that are making the scary noises are just great.”
A friend and I went through the Haunted Hotel this past weekend. Neither of us had ever been in a haunted house before, so it was a new experience for us.
Since the staff wasn’t ready at exactly 6:00 p.m., we could see a rally of volunteers beforehand that showed that a lot of work went into making each tour scary.
To psych us up, a performer told us a localized version of the Clutter family murders, a story that my friend was already familiar with from her knowledge of true crime.
A guide led us through several hotel areas until eventually abandoning us in a dark maze. The maze did require crouching to complete, and there was some doubt as to where the set broke off versus where we were supposed to go.
At the end of the maze, there is a spinning tunnel, which wasn’t so scary as it was a pretty cool sight to see.
Then, we met back up with our hotel guide, and she led us down into a basement area. By this point, my friend and I had learned to tune out most of what was happening around us. There was a lot of volunteer participation for such a short haunted house that the frequent jumpscares and stalkers eventually lost their fear factor. That being said, before I adjusted, I did jump a few times, and I was shaking for a bit after it was over.
For a first haunted house experience, the Haunted Hotel is a good choice, as a lot of work has clearly gone into its development, and the cost does help local organizations.
My advice: definitely don’t go alone.
“We’ve scared a lot of people over the last two weeks. It’s exciting to hear we’re getting people from various towns: Osborne, Hoxie, Colby, Russell, Victoria. They’re all coming out to do this, so I think we’re providing a fun activity, something for people to do and some entertainment during these rough times,” Brummer said. “You go through here, and you forget the crap that we have to deal with with COVID. You come out here and have fun and be scared and get in the Halloween spirit.”