Pennhurst Insane Asylum Haunted Attraction Review

The entrance to Pennhurst State School.
The entrance to Pennhurst State School. | Source
Mayflower Hall, which is said to have the most paranormal activity at Pennhurst.
Mayflower Hall, which is said to have the most paranormal activity at Pennhurst. | Source
Administration Building
Administration Building | Source
Industry Hall Building
Industry Hall Building | Source

History of Pennhurst State School

The Pennhurst Asylum was constructed in 1908. The original buildings were designed by architect Phillip H. Johnson. The property covered 120 acres of land and was capable of housing over 10,000 patients. It was first named Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic and then later was named Pennhurst State School. Half of the residents were committed by court order and the other half were brought in by a parent and/or guardian. The main purpose of Pennhurst was for care, treatment and education of the disabled.

Pennhurst was basically a self-sufficient community. It generated it's own power through an on site power plant and it also had an on site farm that grew most of the food supplied to the patients. The 1,400 acre site include a 300 bed hospital, a firehouse, general store, barber shop, movie theatre, auditorium and a greenhouse. The buildings of Pennhurst were named after towns in Pennsylvania. There was also a cemetery, baseball field, and other recreational fields on the property for the residents. Although many of the buildings were used strictly for storage the majority were dormitory and hospital-style living quarters for the residents. Many of these buildings were linked by underground tunnels that were used to transport handicapped residents to different areas of the property such as; dormitory, recreational areas, and the cafeteria.

Over the years Pennhurst was accused of the dehumanization of residents and was said to be of no help to the mentally challenged. It also had a long history of staff difficulties and it had a negative public image due to allegations of abuse. The allegations led to a lawsuit which was the first of this kind for the United States which stated that the mentally retarded have a constitutional right to living quarters and an education. The Pennhurst State School vs. Halderman lawsuit prompted a 32 day trial and an investigation of the property. It was deemed that the conditions were unsanitary, dangerous and inhumane, and the living conditions were in violation of the fourteenth amendment. Also the cruel punishments and abuse of the residents violated the eighth and fourteenth amendments. The investigation also concluded that the over all mental, physical, and intellectual skills of the residents deteriorated while receiving care at Pennhurst.

Pennhurst was ordered to close it's doors in 1986 and closed for good in 1987. The 460 residents were either discharged or transferred to other facilities in a process known as deinstitutionalization that lasted for several years and included the discussion of treatment plans with each patient's family.

The buildings began to deteriorate quickly after Pennhurst was closed it's doors. Although the buildings and premise are now empty there is said to be a high level of paranormal activity within the confines of the Pennhurst buildings and the outside property. The paranormal activity is said to stem from the years of cruel punishments, abuse, and neglect that took place here, along with patient deaths that were both of natural and unnatural causes.

How would you rate the Pennhurst Haunt Attraction?

4.4 out of 5 stars from 5 ratings of Pennhurst Insane Asylum Haunted Attraction

The Pennhurst Haunted Attraction

The Pennhurst Haunted Attraction includes terrifying tours of four different areas of the property. You can choose to purchase a combo pass that would allow you to see all four attractions or you can purchase passes for only the ones you would wish to see. You can save the most money by purchasing the combo pass instead of purchasing passes per location.

When you arrive you will be guided to the first Pennhurst Asylum Attraction which is a hospital themed tour that you can walk through. Upon entering this building you will first be guided past pictures and other historical documents that allow you to learn the history and events that took place in the past. There are also videos being displayed featuring past interviews and other stories about Pennhurst. As you walk through this attraction you are able to see many different items and artifacts that were from the original state school. The upper floors date back to 1908 and features digital sound and motivated actors that play out the events that took place during the years of operation. When creating this attraction they showed a fine attention to detail making your experience feel very real.

The second tour is called the Dungeon of Lost Souls. You are guided through a labyrinth of old cells and drafty halls. As you are walking through this attraction you are seeing a series of human experiments that have gone horribly wrong. Along with the amazing actors the special effects, illusions, and fine detail you really feel the fear stemming from the lost souls trapped in the dungeon.

The third attraction in The Tunnel of Terror. This attraction takes you through 900 feet of the underground tunnels that were once used for transporting the residents between different buildings. They upgraded this area with catacombs and different scares that are guaranteed to make you scream.

The fourth and final attraction is the Ghost Hunt. This is a self guided tour of the Mayflower Building. The Mayflower Building is reportedly the most active with paranormal activity out of all the locations on the Pennhurst grounds. Visitors are allowed to wander through the dormitory that has been left in the condition it was 26 years ago and search for spirits on their own. You are equipped with only the light from your flashlight and/or camera as you are walk through a piece of the past in the search for paranormal activity.

Pennhurst Buildings

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Photo 1 with two orbs captured.Photo 2 with orbs moved.Photo 1 with orb capturedPhoto 2 orb was gone.
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Photo 1 with two orbs captured.
Photo 1 with two orbs captured. | Source
Photo 2 with orbs moved.
Photo 2 with orbs moved. | Source
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Photo 1 with orb captured
Photo 1 with orb captured | Source
Photo 2 orb was gone.
Photo 2 orb was gone. | Source
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My Ghost Hunt Photos

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Photo of room inside of the MayflowerPhoto of room inside of the MayflowerOld beds inside Mayflower HallOld crib at the Pennhurst AsylumPhoto of a patients bed.  My camera captured an orb in this room!After Pennhurst closed in 1987 vandals would break into the property and cover the walls in graffitti.Original mural on the wall inside of the Mayflower building.A toy left behind after Pennhurst closed it's doors in 1987.Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.
Photo of room inside of the Mayflower
Photo of room inside of the Mayflower | Source
Photo of room inside of the Mayflower
Photo of room inside of the Mayflower | Source
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Old beds inside Mayflower Hall
Old beds inside Mayflower Hall | Source
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Old crib at the Pennhurst Asylum
Old crib at the Pennhurst Asylum | Source
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Photo of a patients bed.  My camera captured an orb in this room!
Photo of a patients bed. My camera captured an orb in this room! | Source
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After Pennhurst closed in 1987 vandals would break into the property and cover the walls in graffitti.
After Pennhurst closed in 1987 vandals would break into the property and cover the walls in graffitti. | Source
Original mural on the wall inside of the Mayflower building.
Original mural on the wall inside of the Mayflower building. | Source
A toy left behind after Pennhurst closed it's doors in 1987.
A toy left behind after Pennhurst closed it's doors in 1987. | Source
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room. | Source
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room. | Source
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room.
Names of residents who once lived at the Pennhurst State School still displayed on the wall of each room. | Source

My Pennhurst Experience

I had seen the show Celebrity Ghost Stories: The Haunting of Beverly Mitchell which was filmed at Pennhurst. After watching the show I became intrigued with the history and wanted to experience Pennhurst for myself. My husband and I visited the Pennhurst Haunt Attraction yesterday, November 3, 2012. We purchased two combo passes that allowed us to enter all four attractions. The staff guided guests smoothly throughout the site and helped each person and/or group to easily find the correct line for each attraction. The way the tours are set up you first enter the Pennhurst Asylum where you can look at pictures from the early 1900s up until the 1980s, and you can see original items and artifacts that are original to Pennhurst. The actors made you really feel the terror of the residents that lived here years ago. The actors also did an excellent job of keeping you on your toes and scaring the crap out of you!

When you exit the first attraction you are guided to the Dungeon of Lost Souls. This was extra spooky because you are led through a labyrinth of old drafty halls while passing human experiments that have gone horribly wrong. The halls really added to the fear because it was hard to prepare for what you might see around each corner and what you didn't see sneaking up behind you. As I walked through this attraction I felt anxiety accompanied with fear along with a strange feeling throughout my whole body.

The third attraction was the Tunnel of Terror which really made me feel uncomfortable. When they say that the experience is guaranteed to make you scream they are 100% correct! The actors really did a great job in scaring you by jumping out or grabbing you unexpectedly sending the terror and fear through your bones.

The final attraction which was the self guided Ghost Hunt was by far the best and the one that I was looking forward to the most! You are allowed to walk through two floors of the Mayflower Building which is considered to have the most paranormal activity. You are allowed to use a flashlight to help guide you through the dark rooms and you are allowed to take pictures and video. This is the only building that allows you to use cameras inside because there are no actors or special effects within this building. The building was left the same way it was when Pennhurst closed in 1987. After the doors closed in 1987 vandals covered the walls with graffiti and many items were stolen, but the items that are left inside are original to the building and Pennhurst. As you walk through the hallways you are able to look inside of the rooms and really develop a sense of what it was like for the residents. The building has a way of making you feel the uneasiness and sadness of the residents along with fear and handful of other emotions. I had a feeling like I never felt before as I made my way through the floors of the Mayflower Building. It is hard to explain but I felt it in my head and the center of my stomach. I also had a lump in my throat and I felt as though I could cry at any moment. My husband also felt strange in this building and unlike me, he is not a believer when it comes to paranormal experiences. After visiting the Mayflower Building his views have changed slightly because he also had weird feelings while inside. He had a tight feeling in his chest and he felt very sick in the stomach. Once we exited the building we both began to feel more normal and most of those feeling slowly diminished.

My experience at Pennhurst Asylum confirmed my belief that paranormal activity does exist and that ghosts are real. My husbands experience at Pennhurst Asylum still did not make him a true believer even though he had a different feeling inside the Mayflower Building. He figures that what he felt possibly stemmed from anxiety while walking through the buildings.

Pennhurst on Television

A number of television shows featured the paranormal activity at Pennhurst State School.

  • Extreme Paranormal
  • "Ghost Finders" Pennhurst Asylum Part 1
  • "Ghost Finders" Pennhurst Asylum Part 2
  • Ghost Hunters Live
  • Celebrity Ghost Stories: The Haunting of Beverly Mitchell

This is a basic list of television shows that featured the Pennhurst State School.

My Pennhurst Opinion

Visiting Pennhurst is a great experience whether you are a believer or a nonbeliever of paranormal activity. The attractions are scary and the actors are great! The staff does an excellent job directing the visitors from one attraction to the next and they really do a great job depicting the events that have taken place during the years of the asylums operation. Who knows, you may leave Pennhurst as a believer with pictures of your own to prove it!

Pennhurst is a thrilling attraction. It is interesting to learn the history and amazing to walk around outside taking in the beauty and horror that is Pennhurst!

Location of the Pennhurst Haunt Attraction

A markerPennhurst Asylum -
100 Commonwealth Dr, Spring City, PA 19475, USA
[get directions]

Pennhurst Insane Asylum

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Comments 4 comments

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

The Ghost Hunt sounds like the most fun (and perhaps the creepiest) part of the tour. Thanks for all these spooky photos and interesting information, Jill. Your hub gave me goosebumps!


JillKostow profile image

JillKostow 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Om Paramapoonya - It was a lot of fun! I am glad to hear that you got the goosebumps because I was hoping that readers would really be able to feel what I was trying to describe! I wish I could have spent a whole day there. It was just an overall amazing experience!!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

HOW FUN!!!! I've been to a few haunted houses but never been to an Asylum :) Might have to check that out for next year!!! Voted up and shared!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

Oh my goodness, I would have a heart attack at an attraction like this one. It sounds like a lot of fun, but I'm not sure my heart could take it, haha. I love the background information you give about the institution - I can't imagine how horrible it must have been to have been incarcerated there.

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