The Infamous Legend of the “Lake House Hotel” and Home of the Hotel of Horror (Saylorsburg, PA)-2020 Season Review


Numerous haunted attractions use social media and advertising to promote their haunts as “horror movies” come to life. Often, even the best haunts fail to achieve this lofty goal for various reasons, ranging from variable actor quality and ineffective structural designs that fail to convey any sense of “realism.” Several years ago, we became tired of the traditional “haunted house concept,” which generally can be described as a variety of mazes filled with fake-looking animatronics and actors who did little to create any sense of fear. Many of these haunts advertised themselves as “extreme” experiences, but all fell short of their goal. Around this time, we first came across advertisements for the Hotel of Horror attraction.

Hotel of Horror is a genuine, realistic nightmare that has evolved and exists solely with the intent to disturb and scare. Make no mistake, even during a year plagued by a pandemic, this attraction is relentless be design, tenacious by its history, and resolute in the “spirit” of fear which transcends the floorboards of the abandoned “Lake House Hotel.” Fear, cultivated by a constant sense of paranoia, generating imagery so holistically disturbing yet engaging, creates a desire to explore this relic of time, a cross between a 1950’s stylish hotel and a celebratory labyrinth of one’s darkest fears and disturbing imagery. Far from a “family-friendly” haunted attraction, be prepared to live a horror story, cross paths with the demonic, and come dangerously close with a barrage of twisted “scare-actors” that thrive off the energy of “fear.” 

Hotel of Horror is perhaps best described as a never-ending ascension into a living horror movie; just stopping for a moment creates a lasting mental image of scenes that are “real” and not created by big-budget props or special effects. Each room features diversity in thematic design but has so much “character” in terms of disturbing items, oddities, and, at times, disturbing creativity it is easy to become trapped in this entire “experience” of terror. Carefully implemented designs are augmented by slow strobe light effects, scene-specific stylistic vintage music, sound, moments of darkness, and periods of violent creativity that haunt each hallway.  The culmination of years of collecting and creating disturbing items, heirlooms, and understanding how the mind processes “fear” has resulted in a most chilling, hauntingly beautiful yet always unsettling. A genuine immersive experience, the “reality” of the “Lake House Hotel” is the perfect backdrop of pure horror, pumping adrenaline and fueling a curiosity of the unknown.

Prepared for safety, management, and staff has implemented numerous changes to help manage crowd flow and maintain a safe environment for guests and actors alike. Actor performances, even constricted by social distancing efforts, were extremely disturbing, featuring nightmarish creations that at times seemed more unnerving as actors slithered, created sickening noises, and had some of the most disturbing custom “masks” that made us squirm. Hotel of Horror is one of the most unique “real” haunted attractions one could ever visit, embracing the philosophy of psychological, visceral fear.

Hotel of Horror, at times, is a grim experience that makes you forget you are in the confines of a safe haunted house. Being lost among the vicious inhabitants whose sole job is to target your innermost fears is terrifying. With disturbing imagery around every corner and disorientating the use of sound, it is impossible not to fear what is next. Even standard rooms or scenes are enhanced by twisted new characters, and this dark sense of creativity allows for characters that explore one’s personal limits. Seeing the pictures of those “missing,” cautiously exploring a very realistic “Satanic” mass/worship scene and encountering a barrage of genuinely creepy “characters” make our skin crawl just at the mere thought. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares embrace twisted creativity and bring to life scenarios that will forever remain scarred in your memories.

Lake House Hotel History

Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares haunted attractions are located inside the infamous abandoned Lake House Hotel in historic Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The legend of the Lake House Hotel spans more than two hundred years and serves as the backdrop for the sinister haunted attractions brought to life within its confines. The tales begin with the original stagecoach stop, circa the late 1700s, whose foundation only remains, sheathing the furthest basement rooms’ walls under the encapsulated Victorian mansion. The destruction of that original stagecoach stop gave birth to a tavern referred to as The Saylorsburg Hotel and Inn for Travelers, built by Charles Saylor in 1847. Over the following 53 years, it saw much expansion and construction. The first “rebirth” of the Saylorsburg Hotel came around 1882 to 1888 with the railroad’s coming, removing the roof, building a third story, and renovating the exterior to celebrate the magnificent architecture of the Victorian Era. This remarkable mansion still exists inside the grand hotel addition constructed sometime between 1894 to 1900 and remains the same in size that you see today. The Hotel hosted the entire Monroe County Battalion of six soldiers of soldiers during the Civil War and was also used as a residence to see its share of births and deaths. The local mines and railway used the Hotel at several points in its early history to house their business operations and the infirmary and place of “pick- up” for the next of kin when tragic accidents would occur. It is recorded that many men died on its front porch waiting for a family to arrive after suffering significant injuries in those local mines and railway construction.

In October 1918, the local press reported that the Spanish Influenza had arrived in the Pocono Mountains, bringing sickness and death. The recently built county hospital was inadequate, and temporary hospitals were established in local resorts surrounding Stroudsburg.  Then in 1929, again in October- just a few days before Halloween, investors in New York City began to panic- stocks bought high started to drop, and so the Great Crash of The New York Stock Exchange devastated the economy. Guests of the Lake House, having left New York in shame and despair, not knowing how to provide for their families, checked into the Hotel, had drinks in the bar, dinner in the dining room, and saw their final night on earth in the guest rooms on the second and third floors.

At that time, Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, became known as “The Place to Hang Yourself.” In the late 1940s and 1950’s the basement area housed the Vickie Lee Blouse Company, employing ladies who worked on original textile equipment with minimum safety precautions. It can only be imagined the injuries suffered in the Lake House Hotel’s lower level during this time. After the close of this company, the lower level was used as a barbershop. Then a state liquor license permitted the serving of alcoholic beverages in this same lower level, in addition to the first-floor bar.  The basement was turned into a marine-themed bar, and in 1985 a failed robbery attempt left the owner of that time entirely incapacitated and resulted in the Hotel closing for good. It was purchased in 1990 and turned into an Antique Co-Op, and then in 1992, it saw its first haunted house attraction.

Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares coexist within the confines of the infamous Lake House Hotel and perfectly complement each other. Structurally, each of the two attractions is designed to generate anticipation, fear, and trepidation using sensory triggers, immersive soundtrack, and unpredictable horror scenes intended to create personal reactions. Gore and horrific imagery add to each attraction’s realism, helping guests forget there are in a “safe” environment. The transformational design is a strength of each attraction, allowing the fantastic character’s custom created by each scare actor to target each guests’ innermost fears, stripping away any sense of reality. Hotel of Horror has achieved monumental success in creating an adult-themed attraction that doesn’t venture entirely into the realm of “extreme” haunts yet never waivers in its mission to provide guests with a horror movie quality experience. Both Hotel of Horror and its coexisting haunt, Altered Nightmares, are unforgettable, actor-driven experiences that have returned to their rightful place as one of the country’s top tiers haunts.

A completely non-touch haunt with extensive precautions made to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Hotel of Horror/Altered Nightmares, has somehow mastered the art of creepiness and fear, using the environment as well as disturbing actors make one’s skin crawl. Theme wise scenes are twisted filled with dark humor and a pure sense of evil. A mature attraction by any stretch of one’s wildest imagination, this attraction is for those looking to embrace the “fear” associated with the season!

Hotel of Horror

Hotel of Horror’s 2020 theme “Revenge “loosely features an “asylum” or medical ward/prison escape-based theme; “They’ve been strapped, sedated, tormented, and tortured, but now it’s time for the inmates to get even!” Hotel of Horror focuses more on the grittier, darker aspects of haunted attractions with character designs that convey a sense of violence set upon the backdrop of scenes that feature the most intricate of nightmarish details. Extensive work has been undertaken to add a new level of complexity to the Hotel of Horror’s interactive mazes. Each scene is themed almost entirely, allowing twisted scare actors to create unique personal interactions with guests while maintaining social distancing and safety protocols.

Hotel of Horror prides itself on creating situations and interactions that are borderline disturbing, uncomfortable, and psychologically memorable. Hotel of Horror is not an “extreme” haunt per se as they do not “touch” guests but instead use methods that aim to strike at one’s’ psychological core. The actors tell demented stories, and some and build tension from room to room. This is a no-nonsense, bizarre, haunted attraction from a creepy “human snake” to a now-iconic Satanic Mass/worship scene. Additional scare actors hidden throughout the dark corners and in various rooms added extra “jump” scares to the attraction’s theatrical presentation. Structurally, Hotel of Horror’s atmospheric soundtrack, lighting effects, and diversity in maze/scene design allows for constant tension, anticipation, and cautious exploration, enhancing the overall experience.

Hotel of Horror’s creative design, coupled with the violence cultivated by its insane scare actors, creates a mature haunt that is once again at its very best. Hotel of Horror cultivates an ever-dominating sense of paranoia, dread, and apprehension, resulting from excellence in set design and structure. Periods of darkness, a disorientating soundtrack, and disturbing scenes create legitimate fear without actors having to touch to garner a reaction.

Use of slow strobe lights, periods of pitch black, and chilling sounds of terror fill each corridor, building excitement and a sense of being isolated from reality. Memorable scenes include a “padded room” lit with slow strobe light effects that hide actors perfectly, the dressing room of a “cross-dresser,” a creepy room filled with antlers, a twisted take on “Christmas,” surgical areas, and a moving hallway filled with crypts and a child’s playroom with a disturbing creature that hides within stuffed animals. What augments fear in each room is the booming sounds of an ominous, satanic-infused soundtrack, periods of complete isolation, and a sense that someone is always looking over you. The sensory attack is used effectively in this attraction and continues to create a sense of immersion, and the level of overall set detail is second to none.

Altered Nightmares

Altered Nightmares’ 2020 theme “The Other Side” embraces the sinister “magical” side of horror, with an emphasis on demonic, dark themes; “The Other Side – What really happens when it’s time for your journey through the gates?” Featuring witches, disturbing voodoo themes, twisted carnival, dark séances, and possession, among other concepts, there is a distinct sense of insanity that permeates each room.

As was the case of the Hotel of Horror, the scare actors and creativity in character design, coupled with a desire to explore the unknown, make this attraction standout. Visions of child abductions, torment were stricken across each room, and this attraction utilized sensory assault to augment fear. While most attractions feature “chainsaws” as a part, Altered Nightmares has evolved into a surreal horror experience and is the perfect finale for one’s visit to the Lake House Hotel!

Final Thoughts

Hotel of Horror is the perfect haunt for those looking to “grow up” in the haunt industry. This is a severe and mature-themed attraction that combines classical/traditional haunting with such a dark, sinister, evil twist that we cannot praise these attractions approach enough. As one cautiously explores each room, sick and wicked imagery dominates the scenes and creates such an uneasy feeling that it is best described as a never-ending nightmare. Atmospheric sound, periods of complete darkness, blinding lights give way to scenes of graphic horror and characters that are all so very real in their vision and execution.

Evolution of haunted attraction design and presentation is starting to take on a more visceral, psychological approach to target the innermost fears of veteran haunt fans yearning for a personal, immersive experience. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmare’s Haunted attractions have mastered the art of using psychological triggers to spur real “fear” that goes beyond the traditional expirations associated with what is best described as a “boo” haunt. Traditional tenants of haunted attraction design, coupled with sensory-based triggers, augment a twisted, nefarious approach to attraction design, allowing one to live out their darkest fears. One must let go of preconceived notions and open themselves up mentally to an immersive experience to inspire real-life nightmares challenging social and cultural norms. Both attractions housed within the Lake House Hotel’s confines are unapologetically mature and, at times, downright brutal. A constant sense of paranoia spawned by disturbing artistic and theatrical designs compliment the demented scare acting, as well as the exploitive nature of this gritty, “real” horror attraction. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares thrive on psychological horror, encouraging careful exploration while challenging one’s innermost fears.

Hotel of Horror is not for those easily offended by gore scenes; crude humor and disturbing themes are hallmarks of this terrifying attraction. You will see scenes of satanic worship, demented clown rooms, a witch “dinner,” grotesque bathrooms, and many sets that embrace violent imagery. In between each room/set design, sensory triggers such as periodic darkness, blood-stained walls, strobe lights, fog, visual effects, and incredible soundtrack built a constant sense of paranoia that increases from scene to scene.

The Lake House Hotel is the perfect backdrop for a horror movie quality experience. The quality of acting and inter-scene experiences have once again brought this attraction back to the point of being a horrific mature experience. 

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