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Phobias: Bates Motel and Pennhurst


The Bates Motel and Pennhurst Asylum – guaranteed to set your mind at (un)ease…



We often find ourselves needing rest, and we come to rely on certain people or places to provide a safe haven when that need arises. But what becomes of us when the places designed to comfort us actually cause us distress? What if, perhaps, that quaint hotel or local hospital you rely on for some much needed rest or recuperation turned out to offer everything BUT hospitality? At The Bates Motel, and at Pennhurst Asylum – both in Pennsylvania – they have taken the typical human perceptions of comfort and leisure and turned them into something diabolically different.

The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride incorporates all the aspects of a great haunted attraction and amplifies it tenfold. Exquisite sets, detailed costumes and lavish makeup only enhance the non-stop scares at this top-ranked haunt. Unlike the usual stop-and-see hayride, the action is non-stop as the wagon rolls continuously through and the unexpected occurs as you make your way to the house. And setting them apart from most attractions – fire! Plenty of fire, actually. A massive fire-breathing dragon, a flaming gas station, and an exploding dynamite shack are but a few of the blazing thrills that await you. It’s not uncommon for someone suffering from, say, arachnophobia to experience a bit of trepidation upon visiting a motel, with the occasional unwelcome spider dangling in a corner of the room. But Pyrophobia – the irrational fear of fire – is not a phobia one would anticipate experiencing during an overnight stay (this surprisingly common phobia often goes unspoken, leaving the pyrophobiac feeling alone in their suffering, as the threat of flame drives them to anxiety, heart palpitations, shaking or a complete detachment from reality). No ice in the lobby machine – that’s a valid motel fear. Immolation at the mercy of a giant reptile – not so much!

On a similar note, Nosocomephobia is the name of the phobia relating to the fear of hospitals. How debilitating must it be to find oneself hurt, in need of medical assistance, only to become overwhelmed at the prospect of a trip to the very place that should define comfort? Sanctuary could indeed become torment, possibly driving one insane simply by delivering them to safety. And if you also suffer from dementophobia – a fear of insanity – you’d be doubly doomed. Especially if the safe haven in question was an asylum…

At Pennhurst Asylum, this once notorious institution for people with mental illness and special needs has been resurrected as a first rate haunted attraction. Featured on “Ghost Adventures”, this is one haunted attraction that harbors a fair amount of potential phobia fodder. Whether your fear be hospitals, doctors, the insane, ghosts, the unknown or any number of panic-inducing irrationalities, Pennhurst Asylum is a full-frontal assault on the weakest corners of our imagination.

During its long life as a refuge for those needing mental health care from 1908 until its court-ordered closing in 1986, Pennhurst became infamous for allegations of abuse and neglect, and dehumanizing procedures. Lawsuits and negative media attention led to its demise, eventually leaving it abandoned and in a state of ruin. Visited and investigated numerous times as a source of supernatural activity, it stands to reason that a vast number of tormented, misplaced souls could still wander the expansive 120-acre property. Living fear, in the form of those who placed their trust in one of the very places we expect compassion and security. Infamous mementos of the past still exist within the buildings, such as a restraining dental chair allegedly utilized to remove the teeth of patients with a propensity to bite the staff. With its own on-site cemetery and series of underground tunnels for transporting patients, who knows what secrets still lay uncovered on the grounds of Pennhurst?

The creative geniuses behind The Bates Motel have gone to great lengths to turn this sinister remnant of human suffering into a haunted attraction guaranteed to affect even the most jaundiced horror and haunt fan. Enter if you dare, but rest assured that unlike visitors to Pennhurst from days gone by, you can escape. Eventually…

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