Earlier this month, American amusement park Funtown Splashtown USA (Saco, ME, U.S.A.) opened their newest ride to the general public. With a rope-cutting ceremony on 3 August, visitors were welcomed to start exploring the dark ride Haunted Hotel. A wicked witch, her pair of magical familiars, and nostalgic nods to the town’s former beloved haunted attraction came together to bring spooky, family-friendly fun in the Whispering Pines Haunted Hotel. The ride is created turn-key by renown dark ride designer and manufacturer Sally Dark Rides.
As with all good hauntings, the story of the Haunted Hotel begins with a curse – and the need to remove it. In this case, the curse is casted by the wicked witch Lilith, who was angered when the Whispering Pines Hotel was built on her land. She expressed her displeasure by cursing the hotel, and accidentally trapping three original guests with her spell. Guests of Funtown Splashtown are now welcomed inside the hotel, where an animatronic curse eradicator welcomes them and introduces the history of Lilith. From there, the guests take a tour through the 14 rooms of the hotel, equipped with interactive curse eradicators that serve as magic wands to lift the spell from the hotel.
“Haunted attractions are in our DNA, and we have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to create an old, spooky haunted hotel. One with just the right amount of fright and fun that the whole family will enjoy the experience,” shared Lauren Weaver, vice president marketing and business development at Sally Dark Rides. Sally partnered with Funtown’s owners the Cormiers to breathe life into the ghostly manor. “When Funtown Splashtown approached us about creating a new ride that brought back the scares that locals used to love, then gave us the runway to do it in a completely new way, wholly original to Funtown, we got very excited.”
The Haunted Hotel was created turn-key by Sally Dark Rides, who created the story of the ride in collaboration with Funtown Splashtown, and designed the whole ride. Moreover, Sally’s intricate animatronics can be seen throughout the ride. Along with the professional curse remover, the wicked witch Lilith herself, and the creepy-yet-cute, enchanted familiars Katbattikus the black cat and Croaky Weewing, a frog with bat wings, bring chills and smiles. For the ride system, they turned to Bertazzon, who delivered the uniquely designed ride vehicles.
“We are thrilled with our new Haunted Hotel,” shared Bill Cormier, executive VP and second-generation owner at Funtown Splashtown. “Last year we got incredibly excited when the team at Sally began conjuring the ride concept for us. We were especially thrilled when they unveiled Lilith at IAAPA Expo in November. We have eagerly been waiting for her to cast her spell at the park ever since. Now our guests will join together to help banish Lilith and her curse as they ride through the Hotel. Sally made true theme park magic for us.”
“There is something truly magical about a haunted house – or hotel – at a theme park,” Drew Hunter, vice president creative design at Sally Dark Rides, adds. “Funtown’s goal was to add an experience that would become synonymous with a visit to their park. We understood the assignment – introducing an original storyline that would instantly become a timeless classic.”