Clown Invasion at The Haunted Hotel (KY)

Date of Visit: 5/18/24

Visited By: Team Zombillies & Team Lone Wolf

May has become a super popular time for haunted attractions to reopen for various special events. After all, it’s halfway to the best holiday ever- Halloween, of course- and doing these shows helps keep them fresh in the minds of customers when the real deal comes along. But at the scariest hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, you could say things have suddenly grown a lot… crazier? Sillier, even? Ah, but don’t let those painted smiles on the faces of the hotel staff fool you: this newly-arrived carnival of carnage is certainly no laughing matter!

Clowns haven’t been a thing at The Haunted Hotel in many years. Although their place is cemented in the haunt industry, they aren’t too well received in the downtown Louisville market. But in addition to their haunt season show, the Hotel keeps the screams going with a slew of seasonal events throughout the year. Most line up with holidays and the seasons, while other times they attempt something totally different (like 2023’s The Last Survivors, a play off the popular series The Last of Us). I’m not sure what sparked this idea, but 2024 saw the haunt finally shedding their anti-clown bias and unleashing a whole crew of circus freaks to play with all the hapless guests checking in! The Clown Invasion is here – it’s finally time to send in the CLOWNS!

(Nora and I got made up as clowns for this event!)

Ticket prices for these events line up with those offered during the full season, starting at $25 for General Admission, then $40 for Fast Pass, and $60 for a Front of the Line ticket that sends you straight to the door! As for parking, there are several cash lots surrounding the property or you can hunt for a free space on a nearby street.

One more important thing to know before you go: the Haunted Hotel is a FULL CONTACT haunted house. Contact can range from lighter stuff, like an actor touching your arm or messing with your hair, to crazier things such as winding up with weird substances on your clothing, being tossed on a bed, or even taken away from your group! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Heading across the street to the haunt, we noticed it was a little quiet outside. There wasn’t much by way of music, props, or decor to suggest we were about to enter a clown-themed haunt and that felt like a missed opportunity. (What about some balloons? You can pop ’em and scare people!) They did have two amazing stilt clowns from a new haunt, Evansville Nightmare Factory, stalking about between the ticketing area and the queue out front, which was very cool – we don’t see stilt characters often. We were also stalked by a creepy clown girl and a hellbilly clown with a mouth full of sharp teeth on our way to the ticket booth. Although it wasn’t a scary interaction, I personally loved the short masked clown out front. They were running around giving people hugs – I received one later in the night. Awww.

Although the lack of anything circus-related persisted throughout the house, we heard carnival music- along with other tunes- played in a few areas. The downstairs maze was also crazier than I last remember it, particularly one part where the fog was so thick- and the colorful lighting so bright- we couldn’t see the animatronic truck closing in on us (but we sure as hell heard it!). We later found out they had some sound issues the night of the show, which is why the house felt somewhat quieter than usual (well, when we didn’t have clowns yelling at us).

However, anything that was lacking in scenery was more than made up for in costuming and makeup. There were so many different clowns and so many unique looks! We saw clowns in makeup, latex masks, and silicone masks. Some wore dresses or tutus, some had grungy overalls, a few had fancy custom clown suits. (The concierge who greeted us at the front desk wore a hat that read “EAT SHIT”. How welcoming!) There were cute, playful clowns. Mean, scary clowns who wanted to harm us. Funny clowns. Dirty, gross clowns. We even met a rodeo clown during our stay! I couldn’t get over the sheer variety of characters… they were running a whole three ring circus in there!

(By the way, I won’t spoil anything here – but we noticed the Hotel is working on some NEW scenes for 2024! It was great to see them changing up their walkthrough and I can’t wait to see what they pull off this season.)

(The after photo! Those are a must at this place.)

And it didn’t take us long to get the hint that they certainly weren’t CLOWNING around in the hotel that night! From beginning to end, we encountered many characters who were a part of this fiendish freak show. The elevator attendant worked their scene flawlessly (and forced quite a few screams from our mouths). One clown we met, HotWire, demanded kisses for his “friend”… who happened to be a severed head (!)… he made one poor group member give her some tongue! (Then he wanted some too. She wasn’t so keen on that.) A little later we came across Smiley, wearing filthy overalls and pulling a literal nail out of his nose. Gross! I’m not sure whose bright idea it was at the Haunted Hotel to give these clowns Silly String, but this guy and another clown got ahold of it and hosed us down without mercy. We were covered… it was still all over us at the end. A vicious clown wearing some poor soul’s face clambered down from the spark table, brandishing a knife and demanding to replace it with one of ours! Walter, the rodeo clown, was a little too happy to lead us all to our guest suite. What a greeting – I was promptly snatched away and tossed on the bed, and they almost caught the rest of the group too! The hotel’s head maid, Tempest, seemed to be MIA during the clown takeover. But we did run into a suspiciously familiar clown, Fluffy, wearing a pink and green tutu… aaaand also wielding a paddle… yeah, you better believe we all got whooped. (Our camera guy got a little more than that. Oh Tyler.)

Things really took a turn for the rowdy once we ventured downstairs. It wasn’t long before we were unlucky enough to meet two special guests from Wicked World Scaregrounds, Sledge and Dinko. Coming from a haunt that does not allow touching, they abused that privilege liberally, getting handsy with most of our group and Dinko scooped yours truly up and ran away! Eeeek! Another kidnapping followed shortly after that – remember our hellbilly friend from outside? Yeah, he reappeared, and of course I got carried off again. (Why is it always me?!) And I’m really not kidding when I say we ran into all sorts of clowns: the hobo clown we met near the end seemed as shocked as we were to see them! Cute.

Opinions on the use of clowns run the full gamut in the haunt industry. Some love ’em, some hate ’em, some just accept they’ll always be a thing and move on. In this case, the Haunted Hotel took a chance on the clowns again and we were so glad they did – the Clown Invasion was a big hit! Other than minor opportunities to add more of a circus touch to the haunt, we loved everything about this show. The actors looked great, seemed enthusiastic about the event, were witty and interactive… and in true Hotel fashion, they weren’t afraid to get physical and make us scream as much as we laughed! What a great time.

If you missed your chance to clown around like we did, make sure you give The Haunted Hotel a follow on their socials and keep an eye on their website! Like I mentioned before, they open throughout the year for various special events and you never know what they might get up to next. At the time of writing, the next adventure they’re offering is a public ghost hunt on June 22. Real spooks not your thing? Keep your eyes peeled for details on a summer event that’s also in the works.

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