Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 12, 2019.

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Final Score: 8.32

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Who doesn’t love a wedding?

Wait, back that up : who doesn’t love a manor that’s been abandoned for over 100 years, visibly accessed only by the same ageless doorman for that all that time?

Ok, that’s more the shape of things.

Welcome to Ghostly Mansion in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. As mentioned above, it’s opening after all these years to offer guests a rare opportunity to explore the history – and the mystery – that caused its door to close and remain shut for over a century.

Could it have something to do with the eccentric couple who were scheduled to be married JUST before they disappeared?

Come uncover the mystery for yourself at Ghostly Mansion this haunted season.

Cast: 8.39

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Look, when experiencing a first-year attraction, one can’t help but feel a bit of understandable trepidation. When that attraction also carries the precautionary prefacing, “and most of them are first timers”, well, if we crossed ourselves, gritted our teeth and hoped for the best, could you really blame us?

Sometimes it’s nice to be proven wrong.

First of all, this type of attraction : a dialogue-heavy, story-driven, walk through, asks a lot more of a haunt actor’s chops than a standard spookhouse. Hell, we easily spent five minutes engaged with the final narrative pair. Our topic of discussion must remain a mystery for now, mind you, but I must say : ol’ ‘Worthie sure does drive a hard bargain. And Elizabeth, dear, a gal in our group was trying to make it RAIN, and you cold-shouldered her out the door. Harsh, my lady. Think of the children… or at least their tuition funds.

Incidentally, this interaction proved to be the most satisfying and entertaining of the journey. Ellsworth was a fine, sadistic househead, and if I’m not mistaken, a sufferer of anger-induced OCD. I noticed that as he became more and more annoyed with us… me (it’s a gift)… he began to enunciate – every – single – syllable – with an irritated, ground-thudding whack of his staff. Poor guy.

Someone steal his staff and let me know what happens. Thanks in advance.

However, the matriarch-to-be really stole the show. Simply, her performance was excellent – believable, creepy, humorous, and very adaptable to our absurd responses. It’s no mystery that we value actors’ ability to go “off-script” when interacting with customers, and Elizabeth did so wonderfully. If only we could have helped you out of your predicament, forlorn Lizzie…

Speaking of excellent interactions, on the opposite end of the tour, our other favorite exchange occurred between a pair of privilege-imbalanced servants. It was difficult not to empathize with Slave-Servant’s plight. And what a grump her abusive superior was! We tried our best to sneak S-S out with us, but, alas, it was not to be… yet. We’re currently devising a caper as I type this. Black ski masks, cords of hemp rope, chocolate fondue – we’ll make this work, m’lady. Fear not!

That was an entertaining, well-acted interplay. S-S cleverly responded to our unexpected prompts.

… but seriously, just hang on a little longer! Fishing line, bolt cutters, Bill Murray dressed as Margaret Thatcher. CAPER.

I can’t, or shouldn’t, go through ALL of the interactions that commenced, but there were a lot of great actor pairings that resulted in comical, creepy, and entertaining exchanges. There were a lot of young actors and actresses in the Mansion (child labor laws, Ellsworth!), but the youngest, an insistent firecracker really left an impression – especially after decreeing one of our team members her “Daddy.” Paternity test not-withstanding, her’s was another very entertaining correspondence.

There were a number of wooden performances, in truth, but the livelier, compelling actors certainly made up for them.

Ghostly Mansion is definitely an attraction for customers who like to actually get involved in an attractions story line, instead of simply being passive spectators, which, as far as I’m concerned, makes the experience a lot more fun.

Are larger casts with mostly flaccid boo-scarers and limited interaction better than Ghostly Mansion’s “Come on and join the fun” approach?

As the clever gal who led us into our final confrontation decreed : “FALSE.”

On that one, young lady, I must agree


Costuming: 8.34

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Though ripe with tatters and dust bunnies, the 100+ year old elegant dresses of the serving staff have held up pretty well, all things considered. It’s a handsome collection, though, so I’m glad the decaying fingertips of Father Time have left them mostly unmolested.

There was a lot of variation across the mostly female cast – disheveled gowns in various forms – but they did appear surprisingly authentic and well-made.

Make up was pretty well done also. There weren’t many inhuman occupants of the mansion, so nothing too extravagant was required.

There were only a few masks in use. One needed to be concealed better (try a turtleneck, monster friend!), but they were sufficient overall.

Customer Service: 9.36

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As I mentioned above, missing the cavalcade of roadside signs for Ghostly Mansion would require voluntary incompetence. Parking is simple enough – there are a few lots accessible from the road, with a parking spotter available on busier nights to direct your haunt-transport.

To begin your eerie journey through the estate, head for the front porch. To partake of nourishment, steer toward the rear of the building. T-shirts are available for sale at the ticket booth (which is also on the front porch).

A line scarer was prowling the grounds while we visited but we didn’t get to see her in action much as the requisite line was missing.

All of the staff that we spoke to were very friendly and truly open to our suggestions and feedback.

Atmosphere: 9.15

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Big ol’ mansions are a staple of the haunt world, and Ghostly Mansion certainly isn’t lacking for its bigness or its ol’ness. Though it’s on a fairly well-trodden road, it’s pulled back just far enough from the thoroughfare, looming in the darkness, surrounded by dozens of lit torches. A skeletal carriage lingers in the middle of the broad yard with its two equally-decayed occupants remaining inside. Given the subject matter of this season’s haunted story, the location is an excellent fit.

Unfortunately, the Mansion’s roadside frontage is lined with tiny signs for… Ghostly Mansion. It looked like the lawn of a politician heavily promoting his campaign. That’s fine, but one big sign (even better if it is aesthetically-pleasing and haunt-themed) is probably the way to go. Instead, from the road, it felt like that one central location in town that ends up plastered in political signage every election season. It’s a small complaint, and I can promise that you will NOT accidentally drive past the property when searching for it.

Our journey began on the front porch, with an introduction from the estate’s doorman, while eerie music played and an apparition balked at us from the corner. He described his relationship to the master of the house and provided a background of the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Combined with the mood and ambiance of the building itself, it worked as an effective transition into the main portion of the experience.

Special Effects: 8.02

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In terms of effects, the omnipresent soundtrack really stood out the most. It didn’t matter which scene, floor, or state of terror we were in, ominous melodies shadowed our every step. The aural accompaniment was helpful in establishing and maintaining the ominous mood that served as the backdrop for the unfolding narrative. It may have drowned out the actors’ lines a few times, but it was a great asset of the attraction overall.

The set design was fairly extensive in terms of quantity. Every room that we trod through was filled with components that one would expect in a time-frozen elegant manor. There was a slapdash quality to many of the rooms, as if the servants had just found out that visitors would finally be allowed into the building and quickly arranged the furniture and sundries into reasonable alignment, but it at least provided a lived-in quality to the environment. The walls behind the adornments were completely (and only) plastered in warnings that began to feel a bit tiresome. We would have liked some variation in that regard.

There was not a lot of gadgetry in use : animatronics, special effects, and the like. The experience was very old-school in that regard and, honestly, this type of attraction probably functions best that way.

Lighting effects were subtle but effective.

Theme: 8.7

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Background story information provided by haunted attractions on their websites are usually either outlandishly hyperbolic or silly and generic (Sweetcheeks the Clown’s demented sideshow/The mad Dr. Gravy’s bizarre experiments/Mutton O’Grady’s Hungry Hillbillies… oh, tell me more, great Orator of the Painfully Cliche). Ghostly Mansion’s published write-up, though, offers a thorough preamble that thematically leads the customer right up to the beginning of the attraction. It’s a bit of an extensive read by haunt standards, but it’s worth the effort.

As far as the on-site unraveling of the narrative, it does get a bit clunky and, at times, convoluted. At one point, the logical order of events gets confused by a character (essentially, we are first told that we missed a wedding, and to prepare for the reception – several rooms later, we are suddenly to prepare for the allegedly missed wedding again). I did work out a solution, however. Ellsworth is clearly hypoglycemic. His solution? Dinner BEFORE the wedding service. Brilliant.

Besides that (probably accidental) chronological fallacy, segments of the story were difficult to follow. Sometimes the expositional characters were too quiet (or the local soundtrack too loud); other times they’re delivery was a bit muffled or meandering.

The ending was very strong, though. Our clash with the lord of the manor and his Jekyll and Hyde bride (seriously, who’s side are you on, gal?) an exciting narrative conclusion. It tied together the evolving story line well.

This does bring me to a minor complaint, though. Near the beginning of our tour, acute emphasis was placed on our need to locate “clues throughout the mansion.” Several times we are instructed to keep our eyes open for clues to help us solve a mystery in the final act.

Spoiler alert: there really aren’t any clues, and I don’t believe that there truly is a correct “solution” to the last room’s conundrum. This is fine; it doesn’t really detract from the story. However, SEARCHING OUT the clues became a bit of a distraction, and I wish I would have known that, instead of probing for answers, I could simply relax and enjoy the unfolding story.

It’s a minor gripe, really. I love game and puzzle elements in haunted attractions – especially those with strong story lines and character interaction, so it was mostly just disappointing as opposed to truly damaging to the experience.

Scare Factor: 7.65

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For the most part, all of the creepiness for Ghostly Mansion was derived from the scenes that we experienced. There were a few drop panel scares (one that succeeded very well), and an excellent, multi-faceted, extended scare that caught us off-guard between rooms, but the primary source of mansion heebie-jeebies depended on the primary narrative actors. Due to this, most of the scare attempts involved our entire group. Whether it was the nature of the story line itself, or intense prompting and scrutiny from the cast member (look, I’m SORRY that my soul stinks; it’s been a rough week, bro), all of our group were able to contribute and be involved. Even when we were mostly interlopers in cast-on-cast exchanges, the proceedings were open-ended enough that, if we so-chose, we were able to interpose ourselves into the action… which we happily did. In that fashion, I suppose we willingly injected ourselves into the hauntings.

Ghostly Mansion is not a “scary” haunted attraction in the traditional sense. We were not chased by chainsaw-hefting maniacs, nor confronted by vulgar sheep-demons (Tiny was about as close to grizzled macabre that we got). Their brand of fear is achieved through an immersive, eerie environment. There were some startles along the way, but the looming shadow of mystery as we explored the mansion and it’s disturbed attendants was the true antagonist… well, until the last room.

As I mentioned in Theme, the story may meander and convolute along the way, but it does conclude with a very satisfying, extended showdown at its climax. That was able to bring the narrative to an apt conclusion.

Entertainment & Value: 7.83

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We spent 33 minutes trapped in the mansion, uncovering its secrets. A ticket for general admission is $20. Thus, the MPD stands strong at 1.65.

Ghostly Mansion significantly exceeded our expectations, no doubt about it. They have a great foundation to build upon and some very skilled actors to utilize. It wasn’t the scariest experience that we’ve had in a haunted attraction, but it didn’t need to be. The intrigue generated by the story and some very clever and entertaining interactions with cast members made the whole experience a lot of fun.

We would like to see the narrative tightened up a bit, and to have the faux-puzzle elements either stricken from the record or, well, actually manifest. Either direction would serve this enjoyable attraction well. There is already a great narrative infrastructure and a strong finale to build from.

We know that they’ve already been refining and adding significant improvements all season long, so by the time I write this, I anticipate the Mansion will have become even better!

For Gorehounds and anyone interested only in flesh-hungry, undead-clown, chainsaw maniacs, Ghostly Mansion probably won’t be a great fit. But for everyone else, Ghostly Mansion offers an exciting, interactive, and, ultimately, FUN trip through a mysterious manor whose long-buried secrets will surprise and frighten you. We recommend a visit this haunt-i-day season.

Be sure to give your soul a good scrubbing beforehand!

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