The wait time to get into Waverly is roughly one hour: about the same time it takes for one Marilyn Manson album to blare over the loudspeakers outside. To keep visitors from turning back before getting inside, Waverly offers food and souvenir carts along the line, and closer to the front of the queue, they have staffed actors to give patrons just a taste of what waits for them ahead.
What waits is far more jarring than could be imagined from the advertisements, which are cleverly underplayed. The haunt played on almost every fear, from claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, to gerontophobia, the fear of old people, from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, to phobophobia, the fear of fear itself. A neon-colored, trippy three-dimensional experience, with uneven footing and camouflage, undoes the knowledge you thought you had¬ about the workings of time and space. And to top it off, the track takes around 20 minutes to complete, meaning that, with so much going on during every second, it’s easy to feel as though you will never escape.
Even if you do manage to get out alive, the deadly fun might not be over for you; one actor, armed with a machete, who had exited the building and was taking a break, chose to chase our group one final time into the parking lot.
Little touches like this make the Waverly experience more fun, involved and authentic than a traditional haunted house. In this way, the ticket price seems like a steal. It costs 22 dollars to experience the Scare-a-torium for your—including a parking fee, which equates to roughly one dollar per minute of terror.
It would be easy for a haunt like Waverly to sell tickets based on its reputation: after all, it’s the former site of a tuberculosis hospital where over 8,200 patients died. But the haunt doesn’t need to do that since what they are selling is a quality product. The layout and decrepitude of the building in which the haunt is located simply add to the atmosphere and mystique of the haunt itself.
It is difficult to imagine what the building would have looked like had the décor been stripped away and the actors gone home. Perhaps this is why the haunt has been such a great success this season; without the people and the set to put on the show, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is just one big empty building…with a few ghosts.
Photo courtesy blackravenparanormal.com