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Halloween season is quickly approaching, and one of the staples of the season is grabbing a group of your closest friends and heading off to a local haunted house. St. Albans Sanatorium is the place of choice for many Radford University students, and there is little question as to why. With its looming presence, ever-changing themes, and dedicated actors, St. Albans is sure to send chills down your spine.
St. Albans opened its doors in 1892 as an all-boys school, but later converted into a mental hospital in 1916, and remained so until its closing in 1994. For several years, the daunting building lay dormant until reopening as a haunted house in order to prevent its demolition.
St. Albans is sometimes called the “most active location on the East Coast,” with testimony of paranormal sightings like shadow figures, moving objects, and physical contact. Whether you are a sceptic or a true believer, a trip to this haunted house is sure to be a night to remember.
In past years, St. Albans has featured several different themes including “Reign of Terrors” and “Carnival of Cadavers.” “Reign of Terrors” was zombie-themed, while “Carnival of Cadavers” focused on clowns, a personal phobia of mine. “Fairytale Nightmares” and “Havoc” have also been successful themes, with the latter being the most recent. Each year, St. Albans closes down during the month of September to prepare and rehearse before they open their doors for their annual haunted house attraction, assuring that a great amount of time and effort is put into every detail.
This year’s theme is “Unchained.” Without giving too much away, visitors can expect each room they explore to showcase something different. While there may be an underlying theme, spectators will have to pay close attention if they hope to uncover it. With scares and surprises around every corner, however, that will be no easy task. Each room will be unpredictable and just when you think you have uncovered something, your scream of terror will launch you back to square one.
The Director of Operations at St. Albans, Marcelle Hanauer, says that this year they are “really trying to get back to the old style of haunted house” and is very excited for this year’s scaring to begin.
In addition to the new themes every year, new characters and sets are also imagined. After the initial idea is created each actor is given the freedom to mold their own characters. They design the characters in accordance to the main theme, make their costumes, and even decorate their own rooms.
Every actor that you see at St. Albans this October will also be a volunteer; they do not have any paid actors. Each set of characters that you will encounter is totally unique, making the experience that much more fulfilling.
St. Albans also offers three different types of scares, so no matter if you want to just get a little spooked, or expect not to sleep for the next few days, they can accommodate you. They feature a no scare, a low scare, and a regular scare. So Hanauer encourages everyone to “come, enjoy, get scared, and be amazed.”
They will be offering their haunted house every Friday and Saturday in October from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets are $15. Or, you can opt for a line jump ticket for only $5 more. As a special treat Radford University students will also be receiving a $3 discount for opening weekend with their student ID’s. So grab your friends and your RUID and prepare for the scare of a lifetime.
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