9 things to expect and experience when visiting Waverly Hills Sanitarium

Well, that was fun.

August, 2015. My BFF and #1 gal-pal-haunt-a-holic compatriot Char and I made the trek from Milwaukee, WI to Louisville, KY for a 3-day weekend getaway. Because we are who we are, our definition of fun is traveling for 7 hours to tour one of the reputedly most haunted places in the USofA. We are gleefully ‘those people’.

We had absolutely no idea what to expect. Hopefully, these insights will serve you when making a similar trek – which I encourage you to do. Waverly Hills Sanitarium (and Louisville) are worth the drive.DSCN5045

Nuts and Bolts…

  1. BOOK IN ADVANCE. We took the 2-hour 8pm Friday night tour because the 4-hour overnight ‘investigation’ is booked solid far, far in advance. That’s my first tip. Book your tour far, far in advance if you want to do the 4-hour investigation. It’s your best shot at having a paranormal experience. Note: they also have an 8-hour version, but I’m too old to stay up that late so never even considered it.
  1. IT’S HOT, DARK, HUMID AND CREEPY. Bring a flashlight, wear closed toe shoes and prepare to sweat.
  1. SECURITY. Security is tight. You’re checked in at the gate. Watched by the parking people. Escorted into the gathering / souvenir shop. Checked in again. There are 2 people trailing each tour in addition to the tour guide. All are obsessively dedicated to ensuring that no-one wanders off in search of adventure. Plan to stick closely with your group or encounter an implied cattle prod.

The Atmosphere…

  1. WAVERLYLAND? We went because we wanted to experience haunted Waverly Hills Sanitarium. There is an unfortunate level of less-than-well-executed ‘Disneyland-ish-ness’ that tries to get in the way. I was a little discomfited by the tee-shirts and cheesy HallowDSCN5113een paraphernalia for sale. It’s hard to ignore the enormous wall of endlessly looped episodes of paranormal reality tv that featured Waverly Hills. I was severely turned off by the full-body Pinhead dummy that greeted the start of the tour and later having to walk through some Halloween season haunted house deco that they keep up all year around. I had to actively ignore my concern that what I was really in for was Waverlyland. If you can do that successfully, you can have fun on this tour. It does take a conscious decision, but if you make it, you’ll have a good time.
  1. IT’S HUGE. Expect to be awed at first glance. It’s immense with a capital immense. The building is surrounded by dense woods and suddenly spreads before you as you drive up the short access road past the gate. Goosebump-worthy. Allow yourself time to gape while ignoring the stares from the many Waverly employees whoDSCN5084 are keeping a close watch on you as you get out of your car.
  1. PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES / GATHERING EVIDENCE? PROBABLY NOT. On the 2-hour tour, you will be in a group of about 30 people, all of whom are also hoping for a paranormal experience. At the same time your tour is happening, there’s another going, following a different route to the same stops. With that kind of foot traffic, chances of having a personal paranormal experience are slim. Thinking of sneaking in some subtle evidence gathering? Nope. You are not allowed to use any recording devices (so much for EVP’s) or flash photography (so much for clear photos). You will get some cool history about the building and hear about other people’s ghostly encounters, though.
  1. OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPLORE. That said, there are 2 opportunities on the 2-hour tour to explore. Well, more like 1.5 opportunities. On the 5th floDSCN5110or, you and your 29 best friends are allowed a little time to wander around and take photos – with flash (the only time allowed). The draw is room 502 where there are lascivious stories are about a pregnant nurse who hung herself. We are quickly disabused of the legend by the tour guide. Her spiel consists of, “You’ve probably heard about XYZ in room 502. Well, it’s not true. It never happened.” But, then she goes on to relate creepy experiences that pregnant women have had in room 502. Hmmmm…
  1. SHADOW PEOPLE. The other – very cool – opportunity to explore-ish is on the 4th floor where there are reports of active shadow people. Standing in the deep dusk, looking down a dark, dark, dark corridor with sDSCN5086mall smatterings of light from windows, you can easily imagine that you see movement. Maybe we did. Maybe we were so desperate that we matrixed it all. Who cares? It was uber scary. Bonus: Char and I muscled our way into the line of 3 sets of people who were allowed to walk to the end of the hall alone while everyone else watched. We successfully managed to freak the crap out of ourselves.
  1. BODY CHUTE. At it’s height as a 500-bed tuberculosis treatment hospital, Waverly Hills averaged a death an hour. The need to transport bodies off the grounds but not within sight of patients who were trying to get well, led the staff to repurpose an underground tunnel that became nicknamed the Body Chute. It is one weird sensory experience. They let you walk down the narrow, 600-foot slanted concrete chute. I went about ½ way and then let everyone pass me by so that I could walk back up relatively alone. Too many laughs, echoes and noise from the rest of the group to pick up on anything otherworldly but the funhouse effect made me tilt.

So, yes I did think it was fun and worth the trek. Because I decided to. I devoured the things that were cool and ignored the things that were hokey. I adjusted my expectations and looked for opportunities to let my imagination run amok. I was on an adventure far-ish from home with my best friend and fellow aficionado.

What could be better?

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New Paranormal Reality Show on… Animal Planet (?!)

Uh huh.  It’s official.  Everybody and his hairy cousin is jumping on the paranormal tv bandwagon.

The latest entry is “The Haunted” on Animal Planet.  Yes, Animal Planet.  It’s about spirit dogs, ghost cats and spectral lemurs (okay, I made that one up) and the places they haunt.  In the style vein of Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting”, this new show seems nicely done.  It’s about quality storytelling, and I hand it to Animal Planet here. The storytelling is good.

Live pets are also heavily featured as “The Haunted” explores the theory that animals are sensitive to paranormal activity. From their “About” page…

“Animals are commonly believed to be more sensitive than humans. According to psychics, they are capable of sensing spirits that cannot be seen or heard by even the sharpest minds. THE HAUNTED chronicles true, chilling and terrifying stories of animals and their owners who are experiencing the unexplainable.”

Check it out for yourself at http://animal.discovery.com/tv/the-haunted/ If you watch their video clips, you have to get past their sponsor ads. But if you’re used to hulu, it’s not so bad. They’re short.

Their next episode is on December 6th at 9pm CST. Add this to the line-up and I’m never going to get out of the house. Bliss.

Happy, Hissy, Haunts,

Susan

ps. All opinions here are mine. If I could get a sponsorship from Animal Planet to flog their show, you’d hear me shouting joy from the rooftops. 😉

But, hey – I will happily mention BlogSurfer.us in this post!

Today is the Perfect Day for a Haunt Spots Research Trip – I Wish!

Gray, rainy days like today are perfect for all day Haunt Spots research trips.  Talk about atmosphere.  There are theories that moisture in the air helps heighten any energy in residence – paranormal or otherwise.  So, not only are these misty – rainy days visually stellar, but if there’s something to ‘pick up’ in an area, chances are greater of making contact.

This morning, we’re helping a buddy move some stuff into storage.  This afternoon, I’m editing.  My 2nd floor office window looks out onto the street and at the trees almost completely turned, though.  The scene alternates between inspirational and distracting.  I’d rather be out tromping through woods and around abandoned buildings – hopping in and out of the car and trying to keep my hands warm while I take pictures and record observations on our damp checklist.

Life is good.

Happy Haunts,

Susan Scot Fry

I Hate it When All Our Batteries Drain

Creeeeeepy.

My research partner Char and I had a short list of potential Haunt Spots to check out today.  Our first stop was a winner.  Still within the Milwaukee city limits, but well north of downtown, this atmospheric stop will make for  a great Caper.  We both constantly felt like there was someone close behind us – following – pushing us away.  It was pretty disconcerting.

Char’s camera batteries died after about a dozen shots.  She didn’t have back ups because she had just put them in this morning – fresh from the new pack.  About 3 minutes later, mine were dead too.  Her digital voice recorder was still functioning, so Char mosey’d over to the statue to do an EVP session while I snagged a bench to change my own batteries.  Both extra sets of my camera batteries were dead as well.  Hungry spirits?

After the EVP session, we decided to call it an omen and grab an early lunch.  After all, researching is fascinating, but we need to be able to take pictures at each possible Haunt Spot.

We’re going to keep this destination on the list for another research day.  But next time, the extra batteries will stay in the car.

Happy Sunday!