The Third Ride Opening for Globally Recognized Dark Ride Creator This Year, Haunted Hotel Blends Spooky Chills with Family Thrills

A spooky new dark ride from  Sally Dark Rides, the globally recognized leader in creating family dark rides and attractions, has opened at Funtown Splashtown USA. A wicked witch, her pair of magical familiars, and nostalgic nods to the town’s former beloved haunted attraction come together to bring spooky, family-friendly fun with the debut of the Whispering Pines Haunted Hotel.  

“Haunted attractions are in our DNA, and we have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to create an old, spooky haunted hotel.  One with just the right amount of fright and fun that the whole family will enjoy the experience” shared, Lauren Weaver, vice president of marketing and business development, Sally Dark Rides. “When Funtown Splashtown approached us about creating a new ride that brought back the scares that locals used to love, then gave us the runway to do it in a completely new way, wholly original to Funtown, we got very excited."

Sally partnered with Funtown’s owners, the Cormiers, to breathe life into the ghostly manor. For three generations, the Cormiers have owned and operated Funtown Splashtown. The Haunted Hotel is the first new ride in twenty years, and the Sally team ensured it was worth the wait.  

Moments after entering the hotel itself, guests get a peek at the detail and inspiration that went into creating the new ride.  With eerie similarity, the carpet mirrors that from another haunted hotel, the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s “The Shining.” (King fans also know that he remains one of Maine’s most famous residents.)

All good hauntings begin with a curse – and the need to remove it. Guests of the Haunted Hotel are introduced to the story by a professional curse eradicator, one of Sally’s latest lifelike animatronics, who weaves the story of Lilith, a wicked witch who was angered when the Whispering Pines Hotel was built on her land. She expressed her displeasure by cursing the hotel, and accidentally trapping three original guests with her spell.  

Sally’s team tapped into its award-winning interactive ride technology to engage riders with the Haunted Hotel’s tale. They are asked to help rid the hotel of spirits by using their exclusive “Curse Eradicators”.

The Curse Eradicators help fully immerse and engage everyone in the story, serving as super-powered magic wands. As they ride through the hotel, guests aim and wave the Eradicators to help release the hotel from Lilith’s curse and free the former guests. The result is a spooktacular experience for all ages.

“There is something truly magical about a haunted house – or hotel – at a theme park,” added Drew Hunter, vice president of creative design, Sally Dark Rides. “Funtown’s goal was to add an experience that would become synonymous with a visit to their park. We understood the assignment - introducing an original storyline that would instantly become a timeless classic. The development and realization of this attraction is the result of a wonderful collaboration between the teams at Sally Dark Rides and Funtown. It's an entertaining, surprising, and unique take on the classic haunted dark ride theme. Prepare to have some frightening fun -- and watch out for the witch!”

Sally’s intricate animatronics can be seen throughout the ride. Along with the professional curse remover, the wicked witch Lilith herself, and the creepy-yet-cute, enchanted familiars Katbattikus the black cat and Croaky Weewing, a frog with bat wings, bring chills and smiles.

2023 has been an incredible year for Sally. The Haunted Hotel is the company’s third dark ride to open this year. The Hotel follows Uncharted: The Enigma of Penitence at PortAventura World in Spain, and Treasure Hunt: The Ride, a standalone dark ride co-produced with DWL Studios in Monterey, California. Sally will also debut fourth ride before the end of the year.

Enchantment, mystery, creativity, and manufacturing magic are the key ingredients for Sally’s spooky Funtown spell. To commemorate the ride’s opening Funtown hosted a ribbon cutting with the park’s team members, local media and guests. The City of Saco, Saco Main Street, and the Biddeford Saco Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined the park’s founder Violet Cormier and family members, Kim and Cory Cormier.

“We are thrilled with our new Haunted Hotel,” shared Bill Cormier, executive VP and second-generation owner, Funtown Splashtown. “Last year we got incredibly excited when the team at Sally began conjuring the ride concept for us. We were especially thrilled when they unveiled Lilith at IAAPA Expo in November. We have eagerly been waiting for her to cast her spell at the park ever since. Now our guests will join together to help banish Lilith and her curse as they ride through the Hotel.  Sally made true theme park magic for us.”

Up to four guests at a time can ride together on the Haunted Hotel’s custom ride vehicles. The cars mystically and seamlessly move through 14 dynamic scenes before culminating in a sudden visit through an otherworldly dimension to finally rid the Hotel of Lilith’s curse and free the spirits of the trapped guests.

For more than 45 years, Sally has developed rides around the world. With extensive experience working with intellectual properties representing some of the world’s most beloved brands, as well as developing original storylines, the Haunted Hotel was the perfect turnkey and original ride for the team. Detailed craftsmanship and creative storytelling ensure the Haunted Hotel is as visual as it is immersive. Funtown Splashtown is a seasonal theme park open May – September each year.