TORONTO - They say you can check in - but you can never leave.
So goes the legend of the Goucher Haunted Hotel, 241 N. Fourth St., which will begin hosting visitors at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.
The ghoulish good time continues at 7 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through Nov. 3, with a "lights on" matinee from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. This year's attraction is filled with fresh frights for those daring to enter, according to Buster Bowman, creative director. "Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m.," said Bowman, adding tickets are $10 per person. "The doors open at 7 p.m. The Sunday show is for kids, and there are no actors there."
FRIGHTFUL GOOD TIME — Buster Bowman takes a moment with an old friend while working at the Goucher Haunted Hotel recently. The frightful festivity at 241 N. Fourth St. in Toronto will open for visitors at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28. - Mark Miller
The history of the Goucher, which at one time was a real hotel, is part fact and part fantasy, according to its website:
"It seems the luxurious 30-room Goucher Hotel was 'cursed' from the very beginning," according to the website. "During its construction, laborers incurred injuries, several were maimed from construction accidents and one fell to his death while helping place the cornerstone at the top of the building."
But more calamities and horror were to come.
"It wasn't long after the grand opening of the Goucher Hotel when tragedy struck the building once again," the website reads. "Six guests, a bellhop, Mr. Goucher's wife, Anna, and his beloved 8-year-old daughter were killed when the elevator transporting them to the suites on the top floor crashed to the basement as a result of the cables snapping. A devastated Samuel Goucher immediately shut down his luxury hotel where he locked himself in becoming a recluse for the next 46 years."
Fact? Fiction? Bowman isn't saying. But the hotel is for a good cause, he insisted.
"A portion of the proceeds go toward WTOV-TV's Coats for Kids program," said Bowman. adding the production is basically theater. "It's just like a theater production, with actors. We have a pretty good production crew. We have one guy who's been doing haunted houses for 25 years. There are are eight of us on the production crew, and we each focus on different aspects. There will be close to 50 actors."
Last year the production attracted 2,100 visitors, and Bowman hopes for even more this season. He added there will be some new spooky happenings this year, with dire names such as "Buried Alive," Madame Goyette" and "Kale and Komar's Curtains of Chaos." Bowman knows what these new attractions are, but he's not spilling the beans. It's taken quite some time to put the new house together, and this year's production will be more elaborate than ever, said Bowman.
"We took a month off to get through the Christmas season and began having pre-production meetings in January," Bowman said, adding building renovation began in March. "Every year it gets more and more intense. There's a lot more animation this year. We will have some additional attractions outside."
Bowman said this year's frights will take a new twist, as the house and production features a theme.
"This year the theme revolves around a dark spirit that has taken over the hotel, and he has full control over the entire hotel and the spirits that reside here," he said.