Mansfield Haunted Prison Experience

The previous weekend, we went to Mansfield Prison as part of Grace’s local college alumnae seasonal get-together. While we missed the alum group because of a late start, we did go through the annual the Haunted Prison Experience run at the old prison. It’s the first time we went through one of those Halloween “haunted house” amusements that seem to be all over Northeast Ohio.

We got there as the doors opened, but well after the ticket booth opened, so we waited on line for about an hour before we actually went in, a little after sunset. Here are some shots of the facility from the line:

Mansfield Reformatory pictures

Most of the crowd were younger, with a few clusters of older people here and there (was the alum group one of those?). It was Saturday, and I guess this was date night, with a few haunted thrills before or after dinner, I suppose. By the time we entered the prison, the line had more than tripled in length with the after-dinner crowd. Annoyingly, more than half the people on line smoked.

A large fraction of the Mansfield police force also appeared to be on the grounds. I don’t think they were expecting any awful goings-on; this just happened to be by far the largest congregation of people in the area and you have to provide basic crowd control and traffic direction.

Once we were through the door, the people running the experience sent us through in 10-person groups. The “plot” of the experience was straight out of video game cliche: an experiment in the old prison had gone horribly wrong, and the researchers and subjects have turned into flesh-eating zombies! Throw in interdimensional gateways and give us pump action shotguns, and you have the old Doom. Doom was scarier, though.

Basically, there are dim-lit rooms decorated with somewhat more expensive versions of the Halloween things you find at the local drug store: grotesque figures, skeletal remains, glow-in-the-dark ghouls. There might have been a strobe or two somewhere; I don’t remember exactly. In almost all the rooms, a Halloween Experience employee will jump out from a darkened corner and basically yell, “Boo!” Occasionally, he’ll have a toy chainsaw growling away.

We could see why the groups had to be somewhat separated: the employees needed a moment or two to reset themselves in their dark corners. We were at the back of our group, so all these shocks fired off about 10 feet in front of us, leaving us with only mild giggles. Grace said, “hello there!” to any number of the purported ghouls with their masks.

I spent a lot of time peering up at the remains of the prison. You can glimpse the peeling paint in the dark, and see the outlines of the small cells. Last century’s architecture of incarceration was more interesting than the 20-minute “Experience”, even though we couldn’t see most of it in the dark. Next summer, when the weather is warmer, we need to go back to Mansfield for the guided tours of the facility.

One Response to “Mansfield Haunted Prison Experience”

  1. vikki Says:

    Me and a few friend just now went to the prison. They did not let us go in little groups they was just letting people go in, so it really wasn’t all that bad because you could see the people going back into the corners and the cells. But, it was very good looking around at the old prison it’s self.