In 2021, Hurricane Ida ripped its way through parts of the City of Brotherly Love, and the trail it left rendered some businesses damaged and even destroyed. Mad River knows all too well what that feels like, and the once-wildly popular Manayunk destination was massively flooded, adding to the tens of millions of dollars in damage to buildings, restaurants and small businesses in the area.
However, Mad River has decided to make lemons into lemonade—or rather, abandoned storefronts into haunted houses.
As a release states, the shuttered space that was Mad River will now be transformed into a new haunted house that aims to be the scariest in the region. Officially titled Lincoln Mill Haunted House, the venue will feature over 40 live scare actors, production-quality sets, props, animatronics, and special effects such as fog, strobes, and flashing lights when it opens this weekend on Oct 7.
The experience itself leads visitors through a “living story,” where a hurricane has destroyed the building—now a mill, for plot purposes — and what was discovered after the flooding subsided, Philadelphians will be able to see for themselves.
The main haunted house event will run at night every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Nov. 5. Tickets are sold in hour time slots from 6:45 to 11:45 p.m., but there are also options for those that aren’t into very scary attractions. A more family-oriented experience will happen every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. with no scare actors, and during this time, there will be an integrated scavenger hunt instead.
Lincoln Mill Haunted House is a partnership between owners Brian Corcodilos, who owns the building, and Jared Bilsak, who created the design and storyline.
“Hurricane Ida caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to buildings and other infrastructure. We decided to use one of our greatest fears, the potential of another flood occurring, to our advantage. We felt that a present-day event, Hurricane Ida should become the premise to our story due to its significant impact on the area,” explained Corcodilos in a statement.
“Inhabitants living in the Philadelphia region, especially in Manayunk, knew how devastating the flood was and most likely saw some photos of the Lincoln Mill underwater on Facebook. We also might have never created this attraction if the flood did not occur.”
Flooding was a central part of the design both for the haunted house, and for the building itself. The building owner went on to explain the major renovations made to remediate potential flooding in the future.
And along with Corcodilos, Bilsak came on the project as a licensed architect at Breslin Architects in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At the time of the Lincoln Mill’s inception, Bilsak had been running a haunted house at his residential home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After seeing photos of the flooding on Facebook, and after some meetings, the duo decided to—in their words—use their biggest fear “the potential of another flood,” to their advantage. The flood ultimately became the premise to the backstory.
The official synopsis for Lincoln Mill Haunted House follows Viktor Kane, the mill owner, and also the villain in this story who caused many of his employees to die under sinister circumstances. After a hurricane rips through the mill, what’s left is a lot of mess to clean up in the form of ghosts, monsters and villainous characters.
“We knew we needed a strong story, a hook that gave a meaning to the design and attraction,” Bilsak added in a statement. “Before putting pen to paper or touching our design software, we spent weeks brainstorming and writing. Three variables rose to the surface which would become the key ingredients to our backstory.”
Those ingredients being Hurricane Ida (a present day event), Manayunk’s Textile Mill History (the historical past) and their own “iconic villain” (Viktor Kane) who built a hidden chamber. And as the owners state, the intent is that audiences will learn about the story and characters prior to arriving on-site via social media pages so they know who they are encountering when entering the building. Even for the scavenger hunts.
“We understand that not everyone likes to be scared but may be interested in the story,” Bialisk finished. “On Saturdays during the day, we will be offering an experience through the attraction with no scare-actors. The focus will be a scavenger hunt inside, where guests have to journey through and find totems to detect the ghosts that haunt the mill. If they find all of the ghosts in a limited amount of time, they get entered into a raffle to win prizes.”
Tickets for Lincoln Mill (4100 Main St.) are on sale, with $1 from each ticket being donated to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Saturday daytime tickets are $24 each, and general admission for other times is $29. VIP tickets start at $55. Visitors can also look for news of food trucks, local breweries and more to be announced in coming weeks. For information, visit lincolnmillhaunt.com