Do You Remember This Long-Lost Attraction At Funtown That Vanished 20 Years Ago?
For many Maine residents and out-of-staters, a trip to Funtown/Splashtown U.S.A. is part of your summertime DNA. Like so many others, I look forward to a ride on the Excalibur, a slow jaunt on the antique cars, and however you'd describe an experience in the Astrosphere. But there is one attraction that is truly missed at Funtown, one that left people with lasting memories and moments of nostalgia. 20 years ago, Funtown closed the Haunted Mansion.
According to the history section of its website, Funtown says the Haunted Mansion was closed in 1996 "due to the high risk of operation". The mansion had opened 10 years prior and quickly became one of the highlights of visiting Funtown every summer. It was Funtown's only attraction that featured live actors. I still remember the fear I felt as a child seeing real people inside a prison cell begging for my grandfather and I to let them out. Chilling for an 8-year old boy.
What might be more chilling to some is the lack of proof the Haunted Mansion ever existed on the internet. Dave Gagne, a former cast member at the mansion, had hosted a website that featured photos of the old crew and the building before it was burned to the ground in 1998. Unfortunately, that site is no longer active, leaving all of our reminiscing to our active imaginations.
Oh, and if you're too young to have ever experienced the Haunted Mansion at Funtown, then picture this. A perfectly gray house, weather beaten, surrounded by a iron fence filled with cobwebs. Windows boarded shut and if you were lucky enough to visit in the evening, only a faint candlelight protruding from the inside. It couldn't have been more perfect.
One lasting memory I have, and still think back on, is when I was child, my grandparents would bring me to Martel's Ice Cream right across Route 1 from Funtown. From Martel's front deck, you could see the backside of the Haunted Mansion. Beyond seeing it though, you could also hear the screams. The screams of those guests passing through the attraction and "enjoying" themselves.
Funtown/Splashtown is undoubtedly still a summertime destination with dozens of attractions to entertain the whole family. But part of me still misses the thrill of being scared. The chill of being amongst zombies before the Walking Dead was cool. Hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the rusty gates of Funtown's Haunted Mansion closed for good. R.I.P.