Long-Lost Attraction: The Infamous Haunted Mansion at Funtown in Saco, Maine
It may be one of those childhood memories that you can't shake. A family trip to Funtown in the late '80s through the early-to-mid '90s was filled with a few crystal clear memories as your approached the park. You'd see the rollercoaster, log flume, and something else that unmistakably caught your eye. A somewhat dilapidated gray-greenish house with boarded up windows. It wasn't there by mistake. No, that was the Haunted Mansion, a short-lived but beloved attraction for so many Funtown visitors for a decade.
Believe it or not, the Haunted Mansion wasn't even technically part of Funtown. It belonged to the now defunct Cascade Water and Amusement Park, which would later rebrand as Splashtown. According to Funtown's History, the Haunted Mansion opened in 1986, but had to close in 1996 due to "the high risk of operation". Expenses were high, and the attraction had a heightened fear level that left some visitors overwhelmed. But its closure left a creepy little hole in the Funtown/Splashtown experience for many.
Thankfully, a webpage was launched by a former employee and actor at the Haunted Mansion named Dave Gagne that brought together a collection of photos and stories about the fabled attraction. All of the photos featured in this article are from that page, and it's worth a visit, as Gagne has collected more material from former employees and actors over the years.
The Haunted Mansion itself was about the scariest attraction in New England at the time of its operation. Before the days of full-blown Halloween experiences throughout the region, the Haunted Mansion served as the predominant scare in Maine and New Hampshire. The building was creepy, the fencing was creepy, and the place even had a hearse parked outside just to remind you that death was on the doorstep. Inside the "mansion", there were live actors just to bring an extra level of scare to the experience. If you've ever been to Disney's Haunted Mansion, you know there's a certain level of silly to it. The Haunted Mansion at Funtown was far more authentically SCARY.
When the decision was made to close the attraction, the house itself needed to be dealt with. Facing massive costs to remove the building, a decision was made to simply burn the former attraction to the ground. All of those hauntings over the years went up in flames. Some of the pictures of that controlled burn are simply stunning.
Funtown remains the home of some incredibly thrilling attractions, but even after being gone over 25 years, fans continue to reminisce about the Haunted Mansion. It was the place you promised you weren't scared of until you approached that gothic fence and thought to yourself, "I've made a mistake."