Throughout our travels, we've already discovered much of Warsaw's museum scene. There are some great places to contemplate art and nature, and ones to reflect on history, tradition or music. What could possibly surprise us here? What could be new for us? While strolling through downtown Warsaw, close to the Old Town, we came across this particular place… It’s not a museum in the traditional sense, but it definitely gives you a unique experience, plus it’s based on traditions that last for centuries! People have told each other spooky stories to entertain themselves for hundreds of years, whether children, teenagers, adults, ladies, gentlemen, or grandmas knitting around the table with cups of tea. Fear provides you with kind of excitement full of thrill and mystery. How can you capture it and share it with the public? Following the theme „Do you wanna play a game?” we decided to explore what the Horror House in Warsaw (the only one in city!) is all about. The interactive Museum of Fear is fairly new in the capital and definitely worth checking out.
First off, we dug a little bit into the history of haunted houses. Obviously, people were telling each other scary stories back in ancient times, as legends about terrifying beasts or demons were always more satisfying to narrate. However, the first haunted house was officially opened quite „late” in 1915 in Liphook, England. In the 18th and 19th century, London and Paris flirted with dark gruesome themes in their literature and theatre of that era. In 1802, Marie Tussaud shook up a British audience by presenting to the public an exhibition of wax sculptures of decapitated victims of the French Revolution. Today, they can be seen in the Chamber of Horrors in Madam Tussauds in London (recommended only to very brave ones!). The first Halloween-themed haunted house was created in America during the Great Depression. Afterwords, there was a real boom starting that also included the Haunted Mansion, which opened in Disneyland in 1969. Fear became a popular form of entertainment.
Poland had to wait a little longer for their first, proper Horror House, but it was worth it; the Warsaw location is the second such place in the country. We asked one of the founders, Marcin Szymański, where the idea came from:
Well, we were just tired with our jobs at the time and we really wanted to make some changes. At the beginning, we thought of opening a „casual” escape room as they were getting more and more popular and one was appearing after another. After a while though, we decided that investing in place like many others in Warsaw is just pointless… It would be too difficult to stand out among the ones that were already existing. We decided to make a move in the totally different direction and to open something that would be absolutely new in the city (there was only one before in Poland). We decided to create the Hunted House. At the US it was crazy popular at the time. It’s a different sort of entertainment, it’s something new, something that attracts plenty of people despite their ages. Many folks need this sort of adrenaline injection. It turned out to be a great idea and soon we opened the second Horror House, at the New World street, also in Warsaw.
Throughout the centuries we fear the similar things. Therefore, it can be said that the Horror House is the living Museum of human’s greatest nightmares. Marcin didn’t really want to share too many details about the exposition:
We are building the tension from the very beginning and each element of the show is equally frightening. Each person who enters the House can feel like a main character from the horror movie for the next twenty minutes. We are trying to adjust each show to the group that is coming and quite often guys help us by sharing what are they’re scared the most. We really can’t reveal more secrets so we don’t want to spoil the fun for our future guests.
However, what can and should be revealed are the rules that all the visitors need to get to know before the enter the Hunted House. They are quite strict, because playing with fear can get sometimes serious. All the visitors need to be over fourteen years old unless they have the signed permission by their parents or guardians. During the shows the group (best between two to six participants) has to move in the complete darkness. They don’t receive any torch at the beginning of the tour, they need to find it on the way! Because of the darkness it’s absolutely recommended so all participants stay close and moving back is forbidden! As the „exhibits” are actually alive and played by the professional actors they need to be treated with respect. Neither them or the elements of decoration or props can be touched or moved. They whole place is perfectly monitored by the organizers who make sure that all the tours are safe for you and for the actors. Marcin adds:
We really do recommend the tour only to people over fourteen years old. Talking from the experience the youngsters never last till the end of the tour. Also, we definitely do not recommend our shows for people with heart problems, asthma, epilepsy, phobias of darkness, spiders or narrow spaces. Pregnant women shouldn’t also take part in the tours…
If you are still brave enough to enter the Horror House then we definitely recommend it as the shows are carefully prepared so after „surviving” such tour the satisfaction is huge. We asked Marcin about the plans for future but he remained mysterious once again.
We keep developing. We do have several ideas and we are slowly bringing them to life. We don’t want to share anything yet though to not jinx it… 😉
There are two Horror Houses in Warsaw and you can choose between two themes. The one at the Old Town is based on the classical theme of the haunted hospital for mentally ill and the second one at the New World Street is set in the „Butchery”. Both places can surely deliver plenty of shock and adrenaline. Before entering the world of Horror House you need to answer the one fundamental question: „Do you like to get scared?”…