Haunted hotel opens in Toronto

TORONTO – It’s that time of year again when the ghosties come out at night and the chills that thrill beckon those in search of a scary good time.

That time begins this evening when the Haunted Goucher Hotel, 241 N. Fourth St., opens its goulish doors beginning at 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The mayhem continues every Friday and Saturday evening through Nov. 2, and tickets this year are $13 per person. The hotel changes annually, and Buster Bowman, theatrical producer, said this year’s production will offer those brave enough a few frights to remember.

“We’ve got an entire new production this year,” said Bowman. “The theme this year is that Mr. Goucher’s biggest fear was losing his family, and his second biggest fear was losing his mind.

“The hotel is actually a character this year, and it’s living and breathing,” continued Bowman. “That’s what’s driving this year’s production. It wants to drive Mr. Goucher mad. The hotel is what drove him crazy.”

Although the the Goucher Haunted Hotel is but a production now, invented by Bowman and between 45 to 50 volunteers, the hotel really once was own by a prominent family named Goucher. The building has housed several businesses since the hotel closed decades ago, and Goucher residents still remaining in Ohio have given the haunted hotel its blessing. Bowman said the entire theme behind the facade is partially based in fact but mostly fiction.

“(For this year’s theme) Mr. Goucher was locked up in the hotel, but he was really locked up in his mind,” said Bowman, adding the hotel takes those attending through the mind of Mr. Goucher.

He also said the Goucher differs from other haunted houses in that it’s a production complete with storyline and characters who reveal themselves at unexpected times.

“Every room has its own theme,” he said, adding characters in Mr. Goucher’s mind include an imaginary friend in a straight jacket. “What we do here is that nothing is as it seems.”

The construction of the haunted hotel takes plenty of time and preparation, and Bowman said his crew would be burning the midnight oil until check-in time. It’s all about having a scary, good time, he added.

“We’re not an ‘extreme’ haunted house,” Bowman said. “People can come here and expect to be entertained. As long as they are, that’s all that matters.”

A portion of proceeds from the admission also goes to WTOV-TV’s Coats for Kids program, said Bowman.

“From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays we are doing a tour for children,” said Bowman, adding admission is $6 per child. “It’s a children’s show. They come in and go through the house with an adult guide they know they can trust and be safe with.”

The Goucher also will post updates, including specials and other surprises, on its Facebook page, at www.Facebook.com/thegoucherhotel. Information can be found at www.thegoucherhotel.com.

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline.com.)