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Building a New Nightmare in the Gorge


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Nightmare in the Gorge is the annual haunted attraction hosted by ACE Adventure Resort kicking off October 12th. Over the last four years Nightmare in the Gorge has grown to become southern West Virginia’s scariest haunted attraction. Each year we have invested more time, energy, and money into growing the attraction to where it is today as an amazing West Virginia haunted house.

The Mad Butcher in his warehouse at Nightmare in the Gorge haunted house at ACE Adventure Resort in West Virginia.

Evolution of the haunt

The evolution of the Nightmare in the Gorge haunt has come a long way in four years. We have learned a lot and put all that newfound knowledge into our production. The first year we produced a haunted trail that brought our guest’s in and out of various buildings. This “half mile of terror” certainly kept event management busy running from scene to scene.

Characters in full makeup on the outdoor sets for Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

In our second year we knew we had to condense our haunt into a smaller footprint and thus the Warehouse of Terror was born. Utilizing a 10,000+ square foot building we began leading our guests into this hillbilly shop of horrors. After that second season we were ready to grow the haunt and bring it to the next level so we attended the Transworld Halloween and Haunt Show in St. Louis, Missouri.

Scenes from Transworld Halloween and Haunt Show to inspire the new innovations for Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

This convention is the largest of its kind for professionals in the Halloween business. In just three days we took over 13 classes, met legends in the industry, and began our million-dollar wish list of props, costumes, and all things scary.

Scenes from Transworld Halloween and Haunt show to inspire Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort.

Scripting a New Nightmare

During our first year we walked around and said this will be a scene. Now, what character goes here? What props do we need? These days everything is pre-planned and mapped out before the construction begins. Using all that knowledge from Transworld we map out our space and design a maze that will confuse and disorient guests, lots of twists and turns! Along with mapping out the physical space we also script the haunt experience itself. This really helps us to visualize what the guests will experience while wandering through the attraction. The script then becomes instructions on how to build the set, how to light the scene, how to train the actors. Learning this technique of scripting the haunt has really been one of the best lessons in our haunt journey.

Outdoor scenes and props are setup for haunted houses at Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Horrifying Characters Bring The Attraction to Life

Once we have our sets and scenes laid out it is time to design our scary characters. Another takeaway from those Transworld seminars was to build great characters and empower the actors who are the life of the haunt here at ACE Adventure Resort. All of our characters have a profile explaining who they are, why they are here, what is their history, and what their job is in the haunt. The guests may never know a characters name or why they like to kill but this helps the actors build that character and really bring them to life. For the most part all of our characters are original creations minus some classics we couldn’t help but add into the script.

Haunted house characters in costume for Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Building a Terrifying Haunted Attraction

Once the majority of the experience is laid out the time comes to build our monster haunt attraction. During the summer months the Warehouse of Terror is actually our base of operations for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, mountain biking and other adventure activities. This building also houses our maintenance, grounds, janitorial and housekeeping staff so a full conversion of the space usually begins in mid-August. Pre-fabricated walls and pallets create the maze structure before our haunt team moves in to detail each set and create a home for our scary monsters.

The boat house and staging area for Nightmare in the Gorge haunted house attractions at ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Opening Night October 12th

Going into our 4th season we are ready to show you why we are southern West Virginia’s scariest haunt. Get your tickets now for  opening night October 12th as the Rehmeyer family unleashes their terror on the guests at ACE Adventure Resort. We will be open Friday’s & Saturdays in October and this year we will also be doing a Lights Out night Saturday November 3rd. Are you ready to face your fears this fall?

Lights Out poster for event at Nightmare in the Gorge at ACE Adventure Resort

Chris Colin author at aceraft.com
BY Chris Colin

Chris Colin is a raft guide, whitewater kayaker, active caver, and as Special Events Coordinator at ACE he manages, promotes, and executes special events like the Mountain Music Festival.