Haunted Hotel - Michelle Klein, Lynette Coffey and Kayla Porter (organizers of the Wawota Haunted Hotel – CarnEvil) say that the annual “haunt” offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a frighteningly good time – while helping to raise funds for the community.

Thin lights push back against the deepening darkness, revealing visions that have spilled out of your deepest fears. You step forward when suddenly, the air all around you is thick with a hideous cacophony of crazed laughter and terrified screams.
Eyes wide… you turn and…
If this were a nightmare, you would probably wake up right about here.
But this is no nightmare.
Welcome to the Wawota Haunted Hotel’s “CarnEvil”.
Lynette Coffey, Michelle Klein and Kayla Porter are the three enthusiastic (and not-so-evil) organizers of the annual “haunt” that occupies the second floor of the Wawota Hotel.
This manifestation began seven years ago when Lynette put forward an idea of creating a Haunted House to go along with an existing fundraiser.
“Every fall, we have some kind of a ‘MOvember’ fundraiser for Prostate Cancer here at the hotel” says Kayla. “Seven years ago, Danni Dennis and I were planning our MOvember event when Lynette came up with the idea of doing a haunt.”
“I love Halloween!” says Lynette. “And everyone else who’s involved in this does as well. So, we came up with the idea of doing a Haunted House that we could incorporate into the MOvember fundraiser.”
“Lynette’s passion was contagious,” Michelle says with a laugh. “Kayla and Danni got on board with the idea and organized the first haunt for that event. I got involved in year two when they decided to put on another one.
From then on, the Haunted Hotel just kept growing!”
Guests at the Wawota Haunted Hotel must find their way through 14 different rooms on their own. This permits a spontaneous interaction between the actors and people going through that Michelle says significantly improves the experience.
“We had guided tours through the haunt for a while. But even when they’re trying not to give anything away – a guide might still ‘react’ when they know something is about to happen. That gives the people on the tour a kind of ‘heads up’.
“People told us that they would find it much scarier it they had to find their way through the haunt themselves. So, we created a lit ‘pathway’ that people could follow.”
“You can really tell that people find that scarier,” Lynette observes. “Even if you’re going through with your friends, someone has to be first, and someone else has to be last. You can’t all be in the middle!’ And when a group comes up here, it’s easy to see that nobody wants to be first or last!”
The overall design of the Haunted Hotel incorporates elements that organizers say most people would find frightening.
“I like to include things in the haunt that I’m scared of,” says Lynette. “A lot of people are afraid of the same types of things, like dark hallways. So, if something terrifies me – I tend to think that other people will be afraid of that too.”
“We try to add things that play around with the five senses too,” Michelle points out. “If there are physical elements that have a specific sensory impact, it just makes this a scarier place.”
However, each year’s ‘performance’ is built around a unique plan.
“Every year, we decide on a specific ‘theme’ for the haunted house,” explains Michelle. “Then the people that want to be involved ask for a room and think about what they want to do and how they want their room to be set up. They give Lynette their plan and she coordinates the whole thing so that it will flow properly.”
But it is the “human touch” that organizers say makes the Wawota Haunted Hotel a more thrilling “personalized” experience.
“Most of our frights are supplied by our actors” explains Kayla. “We have no animatronics and that makes it more frightening. Actors can pick their moment and decide what they’re going to do to make that moment scarier.”
“We also like to give people a different experience each time they go through, even if they decide to go through the haunt multiple times,” notes Michelle.
“For example, we have a couple of ladies that come through 7-8 times every year. “When we see somebody like that coming, we send a message down the line to the actors. That lets them know there’s a ‘repeat visitor’ coming and they should change things up. So, no two visits are ever the same!”
“There are times when the actors will know the people who are going through,” adds Lynette. “They might have a sense of what that person might fear, and they can use that. And they can play off of the different reactions that people are having.”
Michelle says that the project allows everyone involved to express their creativity and share it with their guests and other members of the community.
“We have a fantastic group of really creative people working on this! Lynette has painted a lot of the original artwork that you see in here. Our members also do a great job of building their rooms. And if needed, we have someone who can help with building props.
“Several of us have gotten pretty good at doing make-up too. So, this year, our local library is hosting a ‘Make-up Effects’ workshop for teenagers and a few of us are going over there to teach them how to do special effects and latex make-up.”
Since the Haunted Hotel began, the organizers say that it has raised a significant amount of money for the community.
“All the money that we raise goes back into the community and our local area,” says Lynette. “We’ve donated to the Wawota Forum and the Curling Club. In past years, we donated to the Moose Mountain Lions Club for the Outdoor Space at Kenosee Lake.
“The people from the Wawota Daycare put on a “Kid’s Haunted Hotel” here each year too, and the daycare gets the money from that.
“We’ve also decided to donate $500 to the school. That money can be given to a student who is involved in some aspect of the arts, to help them to develop their talent.”
Michelle adds that the Haunted Hotel also provides a boost for the local economy.
“We support our local businesses by shopping for everything that we need in our community. And this brings business to the community. The hotel in particular is very busy on those nights. People will come from other towns and make a night of it! In 2019 for example, we even had people from Swift Current come for our Haunted Hotel!”
She notes that in response, both individuals and businesses in Wawota have been generous in supporting the Haunted Hotel.
“We get an incredible amount of support from the community!
“The Chimo Building Centre in Wawota donates all of the black plastic that we need, cuts lumber for us and gives us a discount each year. Our local Thrift Store puts items that they think we’d like aside for us. The Wawota Farm & Auto Supply has also donated a lot of materials for us. And Rene Lupien (Veracity Creative) did some photos for us last year that were amazing!
“But there’s also many individuals that donate to us. Doug Carpenter for example, donates the tent that we use for our outdoor portion each year. People like Lynette’s mom have volunteered to feed us and help where they can. And other people donate things to us that they think we could use. It’s just awesome!”
Although everyone involved with the Wawota Haunted Hotel strive to make it a memorable experience, Michelle stresses that the actors are focused on ensuring that that all of their guests remember their visit for the right reasons.
“All of us are very respectful of the people that some here. If we see that somebody is just getting too scared, or someone says that they need to leave, the actors will pull back and one of us will escort them out and make sure they’re ok.
“We’re not out to push anybody past their limits. We don’t want people to be terrorized. This is all about having fun, and it’s not fun when people are terrorized. So, people can know when they come here, that they will have a good, safe, scare!”

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