YORKTOWN, Va. - Michael Allen loves giving people a good scare and engineering. It all started when he was 10-years-old. He and his friends created a haunt in his yard to scare trick-or-treaters. That evolved year after year as Allen looked to YouTube videos to improve his haunts. Now, in his sixth year, he's built Granby Manor, loosely based on Disney's Haunted Mansion, except with local stories.
Granby Manor is run by a team of high-schoolers, but they all treat it like a full-blown production with seriousness and professionalism. Thanks to that, The Scare Factor, which is a website reviewing and rating Halloween attractions, named Granby Manor the fourth-best in Virginia.
"Engineering is a big part of this haunted house. It’s not just carpentry. The ceiling going up, the doors, there’s pulleys and levers and knobs. It's a whole lot of stuff," said Michael Allen a few hours before the gates opened.
The haunt tells the tale of the Granby Family, including Edward Granby, Madame Leota and Mister Ramsley. Allen and his team started planning last August, before the previous Granby Manor even closed. The construction began in November and he and his team diligently built and timed every aspect of the haunt precisely, all for a good scare. There are
"I'm speechless. It's the best part of the job is seeing people's reaction," said Allen.
Behind the scenes, there is a control room where every part of the tour is on camera in real time. This allows a team member to ensure everything flows and can shut down the scary sections if they need to. Plus, it allows Allen to make improvements on the haunt. The team scrambles before show time, making sure their costumes are perfect, makeup done well and all the paranormal ready to jump out.
"They really do bring the whole haunt together. Without them this would be a bunch of decorations and a weird ceiling that goes up on its own," said Allen.
It's clear the haunted Granby Manor is much more than that.