Dead End Hotel Interview

Dead End Hotel: Shepherdsville’s Newest Horror

By Noah Wullkotte

City Blood interviews Jason Weber, owner and operator of Dead End Hotel in Shepherdsville, KY. The creators of Nightmare Forest bring you a brand new haunt that’s invading Greater Louisville this Halloween Season. In this interview you’ll learn about the man behind the haunt and what you can expect to experience. Will you make it out alive at Dead End Hotel?

Tell us a little about the storyline of Dead End Hotel.
The Hotel was built in the 1940’s but had to close in the early 1970’s due to business declining after a strange and unfortunate murder. Justine Brown was found hanging in one of the rooms upstairs. Guests reported sightings of ghosts, and complained of the sound of footsteps in their room.  You will get to experience a tour of the entire hotel and the remains from the Carnival that used to reside at the hotel!

Was any research done to help create authentic looking hotel scenes?
TONS of research has been done and still is being done for this event.  None of us were around for the time frame this event is being designed in.

How do you plan on competing in an area with so many different attractions?
There are a lot of really good haunts in this market.  A lot of them have not changed over the years.  A lot of them don’t really market their event.  We are unique to any haunt in the area.  Haunts for the most part in the Louisville area kind of went stale since around 2000.  The haunts had quality, but kept the majority of their event the same.  We are going to completely change the event year after year.

Are there any similarities between Nightmare Forest and Dead End Hotel?
Absolutely not.  One thing that we wanted to not do is compete with ourselves.  Nightmare Forest is a multi haunt venue where none of the events are themed in the way that Dead End Hotel is.  This is a truly unique event.

Is Dead End Hotel a haunted house, a haunted trail or a combination of both?
I am glad you asked this question.  Dead End Hotel is a combination of both.  The majority of the event is indoor, but there are a few scenes outside to complete the theme in the earlier question.

What are some scenes customers can expect to see this Halloween season?
Dead End Hotel is based completely on a hotel.  The amenities include haunted bedrooms, a hotel bar, a back door gambling ring, a library, etc.

Why did you decide on Shepherdsville, Kentucky as a location for your brand new attraction?
This is an easy one.  First off the venue has ample parking.  You don’t have to pay to park.  Second, we are located right off of I-65.  Third, it is the only venue we have seen that can offer an indoor and outdoor attraction at one location.

When will you and your crew begin putting together Dead End Hotel and how long will it take to construct?
We have been in construction mode for over a month (approximately 6 weeks). We started R&D this past November.  Construction will run through August because we will put so much detail in this haunt that it’s going to be insane!

What are the biggest obstacles you face when building a brand new haunt?
Obviously the fact that you are starting from scratch is the first obstacle.  Then you have to get the word out and build hype for the event.  Any new haunt has it’s challenges.

How do you plan on promoting Dead End Hotel?
All I can say (without giving anything away) is we plan on using all medias to promote such as internet, radio, print, and possibly TV.

Since your storyline involves paranormal activity, do you play on using elements of the paranormal in your haunt?
Yes, we have several illusions and ghostly effects up our sleeves.

What was your favorite haunt growing up and why?
I would have to say the Haunted Hotel.  It was ran by Greg Defatta. I have a ton of respect for that man.  He changed the haunt completely every year while he had it.  He also was creative in his designs.  He didn’t just buy animatronics, throw them into a room, paint the room black and call it done.  He thought about what he was doing and was real creative.  He used a lot of illusions.  It really was something back then.

How did you first get involved in the haunt industry and which haunts have you been involved with?
We have done the Trail of Terror and Midnight Terror in Lexington, KY.  We also built the Village of Horrors in Fort Lauderdale, FL for AEG Live.

Jeff- I started building haunts as a kid in my basement every Halloween. From there I worked for Greg Defatta at the Haunted Hotel.  From there I branched out on my own and the rest is history.

Jason- I also built a haunt as a kid.  Ironically it was a trail located in a friend’s back yard.  We had a blast building it.  I eventually started working for Jeff at Nightmare Forest at Otter Creek and fell in love with everything about this industry.  I wouldn’t change what I do for the world!

City Blood would like to thank Jason Weber for agreeing to do this interview. Dead End Hotel is shaping up to be an entertaining haunt people can really look forward to. We would also like to thank Jeff Howlett for sharing how he got involved in the haunt industry. Jeff and Jason are the evil geniuses behind Dead End Hotel and Nightmare Forest.