New Haunted House Brings Life Back to Manayunk’s Mad River Space

-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events

One year ago Hurricane Ida devastated the region and shuttered the famous Mad River in Manayunk. The building owner has joined forces with a local artist and designer to take back the story and debut Philadelphia’s scariest and largest new haunted house.

Lincoln Mill Haunted House will debut in Manayunk at 4100 Main Street from early October to early November, for five weekends. Lincoln Mill will feature over 40 live scare-actors, production quality sets, props, animatronics, and special effects such as fog, strobes, and flashing lights. The attraction is intended to be VERY scary. In fact, the owners want it to be the scariest haunted house in the greater Philadelphia region. The main haunted house event will run at night Thursday, Friday, and Saturday starting October 6th through November 5th. Tickets are sold in hour time slots starting from 6:45pm to 11:45pm. For those that aren’t into very scary attractions, there will be a more family-oriented event every Saturday from 12-4pm with no scare actors. 

Lincoln Mill Haunted House is Philadelphia’s newest haunted attraction. The attraction will take guests on a journey through an interactive living story.  The attraction features over 40 live scare-actors, production quality sets, props, animatronics, and breath-taking special effects. The attraction is intended to be VERY scary during evening hours! The attraction’s backstory emerged from a tragic event that occurred in 2021…On September 2, 2021, Hurricane Ida struck Philadelphia and flooded the Mill to historic water levels.

Lincoln Mill Haunted House is a partnership between owners Brian Corcodilos, who owns the building, and Jared Bilsak who is the creative mastermind behind the design and storyline.

Corcodilos oversees 25 employees at Designblendz, recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America in 2020 on the INC 5000 list at #579.  Brian has a passion for teaching and loves to help drive others to success. Whether he is speaking in front of thousands of people, mentoring 1-on-1, or business coaching a small group, he captivates his audience with his energetic truth-telling stories. He runs a podcast on Apple iTunes called the New How Podcast, interviewing business owners around building businesses through the use of new technology.

Bilsak is a licensed architect at Breslin Architects in Allentown, Pennsylvania specializing  in K-12 School Architecture. Jared is also LEED Accredited Professional, WELL Accredited Professional, Construction Document Technologist and an FAA Certified Drone Pilot.  

The two met in 2009, at Philadelphia University (now Jefferson University). Corcodilos was a sophomore at the time while Bilsak was a Freshman.  They met through Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity (AXP) where Corcodilos was Bilsak’s “Big Brother”.  In 2012, the Fraternity was seeking new ideas for charitable events on campus.  Bilsak had a background in creating Haunted Houses at his childhood home each October season. He floated the idea out to Corcodilos about doing a haunted house on campus in the historic Ravenhill Mansion.  The likeliness of the school ever letting two fraternity guys turn their most historic and valuable building on campus seemed very unlikely at the time… Corcodilos decided to pitch the idea to the school’s leadership and somehow they let them move forward with the idea!

They successfully ran the haunted house entitled “Ravenkill Mansion” during the last weekend in October for the remainder of their time in college. Each brother in the fraternity was an actor inside of the haunted house.  They divided up the mansion into smaller rooms and introduced many special effects and characters throughout.  The haunted house attracted hundreds of college students and members of the community and all proceeds were raised towards the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  After they both graduated, they returned each October season and led the Fraternity to continue carrying out the event until about 2018.

During these college years of running “Ravenkill Mansion”, they thought it would be fun to one day open up their own professional haunted house. They will realize this dream with the opening of Lincoln Mill Haunted House.

When asked how the idea came together, they said to flash forward ten years when Corcodilos purchased the old Mad River in Manayunk, Philadelphia during the COVID-19 pandemic and was seeking a tenant for the first floor.  It wasn’t long after when Hurricane Ida struck Philadelphia and flooded the Lincoln Mill to historic water levels. The building suffered significant water damage and he was concerned about finding the right tenant for the space.

Somewhere along the line, he had a flashback to their old college days of operating Ravenkill Mansion and saw a new business opportunity. He reached out to Bilsak about the idea.. Bilsak had been running a haunted house at his residential home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at the time and had been content with his home haunt operation.  After seeing the photos from the flood on facebook specifically of the Lincoln Mill under water, Bilsak saw high risk in the venture and was not interested.

They met several months later and after a few drinks, discussed the idea again. They analyzed the flood maps over the course of 200 hundred years and discovered that the latest flood was one of the worst in history and after weighing the odds, they decided to give it a go!

They decided to use their biggest fear, the potential of another flood, to their advantage.  The flood became the premise to the backstory…

A majority of haunted houses do not seem to have a backstory and characters that audiences know prior to arriving on site.  The cofounders are completely story driven and have designed this attraction, pulling from both fact and fiction to blur the boundaries between the local history and our attraction’s folklore. They used their greatest fear, the potential of another flood, as the premise for their own story. The intent is that audiences will learn about the story and characters prior to arriving on site via social media pages so when they encounter the iconic characters inside the attraction, it sends shivers down their spines!

Bilsak said, “We understand that not everyone likes to be scared but may be interested in the story.  On Saturdays during the day, we will be offering an experience through the attraction with no scare-actors.  The focus will be a scavenger hunt inside, where guests have to journey through and find totems to detect the ghosts that haunt the mill. If they find all of the ghosts in a limited amount of time, they get entered into a raffle to win prizes!”

The flood significantly damaged the mill’s interior and revealed a hidden chamber located below the basement level. Countless bodies were found and a dark truth was discovered about the mill’s past.  Local authorities determined that during the 1930s, Viktor Kane, the mill owner, tormented and experimented on his workers. Countless workers lost their lives and their spirits continue to haunt the mill. Construction has since been halted and the mill will open up for guests to experience its dark past for themselves. Explore the Chamber, if you dare.

Tickets are officially on sale now – and one dollar from each ticket will be donated to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Saturday daytime tickets are $24 each from 12:00pm to 4:00pm, and general admission for other times is $29. VIP tickets start at $55 each and up. Look for news of food trucks, local breweries and more to be announced in coming weeks. For more information, visit www.ilncolnmillhaunt.com.

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