Halloween Horror Nights Orlando attraction


Image from the now defunct, hauntzone.net.

Hellgate Prison
Attraction type Haunted House
Event Halloween Horror Nights XIV
Park Universal Studios Florida
Area Production Central
Year 2004
Housed in Soundstage 20
Based on Original
Followed By RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears (2015)

Hellgate Prison was one of the seven haunted houses that were featured during Halloween Horror Nights XIV. It was located in Soundstage 20 along with Horror in Wax.

History and Location[edit | edit source]

In 2004, Universal decided to have a haunted house similar to the popular Psycho Scareapy house from the previous year. Instead of having insane asylum patients taking over the asylum, it would have prisoners taking over a prison. This was also one of the first haunted houses with an in-depth queue video.

The house would be one of two located in Soundstage 20 (the closest soundstage to Islands of Adventure), the other one being Horror in Wax. Soundstage 20 is one of the larger soundstage facilities designed to be used as filming locations for movies and television shows.

Afterwards the house had a bit of controversy due to how intense and "raunchy" the house was. However, nowadays the house is praised one of the most intense and frightening houses in the events history.

Hellgate Prison would return as the setting for the 2015 haunted house, RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears. The house also was the first to feature Old Smokey, an electric chair used many times as a prop in future Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses.

Description[edit | edit source]

Warden Robert L. Strickland's monument to himself where paying visitors suddenly find themselves lost and alone inside the penitentiary's cell-blocks, corridors, and secret chambers... alone with a prison population of insane inmates, crazed convicts, and convicted criminals with nothing to lose before they walk the "last mile" to sit on top of Old Smokey, the world's most excruciatingly painful electric chair.

Get ready for cruel and unusual punishment as the inmates have overpowered the guards.

Backstory[edit | edit source]

On January 28th 1890, a man by the name of Stanley R. Rails was born in Seattle, Washington. He had grown up to be a bird doctor, and had blue eyes, a fair complexion, black hair, and a build well proportioned to his height. He was six feet tall and had an appendectomy scar. On September 5th 1912, he was transferred from McNeil Island to Leavenworth prison. How he got into prison in the first place was unknown. On May 10th 1920, he was sentenced to life in prison for the crime of murder. His sentence for that crime began on February 22 1922. On December 19th 1922, Stanley would once again be relocated, this time from Leavenworth to Alcatraz Island. After spending 33 years in Alcatraz Island, he was transferred to Hellgate Prison on October 13th 1955, at the age of 65.

Hellgate Prison was notorious for its brutality against its inmates. The prison was run by Warden Robert L. Strickland, a man who was obsessed with Hellgate Prison, and saw it not only as a highly disciplined operation but also as a model for all other prisons to follow. He was particularly fond of his electric chair, which he playfully nicknamed Old Smokey. The chair would deliver excruciatingly painful deaths to its prisoners, and Strickland was proud of it. Strickland would execute Death Row inmates on this chair on a regular basis.

Without the permission of his peers, he envisioned, planned, and instituted a program in which civilians could tour his prison facility to witness the way his prison handled the most hardened criminals, which included a trip to Old Smokey. Ignoring the orders of his peers to abandon this program, he continued promoting it using his officers and guards to help develop sales materials to advertise his tours. This breakdown of standard operating procedures directly caused a large riot to erupt in the prison.

On October 1st 1956, 99 inmates overpowered the guards, kidnapped tour visitors, and rioted for 30 days. A radio broadcast was sent out detailing the horrific events that occurred in these 30 days. It is unknown whether Stanley was involved in this riot, though he most likely was. On August 13th 1957, a bearing was concluded that discussed the charges presented, evidence, and testimony of Robert L. Strickland, and how he directly caused the riot that occurred in his prison. In a unanimous decision, he was removed from his position as warden of Hellgate Prison and was sent to a state facility for the mentally incapacitated (most likely Shadybrook). He was sentenced on October 13th, 1957. The records of his experience were kept in a box in one of the rooms of the asylum.

In the Patient Records on the Halloween Horror Nights XIV website, visitors could see the contents of the box detailing the story of Stanley R. Rails and Robert L. Strickland. Visitors could click on and the criminal history of Stanley, as well as the document that sentenced Strickland to the mental asylum. They could also click on and listen to the radio broadcast detailing the Hellgate Prison riots. Also on the page were a pair of handcuffs, a map advertising Hellgate Prison, glasses, and a key ring. The key ring was arranged in a similar way to the Point of Evil symbol, and would take visitors back to the main Patient Records page when clicked on.

In the haunted house, guests would assume the role of the tour patrons trapped in Hellgate Prison during the riots. Guests would be thrown into the chaos as they were attacked and harassed by the prisoners.

References to the Number 13:

  • Stanley was transferred to Hellgate Prison on October 13th, 1955.
  • The bearings that decided to send Strickland to a mental asylum was concluded on August 13th, 1957.
  • The official order to send Strickland to a mental asylum were signed on October 13th, 1957.

Website Pictures[edit | edit source]

Website Audio[edit | edit source]

Audio that played on the House Page:

Audio that played when the radio was clicked on in the Patient Records:

Experience (Mostly from IOACentral.com)[edit | edit source]

Queue and Facade[edit | edit source]

The queue started in between the Lost Continent and Fright Yard. The queue would lead to Soundstage 20. Throughout the queue, various screens would show the queue video, which featured warden Robert L. Strickland advertising Hellgate Prison. Before guests enter the house, the would have to go through "metal detectors".

Haunted House[edit | edit source]

The Hellgate Prison house was housed in Soundstage 20 and featured several rooms and areas common to prisons, including an entrance through a 'visitation room' in which prisoners behind glass held phones and taunted guests, a laundry room, an infirmary, and a furnace room with burned prisoners. This haunted house also featured Old Smokey, the audio-animatronic of a man on an electric chair thrashing as he meets his fate. The house concluded with a run through a fenced off, multi-path "Riot Room" in which guests were commonly separated from their parties and made to go through separate paths of strobe light filled chain link fences with angry, shouting, aggressive prisoners surrounding them on all sides. The house had a soundtrack featuring music from Rob Zombie and was often viewed as controversial due to its somewhat adult content.

In front of Hellgate Prison, there is a large screen, which depicts the conditions inside the prison, as well as some interesting comments being made by Warden Robert L. Strickland. Strickland says things like; "You will not speak, unless spoken to by me or one of my guards. Speaking without permission is a punishable offense, attempted escape is a punishable offense, insubordination is a punishable offense, and punishment can range from a little stay in the hole to death by electrocution in the arms of Old Smoky." "Some have said that a week behind the bars of Hellgate Prison is like a decade in hell itself. Well, we try." "Once you're inside Hellgate Prison, you belong to me." "Welcome to my world." And, "with respect to electrocutions, he says he will personally pull the switch on everyone of those scum sucking, well deserving maggots, sending flesh charring, man made electricity through their bodies until they are dead. Cruel, unusual, punishment? Maybe, but somebody's got to do it."

There is a bright searchlight that shines over the area in front of the prison. You then enter Hellgate Prison. There is glass on both sides of you, and an inmate is behind the glass on each side. The one on the right is huge, with a beard, and the one on the left is small, and has a Mohawk haircut. They bang on the glass and say things like "Soap on a rope, don't drop the soap". You then enter a short hallway, where an inmate jumps out at you. Next, you enter a smoky room, where a large, menacing looking inmate is hugging a large, hanging bag. He catches your eye, and follows you, still holding the bag. You then enter a hallway, where inmates have broken out of their cells. An inmate on the left, who is slightly below floor level, squirts you with an air gun. Another inmate, who is walking down the hall towards you, glares at you, and follows you for a while, jumping at you before he leaves you alone. You then enter the medical section of the prison. A bearded inmate is on one of the beds, saying "Where's my doctor?" He jumps from one bed to the other, muttering crazy things. He distracts you, as an inmate who is hiding behind a curtain on the right side of the room jumps out at you.

You then enter the boiler room, where an older inmate with glasses squirts you with strong bursts of air. Next, you enter the back corridors of the prison. You enter an area where one side of the hallway is padded. You hear screaming, and an inmate pops out at you through a small break in the padded wall. Another inmate follows you with an insane grin on his face, causing you to panic. After that, you enter the execution chamber. An inmate is being electrocuted, and his body shakes like crazy, while sparks fly everywhere. If you stop and stare for too long, one of the female guards will yell "Move along!". You then enter the furnace room of the prison, where it is hot, steamy, and foggy. A couple of inmates reach out at you, and try to make you a permanent resident of Hellgate Prison. You then see an opening ahead, which is blocked by a burly, menacing prisoner. He forces you to go one way or the other, blocking one of the ways with a snarl on his face. You go through a short area with chain link fence on both sides of you, blinking strobes, and inmates rapping on the fence, yelling stuff like "I killed a boy that looked just like you last week", and reaching for you. You then run out of Hellgate Prison, escaping from the riot, with a prisoner running after you.

Scareactors[edit | edit source]

Pictures[edit | edit source]

Cast Pictures[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Though unconfirmed, this house most likely drew inspiration from the Psycho Scareapy house from the year before. This is because they have very similar plots, with Psycho Scareapy being about inmates taking over an asylum and this house being about prisoners taking over a prison. However, this house was allegedly alot more intense.
Halloween Horror Nights XIV
Characters: The Asylum Patient (Event Icon)  • Eddie Schmidt  • Jack the Clown  • The Caretaker  • The Director  • Gunter Karl Dietze  • Jeffrey Dietze  • Robert L. Strickland
Haunted Houses: Castle Vampyr  • Deadtropolis  • Disorientorium  • Ghost Town  • Horror Nights Nightmares  • Hellgate Prison  • Horror in Wax
Scarezones: Field of Screams  • Fright Yard  • Midway of the Bizarre  • Point of Evil
Shows: Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure  • Festival of the Dead Parade
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.