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Frances Ann McKenna, age 79, of Gloucester City
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Philadelphia's Newest Attraction: The Haunted House

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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 breathtaking 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.

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 1930’s, 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.

THE CO-FOUNDERS AND JOURNEY

Lincoln Mill Haunted House is a partnership between owners Brian Corcodilos, who owns the building, and Jared Bilsak, 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 sought new ideas for campus charitable events.  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 graduating, 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.

CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES

For challenges, the major challenge constructing the building was constantly thinking about what if this flood happened again. Corcodilos said, "We had to do major renovations to remediate potential flooding into the future.  It’s not if it floods it when it floods.  Hurricane Ida destroyed major electrical systems and the entire elevator.  We also made built back most of the first floor to be concrete so when it floods it is much easier to get the water and mud out.  We also put in flood vents all around the building on the first floor to mitigate water pressures up against the foundation."

For Haunted House challenges generally speaking Bilsak said, "The biggest challenge throughout the process has been the extremely tight construction schedule. It typically takes new haunted houses over a year to get a new attraction off the ground but in our case, we only had a few months.  Jared also works as a full time architect in Allentown, Pennsylvania and is limited to only weekends for physically being inside of the building.  Due to the significant damage from the flood, the building wasn’t ready to be fitted out until mid June so we had to be extremely resourceful and efficient once the build started. "

Before they were able to start building the haunted house in mid June, they knew that they didn’t have the time to build over 200 wall panels.  Corcodilos reached out to an old connection at Toll Brothers, the home builder and developer company. Toll Brothers was able to cut, assemble, and deliver all of the wall panels for us!  They hired people last minute off a mobile application called Task Rabbit to help them move all of the panels and for other tasks throughout the process.

Bilsak said, "Another example of our efficient system we established was our heavy use of architectural modeling software.  Jared’s architectural background and proficiency in 3D virtual modeling software allowed us to design the maze layout months ahead of time.  We used these tools to develop several iterations which enabled us to fine tune the design to create an efficient layout that facilitated the flow of our actors and maximize scare opportunities."

THE SCARE STORY - THEME AND DEVELOPMENT

Bilsak said, "We knew we needed a strong story, a hook that gave a meaning to the design and attraction. Before putting pen to paper or touching our design software, we spent weeks brainstorming and writing. Three variables rose to the surface which would become the key ingredients to our backstory."

Hurricane Ida  (a present day event)
Manayunk’s Textile Mill History - (the historical past)
An iconic villain (Viktor Kane) who built a hidden chamber

With his architect background and proficiency in architectural software,  Bilsak studied and documented the existing space.  As the premises for the story developed, he developed several iterations with the following design criteria:

The entire layout shall tell a cohesive story
The maze layout shall be designed so it can easily be reconfigured from year to year
Backstage areas shall facilitate the flow of actors to facilitate scare opportunities
Create a vast variety of spaces that constantly keep guests on alert
Carefully locate all effects, props, characters, and scenes to reinforce the story.

The architectural software allowed us to study and analyze the layout, rooms, and spaces to maximize scare opportunities and to tell a good story from scene to scene.  

They knew that the attraction had to be completely story driven and of course a good story has to have strong characters. So out of sheer dumbluck, they met an extremely talented costume designer, Alisa Kleckner.  They brought Alisa on board and she brought many new ideas to the table and we began developing costume designs for each of the characters.

They also needed a strong videography and visual team that could communicate and market our vision.  So through a mutual connection, they met and partnered with Terry Leahy who runs The Video Content Factory in Manayunk.  Terry and his team are creating all of the promotional, video, and photography content about the attraction’s backstory and are extremely talented at what they do.

In terms of the actual haunted house construction, they heavily relied on our detailed floor plans and virtual model to assemble and theme the haunted house efficiently.  After each weekend of labor, they updated the 3d virtual model, which functioned as a digital twin of the space. As the sets, scenes, and story evolved, they pulled inspiration from different haunted attractions around the country, theme park rides at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and great movies that demonstrated a strong “Hero’s Journey” story.

Given the large space they had to work with, they needed ALOT of props and entourage to theme the attraction.  They were very concerned about being able to find items that fit their time period.  So oddly enough when the Toll Brothers Tractor Trailer arrived and was parked on Main Street, the neighbors across the street were curious what we were up to.  These neighbors across the street were the former owners of Littlewood and Sons, an old Textile dyeing and bleaching factory.  They were getting rid of alot of old equipment and offered a lot of what they had to us!

They also met an individual at a trade show out in St. Louis who lives in Arkansas.  He was a collector of antique items that fit our theme and he traveled from Arkansas one weekend to deliver all of these items to us!

Designing and building a new attraction from the ground up has been a whirlwind of an experience and it is truly amazing to see this come to life from a simple idea.

THE COMPETITION 

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 HURRICANE

“In every adversity, lies the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.” -Napoleon Hill

Corcodilos said, "Hurricane Ida caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to buildings and other infrastructure. We decided to use one of our greatest fears, the potential of another flood occurring, to our advantage. We felt that a present day event, Hurricane Ida should become the premise to our story due to its significant impact on the area.   Inhabitants living in the Philadelphia region, especially in Manayunk, knew how devastating the flood was and most likely saw some photos of the Lincoln Mill underwater on facebook! We also might have never created this attraction if the flood did not occur."

Corcodilos resides in Roxborough and his office is located on Main Street Manayunk only several blocks away from the Lincoln Mill.  After discovering that the building was for sale at a great price, he decided to purchase the building due to its prominent presence on Main Street Manayunk.

If the Hurricane would have never hit, he might have found another tenant.  Repairing the damages from the flood gave him time to think and ponder on what the first floor could be used for.  If the flood would have never hit, another business might have jumped on the opportunity.

THE MANAYUNK COMMUNITY

Manayunk offers many great bars and restaurants, but it seems that there aren’t many entertainment offerings beyond eating and drinking. The duo thought that something entirely new and seasonal like a walkthrough attraction could immerse guests in a fictional living story unlike anything around.   Manayunk offers many great events throughout the year such as their Streat Food Festival and their Arts Festival and we thought it would be neat to offer something new around the Halloween season.  They also saw this as an opportunity to draw more people and business to Manayunk to promote and partner with the local restaurants and bars!

THE TEAM

Team List
Brian Corcodilos, Co-Founder
Jared Bilsak, Co-Founder

Alisa Kleckner, Co-Creative and Costume Designer
Carl Augustine, Actor Manager
Terry Leahy, Video Content Factory, Videographer

TICKETS AND CONNECT
 
Tickets are on sale now: 
 
Visit: 
 
Follow: 
https://www.instagram.com/lincolnmillhaunt/

TRANSPORTATION

By Trolley – During the night events, Manayunk will be running a trolley up and down Main Street Manayunk stopping at local businesses and parking lots.

By Car – If you are traveling by car, there are multiple parking lots and side street parking in Manayunk.  You can prepay parking for nights of events by purchasing a parking ticket on our ticket website.  There is a limited amount of parking in the lots per night.  The parking will be valid until 6am the following morning.

By Train – One of the best ways to arrive at the Haunted House is by train utilizing SEPTA.  There are two train stops within walking distance, Wissahickon Station and Manayunk Station, both on the SEPTA Regional Rail.

By Bus – Please refer to the Philadelphia SEPTA bus schedule

Uber and Lyft – We recommend you enter the address 4050 Main Street for your Uber and Lyft rides for the destination so you can arrive not at a busy intersection.  You can then walk 100 feet to the entry at 4100 Main Street.

PARKING

There are over 700 spaces are available in parking lots conveniently located throughout the commercial district.  The following lots are available for parking during the event.

4000 Main Street – (Purchase tickets in advance for this lot limited supply)
Green Lane between Main Street and Cresson Street
Main and Levering Streets
Venice Island via Main and Lock Streets
Venice Island via Main and Cotton Streets
Venice Island via Carson Street (across from Post Office)
Valet parking is available at various locations on Main Street for evening diners and shoppers (after 6pm)

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Safety and Security is by far the most important job to haunt operators.  They will have private event security staff on-site throughout the events which will also be at the security checkpoint prior to que line entry.  All event staff will be trained in evacuation procedures in the unlikely event of an emergency.  They will have an on-staff EMT during the duration of the nighttime events at the first aid station

TRICK OR TROLLEY
 
The Trick-or-Trolley will run Thursdays through Saturdays from October 6th to November 6th. It’s the ultimate spooky celebration. Riders will be able to get off at several spots including Philadelphia’s newest haunted attraction, Lincoln Mill Haunted House. 
 
The trolley runs from Thursday and Friday 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. - 10 p.m. 
 
Riders can pick up the FREE trolley at these locations : 
Regal Movie Theater
Lincoln Mills Haunted House
Goats Beards
Winnies
JD Mcgillicuddys
Chabaa Thai
Jakes & Coopers
Lucky’s Last Chance & Taqueria Amor
Union Tap House
Ivy Ridge Train Station 
 
Additionally, there are over 700 spaces available in parking lots conveniently located throughout the commercial district.  The Trolley will also pick up riders at the Movie Theater and Ivy Ridge Train Station The Trick-or-Trolley is one of three different charters that grace the Manayunk from October to December including a double-decker bus, the Trick-or-Trolley, and the Jolly Trolley. 
  
WHAT IS NEXT

The attraction is designed to grow from year to year by introducing new characters, sets, technology, and experiences. They will continue to expand their story by offering off-season events such as a Valentine’s Day Haunted Attraction, Halfway to Halloween Attraction, a Christmas Haunted House and escape rooms.

They are working on a behind-the-scenes documentary entitled “Built to Scare” that will show the entire process from the ground up.  They will also be releasing short movies and graphic books that will dig deeper into their story and their character’s backstories.

ABOUT BRIAN CORCODILOS

Brian Corcodilos is a natural-born leader and entrepreneur. During his third year of architecture school, he started a blog called Designblendz that focused on collaborating different principles of design. What started out as a fun escape from school work with his friends, soon began picking up traction from local firms. In no time, the team began receiving architectural and visualization jobs including renderings and hand-built models. After graduation in 2013, everyone set off into the real world and took on their “dream” jobs in different corporate firms. Designblendz remained a side hustle, but Brian had a vision. In 2014 he quit his steady full-time job, and jumped head first into building his startup from his row home bedroom.

Fast forward to 2022 and Brian oversees 25 employees at Designblendz, recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America in 2020 on the INC 5000 list at #579. They were also one of Philadelphia’s fastest growing companies for the last 4 years. Brian and the Designblendz team are disrupting the real estate industry by utilizing the most advanced 3D visualization technology to help clients design, market, pre-sell and lease real estate virtually around the nation. DB is a one-stop shop for any design-build project and also offers all architecture, 3D visualization, metaverse marketing, and real estate development services.

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.

You can follow Brian and his team at the following social media links:
https://www.instagram.com/corcodilos/
https://www.instagram.com/designblendz/
https://medium.com/@corcodilos  

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