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‘There were tears shed’ – Dakota Laden talks Travel Channel’s ‘Destination Fear’

November 5, 2019
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‘There were tears shed’ – Dakota Laden talks Travel Channel’s ‘Destination Fear’ (Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel)

Documentary filmmaker and paranormal explorer Dakota Laden took an unforgettable road trip earlier this year when he hopped into an RV with his sister Chelsea and best friend Taylor to spend a night in 10 allegedly haunted abandoned locations to put each to the test. The result is “Destination Fear” – Travel Channel’s newest paranormal series, airing Saturdays at 10 p.m.

Laden says he’s been fascinated with the paranormal since he was a kid, when he and his sister experienced terrifying activity firsthand in their home. Beginning in 2008, he shot a series of experimental YouTube videos with friends, including a “Ghost Adventures” parody that actually landed him a stint on the show for two years.

On “Destination Fear,” we see the trio, accompanied only by a two-person camera crew, as they explore abandoned asylums, hospitals and penitentiaries – locations selected by Laden but not revealed to the rest of the group until shortly before their arrival. After an initial walkthrough, the trio splits up to spend the rest of the night alone and record what happens. I spoke with Laden, a native of Lakeville, Minnesota, for this interview from his current home in Las Vegas.

The Maine Edge: On the first episode of “Destination Fear,” you, Chelsea and Taylor visited Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary [an isolated maximum state facility in Tennessee that operated for more than 100 years before closing in 2009] where 10,000 people lost their lives. Was it as scary as it appeared?

Laden: It was a terrifying place. This road trip lasted a little more than a month and I wanted each location to be worse than the last, but I underestimated our first stop. There are so many stories about women being targeted on the third floor, and sure enough, things happened to Chelsea that I can’t explain. There were tears shed on the first night, and as it turned out, things did get scarier at each location.

The Maine Edge: What sort of gear are you using when you explore these places?

Laden: We had five pieces of equipment with us the whole time, but it was never used until we felt we needed to bring it out. Most of the time, it was just ourselves and our flashlights. Of the four people on this trip, I was the only one with any sort of experience in the paranormal because of “Ghost Adventures.”

The Maine Edge: I freely admit to being a fan of shows like this and have seen some shockingly convincing evidence at times. Some of the most compelling has come from EVPs recorded on a hand-held digital recorder [An EVP is electronic voice phenomena usually not detected by the human ear but captured on a digital recorder and audible upon playback].

Laden: To me, EVPs are the most fascinating evidence of all. It’s so easy to understand. You have a recorder in your hand and you’re talking and asking questions, then when you play it back, if you hear another voice that wasn’t there seconds ago … it’s just so weird when it happens. We were at a location called the Madison Seminary in Ohio and were investigating the third floor which used to be an asylum for women. The stories from that location are legendary and terrifying. I was asking questions into a recorder like “Who are you?” and “What happened to you in this room?” When we played the tape back, there was a voice as clear as day, like she was standing next to me, saying “I’m pregnant.” They used to do abortions in that room. It really scared me.

The Maine Edge: How much time did you spend at each location that we’ll see on “Destination Fear?”

Laden: We spent about 12 hours at each location, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. We start with a group walk through that would take anywhere from an hour to four hours. We didn’t use any equipment during those initial location checks. After about six hours, we would draw out of a hat and split up to go sleep alone for the last four to five hours, depending on the night.

The Maine Edge: How do you handle skeptics? Have you ever invited one to join you on a paranormal exploration?

Laden: I would love to bring a skeptic along. I’m not trying to prove anything on this show. Not once during the course of filming this series did we say “Hey look, ghosts are real” when something happened. We’re just there to experience a place and spend a night there. What I would say to a skeptic is to do what we just did. Get access to a location and spend a night there alone. If you aren’t concerned about the paranormal, you should be totally fine sleeping alone in a building that is said to be haunted.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2019 07:19

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