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Visiting Portland’s Doll Asylum

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 18:44
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Sometimes you find a local attraction that is a total gem. I’m not one for haunted houses and I kinda think dolls are totally creepy, but when I saw the Doll Asylum was open again in Portland and was free, I was willing to give it a shot. An awesome North Portland family opens up their home to visitors for four days around Halloween, where they display over a thousand dolls of all sorts. Many are donated by fans, but the first ones were the mother’s beloved dolls and thrift store finds. 


The whole first floor of the home is packed with dolls of all kinds. Some are old, some are broken, some have been dismembered. There are disturbing dolls for those that love Halloween and pretty dolls for those that don’t. 



Are you a scaredy cat like me? You can still visit. I didn’t feel disturbed enough by anything to leave and actually thought the displays were entertaining and creative. In the daytime, the many groups of dolls are probably even less creepy, as seen in the videos for the house, but in the evening when the Doll Asylum is open to the public it is still mostly appropriate for children or those that proclaim themselves wusses. Not that I’d want to be left alone with any of those dolls, mind you. 

If you’re hoping (or afraid) it’s going to be like Mexico’s Island of the Dolls, I’ll tell you now, I didn’t feel any malevolent vibes from any of the dolls, nor did any of their eyes follow me around. That I noticed. I also didn’t have any crazy dreams when I left…not even about that disturbing Home Alone Macaulay Culkin doll up there.


I was surprised by how many people had come out to see the dolls in all their Halloween glory. Most of the dolls in the house are normal. The more disturbing of the bunch are outside in the workshop and the Freak Show tent where you exit, but there are warm drinks out there, so it’s kind of cozy. I enjoyed the laboratory where “experiments” were being done and a disembodied hand came out from behind the curtain to say hello, shake hands and offer candy treat. Gotta love that. 


The light and my phone may have made these much scarier than they really were.

Want to see a vast array of dolls in different poses and situations? Whether you think dolls are fun or creepy, you’ll be amused by a visit to the Doll Asylum. Bring  your camera and a few bucks to donate at the end, after all, you are tromping through someone’s house, drinking their complementary beverages and possibly using their bathroom (because they’re that nice), so even if you spend a dollar per visitor, it’s still one of the cheapest evenings you can have out. I enjoyed my visit and will be return with a doll to admit to the asylum, too. 

What’s your favorite hokey/kitschy attraction to see/do near where you live?

Want to read more tips for traveling worldwide on a budget? Check out my blog at Shereen Travels Cheap or find me on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll also find product and website suggestions, packing tips, current deals and a whole lot more to help you travel better for less!


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