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...Remember this place?
Before we start, we need to remind ourselves that the Gold Saucer is a weird place. It is shaped like a giant beanstalk and is built on top of Old Corel (which is now a creepy prison town which gives off Western vibes). Even if we forget about all of that, we can never forget that the park forces its visitors to jump into little tubes and slide their way into each zone.
The owner, Dio, is an unhinged lunatic.
(Send your thanks to Dio for the Gold Saucer's madness)
Now that we have placed the Gold Saucer in this context, let us consider the Haunted Hotel.
Functionally it serves the player as an inn to spend the night and recover HP/MP, and (as with many inns in FFVII) a number of conversations between party members occur there.
But we most likely remember the hotel for the cute little ghosts playing chess in the lobby, or for the sinister devil face near the stairs, or for the Egyptian mummy in the backroom which every now and then gasps for breath… And let us not forget Mr. Hangman (who has truly earned his name), an employee of the hotel, who greets you and offers his service to the party.
This hotel is a little bit strange. We like ‘haunted’ attractions in theme parks in our real world (ghost trains, haunted house walkthrough scare experiences, etc).
I wonder, are the characters that we see in the haunted hotel real ghosts and monsters? Or are they a rather elaborate combination of actors, mannequins, and special effects such as those that we sometimes have in horror attractions in the real world?
Is Mr. Hangman a ‘real’ re-animated hanged corpse, or is he an actor pulling off an elaborate prank?
Ghosts and monsters do exist in the FFVII universe to an extent. We see (and fight) ghosts of the Gi Tribe, and the Nibelheim Manor House (aka the Shinra Mansion) is filled with ghosts, demons, and undead creatures.
Had Dio been mad enough to go out and employ the undead to work in the Gold Saucer? He comes across as an egomaniac with a lot of grand ideas (combined with the wealth to carry them through to completion). Would he go that far?