Disney Channel’s Secrets of Sulphur Springs turned up the creepy factor with its super-sized premiere episode on January 15th. With a TV-PG rating, the show is a big departure from the comedy landscape of Disney’s premiere cable network. Here’s a recap of everything that happened in the hour-long premiere episode, which is actually the first three episodes combined.
The show starts with a blond girl named Savannah running through the woods at night.
Three kids sneak onto the front porch of the abandoned Tremont Hotel, daring each other to look inside. When a boy named Topher takes a peek, he sees a girl who screams and they all run away.
Inside, the girl’s name is Zoey and she and her twin brother Wyatt just moved in with the rest of the Campbell family. Their older brother Griffin, age 12, records his sister screaming and gleefully runs up to his room to put the video online. The family just moved to Sulphur Springs from Chicago and his dad, Ben, bought the hotel because he visited it as a kid.
At school, Griffin’s new classmates tell him that The Tremont is haunted by a blonde girl named Savannah. When he talks with a girl named Harper who shows him a picture of her, we see that it’s the same girl who was running in the woods at the start of the episode. Savannah disappeared 30 years ago and is believed to be haunting the hotel.
Griffin brings his new friend Harper back to the hotel with him and she shares the Savannah ghost story with the family. When Griffin’s mom, Sarah, says the house isn’t haunted, the lights flicker and the power goes out. Griffin goes downstairs with his dad to hold a flashlight while his dad resets the breaker.
Returning upstairs, Griffin offers to give Harper a tour, but takes her back to the basement because he thought he saw something when he was down there with his dad. Harper uses a flashlight with dead batteries that suddenly works for her and they see the label for a fallout shelter through some shelves, Climbing through, they find themselves in an underground tunnel that leads to a mid-century bunker.
While exploring the bunker, Griffin finds a door behind some safety suits that leads to another hallway, this one covered with tree roots and debris. At the end of the hallway is a metal spiral staircase that leads to a hatch. Griffin doesn’t want to go up, but Harper doesn’t take no for an answer. When she gets to the top, she screams and Griffin chases after her. Harper felt a shock when she crossed through it, but Griffin didn’t feel anything.
It’s daylight and they see a blonde girl running through the woods who looks just like Savannah. They start to follow her and pass The Tremont, stopping in their tracks because instead of looking like a decaying abandoned hotel, it looks brand new. A boy named Bennet bumps into Griffin and his jaw drops because Bennet looks just like photos of his dad when he was younger. They see Bennet play a prank on a woman using a toy snake and the hotel manager thinks Griffin and Harper did it, chasing them away from the hotel, forcing them to split in separate directions.
Realizing that there is water flowing through the previously dry springs and the hotel looks brand new, Harper comes to the conclusion that they somehow traveled back in time, which makes Griffin think that Bennet might actually have been his dad.
While Harper and Griffin are in the past, we learn that Griffin’s parents, Ben and Sarah, are having issues because Ben cashed out the family’s savings without telling her and bought the hotel. He says he doesn’t know why he did it, he just felt like he had to come back there. The twins, Zoey and Wyatt, do some exploring of their own upstairs and when they hear a strange banging sound, they witness a mirror fall and break.
The banging may have been explained by someone at the door, which turns out to be Harper’s mom, Jess, and brother Topher. They seem scared to enter The Tremont when Sarah invites them in and as the twins come downstairs screaming, Sarah suggests that it was just Griffin playing a prank on them. They say that Griffin and Harper disappeared and Harper’s mom gets very worried.
As Griffin and Harper return to the present, Ben finds them in the basement and takes them upstairs. When Ben meets Harper’s mom, he offers his hand to shake hers. She says “I know who you are” and doesn’t shake his hand, leaving with her kids. Outside, Jess tells her daughter that The Tremont is cursed and that people get hurt there. “I won’t lose you, too,” she tells Harper, even though she won’t tell Harper anything about the past. She tells Harper never to go back there and that she doesn’t want her hanging out with Griffin anymore.
The next morning, Ben and Sarah wake up to find that the twins were scared and slept on the floor. Sarah tells Ben that he was tossing and turning all night, but he tells her that he never remembers his dreams. As soon as Griffin wakes up, he runs to a town signpost and starts digging. At school, he approaches Harper who starts to tell him they can’t hang out anymore when Griffin pulls out a luggage tag he secretly stole from Bennet’ bag in the past. When they ran in separate directions from the hotel, he buried it by the signpost to prove that what happened was real. They make a plan to go back through the hatch again that night.
While Griffin is at school, Ben goes to the cafe where Jess works and she isn’t happy to see him. She tells him nobody in Sulphur Springs wants The Tremont to reopen and asks him to leave. That night at dinner, a chandelier that Ben installed earlier that day drops when Sarah asks Zoey to stop talking about Savannah. While helping his dad hang the chandelier back up, Griffin tells Ben that he saw a photo from the year he won a camp talent show 30 years ago and asks if he went back the following year to try and win again. Ben tells him that by the next summer, the camp and The Tremont had closed. Griffin then asks his dad if he knew Savannah because she would’ve been at the same camp that year. Ben tells Griffin he never met her.
Sneaking out, Griffin and Harper go back through the hatch, this time dressed in retro clothes, and they find Savannah sneaking around in the woods at night. Bennet sneaks up and scares her and Griffin and Harper end up revealing themselves, lying and saying their names are “Harry and Hermione” from Harry Potter, stealing the names from Harry Potter, which wasn’t published yet. Savannah stole containers of powdered punch from The Tremont and Griffin and Harper help her and Bennet dump it into the springs as a prank to turn it blood red. As they head back, Griffin realizes that Bennet really is his dad and he lied to him about knowing Savannah, who was actually a close friend of his at camp.
When they return, Harper and Griffin make plans to spend Saturday in the past. Harper sneaks back into her house to find Topher up late watching scary movies. He says he’s going to tell their mom, but she says if he does, she will tell on him for watching scary movies again. He seems like he’s scared to tell on her when she goes upstairs.
The next morning, Griffin and the twins wake up to find their dad trying to break down a wall. He found old blueprints of the hotel that showed a doorless room had been sealed up. Zoey and Wyatt say they felt a cold breeze as Ben breaks through the wall and Sarah asks them to go outside with her while Griffin helps his dad explore the abandoned room, which is full of old recording equipment and radios. Griffin presses play on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and hears kids singing a song. His dad freaks out and breaks the tape, telling Griffin it’s not safe in there and kicking him out of the secret room.
When Griffin and Harper return to the past on Saturday, they see the manager of the Tremont walking through the woods telling a woman that they will have to close the springs as a result of the red punch prank. The manager is on his way to the camp to find Ben and Savannah, the primary suspects. As Griffin and Harper head to the camp, they pass a group of kids singing and Griffin recognizes it as the same song that was on the tape in the secret room.
Finding Savannah painting a bridge red, Harper offers to help her while Griffin goes off to find Ben in a hammock. Griffin learns that Ben’s dad left for the city and learns that the snake prank they saw him pull when they first met him was also Savannah’s idea. Meanwhile, Harper learns that Savannah never goes to the same summer camp twice. While they’re painting, Harper comes face-to-face with her young mom Jess, who reveals that she doesn’t like Savannah and suggests that she might even have a crush on Ben.
On their way back to the present, Griffin tells Harper that he’s worried they could be changing the present by visiting the past. He suggests that he and Harper tell their moms what’s going on. As Griffin goes back through the house, he overhears the twins talking about how they’ve mapped all the cold spots in the house. Their dad says it’s just a drafty old house and it’s not haunted as Griffin heads to the garden to find his mom. Sarah gets upset when Griffin tells her about going to the past and she doesn’t believe him, forbidding him from talking to Harper and sending him to his room.
At the cafe, Harper finds out that Topher told their mom that she was out late the night before and she gets in trouble for going back to The Tremont. When Harper asks her mom if she ever went to the camp, she tells her no and gets defensive when she keeps asking. That night, Harper sneaks out again and back into The Tremont. She finds Griffin and they tell each other what happened with their moms. That’s when a door starts to open by itself and they think it’s the ghost of Savannah.
That’s the end of the supersized first episode of Secrets of Sulphur Springs. It sets up quite a few questions for fans to think about and also gives a short sneak preview of the next episode, titled “Time to Face the Music.” Clips showed the twins trying to catch the ghost on video, Savannah having a fight with young Jess at camp and Jess saying she wants Savannah to disappear, which we know actually happens at some point.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Here’s the full description of the next episode of Secrets of Sulphur Springs, which premieres Friday, January 22nd.
“Harper asks Griffin to meet her at the portal after school, but, when Griffin gets home, he discovers his Grandfather has arrived for a visit.”
I’ll be back next week with another recap of Secrets of Sulphur Springs.
BONUS: Check out our interview with Landon Gordon, who plays Wyatt on the show.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.