By Zach Johnson
We have our reservations about The Tremont.
The dilapidated hotel houses a myriad of mysteries in Disney Channel’s Secrets of Sulphur Springs. Premiering tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT in an uninterrupted programming event, the network’s first-ever time-travel mystery series hails from creator and executive producer Tracey Thomson. It follows 12-year-old Griffin (Preston Oliver), whose family recently—and abruptly—relocates to Louisiana to renovate The Tremont in hopes of restoring it to its former glory. There’s just one problem: It’s rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a girl named Savannah (Elle Graham) who disappeared decades ago! After Griffin befriends Harper (Kyliegh Curran), a bright-eyed, friendly, and curious classmate, they find a secret portal that allows them to travel back in time. In the past, they’ll try to uncover the key to solving this mystery—one that they soon discover affects everyone close to them.
“This is like a mysterious, suspenseful, creepy side of Disney,” says Oliver. “It does have a little humor here and there, just to ease the creepiness, but I feel like people are really going to get hooked on it. Plus, it has a bunch of cliffhangers that will keep you wanting more and more.” Never knowing what will happen next is part of the fun, of course—and even the actors found themselves invested in the series’ many twists and turns. “You wait a week and all your theories are building up. You get so interested in it,” says Graham. “Then the next episode airs and you see it goes a completely different way, and it’s like, ‘Wow!’”
Secrets of Sulphur Springs may be darker than, say, BUNK’D or Raven’s Home, but it still offers all the hallmarks of a traditional Disney Channel series. “I think it’s good to have a mystery show that everyone—the whole family—can enjoy,” explains Curran. “Having something darker for Disney really brings everyone in. This is the beginning of a new era.”
While Griffin “loves going on adventures,” according to Oliver, he does so “with precaution to make sure nobody gets injured and everything goes as planned.” In real life, Oliver is a bit bolder than his character, and says he was rarely scared on set “since the scripts would write out everything so we knew what was coming. But seeing it happen in front of you was pretty cool to watch happen.” However, Oliver admits, “There’s one scene where me and Kylie are walking together and then something drops. I forgot it was going to happen, so it actually freaked me out and I jumped! That was probably the scariest thing that happened.”
Like her “mystery obsessed” character, Curran also loves to explore. “Sometimes when we weren’t working on a particular set, they’d turn off the lights. I would walk through the dark, dark Tremont sets and it was super creepy, but it was also extremely cool because of how detailed everything was,” she says. “It kind of made me feel like I was in a ghost story.”
Ironically, it wasn’t ghosts the cast feared so much as pranks from one of their co-stars. “I would get scared whenever anybody on set—especially Preston—would come out of nowhere and be like, ‘Boo!’” Graham says. “He did that to everybody. We’d all get scared.”