So You’re Going to a Haunted House

Well! You’re going to pay money to go to go a haunted house? Awesome! Let’s run through some basics first, shall we?

You DO know that this is live entertainment, right? This isn’t a movie, or a game or a museum. It’s more or less a participatory improv piece. You get to actually walk through a set and see actors perform for YOUR entertainment. How cool is that, right?! So remember that while this entertaining, the people you see in masks and makeup and puppetry and stunts are actual people – they are not there for you to hit, punch, kick or otherwise beat up. In fact, that’s known as assault and battery and it’s a very real criminal charge which you COULD get slapped with if you think it’s hilarious to abuse the actors in the haunt. Many haunts have security personnel walking through it at all times. Many have the OWNERS walking through randomly. Some even have video cameras. So you WILL be caught. Actors want to entertain you – it’s the craft and their talent. Don’t punish them for doing their job. Reward them by screaming, laughing, or even just nodding with a “well done” smile.

You know that you are no the only person doing this, right? Of course there are OTHER People who are also doing the same thing, both in front of and behind you. So let’s bear that in mind and not mess up their enjoyment, okay? Like don’t stomp all over their fun by pointing out the scares for them. They didn’t pay for you to ruin their fun. Also, try not to overact your part so that you physically run into those other people. Running into someone, being trampled or hit is no fun for anyone. And could get you in trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You know that the actors in the house are all types of people, right? There is a surprising number of physically disabled, differently abled and plain old “freaks” who work the haunts. That girl with a bloody stump on her shoulder? It’s likely she actually does not have an arm. That guy in a wheelchair? Probably actually needs that wheelchair. Even the with with the cane could likely have a disability that requires her to use a cane. Haunted house work is one of the few places a person with a different type of body can not just be proud of themselves but really capitalize on it. Don’t be a douche and say stupid things about their difference. And for gawds sake do NOT go up and mess around with their device. Whether or not it’s “real” it’s a part of the show, not a toy for you to play with. Not only could you be messing with something the actor really needs you could be costing hundreds of dollars worth of damage. Whcih you will be liable for if anyone sees you. And actors have gotten hurt by patrons who thought they were being hilarious. It’s not hilarious to mess with someone’s medical device. We also clearly have all body types at the haunt. We don’t need to hear your opinion on body types either. A haunt is a place to be entertained by the fantastical – why would you want to bring mundane stupidity into the mix by commenting on someone’s looks or body type?

SPECIAL NOTE: Yes, we also have actors of all ethnicity and races too. That person who is wearing a full body costume and mask might actually be the race you are making stupid comments about so it’d probably be a good idea to shut your mouth about your ironic nazi-esque views. In fact, you people who think it’s funny to act like a nazi should probably just stay home. We don’t want your money until you grow up a little more.

You know that haunted houses are places of business and plenty of research and testing goes into how they are arranged and setup right? It’s not random that there is a horrific grating noise when you walk into this hall but a quiet whisper when you walk into that hall. Haunt owners and crew work very hard all year round to find the best ways to entertain people and they are good at what they do (or else the haunt would have closed down by now). It’s an actual industry. They hire artists to do sets, technicians to do sound and lights, computer experts for all manner of things… a LOT goes into the haunt before you ever walk in the door. So why would you want to waste your money by missing any of it? Walk in a normal pace! Look around! Not everything is terrifying, some things are actually crafty, artistic, interesting, even collectable items on display! There’s no need to run through with your eyes covered – if you don’t want ot get scared, merely walk directly behind another couple. If you are in the middle of a line of people, it is extremely unlikely you will get scared. Actors only have so much time to get each group and if you’re the third or fourth person, you’ll probably see the scare of the person in front far away enough it won’t bother you. Then you can appreciate everything in the haunt without being scared if that’s your thing.

You know the lighting in haunted houses is very very specific, right? It’s to highlight the things we have created for you and to make sure the actors can see. In fact, the actors can see you before you see them! So if you run around shining your cell phone light on everything you not only ruin the effect that has been created for you, you stand a good chance of annoying the actors who will not do the scare.

You know we don’t HAVE to scare you, right? Actors are allowed to refuse to engage with patrons – we don’t

    have

to come out and scare you if we think you’re going to give us a hard time, so coming in drunk, acting a fool, or trying to get the actors to break character will not give you new victims to berate if that’s your thing. We aren’t here for you to abuse. If you try to mock us or make fun of us, you will not provoke a fight, or look cool to anyone but you. We’re doing our job: entertaining you. Being the recipient of your derision is not our job. We will opt out. We are unsure of why you even do this. As another haunt friend of mine put it: ” You must remember, there is a reason why we are the actors and you are the patrons. There is no amateur hour at the haunted house. Patrons ARE NOT scary.” There’s a definite art to scaring and we don’t always hit the mark but that’s just how it is. You, on the other hand, are just acting like a fool. Mocking us and trying to scare us is the haunted house equivalent to heckling. It’s stupid and accomplishes nothing. We’ve seen enough of it to know it’s not impressing the people you are with either. You think you’re being cool but your friends are all rolling their eyes behind your back. They probably wont’ take you next year.

You know we’re employees, right? As much as we love what we are doing, this is work and we get paid for it (unless its a charity thing, but it’s still work- its just donation rather than pay) The whole reason we are here, as flesh and blood people rather than having an all animatronic haunt is because scaring is not a straightforward thing – timing, gauging reactions, “reading” patrons – it’s all part of the job that we do. We don’t scare everyone exactly the same way at the timing point. So if you have a little kid with you who seems to be having a truly terrified reaction, we may tone it down. If you have someone come through in a wheelchair, we’ll try to direct ourselves at their eye level. If someone has a panic attack we will alert the lead actor who will help them exit safely. If you have someone who is wandering aimlessly, we may wait for dramatic effect – it’s part of the art of scaring and we know what we’re doing. The house I work in is a “no contact” house – we are not allowed to touch patrons (though sometimes accidents happen) so imagine how much we go through to figure out ways to make you jump!

You know that everyone who works the haunt actually takes pride in their work? It’s no different than a movie – we are artists, craft-kin and techies who have a show to put on and we want to put on the best, most successful show we can. So trying to ruin the scares, mock the actors or otherwise act like a total douche-bag is nothing but a big downer for us all. In fact, many of us spend quite a bit of time marveling at people like you – why do you even come? You can go to your local sports-bar and act like a douche there for probably a lot less money and get drunk at the same time. Why harsh our squee? Do you go home feeling good that you stomped all over someone trying to enjoy their job? Really? Do you go to retail stores and make fun of the sales-folk there too? It just seems so unnecessary. Go in and have a good time! Enjoy what we have prepared for you!

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