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Behind The Screams

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What NOT to do in a haunted house

Before any group of visitors enters ScareHouse, they are told the rules. These include reminders such as keeping cell phones away and “touch no thing and no thing will touch you.”  Those actors portraying the zombies and demons still see, hear and experience some visitors who need even more reminders, however.

When asked what ScareHouse visitors should keep in mind NOT to do inside a haunted house, the most mentioned advice from actors’ firsthand knowledge:

Treat the actors the way you would want to be treated, Wendy says.

“Please do not come with the intent of ridiculing, harassing, or taunting the actors,” says Leah. “It ruins the experience not just for your group, but many times for others behind or in front of you.”

Jenna reminds visitors to maintain the family-friendly environment ScareHouse creates. “Please don’t make overly sexual remarks to the actors,” she says. “We are still people. It can make us feel uncomfortable and make other guests feel uncomfortable too.”

Jess says the actors are there to scare, and should not have to tolerate unwanted comments. “We are very uninterested (and undead!),” she says.

Echoing the opinion of several actors, Tiffani says to remember that everyone wants to feel safe and have fun.
“In no workplace or industry should these actions be acceptable, so don’t do it,” she says. “You have no idea who the person behind the mask is and you have no idea how quickly this can ruin the actor’s night, trigger undesirable emotions, and make us feel unsafe. Our job is to try to scare you, your job is to respect us regardless of if we get that scare or not.”

Being respectful — of the actors, the sets and other customers — was also important to actors.

“Have common courtesy for everything going on around you,” says Kayleigh.

“Just because they purchased a ticket to go through a haunt, it doesn’t mean that the customer has a right to say, or do whatever they please,” Matt says. “It’s like you learned in elementary school: treat others as you would like to be treated.”
Because there are so many moving parts in such small spaces that are dark and difficult to navigate by design, intentionally breaking some part of it could be a hazard.

“Don’t destroy sets,” Mike says. “Not only is it just a jerk move, but it makes it unsafe for both staff and patrons.”

A customer under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also make the situation unsafe, or more likely to cause damage, as a few people mentioned.

“We don’t come to your house and destroy your stuff,” Kelsey says.

Even when the actors are closeby, customers may react in a way where they touch or even hit the actors by accident, but you should try not to put yourself in that position. Instead of acting tough, have fun and be a part of the show by reacting to the scares.

“No one ever impressed a potential romantic partner by acting tough at a haunted attraction,” Mark says.

As for others in your group, be respectful of them as well, says Jaymi. “Do not try to hide in the set and scare your friends,” she says. “You paid us to scare you and you’re probably ruining the scare your group paid for by distracting your friends.”

Keep moving when you see an actor in the shadows, instead of pointing them out, Leah says. “Many times we try to scare not just the front of the line so that all can get in on the fun,” she says.

Christine shared an old carnival term, “smart mark,” that describes someone who wants to point out where all the scares are coming from. “Spoiling the show for everyone in your group, and potentially groups near you, doesn’t impress us,” she says. “Relax, zip it and enjoy, or at least observe, the show without the play-by-play to your friends.”

Similarly, if your friends are really too scared to go through the haunt, they shouldn’t be forced.

“Don’t peer pressure your friends or family,” Kelsey says. “If they’re scared outside the haunt, they won’t make it through the inside. Don’t torture them.”

Once inside, be sure to enjoy the show and let your friends do the same, Cassie says.

“The actors and actresses work very hard to have these sorts of acting skills but at the end of the day it’s all about the holiday thrill,” she says.

Other advice mentioned: Don’t run, push or pull. Don’t complain about the line outside. Don’t congest spaces inside. Don’t steal from the gift shop.

“Think about if Mr. Rogers would do it,” Empathy says. “I understand that Mr. Rogers might not go to a haunted house, but if he did, don’t do anything he wouldn’t do.”