As you may or may not know I work in my local Haunted Attraction, and because of this I see a lot of people scared shitless. Trust me when I say there is a right and a wrong way to approach going through a Haunted House or a Haunted Forest. You would be surprised how many people spend all that money (a lot of local haunts in my area are around $16 – $20 a person) to have a negative or horrible experience, and then blame the actors/owners for having such a terrible haunt. That being the case, I will list and explain those correct ways of haunting here so you will have a fun and enjoyable time this upcoming Halloween weekend.
- No children under the age of 6 should ever go through a Haunted House. Most young children are so terrified and bewildered of what the hell is going on they are more traumatized and confused then anything. You are better off taking them to a pumpkin patch during the day time or a local corn maze, as they are wonderful autumn activities without the need for psychological harm. I wish I had a sweet study to refer to that shows how early childhood trauma that takes place inside funhouses, circuses, and haunts contributes to real psychological damage down the road, but I don’t. Instead I have my own experience in seeing tons of dads and moms dragging their crying and wailing children through the entire attraction simply because they need to,”get their money’s worth.” You’re paying for psychological damage in my opinion.
- Go with at least one friend that is really afraid of Haunted Attractions. Even if you aren’t afraid of haunted houses it’s always entertaining to bring in a friend who is. The entertainment value alone of watching them scream like a banshee over the smallest noises is great, and it gets the rest of the group laughing and screaming too. I have seen lots of people who never have the advantage of a scaredy cat in the group who simply walk through the haunted house with little to no expression and leave wondering,”why does this place suck so bad?” Haunted Houses are only as bad as you make them in your mind; and bringing in someone in your own group of friends who is ready to scream will help make that space turn into something more intimidating and scary. And more fun!
- Try to keep an even pace, despite running away out of fear or lingering around enjoying the scenery. Spacing out different groups in a haunt is a fine art, and all too often groups catch up to other groups making it kind of suck. I have seen it go both ways where a group takes forevvvver to walk a few feet and other groups that attempt to sprint all the way from start to finish ( a group of girls last year tried to run, in the dark, the entire length of the Terrified Forest, about a mile and half haunted woods!) Most often you don’t need to focus on setting a good pace because established haunts will already know a good timeframe to send you in. Still something to consider.
- Going a little drunk can be a blast, but going wasted can be awful. It’s inevitable that anyone from 16 and up will go to a haunted house drunk or stoned for the hell of it. I really don’t have a problem with drunk people in my haunted house; they’re funny as hell, easy to scare at times, and have a lot of fun. I do have a problem when your belligerent drunk friend wants to fight me then and there or starts ripping props off the wall to take with him/throw at me/hump. If you bring a really drunk friend in just know that you will probably be babysitting him the entire time through (making sure he keeps walking, stopping him from attacking the scare actors, stopping them from puking) just to avoid having everyone in your group kicked out. The scare actors all talk, and if a few call in that you’re being a drunk idiot security will be on its way to ruin your night in the haunt.
- Go early if it’s a popular Haunt. If it’s a Saturday night the weekend before Halloween the joint is gonna be packed, so try to get there early. I say this not only so you can beat the line to get in, but also because the scare actors will be fresher and peppier early on and likely to put more effort and energy into their scares. By the time 1am rolls around on a busy night most ghouls are in need of some serious sit down and eat Taco Bell time. Go a little early!
- If you aren’t that scared, watch a scary movie before you go with friends. If you have the time plan a night of it and watch something like the Blair Witch Project, Silence of the Lambs, or The Strangers before going to a Haunted House. It does help, especially if the place you end up going looks anything like the set of the film you’re watching.
- Bring the right attitude: Let Go and Have Fun! I cannot stress this enough. Really. The reason I’m even mentioning this here is that a lot of people, it seems, go to Haunted Attractions simply to point out their flaws, berate and harass the scare actors, and bitch about how it didn’t go the extra mile to scare them. Simply put; you get out what you put in. Actors and props can only go so far, and we can’t murder your best friend in front of you in order to get a scare, so you have to approach the house the right way. When you go to a play in the theater you don’t stand up five minutes into it and yell,”They’re not really in Saigon, I can see the curtain and a stage hand back there!” That would make you a douchebag. You have to play into the fantasy of the Haunted House and extend belief a little bit so it takes on a life of its own. Play into being a victim a little bit, or come to the rescue of your boyfriend or girlfriend when they get freaked; a great scare actor will recognize and play into that. You paid good money to be scared and laugh, so relax and have fun with it; it’s Halloween!