Friday, October 05, 2012

How to NOT be the monster in the Haunted House: A Scaretiquette Guide

As a long-time fan of Halloween events, I am here to tell you -- nothing ruin the experience faster than guests behaving badly. And there are a lot of bad guests out there. If you are heading to Halloween Horror Nights, HowlOScream, or any of the many other Orlando haunted attractions this year, give this list a read -- consider it an easy way to avoid being that guest (or accidentally bringing that guest along with you).

1. Never touch the actors: This is a big issue every year. Yes, sometimes accidents happen and people bump into each other or someone throws their hands up too fast, too close. But never touch the actors on purpose. For one, someone could get hurt. For another, one touch can ruin makeup or costuming that took hours to complete. Be respectful of personal space -- the actors have been trained to be respectful of yours while still getting in for a good close scare.

2. Keep the line moving: This is another one that seems obvious, yet always happens. depending on the size of the attraction, anywhere from dozens up to thousands of people need to pass through the doors on any given night. While your Vincent Price impression may be the best one on the planet, halfway through the haunted house is not a good place to stop suddenly and perform it. Same with trying to find something in your purse. Wait to get out to a better lit area -- it's too dark in there anyway.

3. No running the corridors: Sometimes this just happens -- the best houses make our fight or flight response kick in, and flight is better than fight (see #1)! But there are also guests who just run through every room at top speed, usually screaming all the way and often eyes closed. Most haunted houses have lots of people (guests and actors), narrow hallways, and limited visibility. Running blind is a great way to get hurt and hurt others. Nobody wants an emergency room visit for Halloween.

4. Don't give away the hiding places: If you spot Freddy or Jason or anybody peeking out of their respective haunted hidey-hole, don't tell! Half the fun of these houses is watching the person who didn't spot them get scared out of their wits. And while we're on the subject...

5. If you've already been through the house, don't give away the secrets: If the house was good enough to warrant going through more than once, they must have some pretty excellent surprises, set up, decor, and actors. Let everyone experience it without your assistance.

6. Mind your alcohol intake: A lot of the bigger Halloween events serve alcohol (notably HHN and HoS), and a lot of people choose to partake in a little liquid courage. The trouble happens when some people opt to indulge in a LOT of it. A stumbling drunk is no fun anywhere, but it's a special kind of problem at Halloween attractions (hitting actors, throwing up in attractions or on other guests, falling down, starting fights, and stripping in the middle of the road are just a few things I have witnessed). Know your limits, be smart, and always have a designated driver. And speaking of inappropriate behavior...

7. Haunted House ≠ Tunnel of Love: Those dark and secret little corners sure do look private, don't they? Guess what? They're not. AT ALL. And nobody wants to see that.  

8. Don't use your phone: Treat the haunted house like a movie theater or a live theater experience. Silence your phone and please -- for the love of the Great Pumpkin -- don't text in the hallways!  

9. We know it's not real: Being the guy who has to point out -- loudly -- how fake everything is doesn't make you smart. It just makes you a jerk. There are places to go if your want realism. This is not one of them.

10. If you don't actually like Haunted attractions, don't go to them: This seems simple, right? Yet every year, every visit, I hear at least one person per house complaining -- these things are stupid, it's so fake, this is lame, etc etc etc. If that's you, do everyone a favor and please stay home. Don't be the guest who ruins everyone else's good time.


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