The crisp fall air bites at your cheeks as you wait in the long winding line. You can hear screams and laughter making its way from the entrance of the attraction, and then you see the source of the excitement. A strange ghoul shambles past the patrons. Your eyes lock briefly. The hairs on the back of your neck start to stand up. Suddenly, a girl in front of you squeals and backs away in terror. The shambling ghoul looks away from you and shifts their body towards to sound of the squeals. You watch the girl’s terror grow… and then think to yourself, “How can I work for a haunted attraction and be part of this fun?”
The gory character in tattered clothes turns and stands in front of you, as if she heard your thoughts. She’s so close to you that a strong fragrance of musty rot fills your nostrils. You build up the courage and try to engage her with questions, but she just babbles incoherently and then shambles away. Chances are she was following the actor code of conduct, to never break character. Good news for you though, there are other ways to find out how to work for a haunted attraction.
If you are ready to give up your weekends during the Halloween season for very little or possibly no pay; to wear an unwashed costume the full season; to get touched, punched, kicked, bruised, heckled… then here are some tips on how to make it happen.
How to Score a Gig at a Haunted Attraction
Working for a haunted attraction as a horror fan can be a dream come true. When you make a customer scream for the first time, it’s like an addiction that will leave you wanting more. What a lot of people may not realize though is the amount of hard work it takes to create such an elaborate performance. Haunted attractions are a live performing arts production, and you are always on stage in front of an audience.
Seasonal attractions may start seeking employees around July or August. Year-round ones may recruit throughout the year. The best way to find out is to check their websites or other social media pages for further information. You may be asked to audition. But don’t let that deter you… there are roles for all levels of experience. The audition process just helps the managers see what kind of role you might work best in. Other attractions might just have you fill out a standard job application and start you off in a more low impact role.
Most attractions will offer some form of training, either as a class or as dress rehearsals. Sometimes these are unpaid or voluntary. Regardless, it is beneficial to you personally to attend as many as possible. First, it helps you be a more effective actor, which means more scares from patrons. Additionally, when promotion opportunities become available, management is more likely to look towards the dedicated and reliable actors first.
You’ve been cast in a part, been through training, received your costume, and it’s the start of the season. As an actor, you should always come prepared with your own personal supplies (such as a water bottle, cough drops, a thermos, and extra layers of clothing dependent on weather).
Developing your character isn’t always something that happens instantly. You may get a rough outline of your character from management. It’s always good to do research or to think about what your character’s story is. Give them a name, decide if they are dead or alive, think of some phrases and/or movements your character could use to cycle through. Work with other actors around you to optimize scares, be respectful of them and your surroundings, and try not to copy other actors.
Most importantly, be respectful of the customers because you are now in the business of selling fun to them, and your actions reflect on the attraction. Part of that is always staying in character (unless there’s an emergency), in order to keep the illusion going for the customers.
Now that you’ve made it through all the initial steps and have signed your weekends away for the next month or so, you get to experience the other side of working for a haunted attraction. Beyond all that hard work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet fellow horror fans who share your passion; to form new friendships and be a part of an extended family; to legally terrify people into peeing their pants.
Beyond all that hard work, there is a lot of fun to be had. Good luck!