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Mina Moderator

Info about privacy, content and contracts
Due to the nature of the internet at large, I will not be revealing the names of any attractions I've worked for. I may share photos, but these are shared at my discretion. I am not able to share video walkthroughs or photos that reveal the mechanics of scares I've worked. Additionally, please understand that any photos shown here only contain simulated horror! None of the scary bits are real! I'll do my best to hide them behind collapses to spare anyone who might not like to see anything spooky.





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With that out of the way...

  • A haunted attraction is a form of interactive theatre meant to startle and unsettle the audience as they walk through expansive sets and experience a story.
  • Haunted attractions often include audio effects, animatronics, moving walls/floors, optical illusions, lighting effects etc.
  • Different types of attractions exist. Walkthroughs of buildings in all kinds, mazes (indoor/outdoor), trails, hayrides and "experiences" referred to as "touch/extreme haunts."
  • They also come in big box corporate flavor in places like Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Six Flags & Cedar Fair amusement parks.



How'd you end up doing something like this? Well, some artist friends of mine worked at one. Because they'd met me while I was painting windows for a local business, they'd invited me to come and paint! I'd agreed to assist with set deco that summer- but was very adamant that I wouldn't be working the season. I'd been to this haunt previously and most definitely cried and peed my pants. Ultimately, I got so comfortable with learning the ins and outs of the building's "spots" that I ended up working.

Since that summer, I've been working in this industry for ten years. Here's a photo of me a baby actress in 2011 when I won my very first trophy! (I'm in pink) That trophy was Best newcomer.


What do you like...do? It'd honestly be easier to tell you about what I don't do! The primary function of my job is cast direction though there is no official title system in place in the industry. A cast director is the person who teaches actors (not just the new ones) about how to turn off their human brain and turn on their monster brain. I educate people on things such as body language (on themselves and others), character development, endurance, improv skills, and even a little bit of psychology where responses from guests are concerned. TLDR; How to be spooky and not get punched.
TW: Stage blood/clown
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Image description: A small woman is standing, facing a seated man, applying makeup to his face with a sponge.
The woman is painted as a clown.


The other things I do include Actor boot camp, staffing, scheduling, security, first aid, customer service, minor HR, auditions, social media, prop building, set building, light animatronic maintenance, lighting/audio, sound research, queue acting, costuming, makeup, set design, operations, flow planning, troubleshooting, etc. I also carry around a backpack full of snacks and bandaids. While I don't know how to label this, one time I had to use glowsticks like an air traffic controller in order to direct people away from a puking guest. The moral of that story is, do not gag back at someone who is gagging. They're not bluffing.

Okay but..is it scary in there? Well I'd certainly hope so! Though I can plan a show based on what society at large finds scary- I can't gurantee that what scares one will scare all. At the very least, so long as you're entertained & my crew is feeling happy, valid, and fulfilled? I've done my job! Not everyone is frightened by jump scares, and not everyone is afraid of chainsaws. Even if nothing in a haunted house scares you, maybe take the time to really look at the art that goes into it. It's so much more than you'd have ever considered.

When do you start? This differs from attraction to attraction. Currently, my work starts in March. Peaking starts in august, and the job concludes for me in December. Operations run from Sept- Nov, though!

Have you ever been hit? Yep! Three times in ten years is markedly low. Fight or flight is a very real thing, but if you're properly educated on how to read a group of guests, you should certainly know how to avoid any sort of physical contact. For clarity's sake, no one taught me evasive physicality when I started, which is what motivated me to become the best Boo Wrangler this side of the.. (body of water). I wanted to take the things I needed to learn the hard way, and put them to good use by educating new actors so that they never had to go through those things.

Have you ever scared anyone..you know..to death? Heavens no. Actually, I have procedural standards at my work set into place for getting guests who feel anxious or unwell out of the show and to safety. I bring them water and sit with them in a nice quiet space without fx or actors until they are okay to go home, or want to see the rest of the show. Mental health is no joke, scaring someone so badly that they cry might feel great as an actor- but you're hurting the industry when you do this. Those people won't come to another haunt. Those people won't go on to take their children to haunts, and moreover they'll never work at one! I do my very best to be a good ambassador for halloween and help people enjoy it properly.

On an off note, I have scared someone into labor! :D

I could never go to a haunted house, I'd hurt someone. Stay home if you're not willing to work on that, but what I tell extra nervous guests is to keep their hands firmly in their pockets. There is a very short disconnect where you're registering what stimuli is being input, and then startling you. If your hands are not accessible at that time, the likelihood of fight response as a reaction (like punching) decreases quite a bit!


I'm too scared to try a haunted house! Maybe try working at one! You'll learn exactly how everything works and maybe that would help you. If not, it never hurts to call the attraction or send a message to them asking about whether or not they have glowsticks (monster repellent/no boo sticks), safe words, or escorts for the especially scared. Many places offer these options so that you can enjoy the show just like everyone else. Well, a less intense show, but still a show.

Please feel free to ask me anything! I'd love to share my experiences with you.
That's already really thorough, thanks.

I don't know if this is even appropriate for the RPR, but how bad for the rest of the industry is McKamey Manor?
I am quite curious about something.

How do you deal with a guest who can't be frightened? Or at least isn't easy to frighten?

You mentioned how to get enjoyment out of a Haunted House if you aren't the sort to get frightened, but how does it look from the house's side?
Mina Topic Starter Moderator

sland wrote:
That's already really thorough, thanks.

I don't know if this is even appropriate for the RPR, but how bad for the rest of the industry is McKamey Manor?

I’m glad I was thorough!

I have pretty strong feelings about that establishment and many others in the industry feel similarly. I can’t answer for everyone, in the industry but the best I can do is to tell you how it effects me at work.


The biggest one is that I need to be very thorough in explaining to new hires that we cannot and will not under any circumstances touch guests. This is actually a fireable offense unless you’re defending yourself by stopping a blow or assisting someone (with permission after something like a fall.)


If someone comes to their interview and seems excited or hopeful about exacting violence on customers, they are not what we’re looking for. This has only occurred once, thankfully.


Additionally I occasionally have to reassure guests, or I’ll get a guest that asserts “if anybody touches me bro I’ll wreck them!” But that isn’t a new thing, it happened way before I’d ever heard of the manor.

I hope that answers it a little! 😅 With all of that said, a very good friend and mentor of mine does operate an “extreme terror experience”. I even helped with some set deco! There are people who have taken the concept of hands on and merged it with traditional foundations, who prioritize art, safety and health. Can’t speak on that for every “touch/contact/extreme” experience, but it can be done correctly.
Mina Topic Starter Moderator

Nettle wrote:
I am quite curious about something.

How do you deal with a guest who can't be frightened? Or at least isn't easy to frighten?

You mentioned how to get enjoyment out of a Haunted House if you aren't the sort to get frightened, but how does it look from the house's side?

This is a great question! I do my best to explain to my crew that even if someone isn’t an easy startle, you should still entertain them. Whether this is annoying them, confusing them, or absolutely grossing them out- ya gotta do somethin.

Personally, I take this opportunity to tell guests about my conspiracy theories, or accuse them of being the person who pooped my pants, and asserting that I most definitely was not the one to poop them. (For the record, I wear a straight jacket as a costume.)

Everyone is annoyed by loud noises, barking, dramatic crying, maniacal laughter etc. Everyone (even hecklers) likes to be acknowledged. Sort of like Mickey waving to adults at Disneyland. We know that isn’t the mouse, but it’s still entertaining to interact with him.

For a clown this might look like telling a joke or playing a “mime trick” with an invisible rope, playing a game, giving a riddle etc.

For a doctor type, I’d suggest stopping, sniffing the guest and stating “oh no, this one simply won’t do! Much too far past the use by date. Run along, before I change my mind and get desperate for spare parts.”

Anything you can do to bring them into the scene or keep up the immersion is more than enough. “If you can’t scare ‘em, make them laugh!” is a popular piece of advice but isn’t my favorite approach, as it only works for clowns.


For first years, it can be quite difficult not to be discouraged when you don’t get the reaction you’re hoping for! But, it’s all a good way to parse out what works, what doesn’t, and how to read people in the future.
Kim Site Admin

Mina wrote:
On an off note, I have scared someone into labor! :D

I need to know much more about this please.
Mina wrote:
it never hurts to call the attraction or send a message to them asking about whether or not they have glowsticks (monster repellent/no boo sticks), safe words, or escorts for the especially scared. Many places offer these options so that you can enjoy the show just like everyone else. Well, a less intense show, but still a show.

I had no idea this was an option. Thank you so much. I will ABSOLUTELY be using this tip. I like the idea of haunted houses but very often my nervous system simply can't take them in reality. Knowing that there wouldn't be jump scares would help me so much to be the right level of scared such that it is entertaining rather than a spoon dumpster.
Have you ever heard of an absolute balls-of-tungsten person who just shrugged everything off no matter how scary it really was?
This was an interesting thread to read through, especially as someone who is terrified of the very concept of their own shadow, ha. A friend likes to join calls, be silent for a bit so I forget the little discord ping, and then make a sudden noise to get a reaction out of me. It... well, makes decent stream content, probably. I have a friend who's told me I should try LARPing at least once but the kind of things they go to are probably very close to this type of experience...

I have 2 questions though.

1. If a place gives guests glowsticks, do other guests sometimes complain about them? Do they break the immersion for others?

2. Are there any common phobias, like spiders, that you alert guests to? Have you ever run 'alternate' shows that dodge any common phobias?

3. Does the "No Touch" rule extend to things like dripping slime on people, or dancing a plastic spider on a string over someone's back?

4. I'm also pretty curious about the person in labor. Did they have their baby okay?
Mina Topic Starter Moderator

Kim wrote:
Mina wrote:
On an off note, I have scared someone into labor! :D

I need to know much more about this please.
Mina wrote:
it never hurts to call the attraction or send a message to them asking about whether or not they have glowsticks (monster repellent/no boo sticks), safe words, or escorts for the especially scared. Many places offer these options so that you can enjoy the show just like everyone else. Well, a less intense show, but still a show.

I had no idea this was an option. Thank you so much. I will ABSOLUTELY be using this tip. I like the idea of haunted houses but very often my nervous system simply can't take them in reality. Knowing that there wouldn't be jump scares would help me so much to be the right level of scared such that it is entertaining rather than a spoon dumpster.

Belatedly, I never saw all of these responses! Goodness~

It isn't always an option, but sometimes it is. The tailoring of shows varies from place to place. What I personally do is talk a bit with the person to understand what their concerns are. If they're afraid of swinging, I instruct them on the things they can do, and typically I'll move into the front of them as we come up on actors who may be in punchy range. There is a radio code for this, and the code is "Boop, entering now." Boop is longhand for "bop", or to punch. :)

If the person has anxiety or a sensory issue, we talk a little about what "too much" might be. I explain the few situations where this might pop up, and offer solutions such as reminding them when unavoidable input is coming during our walk, when actors are somewhere, or when an animatronic works. If they are feeling okay when we pass the most tame animatronic, I show them how it senses their presence! Usually by the end of the show, they feel a bit better about the concept. I provide lots of encouragement along the way and ask for routine okayness checks. Typically, I start off as the lead- however, naturally as a person builds confidence, they sometimes will ask to go in front! :D This also has a code, the code is "Gentle friend (An adult) Gentle Buddy (A kiddo)"

In all cases, whether you're six feet or two feet tall I teach my crew that the sight of that glowstick means to EASE OFF! If a person extends the glowstick in a monster's direction, that's the "No, no more of you in particular please" signal, which we call monster be gone. It is at this point the actor either pretends to be afraid of the guest, of the stick, etc- or they sigh, groan, and pretend to be disheartened. I personally enjoy sniffing the glowstick and fake-barfing or cowering away from it and crying for my grandma. Kids love that. Sometimes the kids have even comforted me!

The unfortunate bit is that I have to remind new intakes and even industry vets from other haunts that not all glowsticks are held by children and that sometimes people deal with invisible circumstances of all sorts, the glowstick is purchased and is valid in any hand. Pursuing an adult person with a glowstick is a punishable offense if you work for me. I've only had to do one punishment.

We also have protocols for situations involving mobility aids and individuals with any sort of physical differences that might make some things a little tough.

If someone is TOO SCARED, they are asked for consent to show them the way out, given a bottle of water, taken into normal lighting, calmed down etc. I had a total of four ambulances for panic attacks this season, and I was incredibly proud of the way that the crew cared for others, expedited communication, etc.
Mina Topic Starter Moderator

KingDragon wrote:
Have you ever heard of an absolute balls-of-tungsten person who just shrugged everything off no matter how scary it really was?

Of course! That's me! :) In all honesty, that's actually quite common. Not everyone shows upset, discomfort, surprise or even happiness in a way that is physically or verbally expressed. In which case, we still find a way to entertain them as I'd mentioned above. And if they're a grump about it- well, that's on them! I like to razz them for it and then skitter off making squirrel sounds. That's less common. The usual response from someone who isnt scared is amusement and maybe even laughter. People love to look at art and see neat things, lol.
Mina Topic Starter Moderator

Aardbei wrote:
This was an interesting thread to read through, especially as someone who is terrified of the very concept of their own shadow, ha. A friend likes to join calls, be silent for a bit so I forget the little discord ping, and then make a sudden noise to get a reaction out of me. It... well, makes decent stream content, probably. I have a friend who's told me I should try LARPing at least once but the kind of things they go to are probably very close to this type of experience...

I have 2 questions though.

1. If a place gives guests glowsticks, do other guests sometimes complain about them? Do they break the immersion for others?

2. Are there any common phobias, like spiders, that you alert guests to? Have you ever run 'alternate' shows that dodge any common phobias?

3. Does the "No Touch" rule extend to things like dripping slime on people, or dancing a plastic spider on a string over someone's back?

4. I'm also pretty curious about the person in labor. Did they have their baby okay?

These are all very good questions!
  1. This policy differs wherever you go. It would be a difficult adjustment in a "conga line" style attraction that does not break up groups or is just too busy to do so. However, I am certain that it does happen.

    The thing that's important to note here is that if you, myself, kim and kingdragon all went to my job together as customers and you had a glowstick, you're the only person that glowstick applies to! It's entirely unfair to deprive people who've paid for a full show..the full show. If your needs were very, very intense it might be wise to take one person with you who knows this and is okay with a diminished show.

    So, we're heading through the haunted house, typically the glowstick person is in the middle of our single file line. Scares work when actors hear or see a group coming, usually through a peephole, but not always. They'll never do a pop scare when the guest in front of their exit point is holding a glowstick. They'll hit the persons in front of them if possible instead. The entire group SHOULD receive attention, but the holder of the stick receives much less, and sometimes very little more than a glance or a snarl.

    For places that lump 2 or 3 groups together, I can see where this might be annoying, though most I know will send no boo groups on their own without adding unwitting party members.
  2. No and no. We alert guests at my place of work to the following: FX Lighting, moving walls and floors, flashing lights, loud and intense audio, fog. One of the biggest no-no's is explaining what's inside the haunt. If someone has a trigger that they are very concerned about, it would be their responsibility to call and or ask for management so that they could inquire. We actually state the aforementioned alterts about stuff on signage, ticket site, ticket booth, front door, and the first room inside the haunt too! :) For the second part of your question, we do run Lights on events for children, it's mostly trick or treat but before the pandemic we also held a small bootcamp for kids who might be interested in learning how it works. A walkthrough, explanation of animatronics and stage tricks, and a makeup demonstration.
  3. At my work place, yes. I can't speak for all places again, and some have such lax supervision that they really say "thats on you." I can't imagine saying that! Under absolutely nooo circumstance should we, or any part of us be touching a guest or any part of them. The obvious stipulation being in cases of self defense/escape from assault. This is because people really love to have themselves an adult beverage or more before coming to haunted houses. Their reactions to touch at this point vary WILDLY and I can't risk it. Additionally, we also say at several points when entering that no one should be touching anyone.
  4. Haha! The person was actually trying to induce labor by being frightened and walking a trail! They were able to get off the trail and onto a security golf cart, then to the gates and into their car. Baby was born happy, healthy, and halloween ready! :D

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