View Full Version : Violence from Customers

11-07-2011, 07:33 AM
We are thinking about allowing touching in a certain part of our haunt in 2012. With that in mind I read many posts about more violence from customers this year. Protecting our actors is a big concern for us. But, we visited a haunt this past weekend and my actors loved the touching (me too). So my question is are you finding more violence coming from haunts that allow touching or no touch policy?

What additional training are you doing and/or going through before you allow an actor in that position? I am also concerned about sexual harassment issues so think a waiver might be necessary. But then you have people coming through under 18, you can use that waiver for toilet paper, right?


Oh let me also say we are going to make this a separate part that will be optional for someone to go through. It will be a separate attraction within and separate fee or combo ticket can be purchased.

Jim Warfield
11-07-2011, 08:19 AM
Massage therapists, chiropracters..all dully state approved, licensed.
Is there a legal president on touching?
Is reaching around a blind corner with a soft stuffed phony arm, touching someone the same thing?
Is there a strike zone as in baseball? Fair/foul!?
Will such touchers need to be wearing night vision equiptment to insure they do it correctly? Constant surveilence camera recording with night vision too?
Getting touched by someone in costume, obscured as to which sex and who they might be might inspire more retrobution from a customer.

11-07-2011, 10:14 AM
I'm sure you'll get some very opinionated thoughts on this subject. But they are all just opinions, so I'll throw my two cents in, even though I expect some will disagree with it.

I personally think this "no touch" policy is an overreaction to a frivolous lawsuits. And maybe they weren't all frivolous, either. We all know many haunts allow volunteers who haven't been trained well to come in and do whatever. Some of them have grabbed at girls in the dark and taken advantage of the situation. So a few people get sued and the next thing we know, the entire industry overreacts and eliminates one of the best arrows from its arsenal of attack. So many gals come in to our haunt and say (usually with their hands in the air) "Promise me no one will touch me! Promise! Or I won't go through!"

Now I used to say, "Sure, no one will touch you" to make them happy. But that kinda kills it for everyone else in the group that WANTS to be scared, and doesn't want to be reassured there is nothing to worry about. (Besides, someone might touch them by accident and we don't want them to say "but you promised!") We also get the same thing from people who say "There's no clowns in here, right? I can't handle clowns!" or "I freak out over snakes, so tell me now if there's any snakes and I'll leave!" What are we supposed to do? Let the chickens design our haunt?

So now I tell tell them, "We try to prevent any one from touching you, but there's three reasons we can't make any promises. The first is that we can't control what your friends in your group do, especially your boyfriend when its dark-- so you'll have to take that up with him. The other is that this is an old warehouse, and as such, it's infested with rats and other creepy crawlers. They are NOT tame, nor trained, nor can they be controlled! Oh sure, we kill as many as we can, but they just breed faster! So if they scurry across your feet or drop in your hair from the overhead girders, we humbly apologize, but the most we can do is offer free treatment if they should bite or scratch you. Just make sure we know about it as soon as it happens so we can arrange all the shots. And finally, there's the other problem. Not everyone in here is... what you would technically call, "alive". But rest assured, if you touched by anyone or anything other than your friends, it will either be a creature or something quite dead. I hope that's reassuring. Shall we begin?"

Of course, that's the last thing in the world they want to hear, and sometimes they insist on leaving. But there are no refunds and more importantly, the rest in the group likes it. Instead of helping them reign in their imagination before the tour, it unleashes it. And it also discloses that we may touch them with non-living things (like monster hands on poles-- although never in controversial regions of their bodies.)

That being said, there are several things we do to prevent touching that might be considered sexual by the staff. First, everyone is forbidden from doing it except a few select people who I trust and who have strong credibility. One is female police officer (not uniformed but costumed). It's also handy to have someone like that on your staff if you do have violence or other issues. People are not likely to accuse such a person of inappropriate touching because she's 1. A woman 2. Police 3. doesn't do it in the dark, but in full view of others (witnesses). The others are people who control long mechanical arms or props that touch, but only on the shoulders or head (they come down from above). This eliminates any direct touching by males to any personal areas (in fact, it's best when they are controlled by women). And there are a few better lit areas where we're talking to people in groups where we might suddenly grab them on the shoulder and such, but in full view of the others (and again, only certain trusted employees.)

The long and short of it is that you do have to take precautions, not allow actors to make these decisions for themselves, and come up with a policy that avoids the 99% of the problems that got haunts into this mess to begin with. This may not stop everyone from making frivolous law suits-- nothing can stop scam artists from trying-- but it should prevent any legitimate claims of inappropriate groping and make any frivolous claims very difficult to collect on.

Okay, so maybe was more like THREE cents worth...

11-07-2011, 12:54 PM
The strategy of one haunt I've been to that allows touching is to hire actors from Steven's Point (all girl college). People didn't seem to complain much about the touching.

Allen H
11-07-2011, 07:46 PM
are you finding more violence coming from haunts that allow touching or no touch policy?
No, I see no more violence at haunts that touch. I have worked in both and while there are factors that increase the violence That is not one of them from my experience. Oddly when actors touch at non touching haunts it does have an effect.

What additional training are you doing and/or going through before you allow an actor in that position?
The right to "touch" is only granted to certain people- it has never been a cast wide gift granted to everyone. The touching is limited to certain areas, hair, knees down, elbows down to hands.

Gore Galore
11-08-2011, 06:27 AM
I think this is a "TOUCHY" subject. LOL.
Seriously, I don't know exactly where customers got the idea that haunted house actors couldn't touch.
And you always hear, "Touch me and I will sue". So don't touch those people. They shouldn't get the extra attention, or actor investment of time and energy. I think of touching as special treatment.
I will admit. I use "Touch" as a scare tool. But you should be very careful, and it is always the legs. our actors work very hard to be super quick about it, and stay out of reach.
This is exactly the reason We created the Zombie Arm below. So it helps keep your actor at a distance but still allowing you to touch your customer. And it really helped in our Design at Scarywood. The actor was under the boiler reaching out with the zombie arm. It set up the whole scene driving the customer to the other scare in the scene. Plus it distracted the customer so it intensified the drop portrait scare.
I would be interested to hear what our customers thoughts were that purchased the zombie arms thought of their effectiveness.

Our actors are trained to feel out the group before they touch. Listening before they enter the "scarezone" to understand the type of customer they are.
Not ALL get this special treatment.

AND NO not all actors should be touching. I also think this should be reserved for your best actors. Who know HOW to scare and can use this "TOOL" to really intensify the scare. You can take a group of laughing customers to screaming in a split second.
It really is a "TOOL" and it has to be used carefully and sparingly so the customer does not become desensitized to it.

It is definitely something to think about. But you should make sure your customers understand that touching COULD happen.

11-08-2011, 06:47 AM
I dont like the touching aspect and to Me it would only increase your chances of problems. Touching some people is like challenging them and asking for problems. It's not scary and many find it annoying they just want to have fun and be scared not touched.



KaoTic Entertainment
11-18-2011, 09:08 AM
Just ask Shane he touches himself 24/7.

11-18-2011, 11:46 AM
I'm curious about this as well... I have been to several haunts where you get touched. Going thru Pennhurst asylum and Shocktoberfest last weekend-both of these haunts they touched you. Shocktoberfest had several actors crawling around like dogs or crouching in rooms and they would constantly be grabbing at your legs... peoples reactions were great and it was really fun to go thru... at pennhurst they would touch you as well.. also at house of shock. All 3 of these hauntes were great and a really fun time. It seems when they touch its always shoulders and above or below the knee. I'm curious as to how many other haunts do this and if they have any issues... I think it made the show a hell of alot scarier and more fun to the average haunt guest.


Jim Warfield
11-20-2011, 05:42 PM
For yrs. I would ask the group for a volunteer, take them, put one of them where they could possibly grab their friends. This sometimes didnot work because some people seemed afraid to do this once in position or they thought I was to give them some special sign or words as to when they were supposed to do it?
I did create a group of repeat customers who would ask me if they could be that "volunteer"?
One woman called her Man/Husband? every filthy name I had ever heard after he scared her like this. All of that coming from a "Sunday-School Teacher"-Looking, acting ,young woman. (I wonder if they are still together now?)
I put my hand on the shoulder of an elderly newspaper writer as if I was going to shove his head into a real brick wall and he wrote in his column later that I did this and the wall exploded!"... as his old, soft, grey head impacted it!??? WTF?"
This extreme exaggeration upset me but when I mentioned this to some of his fans they just said they "Know" how he is and they didn't think twice about it....

Some possibly drunky customers are like a nitro bomb , just waiting for someone in the haunt to almost, possibly touch or bump them so they can unload on them, physically and verbally. Of course if you don't know these types are there, you must be in your first yr. haunting.

11-21-2011, 07:50 AM
as i am the one over the haunt, i am also the last scare of the haunt i occasionly do it when it calls for it, though my haunt is not a huge one, I reserve that right for me cause i use alot of volunteers, and i know what i am doing. IF and of that makes sense... you just gotta read the people comming in, if it is a yea nobody touching my girl or i will kick there ass person i dont give as much..

11-21-2011, 09:54 AM
GG showing it's hand prop but advocating actor touching?? Isn't that bad for business? ;)

Unwanted touching by anyone other then police is assault here in my state. Even mall cops can't touch, they can only follow until real police arrive. Technically if they touch you can defend yourself and having to stop the show for a TKO is bad for business.

11-21-2011, 06:57 PM
I don't get touching in a haunt. When is it scary to have a person mess with your hair, tickle your ear and neck or pinch your ankles??? It's Not Scary. And it does open you up to having problems with an actor touching someone the wrong way. I feel it's better to tell the customers they can touch the actors and leave it with that, then tell your actors NO touching.


Jim Warfield
11-21-2011, 07:53 PM
I guess my customers are people you have never seen in any haunt that you have worked in or attended. Many people Do Get Scared from a small little touch, many times.
Annoying stuff as told to me by my customers are the continious racket of chainsaws and haunt employees screaming in their faces. (Or are these things scary to you? Could be I guess? I don't know everything.)

Before on this forum the act of "putting Hands" on a customer was brought up with the dire legal consequences to possibly follow, the only difference might be though is that when I put my hands upon a wild, threatening drunk, I was ejecting him from my house(that I own). He was getting very close to throwing a punch at his cousin's face (who was not drunk, after he began purposely spitting on my floor(lights "on") and had been told by my Wife to not spit on the floor, he said, "I can spit on the floor of a G.D. Haunted house if I want too!" she and the cousin and the drunk were all eye-ball to eye-ball right infront of a glass cabinent door, so I stepped in and placed one hand on his shoulder and said, "It's time for you to leave." He whipped towards me, grabbed me by the cloth of my clothing next to my throat, out the door we went, I accellerated him down the sidewalk along the side of my house, him running backwards, he then pulled me down on top of him as he screamed how he was going to kill me.
I looked up and our City Policeman was standing there, he had seen the whole thing .
I didn't press charges as his Family promised to take him back to Chicago right then, which they did.
He was 19? I was 55?, both the same height, I wasn't picking on some little kid.
IF I can't protect my wife, my other customers and my house from this kind of an idiot, then we might as well just go back the caves and the biggest, meanest idiot will be telling us all what to do and when to do it.

Jim Warfield
11-22-2011, 06:23 AM
1) "Keep the staggering, screaming Drunks OUT!"
2)"Keep the drunks out"
3) Have enough help to actually watch the customers at all times.
4)Keep the group size managable, in other words don't get "Greedy", it wil cost you in the end.
5)Keep your ears OPEN and act accordingly.."I don't feel well, I may puke." "I'm gunna bust this place up!" and my all-time least favorite after customers were arguing just before they entered my house, the man mumbling "I'm gunna Kill some of these S.O.B's!" then he never acted anywhere near "Normal" and never took one hand out of his shirt, until he found himself surrounded by "Uniforms" in the second room.
My "Show" I run here is very docile and even quiet by what would probably be much more common standards of noise, sound effects and aggressive acting/ stimulation.. but then when they are relaxed, and it is quiet, every little odditty plays bigger!

11-22-2011, 07:16 AM
I had an idear on this the other day. While reading these posts and pondering on how some folks just seem to WANT to touch the patrons... how about this.

In my haunt, I'm wanting to have the customers "interact" with as much as possible. My final room, I won't disclose here, but lets just say, it'll be a SAW of a time!

Now, why not have folks have to reach into a skull on the wall, that's a hole, or just a hole if you want, dress it all up with wet string and stuff. Make them reach in to find the "key" or "token" that'll let the next guide continue their tour. Upon reaching in, have a mob / monster (whose job is also to replenish the tokens) grab their arm as it comes in looking for the item. If they get too scared and pull away too quickly, just let the monster poke the key through the hole, laughing as he does it. This does what? gives the ultimate scare imo. In movies you're ALWAYS shown a scene at some point to where you just expect something to grab someone's arm, or somethings going to happen to them when they reach into the area. Bring that fear to life. Plus, there's nothing for them to punch! It could be a girl, so when they laugh, it also assures them hearing a feminine voice laughing and I can only imagine the laughs that'll come out of it. They're all safe and in the end just had a good ol' unique scare. Now you don't have to jerk on them to bash their face on the wall, but just grab them and let them know THERE IS SOMETHING IN THERE!

A haunt I went to a few years back had the hole in the wall, but we got jumped from behind by jason. Everyone was focused on the hole in the wall, but the scare was completely different than expected.

Now keep in mind, the Haunts we have around here aren't these giant extravagant, colossal of shows. They're "haunted houses" , classic ones if you will. So I'm sure a few of you will say that's a bad idea just because of the "guide" thing. I don't know.

But anywho, IF you are going to touch, I think this would be a decent idear.

My .47C worth.

11-22-2011, 08:38 AM
Hey Jim, I personally don't like touching in a haunt and don't find it scary, and I mean touching as for actors doing it in the haunt to scare people. We remove people from our haunt if they are doing something that warrants it, but we also hire security ( off duty Sheriffs officers ) to do it. They screen out drunks and talk one on one to people that they feel may cause a problem in our haunt. As for Chainsaws and any other kind of fake weapons we also don't use them in our haunted houses, if an actor dressed as whoever jumps out with a fake weapon and then stands there and looks at you and doesn't really kill you most times they just look dumb. We work very hard on training our actors to be creepy scary, using different kinds of sounds and movements and lurking / coming from out of nowhere and vanishing again so as to keep the people on there toes. But you did derail what I said nicely tho. And i'm not telling anybody what to do, i'm just giving my thoughts.


11-23-2011, 07:22 AM

We were at Shocktoberfest and this is where my crew absolutely loved it. Since we (haunt industry actors/owners) are very difficult to scare we found it to be very entertaining because we felt it did add to the effectiveness and hightened scare. So I personally disagree that it's not scary/scarier because it was something "new to us". So think about the customers reaction as well? Humm.....still think we are going to do it in one of our attractions this year with LOTS of restrictions and TRUSTED actors. It will be fully disclosed to the customer that this one has touching. They can make the choice to go or not to go.

We were also at Pennhurst last year and they did it. Most of our bigger haunts in PA seem to be doing it.

Thanks everyone for your input. H

Jim Warfield
11-23-2011, 12:38 PM
We had a Hide& Seek Party in the house. One of them asked me how to unlatch a secret hiding place? I inniocently told him how to do it not remembering an employee was already in there who then grabbed their arm (as it was stuck all the way to their armpit into the hole!)
Real movie-like fear reaction!!!!
Yes, it works!

Raycliff Manor
11-27-2011, 09:03 AM
Couldn't resist...



11-28-2011, 06:25 AM
hahaha, nice.

Thanks for posting :D

Jim Warfield
11-28-2011, 06:48 AM
MIND!" I always liked her stuff she did. somehow some it rings too true, and funny. (I grew up around "Those" people!