View Full Version : ADA compliance, how do some haunts get away with...

11-01-2012, 11:16 AM
This season I had the good fortune to attend various haunts for research purposes. The most notable were The Edge of Hell, and The Beast in Kansas City, MO.

These are nationally known haunts... so my question is this, how do they get away with so many ADA infractions?

Examples: a spinning cylinder you crawl through, multiple crooked floors, floors that drop and shake, super tight walls (under 3 feet), and multiple crawlspaces. They are multifloor haunts and so you had to go up and down stairs as well.

How are they able to do this?

Also there were areas that were PITCH black; you had to feel the walls to navigate.

I've seen alot on here about having to be ADA compliant, so please give your opinion on how they can do all this.

Thank you.


Greg Chrise
11-01-2012, 03:57 PM
As a customer, you would not have been told that this entire wall opens up and this is how actors get around through behind the scenes corridors. Something too tight for a wheel chair or things that someone with disabilities can not to, you have a by pass planned out for that item then return to their group. You can make this very entertaining as behind the scenes the people in wheel chairs get to pull levers do things that interact with the scares and continue on. Or simply get to see what is going on in there and that is just as entertaining.

It really isn't to tough to be ADA compliant inside the haunt and access to the building just has to be already set up to be on one plain or have ramps. In one of out charity haunts, the guy who looks like a burn victim in a wheel chair IS a burn victim in a wheel chair (very realistic) and he gets the tour to make sure a wheel chair can be handled with a full grown man over the ramps and bridges and tight turns.

As far as not having to spend $200,000 retrofitting some building to have ramps and proper bathrooms and such when in reality only 1 in 10,000 customers might need such a thing, you simply stay away from buildings with such zoning. YOu stay away from buildings that although you are ready to rent are really mortgage out with federal loans, banks with crazy insurance rules to make it tough and allow only the elite to lease a property. You don't set up you haunt in a federal building, a mall or strip mall where the regulations are intended to attract only big corporations. Just because you can get an LLC form doesn't mean you are a corporation trying to write off millions in expenses and plan on only being there for 2 to 5 years.

Or you outright own the property and you get to say what happens there. Any public servants with opinions can just get off of your property and aren't welcome. Still it is just so easy to make things wide enough and safe enough to have full confindence and cooperation of the public officials and everyone is happy.

11-02-2012, 01:07 PM
Thank you greg. So what do they do for the different floors? Are there hidden elevators somewhere?

11-02-2012, 02:57 PM
The Beast and The Edge of Hell have been around since the early 1970's and are in buildings that are at least 150 years old. I wonder if they are exempt from ADA regs due to being grandfathered in or some similar situation?

Pumpkin King
11-02-2012, 03:12 PM
From my experience, ADA enforcement is up to the state and local governments rather than the feds. It is not a matter of weather or not ADA is enforced, but it's a question of weather haunted attractions fit into the definition of what ADA says has to meet its code.

I doubt that Beast and Edge were grandfathered out of ADA; when I was in Missouri a few years back to see haunts I think almost every haunt I saw wouldn't be accessible to wheelchairs including the 2 sister haunts of Beast and Edge which are ten years old or so but I don't think were around before ADA.

I think most of it has to do with the politics of the region and the building inspector for each haunt, but honsetly I think I've seen more non-ADA friendly haunts than those that met the codes.

Greg Chrise
11-02-2012, 05:43 PM
As an example, Rippleys Haunted Adventure in San Antonio is right across the street from the Alamo. The facade is about 3 stories of an inclined trolley where the tour begins on about the 3rd floor. The exit is in an elevator that is part of the show as it is a service elevator where there is actually a monster when the doors open, they close and then you go out to the lobby with the doors behind you. It is a beautiful set up. Only a couple mil invested.

I have been through a few with stairs, generally in very old buildings. There is also the old fashioned carry them up there scenario.

For the most part someone with a disability is not a thrill seeker and avoid things like haunted houses. The other night I watched a 20 minute conversation where a disabled girl was brought and did not want to go in. Characters were willing to stop all scares and go with her through the whole thing and even use the VIP lanes. It was not going to happen.

So the investment and ingenuity it takes to make everything accessable by everyone is sort of a judgement call relative to expected income, the location you are in. For a location that isn't intended to bring in a couple million in a few weeks, there are waivers that can be obtained and how it is handled reasonably on a case by case basis at the ticket booth and queue lines.

11-05-2012, 09:53 AM
We were wondering if this was going to effect us this year, and it did in a positive way. We had a family with a teen-aged son in a wheelchair, and they were able to navigate through The Plague with no problem (I subconsciously kept the hallways and doors 3 to 4 ft for firecode). Camp Nightmare was a different story. No ramp, and the tram has bench seats not accessible by wheelchair. But this was not a deterrent as we lifted the young man into the tram and carried him to a seat.

His family was so grateful, and the boy had so much fun, they went through several times and vowed to be back next year!

11-05-2012, 10:53 AM
I don't think any attractions just get away with it. Like pumpkin king said, From my experience every city and state is completely different and at the mercy of their area code enforcement and fire marshall. While there is specific general guidelines to abide by, they can be altered and or changed at the will of the cities officials. Shows that may seem like they're getting away with it most likely have compromised with each other, met in the middle and or came to an agreement with them in order to open.

As for grandfathered buildings, I know at least in Texas it doesn't work that way. Only if the building your in is a historic landmark, in which case you can't alter the building much anyway. We just completed our 39th Season. Our buildings were built between 1910-1929 and all of our attractions are ADA compliant, up to code, have an evacuation plan, well lit exit signs and fire alarms in place. We do have one attraction with a staircase but it was built with the intent to pickup a wheelchair and take them upstairs. We have handicapped customers attend often and they are always happy that we accommodate for them. We also donate proceeds to the epilepsy foundation, so we have a quick way to alter the show for them as well.

Jim Warfield
11-09-2012, 08:11 PM
Are those who come here crippled, with sometimes a short time left to live, who we treat like Royalty and they have the time of their lives!
They amaze and inspire us as we hold back the tears for them until they are down the road.
Always remember:"There but for the grace of God go you or I."

11-10-2012, 07:55 PM
Well said Jim. Well said.