Should All Professional For Profit Haunted Houses Pay Actors

Fri, May 15, 2020

 I want to  talk about should haunts pay their actors.   I see this as a two headed dragon.  Some actors online who actually volunteered are crying about “being forced” to work long hours & not getting paid, I'm like WHAT?  Who forced you to do anything?  Even if the haunted house was paying you wages, you're not forced to stay there.  This is America.  We live in an age where customers, employees, and volunteers alike can lash out on social media when unhappy.  Truths are embellished, lies are told, one-sided stories are given, & rumors are spread.  Short of getting an attorney and filing lawsuits, your best bet is to block those people and ignore!  You really can't do anything about crazy people spreading rumors about your business.  But in this situation, these actors (who supposedly signed an agreement to work for FREE) are lashing out.  How dumb is that?  You signed a document to volunteer if you don't want to work for free don't problem solved.  There are many haunted houses around the country that need volunteers especially charity based haunts.  The entire haunted house industry started as a charity based industry .  Operating haunted houses with volunteers for charity is nothing new and for many haunts it will always be volunteer only making people scream for great causes.  Kudos to those haunts and the people who donate their time.  With that being said I don’t think a private, for-profit, very successful haunted house should make money off the backs of their actors, NO WAY, but those actors only have themselves to blame.  You signed the agreements, you worked, and you did it of your own free will.  Don't cry now.  If no one volunteers, then they’ll become a haunted house with no actors OR they’ll start paying actor wages.  I also hear rumors of haunted houses allowing 12-15 year olds to work in their haunted houses as actors... truly i find this totally irresponsible.  Anyone who operates a haunted house knows the crowds can get rough to have someone 12 to 15 working inside your haunt is a bad idea.  I never hire anyone under 16, and older is preferred.  Who knows what is or isn't true on social media anymore.  It's the American way now to lash out thru social media to find crying eyeballs for your plight. 
I  understand some haunts need volunteers just to keep the doors open, and those who donate their time do so of their own free will because of a strong passion for haunting.  Haunting is without a doubt a disease and a passion for many.  Big giant haunts, with massive attendance for profit should pay their actors otherwise they'll face this type of criticism every season.   But hey I've always learned in this industry what works for one doesn't always work for another.  If actors don't like volunteering their time don't show up! That solves that problem right? If a successful for profit haunted house wants to operate with volunteers, and people willingly sign up in droves that is their choice.  On the flip side if some of those same actors don't like it then find a new place to haunt where they pay!  Again problem solved.


Speaking of wages the biggest issue haunted house owners face is the cost of doing business, and payroll is a giant expense.  Truthfully, haunted houses could become obsolete fast.  Haunt owners are migrating away from haunting.  They’ve discovered lower operational cost options like escape rooms, axe throwing, social media bars & more.  Their passion for haunting brings them back again and again, but operating a haunted house with over 100 staff members  is too expensive, and it’s hard to manage all those personalities, especially when you bring social media complaining into the fold.  Haunt owners are experiencing a reality check.  We need to pay our staff but at the same time find our way back to operating with 30-50 actors not 75-125.  Is more better?  Is more scarier?  If a horror movie had someone jumping out around every corner, would that be better than a scream when you least expect it?  More than monetary, I can understand why a haunted house wants to operate with volunteer actors.  With volunteers, they're getting people who really want to be there.  Still, I feel they should be paid.

The Darkness opened a year round escape room facility 3 years ago, and now those escape rooms have almost passed The Darkness in total revenue, but due to staffing differences, the escapes are easier to operate and more profitable by far.  When you build new haunt scenes, you make no additional money, but when you build a new escape, you get new bookings.  See the differences?
Instead of just changing up the haunt annually, I’m more focused on additional fun options.  Today, the exit of The Darkness is filled with games, pinballs, a mini escape, gift store, and an electric chair experience.  All of these are added FUN for the customer and more revenue for my business.  At Creepyworld, we totally cut out a haunted house and added a midway with axe throwing, zombie paint ball, a mini escape, photo ops, gift store and horror movies.  When I finally acquired the building next door to the Darkness, my first thought was BUILD ANOTHER HAUNT.  Now I'm removing that haunted house.  Why?  Because it doesn't make money like adding axe throwing, escape rooms, a bar, games & pinballs.  I had to choose…Keep paying a ton of actors to operate a $5 up-charge haunt, or lose 5,000 square foot of haunted house and pick up a full time, year round social bar with axe throwing and more.  This is the future!

My plan for The Darkness (with all its amazing animations and cool special FX) is to attempt to operate with 50-65 great actors who are the most dedicated, want to be there, and care about the business.  To accomplish this, we need to focus on making the haunted house mean and lean, offering a variety of scary fun things to do that aren't necessarily a haunted house.  I now prefer upcharge attractions whereby ONE person can operate, and still bring our guests a great experience.  I believe the days of trying to be the longest and biggest haunt (which requires the highest number of actors to operate) are over.  Things are shifting and shifting fast.  Look no further than the Transworld show itself.  It started as a 50,000 square foot haunted house only show.  Today, it’s Halloween, Escapes, Christmas, Agritainment, VR, and some Halloween retail, and who knows what next.  This is the future, and I see Transworld embracing it.  No longer are they just looking for the next haunted house exhibitor, but instead focused on new entertainment industries as a whole. 
In closing, your staff is your most valuable asset, you should pay them, but rather than going with some kind of volunteer based formula, trying making your haunt better while at the same time shorter and more manageable.  Go thru your haunt and build scareboxes so actors can access more area to scare. Bring in new attractions for your guests to spend money on, stop relying on being the longest haunt, how about just the best and most fun experience!  Count on the most dedicated staff members, rather than filling in area's with people who don't really want to be there in the first place.  The original Darkness use to do close to 50,000 people and we ran with a staff of 35 to 40 actors so doing it with a dedicated PAID staff of 50 to 65 is defiantly double for me.  By shortening the haunt, which reduces dependency on a large staff, adding more side attractions, and using new reclaimed space for year around escape rooms for example is going to help your business STAY IN BUSINESS.  Yes its getting harder for haunts but if you get smart you'll weather the storm and PAY your staff!!!  

Trending blog

Building Layers of Terror!  Taking the Devil out of the Details by Ben Armstrong  At last you have a rock solid Haunted House. The basics are strong, the cast is tight, and the screams f

Being Monsters By: Drew Cothern   I have a problem. Perhaps it’s my mischievous nature or a pathological impulse, but I need to hear people scream. It’s an addiction, I can’t

BUILDING A BETTER CORPSE By Michael J. Chaille   Haunted Attractions, like any produced event, can take on a life of their own as all the pieces of the production slowly come together. 

Façades: Giving your Attraction a Face Lift By Michael Krausert / Bad Boys Scenic Design Photos courtesy of Kleer Photography & Justin Connaher   Judging a Book by its Cover

60 Actors in 60 Minutes By Ken Franklin, Co-owner of     Putting on makeup for a haunt event isn’t as easy as some might think.  There is more to it than slap

Creating a Room to Fit a Theme By Josh Wells Theming has become an increasingly important factor when designing a haunt. Developing a theme not only separates your haunt from others in your market

 Illusion Gags:  Creating Memorable Scares!   When designing haunts each year, the Oak Island Team is always looking to out-do our scares from the year before (aren’t we all!).&

Attention to haunted attraction owners STOP PAYING ATTENTION to what total panicking idiots are saying on facebook, settle down, and THINK.  There is a lot on the line for everyone across the hau

SIX FLAGS announced several changes to 2020 Fright Fest including a name change to Hallowfest.  Some of the highlights from Six Flags are listed below.  Waiting to see what other theme p

HOW TO MARKET YOUR HAUNT IN 2020  This is the year we party like it's 1999, meaning we're taking everything back 10 to 20 years.  Every haunted house we've talked to says

Trending Articles

Headless Horseman Haunted Hayride New York - Rating and Review
Article Logo

Read Review and Ratings of Headless Horseman Haunted Hayride located in New York.  Headless Horseman features hayrides, haunted houses and much more. 

Creepyworld Haunted Screampark - St Louis Missouri Haunted House Review Rating
Article Logo

Creepyworld Haunted Screampark is America's biggest haunted attraction with over 13 attractions including a haunted hayride.  Learn more and read the review click here. 

Escape From Blood Prison - Mansfield Ohio Scariest Haunted House
Article Logo

Escape From Blood Prison in Mansfield Ohio site of one of the single most famous Prisons in Hollywood History ( Ohio State Reformatory) famous of the film "The Shawshank Redemption".  Now its one of the biggest scariest haunted houses in America.  Read about Escape from Blood Prison! 

The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor California Best Scariest Haunted House
Article Logo

Haunted House Review The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor is Los Angles California's biggest, scariest and most haunted real haunted house.  Read the full review of this haunted attraction click here. 

Best Scariest Top Rated Haunted Houses 2017 - Haunted House Review
Article Logo

Hauntworld rates the best Horror Attractions in 2017 from the best movies, haunted houses, Halloween, to even Escape Rooms. Which attractions should you be visiting Halloween 2017?  We have the list right here from

Haunted House Review of Trail Of Fear Haunted House Screampark - Oklahoma City Oklahoma
Article Logo

Scariest haunted house in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma near Lawton is Trail of Fear Haunted Screampark with multiple haunted house. Read review at

Haunted House Review Scariest Haunted House in Passaic New Jersey Brighton Asylum
Article Logo

The scariest haunted house in the New Jersey New York City area is Brighton Asylum a very scary horror filled experience Read review at

Haunted House Review Chicago Illinois Haunted House Statesville Haunted Prison
Article Logo

Chicago Illinois Haunted House Statesville Haunted Prison is Chicago's #1 Scariest and top rated haunted house.  Read the review by

Escape Room Live
Article Logo

Escape Room Live

Rise Haunted House - New Orleans Louisiana Haunted House
Article Logo

Rise Haunted House - New Orleans/Hammond Louisiana Haunted House one of the best and scariest haunted attractions in the nation. Read full review and Learn more at 

Find a haunted house near you by state, city, zip code, rate, review and share all types of haunted houses, hayrides and everything Halloween.  Hauntworld rates and reviews more haunted houses than any other website on the web now featuring over 200 haunted house reviews and over 5000 haunted attractions.  Find a haunted house to hayride near you.
All images, content and information contained on this website is © 2019 Halloween Productions/Blacklight Attractions. Developed and Maintained by iSummation Technologies. All Rights Reserved  Condition of Use | Privacy Notice