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

We recently visited Monsterpalooza 2024 and walked the ENTIRE show.  See the entire show as we walk every inch of monsters, make up, and more.  Please subscribe to our Youtube Page and see m has launched a YOUTUBE page to help would be haunted attraction owners and operators to learn how to build and operate haunted houses.  Please join our Youtube page and follow our

Hauntworld documented the entire Transworld Haunted House and Christmas Attraction tradeshow.  Watch the video below to see every Halloween animation, prop, and so much more.  The show was f

Transworld Haunted Attraction and Christmas Light Show is about to happen in St Louis Missouri March 7-11, 2024.  Learn more about the show at  Hauntworld will be document

Today Hauntworld goes behind the SCENES at one of the World's best haunted houses 13th Gate in Baton Rouge.  We take the tour with Dwayne Sanburn and explore the entire attraction and try

The Darkness announced a Haunted House tour during Transworld Haunted House Tradeshow in St Louis, Missouri.   Transworld is the World's Biggest Haunted House and Halloween Trades

Hauntworld on Youtube has started to visit Haunted Houses again this offseason.  We're setting out to learn about the best and most iconic haunted houses in America.   In 2024 we

Hauntworld takes you on a tour thru the IAAPA amusement park show.  Watch the video below and be sure to like and subscribe.  The IAAPA show is an amusement park show with arcades, amusement

Hauntworld teaches you how to build your own haunted house from SCRATCH!  Watch the video and be sure to like and subscribe to our Youtube Channel for more haunted house content. 

Hauntworld created a video series many years ago called 'Hauntworld The Movie' and now all the movies which document the haunted house industry from the 1990's are finally uploaded. 

Trending Articles

Top Ten Icon Haunted Attractions in America Ranked - Best and Scariest
Article Logo

Icons of The Haunted Attraction Industry - Hauntworld Names the Top 10 Icons of the Haunted House Industry.  See which haunted attractions currently in operation are named the ten biggest ICON haunted attractions.  

America's Top Rated Scariest Haunted Houses 2022 - Top 13 Rated Haunted Attractions
Article Logo

Hauntworld ranks the top scary places in America to get SCARED and Scream 2022.  The best and top rated haunted houses, and Halloween Attractions in America.  Did we rank a haunted house near you find out by clicking on this article.  

The Darkness Haunted House - Review 2022
Article Logo

Are you ready to experience the best haunted house in America? How deep into the depths of The Darkness can you plunge before your next breath is your last? The all new Darkness Haunted House, located in Soulard, off South Broadway in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, has been rated as America's BEST haunted house.

America's Top Rated Scariest Haunted Houses 2021 - Top 13 Rated Haunted Attractions
Article Logo

Hauntworld ranks the top scary places in America to get SCARED and Scream 2021.  The best and top rated haunted houses, and Halloween Attractions in America.  Did we rank a haunted house near you find out by clicking on this article.  

America's Scariest Haunted Houses 2020 - Top 13 Rated Haunts
Article Logo

Hauntworld rates the top 13 best and scariest haunted houses in America.  Hauntworld rates and reviews the scariest, best, longest, haunted houses and Halloween Attractions in America 2020.

America's Best Haunted Houses 2018 - Top 13 Scariest Haunts
Article Logo

Hauntworld rates the top 13 best and scariest haunted houses in America.  Hauntworld rates and reviews the scariest, best, longest, haunted houses and Halloween Attractions in America 2018.

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. 

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