ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

For haunted house workers, customers can sometimes be downright scary

Oct 23, 2019, 5:06 PM | Updated: 5:11 pm

Fear Factory is seen in this file photo from 2015. Credit: Farris Gerard/KSL.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Customers can sometimes be the scariest thing inside a haunted house attraction.

Guest host of Inside Sources Doug Wright talked about the business of fright with Fear Factory General Manager Spencer Terry on Wednesday. He asked Terry what customers should and should not do when visiting a haunted house attraction.

Terry said customers should not wear heels because of the metal floors at Fear Factory.* Also, he said, don’t come intoxicated.

“Whenever there’s a line crossed of endangerment either to the other fellow customers or actors, that’s when our security team will step in,” said Terry.

Wright asked if the haunted house actors ever have to deal with physical interactions with frightened customers.

“If I had to give you a percentage, 98 to 99 percent, no [interaction with customers],” said Terry.

But he said occasionally a customer will touch what he or she thinks is an inanimate mannequin only to find out it’s a real person.

“They go to squeeze the nose, and boom — there’s a monster in there,” said Terry. “That’s why we tell all of our customers: Make sure that you don’t touch the actors and don’t touch the props or the sets because you never know sometimes which is which.”

He added when physical contact, such as poking or punching, becomes intentional, that’s when security becomes involved and the aggressive customer is ejected.

But Terry said sometimes, because of the nature of haunted houses, customers will make inadvertent physical contact with the actors.

“That’s going to happen. People have an innate fear of certain things,” he said.

He said the actors are trained to be one to two feet from customers and to scare the customer on a 45-degree angle instead of right in front of the customer.

“I always tell people, if you’re prone to accidentally throwing your hands up in the air [when frightened], put your hands in your pockets,” Terry said.

What is the attitude within the industry about extreme or contact haunted houses? Wright asked.

Terry said some people visiting a haunted house attraction want an immersive experience, which may mean crossing a line of fear.

He said customers at Fear Factory can upgrade for an extra $3 “to actually have our monsters touch you.”

“It’s nothing extreme,” said Terry. “You’re not going to have a bag put over your head and taken off to another room. That does happen in some other haunted houses in Utah. And if that’s the thing that you love, great. They run great shows.”

He said some people want to cross that line, but for other people, “They’re like, nope, no thanks. I’m good right here.”

Information and tickets are available at fearfactoryslc.com

* Fear Factory, 666 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City, Utah

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For haunted house workers, customers can sometimes be downright scary