Here’s What It’s Like to Work in a Haunted House

With spooky season in full effect, haunted houses are popping up everywhere. While a ton of people know what it’s like to go and get scared by the terrifying actors, not many people know what it’s like to bea terrifying actor. Thankfully, I worked in a haunted house for two whole spooky seasons, so I know firsthand what it’s all about and I’m here to share my experience with you!

Both years I was an actor in a haunted house, I played a clown in the “Twisted Circus” section, but my specific role was different both times. The first time, I was suspended in a room hidden in the ceiling with a square cut out where I would pop out of and scare the unsuspecting victims from above. I also had a creepy face painted on in white, black, and neon, and the best part was that the customers were given a pair of glasses that made everything distorted and made the neon on the faces and walls stick out even more, adding to the horror. My second year, I worked as a floater throughout the clown house, working in a graveyard section and other cool places that were on ground level to scare the customers. Overall, it was really cool!

Photo courtesy of Haley Garrelts

However, not all of the aspects of the haunted house experience were fantastic. The music was always blaring, smoke machines were in full effect, and thick and sticky makeup that was really hard to take off and generally stayed in some shape or form for days afterward caused me to go broke on makeup wipes. We worked 7pm to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays, 7pm – 11pm on Sundays, and stayed open extra late on Halloween weekend, which was, of course, the busiest one. None of these things mattered, though, when everyone got into the groove of things and the paycheck came in at the end of the experience, which obviously made it all even more worth it than the pleasure of scaring people senseless every single night. 

One of the best things about this job, though, was the number of friends that I made and still talk to to this day, even though I haven’t been able to work there for 2 years since I moved to SFA. I actually met my roommate my freshman year working together in the haunted house and she’s remained one of my best friends. We even would ask the heads of the haunted house to let us work together so we could gossip all the time and scare people in a team effort. We all got really close for the couple months that we all worked together and even hung out in groups after the season was over. We would all comment on each other’s make up looks and costumes and share stories about how we scared people differently that night. The best part though, was before the makeup even went on, when we all sat around for hours waiting to get in full costume and eating and getting to know each other, which is where most of the best memories happened. I really have met some of my closest friends during my time at the haunted house and it was a really cool experience overall!

Photo courtesy of Haley Garrelts

 I’ve never liked the idea of haunted houses, so I’ve actually never been through one except another section of the one I worked at when we got to tour the other houses one night but working in one was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The sleep deprivation, headaches, and thick makeup were nothing in comparison to the friends, experiences, and really great fun that came with the job. If you ever get the chance to work at a haunted house, I really suggest doing it, so keep an eye out over next summer for hiring and audition information near you for next year. You never know what kind of spooky adventures and lifelong friends may creep up on you next October!