They scare because they care

Hayley Parrish


Halloween Haunt employees prep for a night of scares and terrors for their paying attendees. Photo by Hayley Parrish

Tis the season for pumpkin spice
lattes, scarves and the sounds of
screams circulating in the air at
King’s Dominion Halloween Haunt.
From The Overlord’s Scaramony
to The Doll Factory, guests are bombarded
with monster after monster
through intricately designed scare
zones and mazes. But who are these
brave souls behind the masks and
fake blood? How do they get into
character? Who does their makeup?
How do those people slide across the
ground and how is it possible to become
one of them?
Auditions begin around mid-July.
The application is like any other;
there are pages upon pages of personal
information and questions
about character and dates available
to work. Once the application
is submitted, a potential monster is
emailed about “creature castings,” or
the audition. Also, returning monsters
do not have to audition if they
want the same spot that they held
previous season and it’s guaranteed
that they will be given that position.
The audition process is a little
daunting but the key to a good one
is enthusiasm. There’s a lot of paper
work and waiting around but after
being led down a series of hallways
and into a room in small groups,
the potential employees are introduced
to a table of The Halloween
Haunt head honchos. The audition
is like any other interview; they ask
questions such as “Do you have any
special talents?” “What was a time
in your life where you were most
afraid?” “What is your favorite horror
movie?” “Can you make a scary
If the audition goes well for a potential
monster, they get the job and
at processing they will be assigned
their maze/scare zone. Next step,
Scare 101. Scare 101 is a mandatory
four hours of sitting and listening
to rules, safety precautions and
scare tactics via slideshow. Workers
are also given a “Monster Manual”
with all the rules that need to be followed.
Workers are also expected to
make up backstories to fully envelop
themselves in their character.
“What kind of rules does a monster
have to follow?” one may ask.
They have many, actually. No repetitive
motion, no personal threats, no
scaring guests who are wearing “no
boo” necklaces, no scaring emergency
or security officers, monsters
must take a break of at least 20 minutes,
they cannot take any props
home, do not remove pieces of a costume,
remain in character unless a
guest is having a mental breakdown
(which happens more often than one
might think), do not harm a guest,
report all injuries, “if it’s wet and it’s
not yours don’t touch it,” remain in
character even if out of a maze or
zone but to not actively scare.
There are two rehearsals before
opening night. The first rehearsal is
much more daunting than the second;
during the first day new monsters
are actually trying to figure
out how to scare people. Returning
monsters, try to figure out how
to deal with the newbies that don’t
know how to scare anyone.
There are more than just monsters
that work at haunt. There are
also costume designers, makeup
artists, sliders. Sliders are the monsters
that slide across the ground using
knee pads and steel toed boots
which are duct taped to their legs.
Lastly, there are supervisors, talent
coaches and directors.
Every character that is let out
into the park is somebody’s design
and original idea. All prosthetics
are handmade and many costumes
are too. All masks are customized.
A monster’s makeup may vary
from night to night but no workers
change locations.
If you are a guest at Halloween
Haunt, please refrain from hitting
the monsters. They just want
to have some fun and make a few
children cry on the weekends. They
mean no harm, they’re just doing
their job. Also filing an assault report
and trying to remember what
the assailant looked like through the
fog and darkness is stressful.


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