This is City Blood’s survival guide to having the best possible time at haunts you might visit this Halloween season. Have a safe and fun time and enjoy our Haunt Survival Guide, muhahahaha!
READ THE HAUNT’S BACK-STORY BEFOREHAND
Sometimes scenes don’t make much sense until you read the back-story. Before you plan to tour a haunt visit their website to see if they have a back-story. The back-story might explain why the place is haunted or go in-depth about different characters you’ll interact with. The haunt might even have videos that discuss why the place has been inhabited by spirits. Some haunts will have an actor explain the back-story before you enter, but don’t count on it.
A THUNDER STORM ENHANCES THE EXPERIENCE
Yes, you heard me right. Every classic horror movie seems to have a thunderstorm. There’s something about a thunderstorm that makes an indoor haunt even scarier. This is especially true if it’s a haunt that takes place inside a building that looks haunted or has a history of hauntings. I’ve been to many haunts where the sound of thunder and lightning makes the experience much more frightening. Flashes from lightning can make the experience more exciting as well. So don’t worry about visiting an indoor haunt when it’s raining out. The crowd is going to be much smaller and it’s scarier.
DON’T WEAR COLOGNE OR PERFUME
Some haunts will use scents to enhance a scene or effect. Please don’t wear that strong cologne or perfume that you love. There’s no way that you’re going to smell cotton candy in that clown room if your cheap Polo cologne is getting in the way.
CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST
Yes, this may seem silly but many people forget to check the weather. If the haunt takes place outside (haunted trail, hayride etc) then make sure that it’s not raining that night. If it’s a heavy downpour then the haunt is more than likely going to be closed. If you’re uncertain if the haunt’s going to be open then call or check their social media pages. Many haunts will post on their Facebook and Twitter pages whether they’re closed. Don’t expect them to post about closings on their official website.
Indoor haunts can be flooded because of heavy rain. Be aware that some haunts might have a hotline where they won’t answer your phone call. It will just have information such as hours, prices etc. The busier it is, the more likely they won’t answer if it’s a regular phone number and not a hotline.
It can get pretty chilly on a cool fall night. Be sure to dress according to the weather forecast. If it’s supposed to be cold out then wear a hoodie, sweater or coat. Don’t wear a hat or beanie while walking through the haunt because actors love to grab them off of your head. Actors love to pull on hoodie strings in haunts that allow touching. Don’t wear flip flops or heels because this can definitely hinder you from walking. You might trip or fall. Don’t wear fancy clothes because they might get damaged or dirty depending on the type of haunt you tour. Don’t wear shorts because you might rub up against something inside the haunt and you don’t want to have a bloody leg. If you’re going to a haunted trail or another type of outdoor attraction then don’t forget to wear boots. It can get awful muddy in the country if it rained recently.
If you’re planning on touring a haunt while it’s raining out then don’t forget to bring a couple of ponchos. You can get a poncho for 99 cents. Some haunts don’t have a covered waiting area and you might be standing in the rain. Theme parks are known for being open during a downpour, so be prepared. You might also want to have a towel or plastic sheet to place on the floor since you could get the floor dirty if it’s muddy out.
DON’T FORGET YOUR GPS
I’m not talking about using a cell phone GPS app such as Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze. This is taking a risk since the GPS on your phone requires cell service. Yes, there are workarounds to using a GPS app offline, but it might require you to download maps to your phone which takes up space and it’s not exactly a straight forward process.
Some haunts are in the middle of nowhere and the area might not have good cell reception. If your only source of a GPS is on your phone then you’re going to be in trouble if the reception drops out. Use a traditional GPS that relies on a satellite signal. With a GPS app, you’ll be eating up your cell phone data which can be expensive depending on your plan.
We recommend Garmin. If you have two GPS devices then bring both. If one malfunctions then you’ll have a backup. But if you know where the haunt is and are familiar with the area then there’s no need for a GPS.
DON’T FORGET YOUR CELL PHONE
The haunt might have queue line characters you would want to get a picture with. They might also have photo-op stations where you can get a free group photo using your cell phone. That’s if you can get someone to take your group photo. Unless the haunt has queue line characters or line entertainment then you are going to be bored waiting in line. Bring your cell phone to get online if the area you’re in has reliable cell service or Wi-Fi.
We’re in the day and age of COVID-19. We don’t have to worry about the pandemic as much as we did in 2020, but there are some haunts that might require a face covering of some type. So, if you have a mask or covering then put it in your pocket just in case. Don’t forget your hand sanitizer. You’re going to be touching hand railings, you might need to crawl on your hands and knees and imagine how many people have gone through that claustrophobia tunnel. You could always call up the haunt to learn about their policies concerning COVID-19. You’re better safe than sorry.
VISIT ON A SUNDAY OR WEEKDAY
Haunts are less crowded on weekdays and Sundays if they’re open. Actors are less tired when they have to scare fewer people. You’re also less likely to run into another group. Sometimes tickets are even cheaper. There might be fewer actors, but they are going to do a better job at scaring you. Also, the earlier it is in the season the less crowded it will be. It gets more crowded the closer it is to Halloween. On Halloween night haunts aren’t usually very busy because people are trick or treating, going to parties, watching horror movies or something else besides touring a haunt. This is from my personal experience.
SMALL GROUPS ARE BEST
Bring as many people as you want, but walk through the haunt with as few people as possible. It’s harder for actors to scare a group of 10 instead of a group of 4. There’s also a higher chance that you might miss a scare if you’re part of a big group. There are exceptions to the rule which include haunts where you’ll be placed in a large group to interact with others and Escape Rooms where you’ll need to solve clues to escape.
LARGER GROUPS ARE BETTER FOR HAYRIDES
One of the best parts of a Haunted Hayride is seeing how others react while getting scared out of their boots. You can always bet that there will be someone on the hayride who is going to freak out. Hayrides can be very interactive because of actors who might climb the wagon and it’s fun being able to see how others react to pure terror. So the bigger the group is, the better. You’re going to laugh, cry or scream your head off on a Haunted Hayride and to share that with a big group is priceless.
SIT IN THE BACK OF THE HAY WAGON
This is where a lot of the action takes place. Many hayrides will feature vehicles that bump the back of the wagon and you’re sure to feel the impact if you’re in the back.
If you start to catch up with the group ahead of you then slow down to give yourself a gap. It’s a better show if you let the actors reset between groups. Sometimes it’s not possible to do this, but it’s always worth a try.
SAVE THE CORN MAZE OR DARK MAZE FOR LAST
There are places that have multiple attractions and a Dark Maze or Corn Maze might be one of them. Please remember that these types of attractions are meant to be confusing and you could be in there for 10 minutes, an hour or more. So, if you’re planning on touring many attractions that night then tour the stand alone Dark Maze or Corn Maze last so you have time for everything. You’ll thank me later.
LOOK FOR DISCOUNTS
Some haunts offer coupons or discounts that are available on their website and social media pages. Hell, some even have contests giving away free tickets. You’re more likely to get discounts if you check early in the season. Also check for Groupon deals and even the newspaper or weekly saver for discounts. Stores like Kroger might have coupons which are likely to be near the front entrance.
Many haunts will offer discounts if you purchase a combo ticket that includes some or all of their attractions. So be on the lookout for that. You might even find coupons for other area haunts at the haunt you just visited. Check the back of your ticket because there could be a discount of some kind. This might include free food, a discount at a Halloween store or whatever.
PRINT YOUR ONLINE TICKETS
Anything and everything can happen. Just imagine if you ordered some tickets to the best haunt on the block and your cell phone died. You wouldn’t have your digital tickets and you just wasted that money. You could instead print your online tickets out so you don’t have to worry if there’s cell service or your phone has enough juice. You’re better safe than sorry.
BRING EXTRA CASH
Many haunts will offer tasty treats and refreshments at their concession stand. Haunts also have memorabilia such as hoodies, shirts, hats and more. Some even offer novelty glow toys or Halloween crafts. You might want to buy a group photo since quite a few haunts will take your picture beforehand. Sometimes it’s free, but many times it isn’t. If it’s a small charity haunt then you can usually expect the prices on food and drinks to be cheaper. Smaller haunts usually offer food such as hot dogs, popcorn, chips etc. Bigger haunts will offer a larger variety of food and refreshments. If it’s a big budget haunt then you can expect prices to be higher. But this isn’t always the case.
Cash is king since some haunts won’t accept credit cards. There are haunts that will require money for parking. So you better bring cash. Cost for parking usually ranges from $1-$5, but for theme parks it can be as high as $20 or more. Popular haunts will have huge lines and it might be worth it to upgrade to the VIP line so you don’t have to wait long. It’s usually $5-$40 more than regular admission. But it can be even higher if it’s for a theme park or if there are more perks included.
If you’re making it a night of haunts then you might arrive home late. Many late night restaurants are open. We recommend Steak ‘n Shake since they have many meals around $4. Unfortunately Steak ‘n Shake has odd hours. Some are open 24 hours while many close at 11pm or 12am. Other late night restaurants include Denny’s, The Iron Skillet, IHop and Waffle House. If the restaurant is near a truck stop then there’s a bigger chance that it’s open 24 hours.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
The majority of haunts are very safe, but you still have to be aware of your surroundings. Haunted trails are likely to have sticks, rocks and debris on the ground. There are haunted trails that don’t light up their paths which can make it difficult to find your way out. Be sure to watch where you’re walking. Some indoors haunts will require you to walk up and down steps, but sometimes the steps aren’t well lit. Watch your step. You will likely be walking through tight spaces. If you’re a larger person then this might be an issue. Strobe lights and bright flashes of light are common place in haunts. Loud sounds such as sirens and even gun blasts aren’t out of the ordinary either.
Don’t stand up during a hayride and keep your arms in the wagon. It’s not unusual for the wagon to get close to trees or rub against them. Be aware of animated props that might jump out at you. You don’t want to get knocked out by that flying grim reaper. Remember that it’s dark inside haunts and you can accidentally bump into anything if you’re not careful.
Dark mazes are fun, but if you’re not careful then you can run into things. Feel the wall as you try to find the exit and walk slowly. It’s easy to run into another group if all you see is darkness. Dark mazes are notorious for becoming very congested. Don’t panic if you end up with a large group of people who are freaking out because they’re lost. You’ll eventually find your way out and many times there are visible exit doors.
If it rained that night then some areas of the haunt might be slippery. Be cautious and don’t fall. Sometimes you will be placed with another group, but be observant of how the other group acts. If the other group is full of young girls who are freaking out then you need to realize that they may push, pull or grab you because they’re scared. They might even hold your hand while you walk through the haunt. It’s not your job to reassure them and to be their hero. If you don’t want to be placed with another group then just ask if you can go by yourself or with the group you came with. The parking lot can be a dangerous place especially at night. Watch where you walk and you should be okay.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR DEER
You’re more likely to hit deer if the haunt is in the middle of nowhere. If it takes place in the country then you might encounter deer. So, please be on the lookout and slowdown.
LOOK FOR SIGNS
Look for signs or a search light to help you find your way to the haunt. You’ll see signs at Gas Stations, in people’s yards and even the side of the road. Sometimes they’ll be lit up and other times they won’t. It’s not unusual for a haunt’s sign to not include the full name of the haunt. If the haunt’s name is Billy Bob’s Haunted Trail, the sign might just read “Haunted Trail”. Some haunts will even have actors holding the sign for the haunt. Just be on the lookout for a searchlight off in the distance or some type of sign that is leading the way. It’s easy to get lost when a haunt is in the middle of nowhere. If you do get lost then stop at a gas station or convenience store and ask for directions. If it’s a local haunt then they’ll likely know where it is.
BE CAREFUL OF YOUR VALUABLES
Don’t leave your valuables out in plain sight when you park your car. Lock them in your trunk. Put your wallet in your pocket, not on your front seat. Don’t carry valuables in your pocket because you might drop them in the haunt and there’s no guarantee you’ll get them back. This is just common sense.
DON’T BRING YOUR CRYING KIDS
If you’re wondering if your young child can handle a haunt then they probably can’t. The staff isn’t your babysitter and their job isn’t to comfort little Billy if he starts uncontrollably crying. Customers don’t want to be walking through a haunt and hear your kid crying the entire time. It ruins the haunt they paid their hard earned money to enter. Think of others before you think of yourself and don’t traumatize your kid. No one loves a crying baby on an airplane and no one likes it at a haunt.
Do a little research before you visit. Go to the haunt’s website to view pictures, video and more. If you notice that most of the scenes involve gore and sexual themes then the haunt might not be appropriate for your child. Don’t assume that a church ran haunt will be family friendly because most haunts are there to scare you. There might be blood, boobs, strong language and more. A Hell House is a haunt organized by the church and usually features graphic depictions of murder, suicide, abortion, drug use and more. These scenes are meant to teach a lesson, but the staff can be pushy with their beliefs. The scenes can sometimes be graphic in nature. Be leery of hell houses. Use your best judgment since you know your child better than anyone.
READ THE RULES
This is self explanatory. Read the rules before you enter and remember that there are no refunds. Just because you chickened out after you bought a ticket doesn’t mean that you deserve your money back. It’s not going to happen. Do your research before hand to find out what the haunt is going to be like. If it’s a touch haunt then it’s obviously going to be more physical. Actors will grab, push and verbally assault you. If you are physically disabled then there are going to be issues. Many haunts aren’t handicapped accessible and don’t assume that they will be. You might have to crawl, climb and fit through tight spaces. There’s no smoking, photography, use of cell phones, food, drinks, running etc.
Sometimes the haunt will recite the rules before you enter and other times there will be a sign with them posted. Many times the rules will be hard to read since the sign might not be illuminated. Your ticket might even have the rules on the back. An actor will sometimes state the rules before you enter the haunt, but many times they won’t. Just use some common sense and act like a decent human being. Follow the rules or else!
SHOW SOME RESPECT
Countless time and money is invested into building a haunt. Please don’t damage props and sets. Don’t use a cell phone or flashlight to help you navigate through that dark maze or hallway. Turn off that flashing necklace you just bought because it could be distracting for other groups who are walking through the haunt. The actors might think that you don’t want to be scared because you’re wearing that glow necklace that you so dearly love. There are exceptions to the rule. You might be given a glow necklace to alert actors that you want to be touched or not touched. It just depends on the haunt.
If you recognize an actor then don’t start talking to them. This will ruin the experience for others. Plus any good actor won’t want to break character. Be courteous to actors and just enjoy the experience. If you’re drunk or high then don’t visit the haunt. You might get hurt and you might hurt others. Don’t try to be a badass by intimidating actors, making fun of scenes or getting violent with the staff. Remember that there’s usually a camera somewhere recording you. If you didn’t enjoy your experience then don’t tell customers that the haunt sucked. This is just plain rude. Remember that what scares one person might not scare another.
SAVE YOUR MEMORABILIA
Some of my most cherished memories are from touring haunts. Save your ticket stubs, flyers, shirts and more. You could even create a scrap book with memories of your times touring haunts. Haunts are a big part of what makes the Halloween season so special and you should remember the spooky times you had.
Look at the scary sets and try to let yourself get scared. Haunted attractions can be fun if you want to have a good time and it’s a great stress reliever for some people. Remember that you spent good money to be entertained and it’s best to get the most out of your experience. Appreciate the sets, props and all the hard work the staff has put into creating a house of horrors. Relax and have fun. Soak it all in!
I sincerely hope you enjoyed City Blood’s Haunt Survival Guide. Now go visit some haunts and have a ghoulishly good time.