Define “scary”. I’ll wait.

2023 marks the 14th year I have had the website. In the years I spent interviewing folks at different area haunted houses, there was one important thing I learned:

“The other haunted house sucks!”

Basically everyone at a different haunted house.

Folks do not tend to go to haunted houses they dislike, and since most folks do not go to multiple haunts, you tend to run in to folks who dislike the haunts they are not choosing to go to. If you are at Haunted House A, you will find plenty of people there who think Haunted House B sucks. If you are at Haunted House B, you find plenty of people who think Haunted House A sucks.

Like music, sports, politics and even what color shoes someone wears, personal opinions vary. Choice is good.

But that other haunt is actually scary…

When it comes to “scary,” one size does not fit all.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you visit the haunts this year:

  1. If you keep a snake or a spider as a pet, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about a room with spiders or snakes in it.
  2. If you love the circus and enjoy the funny antics of circus clowns, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about a circus room full of clowns.
  3. If you are not afraid of the dark, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about being in a dark room.

Some folks freak out just from the music and the decorations. Others admire them.

Some folks are terrified of enclosed spaces and freak out in crawlways. Others aren’t phased by that in the least.

Phobias are real

The easiest way to scare someone is to exploit a phobia they already have, but if you make a room that is covered with the number “13” on all the walls, how many folks going through would have triskaidekaphobia and be terrified by that?

Instead, haunts focus on more popular phobias — fear of the dark, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of spiders, etc. These may be the only truly “scary” things you find in a haunt. If you have those phobias, of course.

But the main thing haunts tend to use is jump scares. We should define those as “jump startles” rather than “scares.” For example, if I jump out in a business suit and yell “Hi!” you might jump, but I doubt a businessperson in a suit saying “hi” would be considered “scary” to most of us.

So when the scene doesn’t actually scare you, that doesn’t mean that haunt sucks. It just means it does not contain the things that scare you. Every haunted house has folks who think it is lame. Every haunted house has folks who pee their pants when they go through it. Even the most “sucky” haunt you can think of 😉

Words matter

Scary is subjective. In your reviews and posts about the haunts, saying “they had nothing in it that scared me” is much better than “they sucked.” One person’s pet is another person’s nightmare.

And most haunt folks are artists, creating these things out of a passion. While there are some that are corporate and just want to make money, many of the folks they employee do have an artistic passion for their work. Even if that work is wearing makeup and banging on a wall while they scream at you.

And if it doesn’t scare you, perhaps you can at least admire the work and artistry that went in to the experience.

Have fun!

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