Is Halloween Horror Nights safe? An open letter to scareactors and fans

Is Halloween Horror Nights safe? An open letter to scareactors and fans

Over the weekend several incidents involving scareactors at Halloween Horror Nights have sparked debate among the theme park fan community, and has called into question the safety of the actors at the event, and other events like it. Several actors at HHN at Universal Orlando publicly gave reasons to friends and fans why they were leaving, just one week before the event ended. In a word, safety. They don’t feel safe at the event after several guests physically, verbally and in one case sexually assaulted actors. So what is to blame here? Is the park doing enough to protect the employees and guests? Is it because alcohol is involved? Or is it simply because people tend to check their brains at an event like Halloween Horror Nights? Well, it’s not really as simple as a yes or no question. Then again, is it ever?

 

 

Halloween Horror Nights is an event designed to scare the living hell out of you. It does it’s job extremely well, as actors roam in dimly lit areas, brandishing fake weapons, and fake injuries to make themselves more grotesque and scary. The proper term for the actors at HHN is Scareactors. The scareactors are picked from a huge pool of candidates, and the ones that Universal feels will do the job best, are the ones that make the cut. They are very good at what they do, and they are all very talented at getting you to scream, run, and even wet yourself.

 

However, the one downside that isn’t talked about much is the abuse that they take on a nightly basis. Sometimes it’s from accidental bumpings, after all, it can be very crowded. Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes the actors are hurt, on purpose by guests. It’s something that is inevitable, as we were told by several actors. Sooner or later, you’re going to get punched…or worse.

This weekend, attention was grabbed as several actors quit the event, and posted it on social media.

 

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So why is this poor actor being pummeled by guests at HHN? Is it because there are no security guards? Nope, there are tons…everywhere. Not only security guards, but stage managers, coordinators and even Orlando Police Department are all on hand. Metal detectors are placed at the front gates nightly, and guests must empty everything out of their pockets.

So why is it still happening? Frankly, because people are idiots. That’s right, it’s probably not the “correct” thing to say, and definitely not the nicest way to say it, but the fact of the matter is that people are simply idiots.

They come to an event to get scared, then get upset when an actor does their job, or gets a little too close to comfort. We’ve even heard (and have seen) cases where parents get upset that kids are being scared, decks or goes after an actor…after they are told on the website, signage and advertising that the event is not recommended for children. In other cases it’s people who are trying to be funny, and do something to either “scare” the actor, or just harm them because…it’ll be soooo funny. In other cases it’s fueled by alcohol, which is called “liquid courage” for a reason.

The incidents are usually “drive by” incidents where the actors don’t see it coming, and by the time they realized what has happened the assailant is long gone.  And don’t think that these incidents are specific to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. It happens at just about every major haunted attraction around the globe.

People react in different ways when it comes to being scared. Some people use the “fight or flight” defense. Either they stand and fight, or they run. Most people with fight or flight, tend to run. Some people, are reactionary and swing after they get scared. If that is you…you should not attend haunted houses. Other people deal with fear by cracking jokes, and trying to make others laugh. It’s not funny, especially when you start taking out your fear against an actor who is paid to scare you. Some people still, tend to drink copious amounts of alcohol, and their bravery comes out, often violently. This has sparked the debate that perhaps alcohol should be banned at these events, specifically at HHN Orlando. Alcohol is currently not sold at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, and while the abuse isn’t as rampant, it still happens way more than it should.

So, how should events (and we are not singling out Universal, because it happens EVERYWHERE) handle these situations? Unfortunately, they are doing everything that is in their power to make it stop, short of putting the actors behind glass. When an incident occurs, it is reported, and if the person is found they are taken by police, and given basically a restraining order on the park…they can’t step foot on property, in most cases for life.

Banning groups of teenagers is another option, but that is singling out a group that may or may not have some jokesters in it. The other option is to ban alcohol. That would take the “party” atmosphere out of the event for a lot of people, and it won’t stop people from drinking in restaurants and at CityWalk before hand.

We’ve seen fans and other actors try to say “it’s part of the event, get over it”, and they really shouldn’t have to get over it, and accept that they’re going to get punched or worse. There really is no easy answer, so we turn it to you.

You need to be the responsible one. If you are a person who swings after they are scared, or you need alcohol to get through an event…don’t go. If you have teenagers who like to go with their friends, maybe you should chaperone. Theme parks are not babysitters, and sometimes kids can’t be trusted to go alone. We’ve been taking our kids for years to the event, but it’s been a family outing, and we’ve been trying to show our kids that these actors are people too, and they should be respected for the job they are doing. It is their job to scare you. You pay large amounts of money to attend these events, and you should only go if you want to get scared.
If you want to take a picture with an actor, or hug an actor, get permission first. They usually don’t mind. If they don’t then move on, don’t tap them on the shoulder, grab them or throw something at them to get their attention. That’s a great way to get yourself kicked out.

These events are meant to be fun for everyone, and not meant for people to get hurt. The actors do their jobs, and do them well. They don’t get paid to be a punching bag, and you don’t have the right to do as you wish simply because you paid to get in. If you can’t handle the event, then simply don’t go. It’s something that is simple, and you should have been taught in kindergarten…keep your hands to yourself.

 

 
Update 10-28-15

Another scareactor has come forward, and is pressing charges after being kicked in the face on Saturday night while working the event. A 21 year old man from Fort Myers has been charged with simply battery after kicking an actor in the face. Again, the event is about fun, and doing these sorts of things make it not only bad for the actors, but others attending the event. Perhaps if the stories about the arrests come out, it will show that Universal doesn’t play around with the safety of it’s guests.

Stay tuned for more from Halloween Horror Nights, and be sure to get social with us on Facebook and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!

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Categories: News, Universal

Comments

  • LeighAndersonRomance

    Too bad this is happening. HHN Orlando is the best haunted attraction in the city, and that’s saying a lot. One of the reasons it is so amazing are the scareactors. They add so much to the atmosphere.

  • DramaBaby Chic

    In California it is a “dry event.” However, people who can drink will go to City Walk before the event to get a couple or more drinks in before they enter the park. I don’t think it is FAIR to think it is just the alcohol. This abuse has been going on for years and the coordinators hands are tied when it comes to an attack. The guest are usually kicked out.

  • Nathjam

    It is quite upsetting. Several times that we went we saw people running up top scare actors just to scream in their face. They treated it as a game and would then run away laughing. Those people don’t deserve that treatment and do a fantastic job. It would truly be a shame to have universal pull the street experiences because of them, though perhaps this is what they need to do one year and call out the exact reason that they did it is in relation to this type of behaviour.

    Or perhaps they could employ the “bait car” method and put some of the people with power to remove guests (security and whatnot) in clothes as scare actors, then they could mix in with the actors and if someone is pushing it too far they could experience it first hand and eject them on the spot. It may cut down on the instances a little bit if people are uncertain if they may be screaming at a security guard that can kick them out or not.

    I am actually FOR making it a dry event, or at least making the alcohol only available in one area and not so readily available all over the place like it is now. (a beer garden of sorts) I mean the next thing we know they’ll be checking your bags, plus the metal detector and a breathalyzer on the way into the park too….

    But if it makes the scare actors feel safe and lets them do their jobs I am for anything, it’s always a minority that manages to ruin it for everyone else. So many of us love this event and are gutted to hear stories like this about the socially awkward minority that feel they have a right to put their hands on a stranger. Anywhere else in public I’m pretty sure they would be charged with assault, not just kicked out of a theme park, maybe they need to have charges pressed rather than simply ousted, let that follow them around.

  • Christopher Pelton

    Outstanding article an no calling them idiots is not wrong. Alcohol should not be sold inside the event itself. It’s 30-40 year old adolescents which is why I don’t go to outdoor concerts or sporting events anymore. These ass clowns are clearly incapable of having a good time without drinking and honestly that’s just sad. I’m heading down this weekend for the event and really hope that we don’t run into any issues like this. I don’t want to run the chance of being asked to leave, but I’m also not going to stand by and watch someone be abused for just doing their job.

  • Tom Ynet

    Dry or not, this is going to happen. The best way, is a combo of things. Every actor should have an easy way to signal a guard / stage manager / police person near by. Every single time, a guest does something, the actor must signal and that person must be immediately removed from the event and trespassed for life. Larger signage as well needs to reflect this. In addition, plan clothes (yes, they are already there and have indeed caught under age drinkers) needs to be stepped up and follow thru “suspected” groups in a house or two and as soon as that group causes a problem they are removed from the event.

    This is a case of about 4% of the folks, ruining it for the rest of every one. I would be willing to BET that some of those folks are annual pass-holders as well.

  • Josh

    no, Universal is Not doing everything they can, that’s not true.
    they could give actors earpieces with microphones so that they can communicate better… the biggest problem in the houses is that when an actor gets punched, they have to walk all the way to the end to catch the person. (Or find a security inside the house)
    most of the time they either can’t tell who did it or they cannot catch up to the person that hit them. If actors had a way to INSTANTLY communicate with security, the people doing this would get caught. Most of the time those “Drive by” attackers get away with it because the actor couldn’t communicate on time.

    The second thing Universal can do right now that they are not doing is give harsher penalties to people that attack actors. give longer bans. sometimes people get a one year ban, that is way too short for someone that attacked an actor.
    Sometimes they don’t even do anything at all. regardless of whether or not the actor wants to write a statement or press charges or whatever, Universal should consider taking these people out of the event for a couple of years, I have seen people mess with actors and all they get is a verbal warning. At least kick them out for the night.
    and as far as alcohol and teens go, Don’t take alcohol out completely, but Universal could have more limits in place.

    Teens and young people shouldn’t be going alone to the event either. Universal should not allow kids to go alone, I have noticed groups of kids are left off by the parents and they spend the night with their friends at the park causing trouble. If the parent is not going, kids and teens shouldn’t be able to go either.
    These are all things Uni could be doing.

    Universal always say they care about the safety of everyone, but sometimes they are too lenient with troubled guests. You cannot have it both ways, either you care about the safety of the people working, or you care about the profits and the money being made from people being drunk out of their minds.

  • Josh

    most of the attacks are both drunks and young teens. they are, they just are.
    I dont understand why is it so hard for everyone to accept that really drunk people are not in the right state of mind.
    I see so many people cursing or being afraid that their precious alcohol could be taken away. Do you have to have a drink in your hand EVERY single time you are outside?

  • Josh

    it cannot be something as low as 4%, it happens every night on multiple occasions. doesn’t sound that little to me

  • Michelle Campbell

    I work for a competitor haunt and I love this article. I wish everyone could see this. I have done this for 13 yrs and have seen so much of this go on. In most cases cops or security try the best they to help our actors. Unfortunately all upper management,techs and ect. Can not be everywhere. As a scareactor it’s important not to get too close and be aware of your surroundings. Try to read your guests(if you can see them) before you scare them (pick your victims). That being said letting guests know they can be held accountable for their actions should maybe on the tickets or a sign out front. Guests will walk a fine line of touching things in the houses so they get away with a lot.so then they take it to the next level. And just a final note it’s sad when kids behave better then the sober adults.

  • Stephen Mcbride

    I stopped dressing up for Halloween and going to haunted houses when I was 10 years old

  • Matt M

    You’re saying that more than 4 people out of every 100 are ruining it for everyone else?

  • Matt M

    These same people would be only slightly less disruptive if alcohol was not sold.
    I’m not sure that stopping alcohol sales would solve the major problem, but I have to think it would be a good start.

  • Josh

    clearly.
    I think it is funny that if ONE guest gets hurt at the parks and threatens to sue, Universal goes out of their way to put metal detectors at the entrance of roller coasters.
    but tens of actors are touched or attacked every night and everyone is like “Who gives a caca” lol
    sometimes Im just waiting for a guest to have to be hospitalized and then Uni will do soemthing about it. that’s how it works

  • Matt M

    It’s pretty sad that it’s gotten this bad. It seems like something bad is going to happen before they bring any real changes.

  • Matt M

    Maybe they should limit admission at Halloween Horror Nights to children 10 and under since they’re the only ones who can enjoy Halloween.

  • Amanda Futch

    No on deserves to be assaulted. I think the two main things that need to be addressed acohol 2 character control. The bars are not doing a good job at cutting off the booze to people who are clearly inebriated (I saw someone get puked on at the B&T show!)
    Character control. There is a big difference between giving someone a good “scare” and getting physically in someone’s face & refusing to move or let them move! I’m not condoning physical violence but you don’t know what kind of reaction people will have and it’s not worth it to find out! Also this year I noticed that the scareactors were in areas where you go to take a “break” from it (restroom/smoking areas).
    All & all it is a fun event that I would hate to see come to an end due to a few idiots who can’t behave!