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Pros and Cons of Concealed Exits

October 29, 2013 - Haunted House
Most haunted houses are labyrinths full of twists, turns, and dark corners. This is done so to make the experience creepier and longer. However, concealing the exit route for a room or hallway adds a whole new dimension to a haunt. Customers experience the terror of being trapped in a place with someone or something that’s out to get them. I’m personally the type to run away when I’m scared, so this type of haunt is my worst nightmare. Generally the people who remain calm and rational are the ones who manage to find the exits for the rest of the group. This sort of “survival haunted house” has been an emerging theme in the haunt world.
There are, however, certain downsides to concealing exits in survival type haunts. First, it all needs to comply with fire and building codes. In the event of an emergency, these exits must be easily visible and accessible to all. Second, delaying customers can be extremely disruptive to the flow of the line. On busier nights, this can mean delays, frustration, and a loss of customers. However, compromises can be made to find the right balance between wait time and quality of the show. One solution is to prop some or all of the exits open. You’d be surprised about how hard it is for people to find exits that are only partially concealed. The customers still need to search for the exit, but it generally won’t take them as long to find it. Another solution is to instruct the actors to hint at where the exits are. Chasing the customers towards the right area is also a good solution. However, I wouldn’t recommend that the actors ever break character to bluntly show them the way out. There are always more creative solutions to getting a group through than completely breaking character. Overall, survival-type haunts have been extremely successful recently as long as the right safety and practical measures are taken.