Protecting Your Scares
What Can Be Done To Help Prevent
Troublemakers From Wreaking Havoc In Haunts

Security is something used in all haunts today, in one form or another to ensure the guests' safety as well as the safety of their workers. But how do we deal with the problem when a "bad" customer decides they're going to wreak havoc inside your attraction? How do we also deal with stopping their antics before the fun for everyone else in line waiting to get in is spoiled? This month, we are going to explore the issue of security in haunts. Addressing what measures can be taken to ensure that everyone else has a good time and that the troublemaker is escorted out without unnecessary force, clearing you from the way of a lawsuit.

Security is a word generally used to bring comfort to one, to feel safe, "secure". What happens when a group of rowdy guests breach this "security"? How do you handle it, and better yet, how do you handle the guests once they are removed from your attraction? It seems that no matter what haunt you're at, no matter how many warnings, or the obvious police or security presence you have, you will always find at least one or more groups who decide to ruin the show for everyone. These types of people are generally teenagers or the ever so popular, "drunks". The teenagers generally want to show off in front of their friends. Believing that they will "prove" themselves by punching an actor, or by vandalism in some form during their trip through the haunt. Despite the obvious implied warnings, they seem to think that they will be able to get away with their crimes. The drunk customers are a little bit different. Their frame of mind is impaired by the drinks they consumed before they entered the attraction. These types of customers, generally, if frightened enough will begin to swat or swing at the actor who has startled them. Some of the time, not all of the time, their comprehension of distances is blurred and in turn, they strike the actor. This is, in no way, an acceptable excuse for their behavior, however.

Rowdy customers have always been a part of haunted attractions. It's like the annoying uncle that always shows up to Thanksgiving dinner uninvited. Certainly no haunt wants these types of guests in their attraction, but it is something that is unpredictable. You can't look at faces and predict which ones will cause trouble. Sometimes the most unlikely are the ones who cause the damage. There is no one way that you can prevent these types of occurrences, but there are ways in which you can minimize your chances of becoming another statistic.

How do we deal with the rude, mischievous and, in some cases, aggressive customers? This isn't such an easy question to answer, as there are many ways you can enforce the rules when a customer breaks them. Some of the tactics haunts have employed to reduce the crimes include placing off-duty police officers in the haunt to handle problems it it becomes necessary, some hire a security team to patrol the line and the maze, some have police on duty to press charges if need be and other simply assign the "larger" men working there as the appointed "security. There are haunts that will escort the perpetrator out of the attraction in front of the waiting crowd to serve notice that "this is what will happen if you break the rules". Certainly embarrassing for the one who committed the crime and a reminder to those who have yet to be admitted inside. I have heard of one case where if a customer is accused of breaking the rules, he/she is escorted out of the attraction, not in the sight of the crowd, but in a private area where they are questioned regarding the crimes they been accused of committing.

Some tips that could help aid in dropping the number of unruly customers are by placing security or "roaming" actors in between rooms, when a worker gets assaulted by a customer, or sees them vandalizing the haunt, they could yell for the "roamers". If you have at least two roamers, one on each side of the room, then the accused will have nowhere to run. If the guest becomes uncooperative or aggressive, keep them contained until security or higher up can arrive to take care of the problem makers. Some haunts have found that simply by having police and a police car on the premises, the intimidation factor will have an impact on whether or not the potential troublemaker decides to commit a crime. Some have found that this alone works. Then again, hiring off-duty cops to work in your attraction, and make it known that they are working inside could be a good way to deter these type of guests. If you really want to take an extreme measure, you can have security follow the groups as they go through making sure they don't cause any mischief. However, this approach may leave some of your guests feeling "violated", like they were being put "under the microscope" when they showed no signs of trouble.

As with any event, you always have to take liability into consideration. If you have hired a team of security, you need to know what their reaction to any given circumstance will be. There have been cases, in where a security guard, or guards, have "man handled" the perpetrator, and the event that hired the security received a lawsuit against them. You should, at all times have a plan and know how to handle these types of guests. What happens if your security people became overly rough with the guest and the guest suffers damages, and then sues you? Always have a plan that ensures that your guest is escorted outside of the haunt safely without any unnecessary force.

In one way or another, haunted houses will always have this type of nuisance to contend with. You may not be able to stop them all, but hopefully with the information mentioned above, you will be able to deter most of the "bad" customers, and handle the ones who don't heed the warnings in a fashion that will not leave you open for a lawsuit. A haunted attraction is supposed to be fun, but when a rowdy customer decides they want to cause trouble, the fun can be spoiled for everyone.


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