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The Haunting Cashier
by Sidney J. Dragon

 

All too often, with the hustle of getting everything ready for the throngs of visitors each October, one valuable cast member is often overlooked: the cashier. It is not the most glamorous role a Haunted Attraction employee could choose, but it is a vital role none the less. A role that should be given a higher priority. Very much like a "greeter" in many cases, the cashier will be the first employee that your guests encounter, and what they do or say can make or break the mood of the whole event.

As a long time veteran of Haunt Cashiering, my approach is simple: I like to lull the victims - uh, guests - into a false sense of security. Staying in character, I poke fun at and tease the patrons. Once they are laughing, they are a much easier target for the frights they are about to encounter and are ready to enjoy the attraction. First impressions are very important, and a witty cashier in costume and character goes a long way in making patrons more willing to plunk down the cash for a ticket. No one wants to go a haunted event and be greeted by some High School kid in a T-shirt and dirty jeans. Being in character makes the cashier part of the fantasy, as well as making him or her approachable. People will have no trouble asking those mundane questions of real life; How much is this? What is this? How long is this? When is the 8 o'clock show? and so on.

Good cashier characters are usually "sidekick" types, but can be anything that fits with your theme. Butlers and Maids work great for Haunted Houses, and mad doctors or an escaped patient would fit well in a Haunted Asylum. A butler, on the other hand, would be out of place and less believable in the Asylum. Using just a bit of imagination, you can create a character that fits into the scheme of things. Who better to send the guests on their way at the Haunted Mansion than a snotty English butler? Because the cashier must be able to talk to the patrons, try to choose a character that does not require a mask that inhibits speech. No guest wants to ask questions to a person they cannot understand. Your cashier will spend more time at close range to your customers than any other actor in the show, and is usually in brighter light. As a result, his or her costume and make-up will have to be some of the best your attraction has to offer.

Finding someone who is trustworthy that you can count on is very important when choosing a cashier. The proper person should be quick, skillful and accurate, while keeping the lines of paying customers moving efficiently. The cashier must be knowledgeable about prices, show lengths, and terror levels, not to mention the rules and regulations of the attraction. They should be personable, outgoing, and have good improvisational skills. They should be willing to talk to people or confront a patron who is unruly or drunk. Having to utilize all of these skills may seem like an adventure for Indiana Jones, but finding that person can be a great addition to show quality and raise the guests' entertainment level. In some cases, a good cashier can make the wavering sale with a witty remark or quick light-hearted comeback. The cashier must also know how far he or she can go, and not cross that line. Caution must be exercised to make sure they are not insulting your paying customers. Keep in mind that the show should start as soon as the guests step onto your Haunted grounds. If you have an actor walk around outside to greet the guests as they arrive at the location, it is even more anti-climactic if your cashier is not a part of the themed environment.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when training you cashier is to make sure that they know they are allowed to have a bit of fun with the character. If the cashier is having fun, it is a safe bet that most of your guests are having fun as well.

 

Sidney J. Dragon has been in the Haunting business for seven years. For three and a half years he worked at the Haunted Grimm House in Kissimmee, Florida, which he managed briefly. After that, he moved to Skull Kingdom where he is currently the cashier trainer.


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