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Halloween Haunted Houses: A Confession

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I’ve got a confession to make regarding Halloween Haunted Houses. I’m making it because starting this week, then over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing extensively about all things Halloween. But especially about haunted houses. (They’re among the perfect Haunt Jaunts to make at this time of year, aren’t they?)

However, haunted houses both fascinate me and terrify me. The part of me that’s drawn to ghoulies and ghosties and all things horror to begin with wants to experience all the spine-tingling fun haunted houses provide, but…

I’m a big, fat chicken.

There. I’ve confessed it. I can’t handle haunted houses. Even the tamest, most absurd, kitschy and amateurish prove  way too scary for me.

HISTORY WITH HAUNTED HOUSES

I’ve always been this way. When I was little my older sister would get a big group together every Halloween to do a haunted house or two. Inevitably someone’s shirt or sweater would be stretched out of shape by the time we made it through. (And it wasn’t always someone in our group. Sometimes I’d run ahead, trying to get out, and would crash into another group and latch on to the biggest person around.)

My sister alternated between laughing and being completely embarrassed, depending what mood she was in. We all seemed to forget from year to year that, as much as I loved haunted houses and looked forward to them, something happened to me once I ventured inside.

I’m not talking little freak outs. I’m talking full-on freaking meltdowns. Complete with crying, screaming, uncontrollable shaking…Put it this way. You take me to a haunted house and video record me. I guarantee you’ll have a YouTube hit on your hands!

THE THREE WORST EXPERIENCES

One time my dad made the mistake of taking me by himself. The site of that disaster was the old Gates Rubber plant in Denver. He paid whatever the fee was. (Exorbitant to him then because it was right after the divorce. He had very little, but he knew how much I liked all things Halloween, so a trip to the haunted house was going to be a treat.)

It was supposed to rival anything Denver had seen up to that time. (Circa early 1980s.) Just the wait to get in was fun. Lots of costumed actors scaring up the crowd, eerie music, really cool location…

Do you ever get the simultaneous feeling of dread and sheer excitement waiting for a roller coaster ride? I get  that magnified by about a million when going to a haunted house.

Needless to say we made it into the first room before I freaked out and had to be escorted out an emergency exit. No refund. My dad vowed never to take me to another haunted house and has held true to his word ever since.

In fact, I didn’t go to another haunted house after that for five years, until I met my then boyfriend who has since become my husband. I thought surely I’d grown out of all that nonsense of being afraid….

HA! We made it through the whole thing all right…at top speed, with me crashing into the actors and knocking them out of the way. Wayne laughed (after he was done stoppeing to ask everyone I mowed over if they were okay and in some cases help them back up), but he also vowed never to do anything like that again with me.

Which he didn’t for almost 20 years. Then, hearing the hype of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and living only two hours from Orlando, we decided we just had to see it. We were both apprehensive about how I’d take it, but…it’s only an amusement park after all. One I’d been to countless times before. Surely I could handle that, right?

WRONG!

That was the site of my greatest haunted house meltdown ever. All I really remember is a completely exasperated Wayne hiding out with me in one of the restaurants while I cowered in terror from all the chainsaw wielding ghouls roaming the park and begging with a security lady to escort me off premises. (I’m sugar coating that. I was a blubbering mess.)

At one point he said, “What is wrong with you? You love horror movies. You should be in heaven right now.”

I shouted back, “I love watching horror movies! I never wanted to be in one!”

But I did come away realizing why I lose my mind: it has to do with the masks/costumes. I can’t get it through my mind real people are behind them. (Some people have the problem of not being able to suspend their disbelief when it comes to fiction. I have the exact opposite problem!)

LIVING VICARIOUSLY

So there’s my confession. I thought it was important to make so you’d know why, Haunt Jaunter that I may be, haunted houses won’t be among my adventure destinations this year.

Instead, I’ll make my Jaunts with the help of the Net. That way I still get to experience the fun of Halloween haunted houses…just via the safety of my own home.

However, if any of you dare to go with me and want to record the misadventure, I’ll go if you split the fame and fortune you make off it with me!

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her on a tennis court somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
http://www.courtneymroch.com

9 thoughts on “Halloween Haunted Houses: A Confession

  1. You know, that’s about as common as fear of public speaking. I took my best buddy through a 45-minute haunted house in which we never saw another living soul, except the actors. I told her going in…”they’ll turn the lights out and you’ll have to feel around, someone will come out every time you go around a new turn, and most important–they aren’t allowed to touch you.” I explained it was like sitting too close to the TV–it’s in your face, but it can’t touch you–can’t hurt you. It’s like the ideal scare. She was nervous and jittery, but by the end of the walk-through, she knew where the hiders would be and she started to laugh when they jumped out. When the dude chased us with the fake chainsaw she roared with laughter. When someone chased us through the hall, she stopped and turned on him and startled him. He blinked in confusion as she snorted with laughter. When we were done, she explained that it seemed kind of like a day with her kids.

  2. I so envy that your friend was laughing like that! Try as I might, and as as much as I remind myself “they can’t touch me,” I just freak. It’s funny for everyone else, but terrifying –then embarrassing–for me. And I can be in a big group, trying to look cool, calm and collected, and don’t you know the actors KNOW. They pick me out, crowd me…and once I start reacting like I do, it just feeds their frenzy. But you don’t know how desperately I’d LOVE to be like you and your friend and just go in, have a totally awesome time, and then laugh afterwards because they COULDN’T scare me.

    Or I’d like to be like our friend Cliff. He’s a bit odd at first glance (it’s not uncommon for people to mistake him for homeless and come up and give him money! He doesn’t even ask for it! He’ll just be walking along, minding his own business, and here’ll come some well-meaning person offering him cash and blessing him. He’s no dummy. They want to give free money? He’ll take it!)

    Anyway, he’s quite the character. When he goes to Halloween Horror Nights (her hasn’t missed since they started it, but he might this year because he’s dying of throat cancer) he’ll stop and hold out his hand when they come at him and say, “Well, hi Chicken Lips! You having a nice night?”

    Talk about catching them off guard! Then they try and try to rile him up, but he still goes on talking Cliffenese (he has a very odd and unique of speaking and phrasing sentences) and it ends up drawing a crowd because the “homeless man” is taunting the spooks! Man, I’d really, really, really like to be like you, your friend and Cliff.

    I feel there’s hope. If I can conquer my fear of needles (which also used to elicit quite the freak out) perhaps I can conquer my fear of haunted houses!!!

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Too bad I’m not nearby. I used to counsel people on handling needles too. Some folks are more intellectual about ghosts. Some folks are more physical. I think it depends on the encounters you’ve had. I grew up in a very thick heavy atmosphere of hauntings, digging up bones and relics and having lots of weird things happening at unpredictable times. I was also a tomboy and athletic and competitive, so I think that combo made me definitely fearless when it comes to spooky stuff. But, I’m also really into theories and thinking and observing evidence and watching scary movies which don’t cause any physical threat. Most people are one or the other. I think Steve on Ghost Hunters is in-the-head kind of hunter because so many things scare him that it’s harder for him to go into places. Someone like Kris seems to be more physical and less intellectual about it. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of ghost knowledge, but she’s okay with being sent in places alone. Then, someone like Jason is both. Haunted houses are very in-your-face. You might find that on a ghost hunt you’d actually be more brave because there’s no one jumping up and down and screaming at you. (At least, we hope not).

  4. My husband asked me to tell you I could certainly benefit from your counseling!!!!!!!!!

    Have you ever blogged about these two types? This is something I have not seen anywhere else before, and I think you’re on to something with this theory of yours. I think others would be interested in hearing about it too. It’s very insightful.

    And LOL…yeah, the second something starts jumping and screaming at me, I’m out of there. Otherwise my biggest fear is falling asleep and having my snores caught on tape!!!! (Again, that could make someone a YouTube sensation. I’m just a small girl, who has a capacity to snore VERY loudly!!!!!!)

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