Apply for the 2022 Hauntathon at
May 18, 2023

Annoying Sh!t Haunts Do

Annoying Sh!t Haunts Do

Join Bryan and Tiph as they delve into the most frustrating pet peeves and irritating practices of haunted houses. With topics ranging from misleading promotions to overbearing management, this episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to avoid...

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Audible podcast player badge
iHeartRadio podcast player badge
Podcast Addict podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
Castbox podcast player badge
Deezer podcast player badge
YouTube Channel podcast player badge
Soundcloud podcast player badge

Join Bryan and Tiph as they delve into the most frustrating pet peeves and irritating practices of haunted houses. With topics ranging from misleading promotions to overbearing management, this episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to avoid these common pitfalls. The episode is courtesy of The Scare Factor, a nationwide haunted house review website and directory, and is from their companion podcast. Support for this episode comes from Gantom Lighting and Controls. See what you’re missing with a free demo. Subscribe to everything from the Haunted Attraction Network here.


Bryan Oates: What's going on, everybody Brian here with Welcome back to the next episode of the podcast. I'm joined this week again by Tiphennie of Team Terror Techies in Seattle, WA. How's it going, Tiphennie?

Tiphennie Yao: It's going good.

Bryan Oates: That's good. So, this week we are talking about the annoying shit that haunts do. I can hear you all now, you're saying, "Brian? How is this different from the pet peeves episode?" Well, it's not, OK. This is all the pet peeves rolled into one episode because we've done pet peeves in the last two seasons, and it's just tradition now, and you don't fuck with tradition.

Tiphennie Yao: I mean, I think it's more that you have so many pet peeves that you can't just jam it into one season. I think that's more the problem, not that it's a traditional thing, just you have a lot to say.

Bryan Oates: No, it's tradition. It's tradition and you don't fuck with tradition. 

Tiphennie Yao: Fine.

Bryan Oates: So, let's just get right into it. We have a bunch of these and I got to feel we're going to go over time anyway. So, we'll do our best to stay on topic here. Please, it's me and Tiphennie, we know we won't. So, the first thing that really gets my goat is they have an extensive backstory on the website, right? Like they have this whole thesis-length story of the characters and the scenes and the story they're trying to tell you, and then you get there and none of it actually shows up in the show. It's a mishmash of scenes, and none of them make sense one after the other, there's usually a clown room, or maybe a doll room, and there's probably a dark dungeon sort of hallway--they might call it the sewer, but let's be honest, it's a dungeon you just didn't want to call it a dungeon. There might be a laboratory in there, Tiphennie, you've probably seen all this shit before.

Tiphennie Yao: I've seen some of them. I'm normally the person that just eats up these backstories, but it annoys my team, definitely, or anybody that I'm going to haunts with, because I'm like, "Oh yeah, that's the mad scientist dude, and he ended up doing this and this!" They're like, "How do you know all this stuff?" I was like, "Because I studied the website." But it doesn't portray at all, so I'm the one being like, "I'm pretty sure that is like Doctor Robinson right there. Like he didn't introduce himself as Doctor Robertson, but I'm pretty sure that Doctor Robertson." Then, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that doll room, that was how he started, you know, he started pulling together these dolls and then eventually needed like other parts to create this Frankenstein character," or whatever. I've been called out, like more than once, of incorporating backstory into a haunt that's not really relevant into the haunt, because I do really love stories and I'll just consume them up. But definitely going to haunt and not having any of that story portrayed is really sad. I feel like I'm like in not the majority here in reading these website back stories and then getting kind of excited about any minute reference that I could run into, even though none of the characters are announced, or the story elements aren't really in there, I just read the story on the website and studied it before I went to the haunt.

Bryan Oates: So, there are a couple of problems that I think come up with that, right? The first being that you might actually have this great back story on your website, and then the scenes do actually follow that story. But the problems that arise from that are, the people playing those characters have no idea about any of this because you didn't tell them or train them on any of it. Then two, if somebody shows up and they didn't look at your website and they didn't read that story, how were they supposed to know that this is the story that's being told to them? It doesn't follow cohesively, right? I'm not going to walk through a haunt with an audio guide telling me, "Here we see the rare haunter in his natural habitat." What's his name?

Tiphennie Yao: I have no idea, but I know who you're talking about. "The elusive haunter, deep within the depths of the corn."

Bryan Oates: But like, I'm not walking through with a fucking audio guide telling me the story and making it makes sense, right? It almost seems at that point, you built your haunt and you are like, "How do I write a story that follows this God-awful progression of scenes?" When in reality, it should have been the other way around. You wrote a really great story, and then you built that out and made it a reality.

Tiphennie Yao: I've seen both though. I've seen these stories that are not really established, but they're trying to like to justify a little bit like what you were talking about, that mishmash is scenes, right? We mentioned it before, it's the Batman in the Belfry kind of scenario. It's just, sure it makes sense to try to incorporate everything together. Also, at the same time, it definitely was made to try to produce a story after the fact of creating a haunted attraction that clearly was just scene after scene after scene after scene, and didn't really have this like progressive story throughout. Then yeah, the other side of it is to have this very progressive story, and then either not have your actors carry it through, or it be portrayed at all to people who don't read the back story.

Bryan Oates: Right.

Speaker 6 I'll be your audio guide though.

Bryan Oates: I'd appreciate that actually, your voice isn't as grating as mine, so it would be a lot easier listening. Those just seem like the most common problems that come up with any sort of story-related things in a haunt, I don't know, just do better haunts. I've never been, but I'm told frequently by others that have that Hell's Gate does a really great job of telling you a story from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. That, if asked about it, you could probably recite back the key plot points of whatever story they're trying to tell you. Is that accurate, Tiphennie?

Tiphennie Yao: Yes. I have that voice and stuff with it, because it's one of those that I love because of that story element. Particularly, of it's playing up with a lot of what you hear. It's kind of like the Tall Tales of a haunted house, right? So, it's a haunted house in the middle of the woods that is multiple stories and has a slide. They play up on that, and that's what they incorporate into that story. I just think it's brilliant because it's not only this extensive story that is carried through, but it plays up on those urban legends or regional stories that people tell, right? There's this haunted house that's in the middle of nowhere, and you have to drive through the woods and go over this bridge. You hear stuff like that in talking to like your friends, other people, looking up stuff online, or whatever, and being able to incorporate that kind of spoken story within their actual story, it's so smart. I really like it.

Bryan Oates: Yeah, hopefully, this year if it's in the cards, I'll be making my first visit to Hell's Gate. I'm very excited because I've heard nothing but incredible things about it. A couple of haunts around me, Crooked Descent did a really good job of telling their story and telling it in a cohesive manner, whereas some, and I'm not going to name names because I've reviewed them and I'd like to stay on their good side, have not told a story in such cohesive manner. I'm going to point fingers, and it's only because you can't see where I'm pointing. 

Bryan Oates: So, Speaking of websites, it seems like more and more we're seeing websites that are designed by the same guy, and all the websites look the same. So, on one hand, I really do love the standardization, because as a reviewer, if I go to your website, I know where to look to find your calendar, how to find directions to get to the place, how to buy tickets, and all that great stuff. I know exactly where to be looking because it is all the same, but on the other hand, it's fucking boring. Spice it up or something, right? Do something that plays into your theme, your story, or it gives people this creepy, uneasy feeling when they visit your website. I get you don't want to put people off your website, but you're a fucking haunted house, that's your whole business model.

Tiphennie Yao: It's going to be crickets over here, I'm sorry. I don't agree.

Bryan Oates: Well, articulate that, voice it, tell me what you don't agree with here.

Tiphennie Yao: All of it! No, I really like haunt websites that are very similar with each other. I think it's because I've seen either really, really good ones of them kind of looking very similar and standardized, and totally bad ones, we're talking Geocities bad.

Bryan Oates: Oh.

Tiphennie Yao: Right? I've only seen either/or, I haven't seen a good middle ground at all. So, it's really hard in my context of when you're like, "Do something with your own theme or have it have the feel of your haunt," and all this other stuff. I'm like, "eeehhh. If you have the skills or you have the resources, go ahead and go for it." 

Bryan Oates: Right. Well, they're already paying for a website, right? And I get it, the standard template, it's probably a lot cheaper than having somebody create something that's totally custom and, you know, really sells it. Because, how much money are you getting back because of that website? Right. You have it because it is a necessity in this day and age. Like I said, that standardization is nice as a reviewer and as a patron because I know where to start looking for certain things. I get the other side of that too. It's a challenge, it's either going to be very expensive to have a professional to do it for you, or it's going to be really challenging because if you have the skills, that's a lot of work, and a lot of haunters don't have that skill set. It is a trade-off, I get it.

Tiphennie Yao: If you do want me to go into something that annoys me about websites, that's related, but it's not related to design, it can be I guess, it's basically sites that are weirdly cryptic. So, they have very, very little information that's on there. Their FAQ and stuff like that is written in this way of, "Will there be XYZ?" "Is there parking?" And the answers are kind of like, "Well, wouldn't you like to know?" And it's like, yes, I'm reading this FAQ.

Bryan Oates: That's why I'm fucking asking.

Tiphennie Yao: So, that kind of goes into the thing of what I was just saying before, of having some type of standardization. Well, I mean at least everyone's FAQ says kind of the same thing, or asked the same types of questions or whatever. But that's something that annoys me with websites that, like I said, it doesn't really go into the design of them, it's mostly like the content in and of themselves.

Bryan Oates: That is very annoying. I've seen that once or twice where it's like, "will they touch me?" And they're like, "I don't know, show up and find out." I'm like, I'm not showing up if you're not going to fucking tell me.

Tiphennie Yao: Right.

Bryan Oates: I will take my money elsewhere. I totally understand that aspect of it, where they answer the question in some way that doesn't answer the question at all. That's super annoying. A haunt near me that has a really great website I think is KO Industrial Horror Realm, and I don't know if the owner paid someone to build it for him or if he has that skill set already, or what the deal was; it's different, it's well built, it's creepy. That's the big selling thing, right? It should be creepy. It doesn't feel like a new metal band T-shirt. It's not the same font that everybody else is using, it doesn't have like the same incoherent picture that almost every band T has. It's different, it's unique and I like that, and it has all the things that you need and it's pretty easy to find that stuff too. 

Tiphennie Yao: The next thing that we were going to talk about was advertising. So, advertising that you have X number of attractions, or when all reality they're not separate attractions, they're actually like themed sections. Also, the other parts of advertising, we talked a little bit about story, where there's these hero characters or specific characters, that are within the ads and it's kind of ,"OK if I go to this haunt, I'll be able to see this character," and when you actually go to the haunt it's this weird bait and switch kind of thing where you don't see them and, the characters and the actors that you do see are definitely not up to what you've seen that were advertised. So, it's something that I run into a lot. This one is my pet peeve.

Bryan Oates: I was going to say, yeah, this sounds a lot like a Pacific Northwest sort of thing.

Tiphennie Yao: This is a Tiphennie problem.

Bryan Oates: Especially the thing with like a haunt saying, "we have 5 attractions!" And really it's just five rooms, that which seems very unique to the Pacific Northwest.

Tiphennie Yao: So, how would you define an attraction? Just really quick, not like the official reviewer definition. But how would you define a separate attraction?

Bryan Oates: In my mind it has a defined entrance and exit. So, whether or not there's a line, but like there's some sort of queue area where I go up, maybe they'll punch my ticket or somebody make sure that I have a ticket to get in there. Then I go in and there's maybe some scenes, somewhere between one and 1000 scenes, and then I exit. I'm no longer in that themed attraction. It might be outside, but it might still be themed, but I'm obviously not inside a scene, I'm not inside an attraction anymore, right? I'm obviously exiting. You don't necessarily, from there, have to go out into a common area and then choose which attraction to go into next, you can do it like, "You're going to do these in this order." But they're very clearly defined as where you exit and where you enter.

Tiphennie Yao: So, yes, the ones that I'm thinking of, they're not like that. That's not a surprise. 

Bryan Oates: Yeah, completely unsurprising.

Tiphennie Yao: They'll say they have five attractions and they're just five different themes. Each one of those themes would be different. I mean, they would be like different themes, like this is a factory, this is a hospital/medical theme, this is the doll house, Victorian theme, or whatever. So, they'll have like these separate themes, but there is one queue line, you have your ticket, and there's no option. There's no choose your own path, it's literally you go from one of the themes to the next, and the only thing that you could tell is, all of a sudden you go from a factory and then you're like, "Oh, there's operating table. So, obviously, I'm in this other, like the medical one." That's kind of like how you have to do it with yourself, but you don't exit the building and enter in a new building, it's literally, you're in a new section. So yes, that's really, really coming out here.

Bryan Oates: So, that to me says, and I think anybody with any amount of common sense, that's one attraction, right? Those are just various scenes, or themes, within one attraction, because there's no defined exit where the attraction has ended and then the new attraction is starting. Those are just different scenes. Especially around COVID, there was a few haunts here, Frightmare Farms did this, there was one in Rochester I went to last year that did this, where like you buy one ticket because you were going to do all of these haunts. You get in line and then you start one, and then there's obviously an exit. OK, exit that one, now I'm going and now I'm in line for the next, and then I exit that one, so on and so forth. You didn't have the option of, "I want to do this one and then that one." They said this is the order. That's fine. You can still bill that as multiple attractions, because again, you have that clearly defined entrance and exit. But the way you're describing it, no, this is one attraction with just the various rooms.

Tiphennie Yao: I mean it's like what we were talking about, that mishmash of scenes essentially, except for the most part, like I haven't run into one where they had 12 different scenes and they were saying they had 12 different attractions. The ones that I am seeing, that's why I'm like saying like themed sections, because it'll be like, two, three, or four rooms, something like that. It's an actual section, it's not like a room right after the other and they call each one of those attractions. But yeah, it's definitely, like I said, you just kind of stumble from one into the other and there isn't necessarily any type of transition between them. Like I said, all of a sudden you're in the factory, and then you're in a laboratory with little or nothing in between the two.

Bryan Oates: That's annoying. Then the thing about the hero characters, that gets under my skin the most, in terms of advertising, where I'll go to your website or go to your Facebook and I see this really cool poster. There's this demon guy and he's 12 feet tall, and what you're saying to me is, "Come and see this character. We have this character." Then I show up and it's a bunch of high school kids in Spirit Halloween costumes. Where is that $18,000 costume that you were advertising? I want to see that. To me, it's false advertisement, right? Nowhere on that poster did you say, "this is our character." Because chances are, you've seen that exact character elsewhere. So, they probably paid some money for photography rights to use that in their advertising. But that one really gets under my skin a lot, because it's like, "Why would you put that up and then not have that anywhere? Use your own characters. If your characters aren't that good, then well, maybe your haunt isn't good enough."

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, mine, with hero characters in advertising and stuff like that. I've been to haunts and seen advertising and stuff where it is a unique character, it's their own unique hero character, but for one reason or other, probably because of the costume only fits this specific body type, and both of the actors that could fit this costume are out or whatever, you don't run into that hero character. Except everything with the story and the haunt is built around this hero character. So, it's one of those things of like, "Huh..." You kind of go through and be, "So, I noticed that, you know, this is Frank's butcher shop and Frank is nowhere to be found."

Bryan Oates: Frank is taking a mental health day.

Tiphennie Yao: There's even no explanation of where Frank went. I've been to a couple ones of those, and that I think is where the hero characters bother me like kind of the most like within advertising. Because if it's a story, you have this like awesome story, and it falls this character, like try to get that character in some fashion into your show every night.

Bryan Oates: Yes, do something, please.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I would like to see Frank the Butcher if I'm expecting to see Frank the Butcher.

Bryan Oates: "Listen, I had called in my order for 10 pounds of cold cuts, and if I can't pick those up tonight, I need to know alright? I've brought the coolers with me. I don't think you understand the predicament that I'm in here. People are asking questions." Yeah, it's annoying for sure. Before we started recording the episode this evening, we were kind of going over the points we want to talk about. When this came up, Tiphennie's like, "How do I put this?" And I was like, "Put what?" And she described it and I was like, "Well, if you want to be funny, we could just call it catfishing." 

Tiphennie Yao: I mean it's accurate.

Bryan Oates: It is.

Tiphennie Yao: Again, not terms that I would use, but...

Bryan Oates: They're terms I would use.

Tiphennie Yao: I mean you're not wrong. Frank is ever elusive.

Bryan Oates: The next haunt I'm going to go to, I'm just going to bring, a bunch of fake milk cartoons that have a picture of just some character, like a character that the haunt uses in their advertising, and the text on the photo is going to say, "Missing. Where's Frank?" I'm going to leave them everywhere, wait till somebody finds it.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I just see a lot of people hating you.

Bryan Oates: I think I'd get a lot of laughs out of that actually.

Tiphennie Yao: Probably.

Bryan Oates: So, another thing that haunts do that's, to me, falls under that whole catfishing thing within the advertising. You go to the website, and all over the website, they're telling you how they're the biggest, baddest, scariest haunt this side of the Mississippi. Here's the thing, you're not, you never will be, you never were, and the more you say you are, the more kid-friendly you become.

Tiphennie Yao: So, you're getting a lot of crickets. Like, I agree to an extent. So, I don't think like the more that somebody says, they're the scariest, the bestest, or whatever -est they want to be, I don't necessarily think that discredits them per se, it just turns into that cacophony of sound that everybody is saying that they're the best and they're the scariest. 

Bryan Oates: The way I look at it is, if you're the scariest or you're the best, you don't have to tell people that.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I get that.

Bryan Oates: Like it's always the dumbest guy in the room that's the loudest telling people how he's the smartest. We all know that guy. If you don't know that guy, it's you. But the dumbest guy in the room is always telling people about how intelligent he is, right? I think the same sort of thing carries over to haunts, like the haunts who are saying how they're the scariest just aren't, right? And being the scariest is such a subjective thing. How do you measure that, right? It's not like a haunt saying, "We're the longest-running haunt." OK, you can probably back that up with some sort of proof, right? Like you can show me this is the year that we opened, this is the year that everybody else around us opened, we've been here the longest. OK, sure, I believe that, there's empirical evidence that I can look at to prove that. But saying that you're the best, by what metric? By what standard? By The Scare Factor's standard? Well, in what year? Because those ratings will fluctuate year to year.

Tiphennie Yao: I think it's one of those that's really hard, but again to the point that I was saying earlier, to me it just gets lost with everything, everyone's the scariest, everyone's the most terrifying, nightmare-inducing, trying to think of words that I hear all the time. A lot of terror, a lot of nightmares, a lot of scary.

Bryan Oates: I think the only one that would fit under that I would believe because I could measure in some way, is if you said that this is the darkest haunt, right? Because I could actually go through your haunt with a light meter and then I could empirically prove that, yes, this has the lowest light level among haunts in this area. I think that's the only one, right?

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I haven't heard anyone claim that they're the darkest haunt though.

Bryan Oates: I don't think it's something that you really want to claim, right, because it's like, "OK, so I can't really see anything. So why should I spend money at this place?" 

Tiphennie Yao: I haven't run into that per se, but I've definitely run into the others. Then, yeah, again like what you were saying, longest running, I've heard a couple of those, I don't know.

Bryan Oates: It's always funny to me because it's like, maybe this is different in different parts of the country and for different teams, but for me, it's always the haunts who are saying we're the scariest, who are reaching out, asking for a review, and then I go, "OK, great. What weekend works for you?" Then we'll schedule the time, I'll go out, maybe I'm getting comp tickets, maybe I'm not, whatever the case may be there. Then I'll go through the show, I'll make all my notes, I'll come home, I'll write the review, and then the haunt gets upset when my review basically says like, "Yeah, it was OK. It was fun. I wouldn't pay what they're asking, but they're definitely not the scariest either." So, they get upset because we didn't give them the perfect 10 when, you know, they clearly thought like they were the most, bestest, ever. Which again, if you have to say you're the best, you're not.

Tiphennie Yao: I definitely don't have this problem.

Bryan Oates: Yeah, we were talking about this, you approach, how you schedule reviews very differently than I do.

Tiphennie Yao: I mean, I approached a lot of things differently. Haunts out here on the West Coast work a lot differently than they do out where you are. I'm always like, really nervous of haunts getting ahold of me for reviews and then them expecting a perfect ten. I have definitely been very, very lucky of all the haunts out here, again a really, really small, tight-knit community, none of them are expecting a perfect ten because they know they do have flaws. They're actually realistic people. So, I actually don't run into this too much. I feel really bad when, say, haunt reaches out to me for a review and their score isn't as high, like I'll have this own personal melodrama. But whenever I've published one of my reviews and the owner has actually seen the score and stuff like that, I mean, it's fair, they agree on it, I never had a kickback against it. So, I'll take that trade-off of not necessarily having that problem. Yeah, it's just something I don't encounter out here.

Bryan Oates: I mean last year, I think there was three that specifically asked for a review, and only one of them seemed to be less than pleased with the score they got, which was very consistent with what I had given them two years prior. I didn't really get much else out of this haunt after I explained that our review criteria had changed, and so the way that we rate the haunts has changed, right? Just the math in general. I could give you the exact same scores and you won't have the same score, just because certain things have been updated, combined, separated out, or whatever. 

Bryan Oates: The other two, one of them was just over the moon, they absolutely loved everything I had to say about it, right? They were cognizant of the fact that, sure, we have some things that could be fixed, we understand that this one attraction, maybe for you, isn't hitting as hard, or it's not necessarily what you expect it in a haunted house. The other one I just didn't really get much out of them, I don't really know what they thought. I actually ran into one of the managers from that haunt the other night and I stopped and talked for a couple of minutes. I'm sure he was very busy and he was like trying to get somewhere and so he's like, "oh shit, this guy's tying me up and I got to get places." But it was just like, I don't know if it was that on its own, or if it was like, "Oh shit, this guy. You going to tell me how shitty my haunt is again?" Like, "No, I'm going to do that for the world to see."

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, not my world out here, which I'm really quite thankful for.

Bryan Oates: I think this year I would really love to just kind of reach out to haunts and be like, "Hey, I'm coming to rate you. I'm coming to review your haunt sometime this season," and then just show up and pay cash. On one hand, we've talked about this before, where you show up and the haunt says, "Ohh hey, by the way, the reviewers coming tonight!" So what's going to happen, right? You and I both have been in this situation as actors where you get together before the show goes on, and you've got some management person up there going, "There's a reviewer coming tonight," and you're like, "Oh shit, better put on 150%." Whereas, if you have no idea, you're giving your best show, but you're not going over the top.

Tiphennie Yao: Right.

Bryan Oates: I don't want actors going over the top just because I'm there, right? Because it's going to artificially inflate your score.

Tiphennie Yao: This is one that it's kind of hard for me. So, I've worked and I've acted in a lot of haunts for many, many years, and I've attended both as a paying customer, I've attended as a part of the cast, and now I'm attending as a reviewer. I think by nature of both working at a haunt as a haunter, and also now going through haunts as a reviewer, it is that kind of what you're describing. I don't feel like I'm getting the same show as everyone else. One of the things particularly related to this is, as a reviewer, when I show up to a haunt or a site, one of my personal things that annoys me is essentially being escorted the whole entire time by the haunt management. So, the managers will go through the haunt with me at the same time.

Bryan Oates: No, that's never happened to me specifically, but I can imagine just how poorly that would go, right? It's one thing to get a behind-the-scenes tour with a manager, and that would be really cool, because then you can glean some information about how they're doing certain things, and then you could talk about how cool it is that they're doing this effect given the limitations that they have logistically.

Tiphennie Yao: Right, that's perfectly fine. It's just you want to talk about pressure, or even mentioning anything? So, it's like me and my team, and now the haunt owners going through the haunt together. It's just awkward, I can't go ahead and turn over and talk to one of my teammates and be like, "Oh, yeah, that was pretty good," because the owners are going to hear every word that I say.

Bryan Oates: That's the other part, if you have a note, if you have a negative note, about something that you want to talk about in the review in a perhaps nicer manner, but the only words that come. To your mind was, "Wow, that fucking sucked," you don't want to say that in front of the owner, you know?

Tiphennie Yao: One of the things I point out a lot is water bottles or something like that. I don't really ever, I never ran into it where there's a bazillion of them to where I feel like I have to mention them in any kind of review, but it's just something that I pay attention to, right? Again, acting in haunts, I could find people's water bottles. I'm really good at it. I'll just kind of like keep track of that of like, OK, they actually do have a spot for like their actors or whatever. But I'll mention something of, "Oh, there's a water bottle," that kind of thing, and that's what I hear when I'm normally talking to my teammates and stuff like that. I was like, if the owner heard it, I was like the second that they hear that they go ahead and say, "Well, actually that normally isn't there." I'm like, "I don't. I don't care."

Bryan Oates: It's there now, I'm seeing it.

Tiphennie Yao: And it's OK that it's there now.

Bryan Oates: How many groups came through before me and saw that? I don't care that it's not normally there, right? That's a problem, it's like you don't want to be calling those things out and then have a manager or an owner trying to defend it to you. Like, I don't fucking care what your defense is, I saw what I saw, and it's there. So, fix it so that other people aren't seeing it, right? That's primarily what we're trying to get at with those sorts of things when we talk about it in the review. We're not saying that we know everything about haunts that there is to know, but we are trying to convey some air of authority of, "Yeah, we've seen a lot of haunts." So, we're trying to articulate what makes this haunt special compared to other haunts in the area, or in the nation, and how do they stack up against each other? Because people fucking love top-ten lists, right? 

Bryan Oates: Look at some of the biggest non-gaming YouTube channels. There are some really huge ones that are just like they do nothing but top ten lists. How fucking boring. But at the same time, I get it, people love that shit, people want to be told what's the best, right? Well, by my standard, this is the best. I get that a lot of owners don't necessarily understand why we point that sort of thing out and it's, I'm telling you right now, the reason we pointed out is because we want you to get ahead of that, talk to your actors, find a better way for them to get those out of the way, so that way it helps other customers have a better immersion, a better experience, and then they'll come back and spend more money with you. Like we're doing you a fucking favor here.

Tiphennie Yao: I do still want to put it out there, if I see one water bottle, it doesn't mean, "Yep, this person's getting a four." 

Bryan Oates: That's a 0.

Tiphennie Yao: That's not the thing, it's just what goes through my head as everything else that I'm looking at. I just state very obvious stuff sometimes. It's either that, or the other thing is like, "Ohh that's cool," like whatever prop like kind of goes off. It's not really intelligent, and I think that's kind of like my problem. I'm used to talking to like my team while going through these attractions and haunts and stuff like that, and us talking to each other, and actors could overhear us all they want, I don't care. It's just mostly when the owner is there and particularly like just ready to defend like, "Well, actually..." No. 

Bryan Oates: You know what's funny is when I did have people going with me as part of my team, it was significantly less weird for us to kind of go a little bit slower and talk about a particular effect we saw, or kind of talk amongst ourselves about, "Oh, check out this lighting and see how it's doing this thing," or, "Hey, I noticed a speaker over there." Because we do wear microphones, or a lot of teams wear microphones, so that way we can capture audio of notes that we're making as we walk through and it helps us write the review because then we can remember, "Oh yeah, they had the really cool animatronic that did this thing and it was super fucking scary." 

Bryan Oates: Now that I go alone, it's really strange for a lot of actors, because I'll stop, especially if it's really slow that night, I'll just stop and I'll watch an animatronic go four or five times, and I'll talk to myself and I'll make like, really extensive notes on it. Because if it's something that I think is really cool, I want to talk about it a lot in the review, so I'm making all the notes that I can. On a few occasions, I've had actors come up to me and go, "Who are you talking to?" Then I just turned my head to look at him and go, "Mind your own fucking business!"

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I've always had the team, so at least I don't look like you, Brian. I have safety in numbers.

Bryan Oates:

Yeah, it is kind of strange just to be talking to yourself because, yeah, actors would be like, "Who are you talking to? What is going on right now?" Do better haunts, goddamnit. So, outside of the actual attraction itself, timed tickets, right? Getting into line for the attraction. Haunts that sell timed tickets, in my opinion, should be enforcing those times. Do you agree with that, Tiphennie? To some degree, right? I'm not saying like, your ticket says 7:30, and at 7:29 you got to wait one minute. What I'm talking about is that your ticket says 10:00 PM and you're showing up at 6:00.

Tiphennie Yao: So, yeah. That's one thing, and then the other thing that I'm thinking of is particularly when time ticketing became more of an norm, getting so far behind in the show of like, OK, you have a timed ticket that you got for 8:00 o'clock. But when you go ahead and show up at 8:00 o'clock, not all of the 6:00 o'clock and 7:00 o'clock people are through yet, the timing is just way, way off like that. That's one of the things that kind of annoys me about it, that could kind of happen.

Bryan Oates: That's the other problem with that is, let's say I buy a ticket for 7:00 PM, But something happens where I won't get there until 7:30 or 8:00, right? What should the haunt do in that case? In my opinion, I think what they should do is they should go, "OK, you bought a ticket. We're going to honor your ticket tonight, we're just going to move you to a different time slot." So, you may have to wait about 15 minutes before your group lines up for this, but you're still going in, you're still getting the experience, you're just not going to get in line right that minute. "How about you go check out our midway go buy some food, get some hot cocoa, get some hot cider," which Nora's listening to this after the fact, and she's like licking her lips, thinking about hot cider, because they had hot cider once. Trust me, it's not the same as what we get up here. She had apple cider that was just put in a coffee pot and then put on a hot plate. No hot cider, well done, hot cider is like with whipped cream and cinnamon, ohh, it's fucking delicious.

Tiphennie Yao: So I can't have it. That's what it sounds like.

Bryan Oates: You got to come to central New York. You got to come to upstate. You got to come to New England.

Tiphennie Yao: I'm allergic to that cinnamon yo.

Bryan Oates: Ask for it without cinnamon.

Tiphennie Yao: They're going to sneak it in there, just I know it, it's like pumpkin spice. October it's all over the place, I cannot escape it.

Bryan Oates: But yeah, haunts that just don't enforce their timed ticketing at all is super irritating, right? I don't think it's super common, but the impression that I get from a lot of haunts is that they're going to sell you a ticket for some time slot, but then it doesn't matter to them whether you're 4 hours early or you're an hour late or whatever. They're just selling tickets, right? And it's like, if that's the case, why are you bothering selling them in time slots? You're only keeping the honest people honest at that point. So, to me, it doesn't make a lot of sense, right? Because the people who are going to try to break that rule or try to get one by you or whatever, you're just going to fucking let them do it, so why bother?

Bryan Oates: It's like with the mask thing back in 2020. Up here, and I'm sure it was very different where you are because people probably took the mask thing a little more seriously within the city, maybe not so much in rural Washington. Here in Syracuse it was about 50/50 with people who took it very seriously and would wear their mask everywhere they went and they wore it correctly, and then you had people who just wouldn't wear a mask. There were businesses, most businesses that you'd go into, just didn't do anything about it, despite all of the signs and posters and everything that said, "You got to wear a mask." It's like, why are you putting those up when you know damn well you're not going to enforce it whatsoever? Like, I don't understand.

Bryan Oates: The interesting that came of that was, in early 2021 I was reading an article by a psychologist, behavioral psychologist, who said that they were studying people who would wear the mask below their nose, they wouldn't wear it properly, or they would wear a mask that wasn't like in compliance with state guidelines or federal guidelines, and he kept coming back to this thing where it's like, these are the people who will drive over the speed limit, who cheated on tests in grade school. They feel like they're getting one over on somebody, they feel like they're winning to some degree. It clicked for me, right? It made sense. It's like, yeah, these are the exact same people who you'll see doing 15 miles an hour over the speed limit down the road for no good reason.

Tiphennie Yao: Again, everything is so weird out here.

Bryan Oates: I think those are the same people who are buying a ticket for 10:00 PM and then showing up at 6:30. They feel like they're winning or something, like what was the point?

Tiphennie Yao: Your area's weird. I'm just saying.

Bryan Oates: It is.

Tiphennie Yao: If you're buying a ticket for 10:00, and if you're not going to show up at 10 or just before or whatever, out here, it's mandatory that you show up late. There's no early, like who does that? Who is that person? That's not here. That's not these people.

Bryan Oates: Fucking Northeast rednecks, that's who does that. Talking about the mask thing, what really kind of blows my mind, and I'm really super confused about this one, it's like sometimes you do still see people wearing masks out and about. Personally, I'm not going to judge you for it, right, I fully support your decision to wear a mask still. I was not sick for a whole year in 2020, because I wore a mask, and a lot of people around me were wearing masks. I just didn't get sick. I didn't get a cold. I didn't get the flu. Then when everything kind of got relaxed, it's like everything hit me at once and I was sicker than a dog. Sometimes, and Tiphennie maybe you'll have a good answer for me, because you seem to be more up on the hip and cool things that the youths of today are doing.

Tiphennie Yao: The hipsters is that what you're suggesting over here?

Bryan Oates: Yes, I see this mostly with, they look to be about high school kids, 11th or 12th grade, you know, 16- 17-year-old kids.

Tiphennie Yao: Ah yes, my demographic.

Bryan Oates: They'll be wearing a mask, like a blue surgical mask, the disposable type, but they're just wearing it under their chin. It's like, what was the point of putting it on? If it's not going to cover anything, why?

Tiphennie Yao: I actually, I know this one.

Bryan Oates: OK, explained the chin diaper to me, why are people still doing this? Nobody's requiring masks anymore. I flew 2 weeks ago. I didn't have to wear one.

Tiphennie Yao: It's an aesthetic. It's a thing. How best I heard it described, it's kind of based off of youth culture overseas where wearing some type of mask or face covering, and having headphones on, on like subways, is like a physical representation of, "Leave me alone. I do not want to talk to you. I do not want to interact with you." There's also this other kind of side of that aesthetic where it's the opposite of minimalism. It's like where everything's in excess, right? Maximalism. There's this style of where you have candy on your arms, and you have a billion barrettes, everything's all bright and rainbow-colored, and you have the Band-Aid over the nose.

Bryan Oates: OK, so like raver aesthetic.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, that's what I would attribute that to. Or, they just had to wear a mask at someplace that they visited and just never quite took it off, that's also an option too.

Bryan Oates: It's just the dumbest fucking thing to me. I'm sorry, if you wear a mask, if you were the chin diaper in any setting, I want you to seriously consider your life decisions up to this point, all right? It's the stupidest fucking thing. If you don't want to wear the mask, just take it off, it looks stupid. Is your chin going to poop in there, or what? Like what's going on? 

Tiphennie Yao: Not to get you too distracted, but again, out here, West coast, you have the glorious Gandalf beards. So, you have the beard net holder.

Bryan Oates: Listen, it keeps my chin and my neck from getting sunburned.

Tiphennie Yao: Right. But you have the nice beard net. So, like a hair net, but for your beard?

Bryan Oates: Oh, and people just wear them aesthetically?

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, that's the thing.

Bryan Oates: OK. Kitchen aesthetic, I'm going to call that one kitchen aesthetic. All right, we're getting way too off track here. Tiphennie, can you explain this last thing in the section here? Haunts without much to do within the haunt itself, I don't understand.

Tiphennie Yao: So when you go ahead and go to a haunt and it is in the middle of nowhere, and you drive 3-4 hours to get to said haunt and it's just the haunted house.

Bryan Oates: Ohh OK, so like you just show up and it's like there's no midway, there's no vendors, just it's a haunt, you enter, you exit, you get in your car, you go home.

Tiphennie Yao: Exactly. It's also by like nature, sometimes it does have stuff to like do with like location, but I've definitely been to haunts that are in this like desolate area in the middle of nowhere, but there's nothing else to do. I can't go to a city and get food. There's no city around. It's in the middle of nowhere.

Bryan Oates: I get the vibe right, like especially if you're trying to do this abandoned building that's inhabited by the undead, hillbillies, or whatever. The vibe really works there, right? You just happened upon this place and it's haunted, or whatever story they're trying to tell you. That works really well, but my God, where's my hot cider?

Tiphennie Yao: It works really well, but yeah.

Bryan Oates: But give me a fucking hot cider.

Tiphennie Yao: It does, it makes it like really, really rough. Again, I think this is one of my more annoying things because there has definitely been a good handful of haunts that I have drove out for hours too. I would research it and try to like to see what's around it. So, I did take the risk and the idea of, "OK, I know it's like in the middle of nowhere. Let's just try it." Generally, as someone that's going to a haunt, right? I'm just trying to bank, I'm just like, "They have to have concessions. They have to offer water. They just have to."

Bryan Oates: There's got to be bathrooms there, at least, right?

Speaker 3 There has to be.

Bryan Oates: Porta Potties, a hole in the ground, I will take anything at this point.

Tiphennie Yao: Then, you get there and it's not and it's like, "Ohh no." It's definitely one of those things that is a gut punch when you show up to someplace. It's like, "Well, I should have definitely got food before I left. I could have ate in the car for the three hours I was driving out to the middle of nowhere."

Bryan Oates: Yeah, there's a place I went to not this past year, but the year before, that was in a new location, so I kind of forgave them on not having a lot going on. But yeah, it was very much like that. You show up, you get in line, you get your ticket, you do their attractions, and then that's pretty much it. They had a food truck out there each weekend which had amazing food, but beyond that not much going on. You could go back to the ticket counter and buy some merch if you wanted.

Tiphennie Yao: You had food and merch. I'm talking about not even that.

Bryan Oates: No, not even that?

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I'm just talking about you have the attraction and then that's it.

Bryan Oates: That's it. Get your car, get out of here.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, basically. So, kind of going along with that, have you ever been to a haunt where you go ahead and you go to the haunt premise, right? Driving up to a haunt. We're role-playing here, and are you the paladin?

Bryan Oates: I put on my level 5 paladin armor.

Tiphennie Yao: Little did you know, haunt reviewers have other interests.

Bryan Oates: Sexy role-playing.

Tiphennie Yao: OK, so you're driving up to Brian and you are actually on site, and you see buildings right? But nothing's labeled, and the only staff were the staff that's directing traffic that's still directing traffic. What do you do? How do you start wandering?

Bryan Oates: Hey, you in the yellow vest, where the fuck am I supposed to go?

Tiphennie Yao: You pull them off the traffic duty?

Bryan Oates: Goddamn right I do. You don't have signs, you have anybody like waving me along to, like, "This way please, get your tickets over here." "Hey, you and the fucking yellow light-up vest. Get your ass over here."

Tiphennie Yao: I think that's the East Coast you. I honestly think that's some weird East Coast aggression, because how I am, I have the Midwest polite shame, right? I don't talk to people. I also have the Pacific Northwest Seattle Freeze where I explicitly judge and don't talk to people. So, what I do in that scenario is just walk around aimlessly, and I kind of call it like a self-guided tour because I'll just go up to the buildings and I'll be like, "Well, this doesn't look like it's for me," and I'll walk all around it and I'm like, "Pretty sure I'm not supposed to be over here." I will, I'll just keep moving on until somebody tells me I'm in the wrong area. 

Bryan Oates: So, you'll just keep going till somebody finds you and goes, "What the fuck are you doing?"

Tiphennie Yao: "Why aren't you in costume?" I don't know.

Bryan Oates: "I'm sorry I got here late. I don't know what's going on. It's my first night." I mean, with that one, you got to really lean into that, right?

Tiphennie Yao: Well, I either do that or I find people that seem to know more where they're going. Normally I'm that person, which is the worst. Like if I ever seem to know where I'm going, with determination Brian, just know it's a ruse. Just know there's something up, because I do not know where I'm going. But I find someone with that air of confidence that I normally radiate and give off, and I'll just follow them, like they're my family now

Bryan Oates: "Where are we going, dad?"

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I don't ask questions. They seem very determined, and then I know something is up when they go ahead and turn around and then they're like, "Hey, you seem to know where you're going," and I'm like, "No, I'm behind you."

Bryan Oates: I was following you.

Tiphennie Yao: "I was keeping pace with you to hear some of your conversation and hope that we'll find where we need to go together." Going to haunts like that is about equally, like the one that we just mentioned before, where there's nothing except the haunt itself, or there's nothing directing you on like where to go to get your ticket and stuff, it gives me an incredible sense of anxiety trying to figure out of what I'm supposed to do. I follow directions very well, I've always been that type of A-plus student, I need those type of directions.

Bryan Oates: OK, so poor site design I think is how we could classify that. What about poor set and character design? By character design I don't just mean the costume and the voice that the actor puts on, I mean the whole character; the dialogue, the back story, what's their motivation, what are they trying to aim for here? We've all seen the really shitty backyard haunt that's nothing but black tarps and a couple of cheap Walmart masks. I'm talking a haunt where you paid money to go in and you have this character who is wearing a cheap Walmart mask and has no idea what their character is supposed to be. It's not often that I run into this, but I have seen it a couple of times, and it could be really annoying because it's like, "I paid money to fucking see this? You got to be shitting me, give me my money back. Hey, you in the light-up vest, I want my money back?"

Tiphennie Yao: That poor, poor parking lot attendant. All he wanted to do was direct traffic. No, I've definitely seen it before. I don't know, because I'm kind of sitting on it, I don't know if it's the most annoying thing. It can be, I don't know. I've definitely seen it to like where a lot of it's like, "Ohh, this mask is like something that I could go ahead and see at Spirit. Actually, all of the character and costume design is at Spirit." The characters themselves are not really that developed. Or even like the set themselves. Have you ever seen that? Where you have a totally different character out in a different set? So, say, a clown in like a log cabin.

Bryan Oates: I was thinking zombies in a prehistoric dinosaur-themed area, but yeah.

Tiphennie Yao: Ohh OK yeah, that goes along with this kind of like vibe that we're laying down here. But yeah, that's kind of the thing that gets a little bit harder to justify. Again, I don't think it's the most annoying thing.

Bryan Oates: It can be irritating if it does happen, and it's really egregious. So, speaking of that, zombies in the prehistoric area, I've talked about this before on the podcast. There is a haunt near me, I won't review them, I'm not going to say who they are. I think they know who they are, I don't know if they listen. They have five attractions and they recently, I think in 2020, moved into their own building. They used to be a temporary setup just during October, but they have their own building now, which is great, because now they can really focus on set designs and they can put things up and they can leave them up all year. Here's the problem, right? So, one of their haunts, one of their attractions is a prehistoric sort of like Land Before Time sort of theme, and the sets and the props, for the most part, are really great looking. They have some dinosaur animatronics that look very expensive, or at least were expensive when they bought them, they have some really great sounds coming from those animatronics, but the problem comes when they also have zombie animatronics, which is kind of strange. 

Bryan Oates: The last couple of years, they haven't really had a lot of actors in the haunt as a whole, so you only see one or two actors in each of the attractions, one of the characters that I saw in this, I think two years ago, was Alien, from the movie Alien. That seems just way out of whack for me, like are we trying to imply the alien from the movie Alien traveled back in time to the dinosaur times and is now doing something to influence them? I don't fully understand what's going on. Like I would understand Caveman, it's not historically accurate, but it's in the same theme, I get the vibe you're trying to put on. Then, my favorite part about this, is the soundtrack playing throughout the whole thing is just the opening riff to Rammstein's Du Hast. If you listen to the song, if you're familiar with the song, it's that guitar riff and it just ends at the drum bit right before the vocals come in, and then it loops over and over and over all night. I think my favorite part about going to this haunt is going in there and singing along loudly and poorly.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I'm pretty sure you're everybody's best friend when you go ahead and do that.

Bryan Oates: But well, that's why I do it.

Tiphennie Yao: They love it, they love it.

Bryan Oates: If had any fucking actors in there, I'm sure they would.

Tiphennie Yao: No, ohh no. Kind of going along that with that. 

Bryan Oates: With Rammstein, new metal. 

Tiphennie Yao: New metal, in general, is a pet peeve of mine, not like new metal as a genre. I mean, that's a whole other story outside of this podcast, but new metal within haunted houses, just because there has never been a haunt that I have not heard new metal going into like, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever. I've always heard new metal blaring at every single haunt that I've been to, with the exception of ones that I used to go back to in the Midwest. I'm just talking about ones out here on the West Coast, in my area as a reviewer.

Bryan Oates: I was going to say, it's not super common here. I've heard it once or twice.

Tiphennie Yao: Ohh yeah, no. One that I worked with definitely played the same five Rob Zombie songs on a loop.

Bryan Oates: And they were probably like the five most popular Rob Zombie songs, so the five worst Rob Zombie songs.

Tiphennie Yao: One might shock you.

Bryan Oates: Was it Living Dead Girl?

Tiphennie Yao: No.

Bryan Oates: A was a Dragula?

Tiphennie Yao: No. It's, "she's a brick house, she's much to my taste." Yeah, it's the cover. I thought it was them breaking up Rob Zombie, and then I learned it was a Rob Zombie cover and it made me sad.

Bryan Oates: No, I could get down with that.

Tiphennie Yao: I was excited for once, "Ohh, somebody commandeered and put in a new song in this loop." No, it's the Rob Zombie cover of that. It's very, very common here to hear a lot of new metal. It's not just concentrated in the midway area, there's always a section within the haunt itself that blares new metal really, really loud. The nice aesthetic of having that very light and airy soundscapes, or scene-scapes to get ambience, to me it's ruined when you hear new metal and I get a blast from my past just right there with the strobe lights.

Bryan Oates: So, I know what you're talking about because, yeah, that would get super annoying, especially if it's really crappy radio new metal, like Rob Zombie. But I don't know, maybe if it's older Slipknot, I could get down with that.

Tiphennie Yao: Are you talking about, are you going to start splitting hairs and being like, "OK well, if it's Gojira then that's OK."

Bryan Oates: I don't know, I'm just saying mix it up a little bit, right? Because it's always Rob Zombie, right?

Tiphennie Yao: Fair, yeah. 

Bryan Oates: Like, if you're going to do new metal, which I don't think you should, but if you're going to do new metal like, how about Korn? How about Slipknot? Like how about literally any other new metal band?

Tiphennie Yao: See, I think if it was Korn though, I would have the same problem. Again, I'm just damaged. I told you, it's a whole other episode, even a whole other podcast of what new metal in my life is. It's not that it's horrible, it's just I've been exposed to it so much in haunted houses. I would be more interested even if like other songs were playing. I was kind of thinking about, there is MCR, and I like a lot of punk bands, so there is The Misfits. Which sometimes I do hear Misfits on some haunt soundtracks and it makes me happy.

Bryan Oates: I heard Avenged Sevenfold a few years ago, and I started singing along because it was one of the few Avenged Sevenfold songs that I know, and the actor in the scene goes, "Hey, who sings this?" I'm like, "Me. I am right now. Don't you hear it? You've got a front-row seat."

Tiphennie Yao: Right, Ghost would be a really awesome one.

Bryan Oates: Ghost would be really interesting. Tangent! I'm not a really huge Ghost fan and I'm sure I've probably heard more of their music than I realize. It's odd to me because, a lot of people around me really love Ghost, they're coming to Syracuse this year, and everybody I know has a ticket and I'm like, "Screw it. I don't care." I was really disappointed when I legitimately sat down. I was like, "Alright, let's check these guys out. I love their aesthetic. I like the whole, satanic, priest, clergy sort of feel they've got going on there." I was super disappointed when they were like 80s, metal aesthetic kind of music. That stuck out like a sore thumb to me, like this should be a lot heavier than it is.

Tiphennie Yao: But I like that. 

Bryan Oates: I get that people like that.

Tiphennie Yao: I don't know what to call it, I'm going to call it mellow metal.

Bryan Oates: I understand that people like it, obviously, Ghost is probably one of the fastest-growing bands out there right now, right? They're rising in popularity so much as of recently, but it just is such a clashing vibe for me, right? They have this really dark and heavy and Gothic sort of look, and then they don't make music that fits in that, or at least not in my opinion. I guess if you think about bands that were popular in the early 2000s, like Hymn, and I'm trying to think of like other sort of Gothic aesthetic bands, they had that dark aesthetic, and then it was like it was these really sweet sounding sort of dark love songs.

Tiphennie Yao: Yeah, I mean that that's kind of par for the course in that genre. One thing that keeps popping in my mind, because you're like, "Oh, you know, like they have this dark aesthetic, but they're kind of like light and poppy." I was like, ohh The Cure, you're talking about The Cure. I was like, I love Robert Smith, I absolutely love him.

Bryan Oates: Yeah, he's got that kind of 80s goth vibe going on, but then that poppy music.