Get grabbed, restrained and dragged away at Utah's haunted houses
Utah haunted houses have added another level to the jump scare: human touch.
What's happening: Most professional haunts are now offering "touch" ticket upgrades.
- Because just having someone chase you around with a chainsaw isn't scary enough.
How it works: Guests who pay a premium wear a glowing necklace or bracelet that lets actors know they agree to physical contact.
- Contact can range from taps and elbow grabs to having a bag pulled over your head as you're carried away from your group, or even mimicked torture.
What they're saying: Castle of Chaos owner James Bernard told Axios he began experimenting with "touch" upgrades in 2007 when only one other major haunt in the country was offering it.
- Customers consistently asked for "more scares, more intensity," Bernard said. "Putting our hands on the customers really changed the intensity more than anything else I could do."
- Now Fear Factory and Asylum 49 in Tooele also have touch options.
Threat level: Castle of Chaos offers multiple levels of contact at varying ticket prices, so visitors can match their experience to their fear threshold.
- A regular ticket is $25, but for another $4, actors could briefly grab your shoulders or leg, or touch your hair. For $7, they might carry you away.
- A $50 "Level 5" ticket guarantees the most extreme version of every hands-on encounter, and guests are taken (possibly dragged) to extra rooms.
Yes, but: Actors still need a lot of training to read visitors' reactions and dial it back — or even break character — if the participants aren't having fun.
- At least a year of experience is required for Castle of Chaos actors to touch guests, only longtime staff do the higher levels, and there are training sessions all summer.
The latest: After years of escalating frights, some haunts are focusing on less scary options, Bernard said — a process that began at Castle of Chaos when visitors were literally wetting themselves.
- "We got too scary," Bernard said. "At first we were like, 'This is great. We're the scariest ever.' And then I went, 'Look, guys, that's really not fun for the person pissing their pants.'"
- Now visitors can get a "Monsters be gone" ticket, with a wand that cues the cast to act afraid of them — "so you have the power to lower the intensity," Bernard said.
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