A night of working at The Haunted Schoolhouse

Ryan Haidet

A masked man yells down to those entering the haunted laboratory. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Peering through the dense fog in the dungeon-like basement, frightened victims are in awe at the detailed scenery – not knowing where I am hiding and watching.

They walk by axes, skeletons and dungeon creatures in a tight group waiting for the next unexpected thing to happen.

I watch their every move until it’s time to strike.


Just when they’re least expecting it, I make my way toward them and let out a monstrous growl, throwing them into a spiral of fear – and I get paid to do it.

This is my seventh Halloween season spent working at The Haunted Schoolhouse in Akron, where I get to help make one’s visit terrifying.

After going there for years when I was growing up, I knew I wanted to work there the first chance I could. But, going through The Haunted Schoolhouse wasn’t always easy for me.

When I was younger, my dad had taken a friend and me. I stood in the dimly lit stairwell debating if I should go in or not. I chickened out and didn’t go. Then, years later, I ended up working in the exact place I was terrified of going.

I applied to be a monster when I was 16 and have been there each Halloween since.

For about 20 nights in October, I get to be something else – something scary.

Each year I eagerly await our haunted house season to erupt into full force because getting to wear a mask and become another character is what makes the job so much fun.

For the first six years, I was strictly a monster in the haunted house. Now, this year, I do a little more as I am there for quality control of the attraction, among other things – but I can still scare people.

The night begins when I arrive an hour early to get ready for the night. I get all of the basement’s actors their costumes and make sure they all get to their spots safely.

I walk down the narrow staircase to the dungeon in the basement passing out cough drops to the monsters, to help soothe their sore throats from all of the growling they do.

As 7 p.m. tolls, customers are let loose into our world where all of us monsters await their arrival.

Winding through the dark, claustrophobic, maze-like back passageways, I watch and listen as victims, er, customers walk through the attraction.

I quickly don a black robe and fanged-beast mask whenever the opportunity arises and slide into a completely dark scene. When they approach where I am hiding, I get ready to attack. Then, with a quick, sharp blast, I flick a light switch and illuminate myself in a glow of red while growling at them as loud as I can. In return, I hope to get a loud, frightened scream.

Being on the other side, delivering the scares, is exhilaratingly sweet. I can’t find anywhere that is more exciting to work. Where else can one go to work and get paid for growling at the customers and hope that they’ll scream really loud in return?

It’s not always easy though.

The work is grueling at times. When the haunted house gets busy and fills with a line of customers, having the energy to wear a mask for five hours while quickly jutting out of your hiding place for a quick scare over and over again is not easy to do. It can be extremely exhausting and can take its toll.

But exhaustion is something I can’t worry about because the next group of people may be on its way into the scene, and they deserve the best scare possible.

Contact ALL correspondent Ryan Haidet at [email protected].