Several employees of Universal Orlando have recently made the news about the kind of abuse they receive from guests while working as scare actors at Halloween Horror Nights. William Gallit, 27, was working in a haunted house when a guest reportedly kicked him in the face. Orange County Police was called to the scene and arrested the man who kicked Gallit.
“It breaks my heart to say that I will no longer be with the event,” explained one of the actors. “That being said, always keep your hands to yourself. I’m leaving due to verbal, physical and sexual assault that I experienced every single night as well as my scare actors.”
The former employee went on to say, “I was hospitalized, slapped, shoved, screamed and berated this entire run. Although my coordinators did everything they could to keep me safe, some guests just don’t know how to behave.”
Before we continue on, a word about working in a high volume professional haunted house if you’ve never done it before. Often times, people do react violently towards someone scaring them. It’s the fight or flight response and, for some people, a knee jerk reaction is fight. It’s a form of self protection, no matter how silly it may sound.
It also needs to be said that most scare actors, especially at Universal Orlando, are taught how to deal with these responses. Every single person you see in a scare zone or in a haunted house goes through this training. However, in a real world situation, there is only so much you can do if guests come after you in retaliation.
Finally, anyone who has ever been to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando knows there is a huge security presence at the park. From metal detectors to Orange County Police and dozens of coordinators and managers, Universal Orlando takes the safety of its employees and guests seriously. So who pays for all that extra manpower?
Naturally, the paying guests do. One could also argue that the extra bars set up throughout the event pays for the extra security needed in order to keep the peace. Clearly, the amount of alcohol sold far outweighs the amount of labor needed to cover the additional security needed.
Several websites have already reported on this story and shockingly their message is roughly the same:
“Dear Guests of Halloween Horror Nights,
Stop being idiots.
It’s cute to think that the audience of any one (or all of us combined) blog is enough to make any difference on the behavior of thousands of people swarming the park every night. No, my target is set directly on the upper management at Universal Orlando, whom I know read Theme Park University.
To be clear, cutting off alcohol sales will not end the problems of guests touching employees inappropriately. CityWalk will still sell booze and as many of you know, it’s tradition for many groups to tailgate in the Universal parking garage and have a few drinks before they even get to the front gate. However, keeping everyone liquored up will make a huge difference in how certain people behave.
A little history lesson. As many of you know, Universal Studios Hollywood went several years without Halloween Horror Nights. It’s also important to know that ever since the event returned in 2006, there has been no alcohol sales in the park during the event. That’s not a mistake. It’s a well thought out decision.
To be fair, Los Angeles is a much different market. Over the years, nearly every theme park in that area has major issues with gang violence which we have reported on here at TPU in the past. Orlando doesn’t have the gang violence issues seen on the west coast.
At the end of the day, if you’re an employee of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, or ever have been, ask yourself if you think your employer did truly everything they could from getting touched inappropriately or kept you out of harm’s way. This includes serving alcohol. Am I on to something? Let me know in the comments or on social media.
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Images Copyright: Universal Orlando Resort