Seniors take on jobs as Halloween Haunt actors at Worlds of Fun

Working at the annual Worlds of Fun Halloween Haunt has made seniors Hanna Ceule, Savannah Praiswater and Jordan Wootton step out of their comfort zone


By Margaret Mellott, Victoria Wright

Left: Senior Hannah Ceule has a co-worker fix her makeup on Saturday, Oct. 8. Middle: Crawling towards people unknowing of her presence, senior Savannah Praiswater prepares to scare them on Saturday, Oct. 8. Right: While standing in The Boneyard at Worlds of Fun on Saturday, Oct. 10, senior Jordan Wootton waits, hiding in the midst of the fog to scare bypassers.

Sarah Myers and Adri Talavera

It’s another day at the office for seniors Hanna Ceule, Savannah Praiswater and Jordan Wootton. They walk into work together and head to a table to check out uniforms, only their uniforms aren’t what most would expect – for Ceule, it’s a zombie costume; for Praiswater, it’s a clown suit and mask; for Wootton, it’s a green mask and shirt designed for a monster. Unlike most other students, these three work at the World’s of Fun Halloween Haunt.

After reading about the position for “Screamster” at the Haunt online, Ceule encouraged her friends Wootton and Praiswater to apply for the job, despite her lack of experience with haunted houses. She wanted to step outside her comfort zone and try something new.

“I’ve never actually been to a haunted house,” Ceule said. “They scare me to death, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to work at one.”

For Praiswater however, participating in the Halloween Haunt is something she’s considered since a young age.

“My family’s always made Worlds of Fun the vacation spot while staying in town,” Praiswater said, “so when we were little and saw all of the haunted house stuff, they would say, ‘Oh, are you sure you want to do that?’ and we would be like ‘yes.’”

Following their completion of an online application, the three went for a group interview where they were asked to complete creative thinking exercises, such as creating survival plans for a zombie apocalypse and detailing an original haunted house design.

The purpose of these exercises, Wootton said, was to demonstrate their teamwork and communication skills to their prospective employers.

“We went in and they had us play some games and team building activities,” Wootton said. “They judged us based off how well we interacted with other people as a leader.”

After earning the jobs, the three attended “scare school” where they learned the best tactics for scaring effectively.

“What I’ll do is find the person who literally avoids eye contact with anything, and I’ll go after that person. Usually they’ll be smushed in between two people or grasping someone’s arm or hiding behind someone’s shoulder,” Praiswater said. “It is so satisfying … because they either scream or they run.”

Like Praiswater, Wootton utilizes certain methods to scare visitors.

“I sit right in front of a fog machine … I wait for people to come by who aren’t paying attention and I just yell right in their face and they fall, screaming,” Wootton said.

Having limited experience with haunted houses, Ceule had to learn effective scare tactics by observing returning cast and gaining experience in her haunted house.

“You just kind of talk to other people who have worked there before and learn from them,” Ceule said. “I think the hardest part is just trying to be scary. I don’t really think of myself as a scary person. Sometimes I feel bad when I scare people. I’m going to have to get over that one.”

For Ceule, working in a haunted house has stretched her in a variety of ways, whether that be to step outside her comfort zone, think more creatively or make new friends. Wooton agrees that being bold is a must when it comes to success at the Halloween Haunt.

“You have to be very outgoing and eccentric to an extent,” Wootton said. “You can’t be reserved and shy. You have to be putting yourself out there every day.”

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