King’s Island haunters face retaliation from petrified visitors

Nathalie Schickendantz | Staff Writer

Hired hellions are in for many frights themselves while attempting to startle guests.

Kings Island celebrates the month of October with Halloween Haunt. A night of thrill is created by 10 haunted attractions, three outdoor scare zones, three live shows and scary characters lurking in the night.

Senior Katie Pennetti spends her October nights scaring strangers at Kings Island. Pennetti reenacts the tale of little red riding hood, wearing a red cape covered in blood and haunting makeup. Pennetti is a roamer, assigned to walk around the park scaring people, and said while her job can be fun, she oftentimes finds herself in awkward situations when she encounters students and teachers while on the clock.

“There’s a lot of people from the school who I’ll see, like teachers and even students that I’ll scare, and they won’t recognize me, and they’ll make comments and yell at me,” Pennetti said. “People’s reactions to being scared is to get mad, just instantly get mad,. Or afterwards they’ll tell me I’m not scary after they just screamed, and then I’ll see them at school, and it’s funny but can be awkward because I’ll see old teachers or students.”

Scaring does not always bring out the best in people. Pennetti said visitors’ primary reaction comes from a source of aggression.

“Last Friday, opening day, this guy, I scared him, and he turned around and initially sucker punched me in the stomach,” Pennetti said. “That was just his reaction. He felt bad afterwards and didn’t mean to do it, but it definitely hurt.”

Senior Riley Berg portrays a horrified nurse covered in bloody scrubs. Haunted house Urgent Scare recreates the life of a hospital turned upside down with blood and bodies everywhere. Berg said it can get  hectic in the house.

“At the end of Urgent Scare, there’s fake bodies hanging from the ceiling in plastic bags,” Berg said. “This group of twelve teenage boys came through and hit me with the bags. It was intentional. They were acting like the body bags were punching bags.”

Senior Alec Pipala is a first time scarer playing the role of a french noble. Pipala said he goes into each scare with a detailed strategy guaranteed to achieve the ultimate scare.

“One of my favorite ways to scare people is called the Ping Pong technique,” Pipala said. “They described it the first day I worked there. The first time you scare somebody, you scare them up front, and they fall back, and then people behind them scare them, which makes them move that way, and you create a train. That makes it really fun.”

Senior Liam Wood embodies the dead working as a zombie at Haunt. Wood is the final shock before exiting the Maze. As an exit usher, Wood startles people at the very end and patrols the area for people out of place. Wood seeks the thrill of terrifying people and sees it as an odd form of entertainment.

“More fun aspects are making people cry,” Wood said. “This weekend, I beat my record and made six people cry. Another time, I made a kid drop to the ground; he fell back and hit one of our props, a potted plant. I also made a dad fall over his own kid; I scared him, and he tripped over, and the dad started to run. It didn’t end well.”

These scarers are seeing for themselves that fear brings out the best and worst of us. Wood said witnessing differing reactions institutes a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s fun seeing the different reactions people have,” Wood said. “When you make a kid cry, it’s that little magical moment when you know you did a good job. You’re scary. You made a kid cry.”