Halloween fever is running high – and now your child wants to visit their first haunted house attraction or haunted corn maze. How do you know if they're ready?
Unfortunately, there's no set admission age for most haunted attractions. Check the attraction’s website for any age recommendations. Some haunted houses admit teens and preteens if accompanied by a parent.
Also, remember that children are different and have varying levels of maturity. For the most part, it’s up to the parents’ discretion whether or not a child is ready to visit a haunted house.
Halloween haunted houses try to outdo themselves by upping the fright level every year. Visiting a haunted house is an immersive experience filled with unsettling darkness, lights, sounds, images and sensations. Use your best judgment to decide whether your child is ready for the level of fright and gore they may encounter at the attraction.
Consider the helpful tips below when weighing your decision.
Do Your Research
No two haunted attractions are exactly alike, so check your options. Use the internet, social media and other resources to research haunted houses in your area. If the haunted attraction is a temporary business or non-profit organization, you may have to call for information.
Ask about their policy regarding admission for children. Try to gauge the “scare level” of the attraction and their security measures. Find out if they allow early exits for visitors who chicken out. Attractions don’t give refunds for people who were “too scared” to stay.
Talk to other parents who have children around your child’s age. Ask about their experiences and if they would recommend a certain haunted house for your child over another, or if they know of other options in the area that might be better. If the attraction has a social media page, read reviews from other parents.
Assess Your Child's Ability to Handle a Scare
How well can your young son or daughter distinguish between what is fake and what is real? It’s important that kids know the difference between real fear and scary fun before going through a fright house. Also ask yourself, how do they handle age-appropriate scary movies? What types of Halloween costumes do they usually gravitate towards? These things can give you clues about their tolerance to being spooked.
Consider Possible Health Risks
Many haunted attractions feature strobe lights and fog machines. If you’re not sure you or your child can handle those well, be prepared to exit immediately. If you know ahead of time that someone in your group can’t be around strobe lights or fog machines, opt for an event that doesn’t include these devices, or call ahead so you know exactly when they will be triggered. Some of the larger haunted attractions include at least one house without strobe lights or fog machines for people who are a little more sensitive to them.
'No Touching' Signs
Haunted house attractions generally forbid touching from both parties. Don’t touch the actors; they can’t touch you. However, there are some attractions where the actors will grab you or touch your hair. This can be quite scary for kids, especially first-timers. When you approach an attraction, look for the “No Touching” sign. It’s usually easy to find.
Familiarize Yourself with the Attraction
See if you can request a daytime walk-through of the Halloween house or haunted maze prior to the big night. Locate the exits and find out what to expect as you walk through. Let your child know they will always be safe inside the attraction, but that they can choose to leave at any time.
Have a Backup Plan
If you decide that a traditional haunted house might be too scary for your child right now, there may be a compromise. Many haunted houses host a “kids night” where they tone down the scares and keep the lights on.
If you can't find one in your area, create your own haunted house at home! This might be a good way to prepare your child for haunted attractions in the future.
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