To Pay Or Not To Pay: Using Volunteer or Paid Actors in Haunted Attractions

Saturday, 14 April 2018
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

It’s easy to find haunted attraction owners and operators passionate on either side of this budget issue, and neither side of the argument is shy about standing up for their beliefs! Labor costs are usually a haunt’s steepest budget item, and many owners are looking for ways to cut corners without affecting their show. In this provocative session, Dana Martin will look at the pros and cons, the benefits (and pitfalls) of paying actors vs. using volunteer actors and will share methods to retain both types of employees.

Dana Martin

Dana Martin owned and managed Talladega Frights in Bakersfield, Calif., and The Raven's Gate Haunted Attraction near Fresno, Calif., both professional, for-profit, multi-event haunted attractions for 8 years until taking a break to pursue her newest adventure, Schoolhouse Escapes. After receiving her bachelor's degree, Martin accepted a job as a magazine editor, which led to an assignment covering the haunt in her hometown and to writing haunted backstories for professional attractions. She became hooked. Since that time, she has trained over 500 volunteer and paid actors, written dozens of backstories, and has developed a non-profit youth enrichment program called S.C.R.E.A.M. (Students Creating Real Entrepreneurial Adventure & Mentors) to provide professional skills and employment opportunities for high school students. She can be reached at