People Pay Good Money for Other People to Scare Them

This past Friday Night I attended one of the most popular events of the season for UCF students: Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.  The event lasts for the very last bit of September and all of October leading up to Halloween night.  While any sort of mask or costume is strictly forbidden for guests to wear, the park is full of Universal employees fully decked out in frightening costumes, masks, and makeup for one purpose alone: to scare paying customers.  A regular ticket for the evening runs around $50, and this ticket entitles one to unlimited entry to all of the haunted houses as well as the now park-wide scare zone.  However, the lines are often horrendous.  On a weekend in October, there is seldom a line for a haunted house that is less than an hour and the headlining houses (this year’s were The Evil Dead, Resident Evil, and The Walking Dead) usually have a two-hour wait.  However, in the mass entertainment industry, good things tend to come to those who are willing to pay a lot more money.  There is an express pass, running around $70, which allows customers to wait in a much shorter line once per house.

So why are so many people, myself included, willing to spend so much money just to have other people try their very best to scare them?  Fear is, after all, a negative emotion.  But it has a positive side that trails along with it — adrenaline.  When we are scared, but we’re aware of the fact that we aren’t in any danger, the we get to enjoy the rush of adrenaline that was intended by our bodies to aid us in escaping from a frightening situation.  And it appears that the rush is worth a fair amount of money to many people.

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