Voted Best Haunted Attraction for two consecutive years, Exit 13 houses 13,000 square feet of the most frightening and terrifying creatures, characters, and scenes in the Genesee County. Located in Mount Morris, Michigan, this destination for terror has not only been renovated, but also expanded to ensure the creepiest thrill awaits their guests around every corner. Exit 13’s haunt expert, Rebecca Pajcz, says the team at 13 is always looking for new ways to improve.
This past February, in the heart of Michigan’s harsh winter, people lined up for a chance to experience Exit 13’s Friday the 13th Massacre event, and later, February 14th’s Valentine’s Day Black Out Event. Pajcz said that despite the two hour wait in the freezing cold, guests just couldn’t get enough of the scares that the scream team had to offer. She shares some surprising and heart-felt wisdom on how to accommodate guests, build strong relationships within your staff, and become an active business within your community.
1. Treat Everyone Like a VIP
Rebecca explains that guests who purchase a VIP ticket are escorted into their own hallway with a separate, shorter line and given a custom-designed t-shirt. “We also do special things for them, like giving them a rose on sweetest day!” However, even if an attendee decides not to purchase a VIP ticket, they are given lots of tender-loving care throughout their entire experience at Exit 13. Rebecca explains her strategy below:
“We have front and back concession areas that include a wide variety of drinks and snacks such as hot cocoa, cider, donuts, popcorn, and hot coffee. We’ve set up benches and have a movie playing at all times for people who might be a little too scared to walk through. We also play music outside for guests standing toward the end of the line.
The space is decorated to perfection and makes people feel really welcome from the moment they enter our doors. We make sure there’s always someone for guests to talk to and go to great lengths to ensure everyone is having fun. We sell everything from key chains to underwear, and all kinds of other crazy unique things! When our lines get really long, which they usually do, we do everything we can to accommodate guests. I’ll even go through the line and hand out free hot cocoa, popcorn and t-shirts myself.”
2. Travel in Packs
“Our managers are outgoing and optimistic; they think big and help the business grow.” Rebecca comments on the strength of each individual member of her team. When we traveled to Transworld, we didn’t send just one person to represent us. We sent a group to represent Exit 13. We’re able to do this because everyone here is excited and incredibly passionate about contributing to our company’s growth. We encourage and reward people who put in a big effort to make sure our attraction is the best it can be. When you see Exit 13 roll up, they’re more like an entourage, a family. Being a close group of supportive teammates is the end goal and that’s the energy they try to extend to anyone who enters their attraction.
3. Become a Second Home
Outside of the haunt scene, Exit 13’s employees have interesting, busy, and active lifestyles. Despite busy nights that sometimes run until 2 or 3 A.M., the volunteers and employees take time out of their busy schedules to join in the fun year after year. “You fall in love with this place. People call us their second home. We cook food for our crew. We hang out, barbecue, and support one another in whatever way we can. If someone is the lead singer in a band, we all go to their show. We have a firework show in our parking lot that is so stunning it looks like it was put on by a professional. Our goal for next year is to host an easter egg hunt for all the kids! We’re a diverse and fun-loving group.”
4. Spread The Wealth
“We’ll do anything to help anyone. If people in the area are looking for donations, I’ll make a gift basket filled with VIP tickets, candy, key chains, and t-shirts. If a teenager asks us to put an ad in their high school newsletter, the answer is yes.” One of 13’s proudest moments came as a result of a busy night with over 700 guests. They took all the sales from tickets, t-shirts, and all concessions and gave it to a woman in the community who had just been diagnosed with cancer. Another project they’ve recently undertaken: collecting donations for a past co-worker’s daughter who was hospitalized from a car accident. “We’ve even been collecting cans and cashing them in at grocery stores. We’ve been gathering any resources we can to help her out.”
5. Love Your Competitors
Rebecca takes other haunted house’s promotional material and displays it in the front or back concession area. Instead of fighting the competition, she befriends and works with them. “We love other haunted attractions and establish relationships to support one another. Our team has made good friends with other Michigan business owners with whom we are constantly sharing ideas with and learning from. We do a lot of promoting with other businesses as well; we always send people their way and they do the same for us.”
Exit 13’s welcoming and accommodating environment (not to mention the hot cocoa) is hard to pass up at any time of the year. Whether you’re in the mood for a good scare, or looking to give back to the community, this team has it covered. Their strong sense of camaraderie and support for not only their own team, but also their competitors (or as Rebecca likes to call them, friends) is contagious and anyone that enters their world will treated as family. Become part of the scream team by volunteering, or witness the horror and terror by attending an event!