car driving through forest at nighttime

Darkness and Isolation: A Haunt’s Two Biggest Tech Challenges

Technology is everywhere you look in a haunted attraction. And in many places you’re not looking. 

It’s in the puff of air that hits your neck as you walk through a dark hallway. It’s in the eerie fog that consumes a pirate-infested swamp. Haunters rely on technology to power everything from the ticket booth to props…and everything in between.

But all those things are exponentially harder to run in a haunt than in almost any other type of business. Most businesses operate in daylight, in town centers where lots of other businesses and residents congregate. Haunted attractions, however, operate in the shadows. It’s to our advantage to lure guests to remote locations and send them down dimly-lit hallways: that’s what makes haunts fun!

Basically, everything that makes haunted attractions fun to visit makes them a real struggle to operate. Dim lighting becomes a trip hazard. An eerily isolated location is murder on your wifi connection. Haunters often find themselves filling the role of tech support and medic multiple times throughout the night. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have fewer technical difficulties? Keep reading to learn the best ways to overcome these haunted house challenges. 

chained zombie surrounded by candles sitting in basement of abandoned house

Darkness and Low Lighting

Why It Happens

In many ways, darkness is an essential feature of a haunted attraction. Dim lighting makes everything spookier. It gives scare actors cover to hide behind corners, and disorients visitors so they feel on-edge throughout their visit. 

As guests, we LOVE dark haunts. But as a haunt owner, darkness isn’t always your friend. 

Why It’s a Pain

Low lighting makes things harder to see. And that can be a problem in many situations:

  • Guests and staff can trip over props, hidden electrical cords, or just a bit of uneven pavement. 
  • If something goes wrong, like a prop malfunctioning, it’s tough to see well enough to get the show back up and running. 
  • If your entrance and queue area are dimly lit, it’s also tough for ticket-takers to properly see and scan in guests. 

How to Fix It

The right solution depends on your individual lighting situation. Whether you have low lighting or no light at all, one of these remedies should help. 

  • LED Lights: Using LEDs rather than incandescent or fluorescent lights can give you more control of the lighting levels throughout your haunt. You can light things enough to see without flooding an entire area in brightness. Plus, you might save on energy costs!
  • Flashlights: Make sure key members of your staff have flashlights with fully-charged batteries in case they need to illuminate a specific area. 
  • Red Light Barcode Scanners: If you must scan in absolute darkness, these can be a life saver. They’re handheld devices that connect via bluetooth to your mobile device and are compatible with the HauntPay app. 
  • Glow Sticks: A cheap and easy way to add just a bit of light for staff working your front gate, making them easier for guests to spot.
creepy bloody doll in the dark

Poor WiFi Connection

Why It Happens

Haunts are sometimes located in remote areas. That’s great when you want to have a lot of space to build on, and to give your guests an eerie feeling that there’s no help for miles. It adds to the spookiness! But it’s a bummer when you’re trying to get a wifi or mobile signal. 

Even if you’ve splurged on the more premium internet package available in your area, there are lots of things that can go wrong with wifi. The more devices you have connected to one network, the more likely you are to experience slowdowns or have devices get “kicked off” the wifi. 

Why It’s a Pain

Slow or spotty wifi is one of the biggest headaches for haunt owners. You need an internet connection for several business-critical functions, including:

  • Running credit card transactions, including tap-to-pay methods and mobile wallets
  • Validating or scanning tickets
  • Updating your website and social media accounts (especially important if you want to update guests about ticket availability or weather conditions for the night)
  • Sending and receiving emails (to your customers, your team, or anyone else)

How to Fix It

  • Offline More for Scanning: If you’re using HauntPay for your ticketing & payments, you can continue to scan guest tickets even without a wifi or mobile data connection. The app will automatically sync your data whenever it senses a mobile or wifi connection, so you can keep the entry line moving without delay.
  • Wifi Booster: If you have a large facility, you may want to consider placing a wifi booster or two throughout your venue. This essentially acts as a secondary router, which helps connect devices that might otherwise be out of range. 
  • Reset: Try restarting your router, updating its firmware, or repositioning it to reduce interference. You can also forget and reconnect to the Wi-Fi network, or reset network settings on your device.
  • Move Your Device: Bring your Wi-Fi device closer to your Wi-Fi router. The signal is more powerful the closer you are to the source. 
  • Check for Other Devices: multiple devices on your wifi network can cause interference if you have too many on the same network. Most routers will automatically scan for the network with the least interference, but you can manually do this if your wifi seems to be “slowing” down. If you have guests using the same wifi you’re using to power your ticket booth, for example, that might be too many devices on one network. 
  • Check for Obstructions: metal-reinforced concrete floor between your Wi-Fi router and Wi-Fi device could cause poor Wi-Fi performance.
woman dressed as a witch standing in the night, with scary claw-nails

Bluetooth Interference

Why It Happens

There are a number of things that can interfere with your bluetooth devices’ connections. And many of them are things you’ll commonly find in a haunted house. 

  • Low interference potential: wood, glass, and many synthetic materials
  • Medium interference potential: water, bricks, marble
  • High interference potential: plaster, concrete, bulletproof glass
  • Very high interference potential: metal

If you have any of those materials in your ticket booth or in rooms where you have bluetooth devices controlling props and other features (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), it could cause your devices to disconnect. 

Why It’s a Pain

It’s a huge headache when your bluetooth connections don’t work properly. Here are just a few things that can upset a busy Saturday night:

  • Devices don’t connect or stay connected
  • Your connection is slow and signal strength
  • Bluetooth audio skips, stutters, cuts off, or has static or buzzing
  • Pointer movement is erratic or jumpy

How to Fix It

Thankfully, there are a few quick fixes that can get your devices reconnected and running smoothly! Here’s what you should try:

Having Trouble Pairing a Bluetooth Device? 

  • Ensure that both devices are discoverable and in pairing mode, remove previous pairings, and try pairing again. Also, check to see if you already have another device paired with one of these (it may be leftover from a previous session). That can prevent a new connection from pairing. 
  • Ensure that both devices support the same Bluetooth version and profile. Some older devices may not work well with newer ones.
  • Bring the Bluetooth devices that are connecting to each other closer together.
  • Turn off any bluetooth devices that aren’t in use.

If Your Bluetooth Connection Drops

  • Make sure both devices are in close proximity and have a clear line of sight. Interference from other devices can also cause drops.
  • Move away from crowded areas with many Bluetooth devices. Walls and physical obstacles can also interfere with Bluetooth signals. Bring the Bluetooth devices that are connecting to each other closer together.
  • Avoid physical obstructions in the path of your wireless signal. For example, a metal surface between your Bluetooth mouse and computer could cause the mouse to perform poorly. 
  • Turn off any bluetooth devices that aren’t in use.
  • Move your non-bluetooth devices to another wifi band. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices use the 2.4 GHz band, but many Wi-Fi devices can use the 5 GHz band instead. If your Wi-Fi router supports both bands, it might help to connect more of your Wi-Fi devices to the 5GHz band. 
  • Avoid using your bluetooth devices near common sources of interference, such as power cables, microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, wireless video cameras, and cordless phones. Easier said than done in a haunt – but just try your best to reduce interference.

Getting a ‘Device Not Recognized’ Error?

  • Remove the device from your device’s Bluetooth settings and try reconnecting. If the issue persists, restart both devices.

When Your Bluetooth Won’t Turn On

  • Restart your device, check if there’s a physical switch or button for Bluetooth, or reset network settings.

Wrapping Up

Technology is both essential to a haunted house and more difficult to manage than in most other businesses. We hope these tips help your attractions run a little bit more smoothly. And as always, if you need help with any HauntPay tech you’re using, such as scanning tickets or accepting payments, we’re here for you. Call, email, or chat with our support team anytime! 

Click here to schedule a demo with HauntPay