As haunted houses open up for season, not all do background checks on employees

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Haunted houses around central Indiana are opening up as the month of October nears. There are several in the area who are adding a layer to their locations by creating an interactive experience where actors are allowed to touch guests.

While haunted houses in the area employs hundreds of people each year, CBS4 has learned they are not required to run background checks on job applicants.

"Each establishment is responsible for their own background check requirements," said a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of inspecting haunted houses to ensure compliance with fire and building safety codes.

Calls to haunted houses revealed practices vary from one place to the next.

Nightmare on Edgewood is opening up for its 39th year Friday night. The operation requires 40 to 50 people to run each night. They refer to themselves as Indianapolis' only "do-touch" haunted house where guests know to expect physical interaction with the actors.

"There’s  a lot of safety training, we’re not going to touch anyone inappropriately," Look said. ""We talk about that a lot with our cast."

Management at Edgewood said looking into a job applicant's past is considered "best practices" in the industry.

"Background checks are conducted just to make sure everyone is cool to be laying their hands on strangers," Look said.

She also said their haunted house tends to hire the same core group of actors every year. So, the employs know each other well.

Indy Scream Park in Anderson has become a Halloween staple for many families. They opened up for the season earlier this month.

"We’ve had over 550 applicants this year that want to come and work," said Todd Harmseon, human resources manager.

They have between 140 to 170 people on staff each night, depending on the day of the week. The employees are put through a thorough background check.

"We do check them for active warrants through local law enforcement and we check the sex offender registry," Harmeson said.

At Indy Scream Parks, guests can choose whether to have the interactive experience.

"Those actors go through additional training on the proper way to touch people on their arms, backs and lower legs," Harmseon said. "So we protect guests from any improper touching."

Here is a list of hiring practices at haunted houses around central Indiana:

  1. Edge of Insanity, Kokomo: They do background checks, require paperwork be filled out by job applicants
  2. Necropolis - city of perpetual darkness, Indianapolis: They target an adult audience, ask about criminal history on job applications, hire actors they are familiar with each year
  3. Indy Scream Park, Anderson: Job applicants asked about criminal history, check in with law enforcement for any potential warrants, names checked on sex offender registry, extra training for actors who interact with guests
  4. Nightmare on Edgewood, Indianapolis: They do background checks, hire actors they are mostly familiar with each year

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