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For one day, and one day only, I was a creature of the night. I was offered the chance of a lifetime to go undercover as an actor at the 13th Floor Haunted House, and I jumped at the opportunity like a zombie eyeing fresh meat.
The first part of the night was to look and act the part of a rotting corpse. Getting ready for my transformation into what nightmares are made of, I eyed the colorful array of characters around the room. From classic zombies to psycho doctors, all the actors were getting into character, practicing and testing out their gravely grunts and falsetto shrieks. When my gruesome makeover was complete, I was the bell of the monster mash, all dolled up in a moss covered frock that even your great, great, great grandma wouldn’t be caught dead in. The makeup was an absolute scream, with tears of blood running down my hallowed out cheek bones, a paler than bone complexion, and a slit throat that even Marie Antoinette would approve of. I looked like a cross between Alice Cooper and Bloody Mary, a match made in hell.
My Transformation into the ghastly "Mrs. Hallows."
After I was no longer myself, I was now Mrs. Hallows, a character that makes small children afraid of bedtime. I was told by the casting manager that I would be acting out two parts for the night to get a feel of a full time actor’s experience. The first would be a traditional pop out scare and the second was more acting orientated. After maneuvering around pitch black corridors, I was promptly placed in a coffin in, of course, the graveyard scene. This was no ordinary coffin, for it was rigged with a giant wooden door that slammed shut with a great boom, an effective and easy scare. After I would see a group of unsuspecting “victims” through a peep hole, my job was to bust the door open, scream my ass off and wave my arms around like a newly risen zombie, and then run back to my hiding place like I never existed. After the bombastic spooky instrumental background music was fired up and the screams starting echoing throughout the haunt, I knew it was Showtime. My first couples of attempts at doing what a ghoul does best were decent, but even when a couple of customers giggled at my failure to scare, it didn’t kill my spirit. After being told I was “pretty” and that I sounded like a “chipmunk” (two words you do not want to hear when working in a haunt), my determination wasn’t murdered, but revived.
After spending awhile in the boneyard, I was escorted to an even spookier part of the haunt, the library. In this scene, I was a demon librarian who was thirstier for blood than books. Now, I was able to act with another actor and that’s where the real fun began. The other demented librarian and I had the time of our lives, or should I say afterlives, scaring the pants off of children and adults alike. This is truly what it felt like to be a haunt actor, feeling elated at the slightest wince, reaching nirvana at the highest scream. Being a temporary ghoul that nights made me realize that most haunt actors don’t get very much respect from the public masses that attend haunted house attractions every year when the weather starts to drop and the leaves start to turn. Actors are often called rude names, given dirty looks, and even physically harmed in the name of their craft by customers that pay to be scared silly. I, too, had experienced this phenomenon in just a one night of working at a haunt, but I realized that despite some of the negativity, the sheer thrill of scaring is worth it, even if makes just one person scream. I don’t think they’ll want me to quit my day job.
The amount of passion and work that goes into the 13th Floor radiates in every grunt, shriek and growl and after getting an opportunity to have a hands-on experience as an actor, I fully comprehended just how much soul the haunt has. From the ghastly animatronics to the old-fashioned scares, the 13th Floor appeals to just about anybody’s phobias or deep seeded fears. Trust me when I say that no one is safe at the 13th Floor San Antonio.
General Admission $24.99,$, 24.99Days and hours of operation, 1203 E Commerce, (210) 338-0382
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