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Perhaps one of the most feared events to unfold in the Haunted House is that of a serious emergency. Because of the ride’s titanic proportion, complexity and historical significance, there are many risk factors that come into play and that may cause an emergency to take place. Events such as a major fire, vandalism, a rider’s health issue, or something as minor as a car breakdown may be considered an emergency in a ride such as the Haunted House, and plans must be in place to handle any situation that may arise.
As simple as the Haunted House may seem, there are actually several key emergency aids in case an event should ever take place. And, the essential personnel of the ride are trained to understand the different types of communication techniques used in the event of an emergency.
The Haunted House is equipped with three fully-functioning emergency exits. These exits are scattered throughout the Haunted House in the key locations, and are fully accessible by any rider or ride operator.
The first exit is located in the first room, on the left hand side just beside the skull banister. This door is actually the main entrance the workers use to enter the ride when it is closed. Beyond this door is a long, narrow hallway which one would have to walk down in order to exit onto the side street near the Mirror Maze. The exit on the side street is not clearly marked as the Haunted House exit, but contains a sign that states “Please keep door area open” so tourists and passers-by do not block the doorway in case of an emergency.
The second exit is immediately following the upside-down room on the left. This is considered the back door to the Haunted House, and will bring you out near the Carousel House and the Pirate’s Cove. This door is accessed often by park workers when attending to ride breakdowns or other important matters.
The third exit us upstairs directly across from the Torture Chamber. This exit will lead you to a downward staircase which will also exit onto the side street as well. You can see a good picture of this door HERE.
If your car is ever stopped, or, if you decide to viciously vandalize Trimper property, don’t be surprised if you are escorted out of one of these exits by a Trimper security guard or employee.
Houselights are so important inside of Trimper's Haunted House. With only the flip of a switch outside in the lobby, flood lights inside the HH turn on allowing workers to see. During breakdowns or other problems, these lights are often turned on for safety reasons. There are several communication methods the ride operator uses with workers stationed inside. Have you ever been riding through and all of the sudden seen a quick flick of the houselights inside? By turning the lights on and off once, this signals that the ride operator would like the worker inside to come out to the lobby (this could be for a bathroom break, etc). Two flicks means that a car with two males is entering the ride. In the summer, any time there is a car with two males entering the ride, the lights will flash inside twice notifying the worker to stop what they are doing and make their way to the front of the ride to begin watching the car. Three flicks of the lights means an emergency outside. This somewhat primitive method of communication works very well and affectively. A great image of a bright flood light at the downhill can be seen HERE.
DOOR BELL SYSTEM
If there is ever an emergency inside the ride, workers have their own way of communicating with those outside. Many of the workers that are stationed throughout the ride do not have radios issues to them, so they must resort to the “doorbell system.”
Throughout the ride, there are many doorbell buttons which are all wired to an actual bell in the lobby. One ring of the bell means there is a problem inside. Two rings mean "everything is okay, and resume ride operation." If you pay attention the next time you are down, you may see some of these communication techniques taking place, as they are used often. One of the doorbells is located near the Knit Wit, which can be seen HERE.
As an aside, this system brings back personal memories—The summer I was working in the Haunted House, a worker from over seas, bless his heart, rang the bell once, and Scotty and I ran through the ride as fast as we could looking for a problem. We ran, ran and ran—We finally made it upstairs to the Frankenstein stunt (which is no longer in the ride). The worker said he rang the bell because the stunt was not working! Scott and I looked at each other, laughed, and proceeded back downstairs. “It’s okay. Thanks,” said Scott to the worker, and he went on continuing to watch the ride. Here, we thought a nuisance was running about the ride, and low and behold, the stunt had popped an air cylinder.
In addition, the ride is equipped with an amplified speaker system which can be controlled in the ticket booth. During an emergency, the ticket booth operator has the ability to turn on the system with the push of a button at which time he/she can speak into a microphone stationed in the booth. At one time, there was actually a script mounted on the wall which they would read, but in recent times, I think they have relied on a makeshift script. The amplifier for this is located in the first room shop, and it is set up to override the main house sound, and transmit through the speakers. In 2002, the management was experimenting with a system that would send an automated alert message across all radios if a circuit breaker was tripped. This way, park employees knew to rush to the ride when they heard the prerecorded alert as it was a definite sign that there was a problem. Although they used this method for a few months, it got lost in history and has not been used since.
The quickest way for employees or security guards to make their way through this extensive ride is via trap doors. There are five such trap doors in the Haunted House; Second room, Knit Wit, Graveyard, Wave Room, Mummy. If employees or ride-goers were forced to walk the length of the ride to get out, it would take forever, and as such, these trap doors offer quick access to any part of the ride without having to labor through the ride’s crooked track platforms and darkness. It is important to note that with every extra foot the customer has to walk comes with an increased risk of injury. Even some of the most experience employees of the ride find themselves tripping and stumbling; it’s a fact! Check out THIS picture of me reaching for a trap door in the Wave Room the summer I worked in the Haunted House.
Enthusiasts can feel rest assured that if a fire were to ever break out that it would be contained in the best way possible. When the ride was expanded to two stories in the late 80’s, a major sprinkler system was installed. Water sprinklers plaster the ceilings of this ride, and hopefully, they will never have to be used. By the late 80’s, Granville had witnessed many rides get destroyed by fire, and opted to spend the extra bucks to do it right. Between the concrete floors and walls, and the extensive sprinkler system, a damaging fire would surely have a tough time progressing in this attraction. A view of one of the sprinklers can be seen HERE.
Furthermore, there are fire extinguishers located in every major corner marked by a giant orange arrow. Should a fire ever start, a quick reach of an extinguisher should take care of the problem!
No matter how many systems you have in place, nothing can compare to the actual park security guards and employees that will assist with an emergency. With only a quick call on the radio, guards and workers will come running to the ride in full force ready for whatever may lie ahead. Being that the Haunted House is one of Granville Trimper’s flagship attractions, all attention will be turned to the ride if something goes wrong. Personally, I have been in the park many times when a herd of running employees and Trimper family members would run to the ride. As I followed, I would soon realize that they were attending to vandalism and riders who decided it would be fun to get out of their vessel and walk around. Bad Idea!
The last six or seven years have proven to be extremely successful for the Haunted House in terms of operation. The ride has been running smoother than ever, and more attention has been put into making sure all car mechanics are in working order. As such, the ride has not succumbed to as many breakdowns as it experienced in the 90’s. Furthermore, with the recent installment of new sections of track, Unit-to-Track contact has been better and resulted in fewer incidences.
In a ride with such an enormous amount of historical significance and value, it is crucial that any kind of emergency is handled perfectly. Currently, the ride proves to have excellent systems in place to help prevent or maintain an emergency. Furthermore, its yearly inspections make certain that it is up to code, and, up to speed!
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