Confessions of a Haunted House Employee: Inside the Fear Factory


Jumping out of fear. (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory 2012)

As told to Ko Im

You may have seen the viral photos of the spooked visitors to Canada’s Nightmares Fears Factory near Niagara Falls, which has been in operation for 30 years in the old Cataract Coffin Factory. Legend has it the former owner of the factory was crushed by coffins and his ghost still haunts the hallways.

While we weren’t told exactly what causes the horrifying looks on the faces of tourists and thrill seekers in the photos here, employee turned digital marketing director Vee Popat shared what really happens inside the famously freaky establishment, why he hasn’t done it himself, and why over 135,000 people have chickened out at this terrifying haunted house.

It’s not your traditional haunted house. There are no live actors, no blood, no gore. Some people will give a bad review because there’s “nothing” there — you don’t go in there and watch gross stuff happening. It’s more of an emotional and mental experience than anything else. Everybody will react differently… and the same. Everybody’s paranoid about their own little things, so the effects prey on your senses. We’ll get you some way, one way or another.

This place really is haunted. Many of us have witnessed very strange happenings; there’s definitely ‘something’ in this building.


The Nightmares Fear Factory is in the former Cataract Coffin Factory. (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory)

I won’t do it myself. I’ve been through it with the lights on for a project and my manager made me try it out only for one effect… but I won’t go in there. I don’t personally like to get scared like that. The other guys don’t mind it at all. I’ve got two kids and they’re too chicken to go. Some people love it. I can’t believe how much people love it. People love getting scared. I think it’s the rush, especially at this time of year.

Don’t ask questions. We don’t answer or acknowledge them. The experience is to mess with your mind. We go with the “less is more” thing. It’s part of the whole experience. We don’t want to be friendly at the front desk. There’s a coldness of the staff. You walk in and it’s not a great feeling.

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Terrified, much? (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory 2011)

We guess. Our general manager can usually just tell if someone’s going to make it. Usually it’s the seemingly brave ones, talking trash going in, who chicken out. Some last as little as 15 seconds, some take 10-15 minutes to complete the maze inside the haunted halls.

Hold on. There are two reasons why people look like they’re in a conga line in the pictures. You’ve got to stay together or else you’ll lose your group and you have to navigate yourself. Also: there are three cameras in there, so it’s a better photo if people are close together.

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Hair-raising haunt. (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory 2013)

Accidents happen. Unfortunately, we’ve had a few bathroom accidents through the years. One person has vomited. You can exit at any time if you scream “nightmares,” but we don’t know what has happened until they come out and you can clearly see. One time, a woman sat down at a bench and when her friends came out, there was a print where she was sitting, which was kind of funny.

Don’t be scared drunk. Sometimes people come in late at night after a few drinks and aren’t great to deal with. It’s the most annoying thing. You’re working in an environment where you can’t kick them out, but you have to entertain them. Sometimes people get obnoxious. It makes it challenging in a fun way. It’s extra funny to watch when they’re in that state.

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Your safe word is “nightmares.” (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory 2014)

We hear screams all day. I’d work upstairs and you could hear people being scared. It became nothing to me, but it was always funny with new salespeople coming in and hearing screams on the other side of the wall. We don’t notice it after a while. It becomes the same old.

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The family that gets spooked together stays together. (Photo: Nightmares Fear Factory 2015)

We love it. It takes a very special person to work in the dark all day. I can tell you the gatekeepers and other staff that work in our retail shop of horror love the experience of working in our haunted coffin factory. Speaking for several of the people that work in the lobby, it was the desire to work in a creepy place that’s known to be haunted.

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