Hello, Ghouls and Boos! If you get a thrill out of horror movies and love jump scares, then Cutting Edge Haunted House (CEHH) in Ft. Worth is for you! Even if you have coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and/or tend to gravitate toward romantic comedies, prove your mettle and take a chance on this haunted house anyway!
CEHH is more than 30 years old. It had humble beginnings and grew to be the place where you don’t mind the wait or the price just so you can get a peek into this amazing spooky offering. The actual Haunted House is the main attraction, of course, but patrons are also entertained by a drumline, complete with a zombie drum major, food, drinks, and much more!
CEHH was named in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015 as the longest haunted house and was voted “Best Haunted House” AND “Scariest Haunted House” this year by USA Today. They have also received a plethora of other awards. Visit their website if you’re curious, but remember, “curiosity killed the cat!”
Owner and co-creator Todd James explained how they’ve streamlined the experience over the years, including dealing with COVID, from the time a customer parks until the time they leave.
“People are texting [co-creator] Jesse [Beck] from their cars, and when we get room for more people to go in, we text them when it’s their turn. This stemmed from dealing with COVID, but some people seemed to like it instead of standing in a queue. We use the pumpkin patch [in front of the entrance] to let people sit and wait, and of course, we have the Drum Corps show for folks to watch while they are in line,” James explained.
“[The Drum Corps] get about three months of rehearsals on Sundays,” said Corps Director Brandon White. “Some of them have marched in Drum and Bugle Corps that have performed all over the country, so when this wraps up, they’ll head back to college. They have to audition every year. We’re going to put flag and color guards with them in the next couple of years.”
The drummers are not the only staff who have to audition. Actors, wardrobe, and makeup artists also have to pass the quality test that CEHH demands.
“Every single year as you audition for your spot. It is never ‘safe.’ It keeps us on our toes,” said wardrobe and makeup artist Laney Honeycutt.
CEHH started using timed tickets in 2020, and they also offer “Speed Pass” tickets, in which the customer can skip the line and be admitted into the attraction immediately, as long as they come on the date and time that is on the ticket. “Regular” tickets give customers a 30-minute window to show up and get in line. The wait time is usually 30-45 minutes, which most people find much more tolerable than the one to three-hour wait that patrons have experienced in the past.
“We pretty much only sell timed ticketing these days,” said James. “So, you buy a time slot and that’s when you can go in. That avoids any drama in the queue. We will also start running two shifts closer to Halloween. Our goal is to have 80 actors total over two shifts to make sure that people don’t have to wait too long,” he said.
Most patrons don’t mind the wait or the price.
“It was so awesome! From the Drum Line outside to the cast inside, it was amazing,” said Haunted House enthusiast Jasmine Merchant. “It’s definitely scary and super fun! I highly recommend it and would totally go again several times!” she said.
Her brother, Sam, also had a scary good time. “It was very fun and scary at the same time. This is the best haunted house I have ever been to, and I have been to a lot of them!” he said.
“Getting through the attraction still takes about 40 minutes, even with COVID measures,” James said. “We were one of the houses that stayed open in 2020, but I was part of a Task Force for the Haunted House industry. So, I went all over the country to places like Disney and Universal [theme parks], stadiums, and hospitals to see the COVID precautions that they were using that we could use as well. So, through that COVID exercise, we learned a lot more about our show and how to keep people safe, which is a priority,” James explained.
Of course, James can’t run this type and size of attraction all by himself. His buddies/business partners and invaluable helpers keep the Haunted House moving along.
“I help with all of it: Security, cast training, property management, and whatever happens in between,” said co-creator Anthony Littles, as he hung out in a secret alley with James and Beck.
Beck said, “I'm the cast coordinator. I keep track of where all of our actors are, and whatever their assigned roles are, making sure that they are where they need to be and keeping track of them throughout the night. I also do cast training, and generally, I put out ‘fires,’” he said with a smile.
“[Jesse Beck is] an amazing actor,” James added. “When we started this, there were only about six of us acting in a small show in Austin, and we rotated rooms and we all did everything. Jesse does a bird character that is just weird and creepy.”
Delina Williams, who has worked at CEHH for 13 years in several capacities, but is currently doing wardrobe and makeup said, “The actors need wardrobe and makeup every weekend. They keep the same characters all night but will maybe switch to a different one on a separate night.”
Williams currently works with Bruscia Rodriguez, who has been at CEHH for eight years, and Honeycutt, who first started working with CEHH at age 14 and has now been there for ten years, to keep the wardrobe and makeup current and fresh. These ladies often visit vintage shows and thrift shops. “It's like collecting,” said Williams.
They also make molds of actors’ faces so they can create latex forms of that particular actor’s character and then add special details to make them look more authentic and scarier.
“I started off as an actress 10 years and then five years in, I transferred into makeup. So, I got to be on the ‘other side' for five whole years to learn,” Honeycutt said.
The makeup process can be very elaborate, depending on the actor and where he or she will be performing.
“It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to get an actor in makeup, depending on how complicated the character is. It also depends on where they’re going to be because if they’re going outside, you're obviously going to have more detailing. But if they’re going to be inside, you're going to have to have more contrast because you have to be able to see [the character] in the dark. So, it's like two different aspects to think about, like there are two characters for each actor, but they trade off each day,” Honeycutt added.
Along with the amazing characters and drumline, CEHH offers “Cutting Edge” technology in some of the rooms that are on par with Disney World’s “Tower of Terror” and “Haunted Mansion.”
Every person, horror fan or not, will find something amazing about Cutting Edge Haunted House. October isn’t over yet, so Cutting Edge is still open Friday - Sunday (and some Thursdays). Check out the schedule HERE.
To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com/. Remember to bring your spine and get ready to SCREAM!