The Tour Guide Chronicles

Ties, Tradition, and Terror

Posted: September 02, 2011

During the past 20 years we’ve tried a lot of different things here at Terror Behind the Walls… a lot of times our changes were successful, but sometimes we learn from our mistakes. If you’ve read my past Tour Guide Chronicles, you know that we want Terror Behind the Walls to be a seamless entertainment experience from the moment our guests arrive at our Ghost Bus parking lot until the moment they head home for the evening. It’s the reason our Line Staff team – the people who help you find the box office or answer your questions – are decked out in some of our best costumes and makeup. We think even something as routine as inquiring about where to purchase tickets can be fun, entertaining, and even scary!

I’ve always been a firm believer in leading by example; so in 2005, we decided that the person running the show – the Show Managers as we call them – should also wear a costume. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we quickly found out that when people think about the managerial image they don’t envision zombies. Our guests who needed to speak with a manger never believed a person dressed up in costume was actually in charge of the show.

So the next year we changed our strategy. We decided that the Show Manager should not be in costume. Instead, we managers would wear a shirt, tie, and either a Terror Behind the Walls vest or coat. We looked professional, our guests took us seriously, and, I believe, we were still leading by example. After all, each night about 50 of the 250 people on our Terror Behind the Walls staff wear a uniform.

Since that year, at the end of each summer I purchase what I call my “show tie” – the tie I wear every evening I’m the Show Manager. It’s not that I’m superstitious, but I have always liked tradition. Some of our traditions here at Terror Behind the Walls – like the gargoyles appearing on the front of the penitentiary every fall (look for them on Sept. 20) – are well known to our guests, while other traditions, like my show tie, are less apparent.

Last night I made my annual trek to Bucks County, where I grew up, to have dinner with my mom and purchase my show tie. By now we have it down to a science. The Macy’s at the Oxford Valley Mall always has an ample selection of ties in the red, black and white color combination – the colors of the Terror Behind the Walls logo. I’m quite fond of striped ties, so up until this year my show tie has always been striped.

Brett's Show TiesBut this year we’re re-imagining.

I picked out five possible show ties. Let me know which one you like and I’ll wear it at the kickoff orientation for our staff on Tuesday, September 6 as well as every night this year when I’m the Show Manager.

Brett Bertolino
Director of Operations