Behind the Scenes: Ocean Park Ghost Actors

Ocean Park holds its Halloween Fest from 14 Oct to 31 Oct this year. Photo Credit: Pat Lau

Ocean Park’s Halloween Fest is one of the must-go-places for many people, but ever wonder what it would be like to be a ghost actor?

The actors/ actresses wander on the street and interact with visitors. Photo credit: Pat Lau
Casting

The first goal: get through the casting and sign on as a performer. Every year around June, Ocean Park begins to recruit talent for its biggest event of the year, Halloween Fest, but only a select few can pull off the casting. Here are the casting tasks for anyone who wants to take the leap of faith and become an actor at Ocean Park:

1. Introduce yourself with 3 hashtags
2. Perform extempore based on given characters
3. Perform extempore based on judges’ random request
4. Dance Performance

The shortlisted share their tips and experience of the casting. These are the strategies for those who want to take part in the carnival:

Catch the eyeballs of the judges

“There are so many competitors in front of the judges,” said Kitty Tang, a 22-year-old student at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, “you have to be special so that the judges remember you.”

When it came to the extempore tasks, Kitty intentionally chose a male character to perform, which made her stand out from all other female interviewees.

Be expressive, be thick-skinned

“The judges want to see your desire to perform,” Kan Ho Tao, a 22-year-old student at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, said, “being shameless is essential indeed.”

“If you feel embarrassed when you are acting, the audience will be more embarrassed,” Kitty added.

Therefore, do not be afraid to show all your passion to the judges. Your enthusiasm to perform is definitely one of the biggest bonus marks!

Jump out of the box

“Don’t be constricted by the questions they gave to you,” said Kitty, “there is no right or wrong answer, only good or bad.”

One tactic is to think of a particular scenario and personality for the character you play, which immediately makes you more outstanding than other interviewees.

After the casting, the coaches assign different characters for performers. Photo credit: Ellie
Unpleasant experience

Ocean Park has a strict rule for its actors: Never say no to the visitors.

“But there are always some visitors that don’t cooperate, or even mean to irritate us,” said Ellie, who has performed for the Fest for 2 years.

Here are the “nasty” visitors’ behaviors that infuriate the performers:
1. Say Swear Words
2. Touch the performers (or even hit them)
3. Say disrespectful comments
4. Show a poker face
5. Spoil the fright

Performers find the first 3 behaviors listed above especially belittling. “I know that we are performing as ghosts, but we are not supposed to bear all those things,” said Kitty. “We are humans.”

Indeed, there are CCTVs for monitoring purposes, in which the performers notify supervisors of different emergencies. Although Ocean Park has emergency measures for different scenarios, it fails to secure actors sometimes.

Some makeup for actors is intentionally done less scary but more amusing. Photo Credit: Kitty Tang

 “A visitor suddenly took off my masks and I was dumbfounded, standing there not knowing what to do,” said Ellie, “but most of the time, when the supervisors arrive, things are all settled by ourselves.”

But some of the actors found their way to make a defense. “A visitor was saying bad words like ‘you are so ugly’,” said Kan. “I squelched, in an amusing jokingly way that fits my character.”

Regrets and Takeaways

Every visitor leaves Ocean Park with a smile and joy, but how about the performers?

The common regret for performers is the mask-on policy. In Hong Kong Disneyland, performers are not required to wear masks, but Ocean Park keeps the policy. “Most of the time, we use our facial expressions to frighten the visitors,” Kan said “It is hard for us to be scary enough when wearing the mask.” The mask-on policy also causes inconvenience and challenges to performers. “Our masks are wet and smelly,” said Kitty, “and we have to yell to project our voices to the audience.”

Wearing masks is mandatory for all actors. Photo Credit: Ellie

But there is something that makes performers feel more content than when they perform. “The most memorable part is actually the time when we go through training and practice with one another,” said Kan. “I get to know many friends from all walks of life and different backgrounds. Some are flight attendants, clerks, and even teachers, ” said Kitty.

Feature Image by Pat Lau.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: