It's a pretty rare talent to be great at things like this.
Also, let's be real about what the theme park workers' wages would be and think about who would be vying for these jobs. Sometimes I think Disney has a very hard time filling Skipper slots just because only about 80% of the Skippers have been good or excellent. There is about 20% who have been just okay (and out of that, maybe half of that 20 have been bad and should have been in other positions).
All the people hired to do the Halloween stuff are seasonal hires...and I believe a lot of them are college kids or even high schoolers with work permits. My husband worked at a Haunted House in Indiana in high school and was one of the people who jumped out in a rubber mask. He's probably had 12 jobs since then, but that's his favorite to this day. I bet it always will be.
It's been my experience that people working in the theme parks are about 70% people who are THRILLED to have a job in a theme park and are literally doing their all because it's memory-making for them and they know it's such a cool place to work. The other 30% are people who grumble about low pay and obsess over when their break is going to be or complain constantly about having to walk so many feet to the cafeteria or whatever for lunch. If the labor pool in the Orlando area really and truly could support more "human element" streetmosphere or interaction then I don't think that 30% of grumblers would be hired in the first place (or keep their jobs if they became disenchanted after being hired).
I think if they created 200 new positions providing "human element" in attractions as suggested what would happen is that 200 great current employees would be moved off their current stations and reassigned to "human element". And then 200 people who didn't make the cut in the past to be cast members would be brought in to fill those vacated positions. The unintended effect would be that people who loved their jobs would be swapped out for new folks who are only working there for the job (and begrudgingly at that) and service overall would diminish.
I think trying to add a little more razzle dazzle over on this side of the stage would make what's already there on the other side suffer unintentionally. Orlando's finite labor pool of qualified and enthusiastic people put a limit on this.
Halloween events are my favorite of all special events at theme parks. The scare actors really make the event. I prefer Howl-O-Scream to Halloween Horror Nights in Florida. Almost everyone I've talked to tends to enjoy their Howl-O-Scream experience more than HHN. Halloween Horror Nights has the much better themed houses, Universal has more money and has access to Hollywood directors. However, Howl-O-Scream has better actors and a higher quantity, making it the better experience imo. More proof that the human element wins out.
Yes I think the human element is very important. I wish Main street in DHS had more streetmosphere and that means getting rid of the hat and the loud stage in front of it.And I love shows and parks like IOA could use some and DHS could use some new ones. I think staff working the HM at MK or HTH at DHS do a great job and why don't they do that with more rides? But I'm fine keeping humans mostly out of the attractions. Yes I think the Jungle cruise is degrading for people. I think if you are a great actor you deserve a good script and a stage. Yes this ride would be lame without the skipper because it is. But it also could be better if every skipper was allowed to mix things up a bit, improvise like a stand up comedian and not do a spiel over and over and over again.
We live in an age where people demand consistency above almost anything else and humans don't provide that. The variation in the Jungle Cruise is, admittedly, part of the charm but you know what - I'd actually prefer a version of the ride that managed without the skipper. I know I'm a heretic but it's cheesy and cringe-worthy and it just doesn't feel up to Disney's quality most of the time.
Some trips through are fine. Others feel painfully forced, or completely uneven as the cowboy or gangster who "takes over" the tram is on a completely different energy level than the driver.
I don't blame the performers. I can only guess how tiring it must be to repeatedly tell people that Busby Berkley's Footlight Parade is one of their favorite movies (and how does Disney find so many twenty year olds with such love for 1930s musical cinema), before being hijacked, and then burning a member of organized crime on a ancient temple.
Telling a variety of corney jokes on something light like the Jungle Cruise, or scaring people for a couple of months with Halloween Horror Nights, is probably far more effective, than making a consistant experience using live actors in any other kind of ride. After all, anamatronics never get bored.
When we went to Disney in California for the first time and watched the jedi academy, the greatest thing wasn't what was happening on the stage. There was a little kid in a wheelchair with a lightsaber who wanted to be on stage, but couldn't. (I don't know if it was the wheelchair stopping him or if the parents just didn't get him signed up in time.) Either way, though, the actor who played Darth Maul and was entertaining the crowd would duel with this kid every time he came to that end of the stage (and he spent more time over there than anywhere else.) The look on that kids face was wonderful. he was so excited to be a jedi and fighting Darth Maul.
Again, I think Knott's can benefit from a year round haunt attraction. They need a family version with safe scares and a separate entrance adult version in the evenings. If you don't report on Knott's yearly haunt fest, I wouldn't know that they have very talented designers who put on the show. Knott's needs this talent on a year round basis.
When I was at the Magic Kingdom this past Saturday, I spoke with a couple of skippers regarding an approval process for new material. There were two skippers manning the construction fence (the attraction is being rehabbed). They claimed such a process was under consideration. We all noted the irony that WDI head honcho Jon Lasseter was once a skipper and in a You Tube clip where he discusses his favorite adlib ... and it's an unapproved adlib.
I will say this -- as the industry continues to embrace the "park-as-a-platform" philosophy, the "human element" certainly goes beyond the attractions. I was razzed a bit when in my short history of the MK I mentioned CM and guest interaction was an improvement in the park experience. My wife and I experienced the park on my birthday (thanks for all the cards by the way). We had some newbies tag along and they were fairly charmed by the way my b-day button attracted so much attention.
It's an unfortunate reality of the theme park experience, but consistency is probably the most valuable asset to an attraction at a theme park in my opinion.
And basically it all comes down to the people, who change the experience every time.
It's not just a ahow where the audience is passive. It has a broader script than the Jungle Cruise in some senses. In the progress of the show, you meet a mix of animatronics and humans, and not at once. The constant rotation of the different CMs at different parts keep things fresh.
While moving a decent number of guest through, it also provides important private moments for the guest, and to boot, providing a meet and greet and even a free souvineer.