coffins stacked against a wall

These people lived in coffins for 30 hours for $300

Claustrophobia is the irrational fear of confined spaces and it’s a common phobia to have. However, confined spaces were not a deterrent for the participants in St. Louis’s Six Flags’ “Coffin Challenge” in 2018. This entailed being enclosed into coffins for 30 hours straight with the potential to win $300 and a season pass. Not only that, but the coffins residents are a part of the Halloween Fright Fest, where employees would wave (fake) chainsaws at them while spectators watched.

The Six Flags “Coffin Challenge

When the campaign went viral, Six Flags received over 45,000 applications. Turns out, many people are down for the spooky challenge. In the end, the list narrowed down to six contestants.

One of whom was Brian Johnson, a child counselor, and pro wrestler. And he was determined to win. “My whole life, I would always say, ‘Oh no, I’m fine. If I lose, I lose,'” he said. “Well, I ain’t losin’.”

The other contestants included an embalmer, a college student, a haunted house owner, a vampire enthusiast, and a Navy veteran. [1] All six of them survived the 30 hours.

Olivia Crabtree, a student at St. Louis University, signed up as a joke so she was stunned to be part of the chosen six. She knew the challenge was going to be difficult but she assumed the hardest part would be boredom.


It was 30 hours,” she said. “I brought a few books and some study material since I have midterms this week.

Meanwhile, Stevie Rogers, a technician at a cataract and laser institute, drove seven hours from Indiana to join the challenge. As a vampire enthusiast, it was a morbid but appealing opportunity. She noticed an ad about it on Facebook and discussed her interest in vampires in the application.


“I wrote a brief essay about why I thought I would be the best fit due to my love for the vampiric culture and how vampires use coffins to aid in their eternal rest,” she said. “I just love the aesthetic of how they present themselves and everything that has to do with the folklore of it.”

Let the Challenge Begin!

When the contest actually began, Johnson discovered another challenge: comfort. Coffins are made of planks of wood and the stiffness was rough on his back. Plus, they were narrow, about 28 inches at the widest, and thereby not conducive to his build.


You were on a wood plank for the better part of 30 hours,” he said. “Eventually, your body just revolts.” He did wear his wrestling mask in the coffin, enhancing the spooky effect.

Other discomforts came with the onlookers. People gawked and took photos. At night, they shined flashlights into the contestants’ faces. There was also constant noise from the visitors, many of whom came after midnight for the Fright Fest. And after they left in the wee hours of the morning, park employees tested the noisy machinery before opening it again.

Fortunately, Crabtree managed to snatch a few naps between all of the hustle and bustle, but they did little to help the tiredness.


They weren’t good naps. The longest I slept for one period of time was for maybe about three and a half hours,” she said. “When I got home, I immediately took a shower and fell right in bed and fell asleep.

Read: What’s the Worst Thing That Is Legal? Here’s What People Said.


Fear Fest Night

The weather posed another challenge. It gets cold at night in the autumn in St. Louis. While Crabtree brought blankets, Rogers was unprepared. At first, she didn’t mind the cold. “Anybody who knows me knows that this challenge was an easy win for me,” Rogers said. “Just because I am literally that crazy, to think that spending a weekend in a coffin while being in the cold and rain was well worth my time.

However, when the cold became too much, her fellow coffin-dwellers shared their blankets with her.


“I honestly did not come prepared to be warm for the event because I thought that the coffin was going to be much smaller,” she said. “So the nicest thing that the other contestants did for me was providing their extra blankets and gloves and hot hands for me to use so that I could stay warm throughout the night.”

It wasn’t all bad, however. Every hour, the participants were allowed to use their phones for 13 minutes and get out of the coffins for six minutes. And in those six minutes, if they needed the bathroom, they had to dash across the park and back to make it back in time. Johnson described it as “the fastest six minutes of your life.


More Challenges

 There were also extra challenges for the contestants, such as grabbing items from the bottom of a tub of slime or taking a selfie with a monster in the haunted house. The haunted house was the most difficult for Crabtree, although she had fun with it. However, Rogers had much less fun when the employees challenged them to share their coffins with a tarantula.


The hardest part was doing the spider challenge, because of my arachnophobia,” Rogers said. “I really felt like the spider was on me. … And because I actually did stay in the coffin for two minutes, I felt like I had accomplished the biggest fear of my life.” In the end, the employees revealed that the tarantulas were fake. [2]

In 2019, Amanda Roberts, a self-dubbed “Halloween fanatic” won the Coffin Challenge and the cash prize of $600. [3] Unfortunately, this event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. [4] For the Halloween and Fear Fest fanatics, here’s hoping the Coffin Challenge will return in 2022!

Keep Reading: Police Were Repeatedly Called To Man’s Gruesome Halloween Display



  1. “These people lived in coffins for 30 hours for $300.Vice. Dexter Thomas. November 10, 2018
  2. “Six Flags paid 6 people $300 to lie down in a coffin for 30 hours — here’s what it was like.Insider. Jacob Shamsian. October 17, 2018
  3. “Self-described ‘Halloween fanatic’ wins 30-Hour Coffin Challenge at Great Adventure.” ABC News. October 16, 2019
  4. “Six Flags New England’s 30-Hour Coffin Challenge will not return this year.” Mass Live. Heather Morrison. September 15, 2021
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.