View Full Version : ADVICE NEEDED: Adding a Design and Manufacturing Component to your Haunt Business.

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-09-2010, 01:02 PM
I was always taught in Business school that, while writing a business plan, envision your ultimate goal, and then work backwards to figure out how to get there. I envision a World-Class Haunt with a design studio and a costume/prop production line. Yes, this is many years down the road, but I can't expect it to come to fruition unless I figure out how I plan to get there. I have spent a year and a half learning the in's and out's of starting and running a haunt, but have little knowledge of the "design studio and a costume/prop production line" aspect that may successful haunts add (I.e. SpookyWoods has SpookyWoodsFX). I would love some insight into what it takes (capacity-wise, financially, etc.) to plan and get something like this going. Where should I go to learn the "In's and Out's" of this aspect of the Haunt Industry?

Allen H
01-09-2010, 04:10 PM
This is a tough question. Im not sure anyone has mastered it yet. There are companies who make things that look good and break quickly, and companies who deliver durability but the look is not where it should be. you need to learn the basics of Pneumatics, sculpting, molding, marketing.... you get the idea.
I think you should alter your strategy a bit, find out what you are good at (costumes, sets, sound design, or animatronics) and then focus your manufacturing component to that end. That is a more natural way to go as opposed to picking something to learn then learning it.
Almost everyone that I know who manufactures for the industry loves the industry. You have that so you are on your way. They are also pretty much self taught, there isint a practical sculpting and molding university. I have found that the art and make up schools are a bit of a waste of funds, experience is a better teacher. I would say starting to make your own things is a good way to start. Sculpt and mold a mask, weld up an animatronic frame and skin it, and devour all the how to stuff you can. Then find a niche in the industry and fill it. find a theme no one is doing and work around that.
I know this may not be what you want to hear but I think doing it is the best way to learn it. Find someone near you making a mask and offer to help.
Allen H
Allen H

Kelly Anderson
01-10-2010, 12:17 PM
I think Allen really pegged it with his advice. Ive been running my online supply business for over five years now. I have always been big into animating props or whole haunt rooms. I am not the most artistic but I have been really good with the designing of frames or structural components for props and other areas of the haunts that I design. Im good with integrating controls for the pnuematics, lighting fx and audio fx and I try to share as many of my designs and ideas on my website as well.

My main goal is to get into manufacturing some of these designs and new ones. But for now I certainly enjoy sharing my ideas and talking to people who like them and pursue building them on there own.

Although even with doing just this there was still so many things that I had no choice but to learn and I am continuing to learn. And not all of it directly pertains to the building of these props/designs. The biggest and most challenging for me although its getting much easier, is running a website to showcase my products.

But to mention more about the products you intend to manufacture, you will really want to know the "ins" and "outs" of them as well. Almost anyone can build something. But to build a quality product and know its durability and design something that will last yet be easily fixable or replaced easily without making you look bad as a manufacturer I really think could be challenging too.

I also think your at one of the best places now to get answers to many of your questons. As I know many of the people on here have probably tought them selves alot about what they do profecionally. It is apparent to me that many of them are very willing to share their thoughts and experiences. And that makes this website one hell of a resorce.

Good Luck to you,


Rocky Mountain Terror
01-10-2010, 01:14 PM
Thanks Allen, thanks Kelly. One thing I have been working on is reproducing things I find on Build-it-yourself prop websites. I find that this gives me both experience and sparks my imagination, both of which lead me to new ideas that I try to create. One good website I have found is:


Do you know of any websites similar to this with instructions on how to build various props, or any other resources (books, videos) that do the same?

Kelly Anderson
01-10-2010, 04:51 PM
This site has been around for several years. Lots of great projects



Rocky Mountain Terror
01-10-2010, 05:34 PM
WOW! This site is great! This should keep me busy for a while. Thanks Kelly.

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-12-2010, 10:37 PM
I'd love for everyone to chime in on this one and share your knowledge and personal experiences on this aspect of our industry.

S. Anomalous
02-23-2010, 09:01 PM
As someone who has worked in a haunted attraction while running a business in the industry, I can say it's definitely possible (obviously), but man, it's tough. Crunch time for your haunt and your haunt industry business are at exactly the same time.

My advice to you would be-before you get to the point where you're running these two businesses at once, make sure you're surrounded with a good crew whose abilities and judgement you can trust, and get comfortable with delegating responsibilities.

My first year in business was a little rough because I got a lot of last minute orders/requests for custom work that I was struggling to finish, and at the same time things were ramping up at my haunt (I did costume and makeup design for ESP's Terror Behind the Walls.) Even with some people working for me to get orders filled, and a seamstress helping me finish costumes at ESP, there still just weren't enough hours in the day. And I didn't want to say no to anyone, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone, and ended up totally running myself into the ground. My major regrets from my first year are not having more people to call on when things really got hectic- both at the haunt and for my business, and not being as comfortable with delegating responsibilities back then as I am now.

Sounds like you'll have everything more under one roof, so the people that work with you on your haunt could become the people that also work with you on your industry business, so that might make things easier for you.

Even with help, just don't plan on getting much sleep, doing any travel, or having a social life from about July to early November.

Best of luck!!!! If you have any specific questions, let me know- perhaps I can answer them.

~Kristen Phillips
Safari Anomalous

03-03-2010, 02:42 PM
I agree with the above.

I think if you are going to do it, set a certain number of orders and a deadline that all orders must be in by.

This allows you to start up small and make sure you can deliver on both your supply and haunt business at the same time.

Good Luck!