View Full Version : Your History?
12-03-2010, 12:55 PM
I always like stories/movies when you get a persons back story.. SoÖ Why did you get into haunted attractions? Where did it all start from? Whatís your favorite part?
I remember decorating the house as a little kid (3-5 years old) and getting a rush from building dead bodies from garbage bags, masks in stores and drawing roller coasters. The first Halloween even I went to I was maybe 7. Dave Link had the ninja turtles, Et, Gizmo and an amazing animatronics show which completely blew me away (Still have it on VHS, now on DVD) Ever since then I knew I wanted to do something like that. So thank you Dave for implanting the Halloween Seed into my brain so early and my parents for letting me go nuts on their house back in the 80ís.
12-08-2010, 09:45 PM
But did you ever notice they never really tell you how a guy went from owning one restaurant to owning 35 of them? Someplace between one and the next 12 he owned ,somebody made a decision or two, loaned, begged, borrowed, inherited, to make the turn in that corner, but they never give you that info I noticed.
As a small kid my mind was usually within itself, self-entertained. Entertained by things that required some input from me, like listening to the old radio shows where your imagination had to fill in the blanks, TV ruins this requirement.
My Mother read alot to me when I was very young. I only read what interested me but usually I was too busy drawing strange things and having adults and kids tell me I was "weird", "strange", whatever?
I was born in 1949 so I was the fresh audience for all of those wonderfull old Sci-Fi movies that filled our leisure moments and dreams. AND the Atomic secrets were going to be further unlocked and make all of our lives fantastic!!
My haunted house in my parent's basement when I was maybe 10 showed me some of the fun available in such a setting and that a setting could be physical or mental.
Almost every week people who come through my house will say how much imagination I have!! To which I point out, well, I'd better have something because I've never had any money!
This last Oct. somebody dumped off a large piece of a car body, all flexible plastic and it Does resemble a big shark mouth w/ eyes, and that it will be right here waiting to startle people when it attacks them! Next spring.
12-08-2010, 10:18 PM
This is a re post from another thread but it tells alot of my back story.
This post gets me thinking, sorry to throw it off track if I do but I'm a little worried about all the young posters on here. This has been on my mind for a while. I would assume that if you are on the professional haunt chat list that you would own, manage, or at least act at a haunted house. Many of the people on this board who spend alot of time helping out by writing responses actually own a haunt. We are able to help because we have learned through trial and error.
I suppose it is best to learn from the experiences of others, but I also would like the people to at least have worked at a haunted house before. I have frequented the list on and off for several years leaving and swearing off of them due to drama or bitterness on the lists. I believe you should spend more time actually haunting or building props than you should talking about haunting.
This is going to sound like a "I used to have to walk to school uphill both ways" kind of post but I don't mean it that way. We all have our different styles and there was not a resource like this for Haunters to get together and share our strategies. The internet has changed that, and I'm thankful for it. I also don't want folks to call themselves haunters if they have never acted in or run a haunted house.
Floor I owe you an answer to your question. Take business and marketing courses, and call you career path entertainment. However to be a real haunter in my eyes you will also have to become an electrician, carpenter, plumber, scenic painter, actor, sculptor, set designer, promoter, human resource person, recruiter, and accountant. There are also 20 or more other jobs that you will have to learn in order to be successful. I should also mention that successful is a variable term. I consider myself successful in the haunted house field. During my career I have lived in my haunted house (and other peoples haunts), had to learn to manage money as I was paid once a year and that was really hard. I've had to have off season jobs up untill a few years ago. All the off season jobs were me trying to learn something I needed to know, sign shop, radio shack, roller bladeing wolf-man, home depot, electricians helper, carpenters helper, and in super lean times, even fast food.
I began haunting at the age of ten, a haunted house was open in my grand mother's neighborhood and I volunteered. They removed a ceiling tile and I dropped a fake spider on a fishing pole into the group to make them scream. For the next six years I worked as an actor in various haunts. Typically I would show up with my wolfman costume in a duffel-bag and talk to the owner during set up, It was all volunteer then. I became a part owner of a haunt at the age of 17. It was in a strip mall and I learned alot and lost my burger flipping job I had kept for almost a year.
It was a decent show but also had its share of disasters, learning from them really helped me.
The week I graduated high school I moved to Orlando FL (From Maryland) to work at Terror on Church St. (I arranged that while on a road trip the previous summer). I made $7 an hour starting there and lived in a neighborhood where I was the only one who spoke English. I could not afford a car or TV, but I was doing what I loved and learning a ton there. In Orlando, I picked up a side job of handing out fliers for a nightclub downtown. I wore my wolfman costume and roller blades in the middle of downtown Orlando (Did that for 3 years). It paid three times what I made at Terror on Church St. The cast and show support there were amazingly talented and I learned a ton from them.
Skull Kingdom opened four years after that and Terror was on it's way downhill. So I jumped haunts and worked at the year round Skull Kingdom and was actually helping to build it before they opened. They made a ton of mistakes and I was there to learn again, and even help smooth out a few things. I was hired as a stilt performer because thats what they were looking for, so after I was hired I bought a pair of stilts from a pawn shop and taught myself how to walk on them before work the next week. While there I learned about airbrush make up (they had the best and fastest team I've ever seen). Skull was year round haunt acting work and in October I would always take time off and go work at other Haunts around the country. I worked a season at Spookyworld in Foxborough, MA and I learned from Ed and the team up there, several seasons at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights FL, and several other haunts that I arranged.
Each show was different and I learned different things from each one. Spooky World had great sets and had guest flow down to a science. In 2001 I went to Texas to be a stilt performer and the director of actors at the Addamsville Terror Complex. I learned alot there about what to do and what not to do. The park had several haunts on it and several owners who sued the crap out of each other after the season ended. One night in 2001, I met my wife. She came through the show taking pictures and I had a security guard give her my email so I could get copies emailed to me. I ended every email with a question so she had to write back. After the season was over I went back to FL and continued emailing my future wife.
In January I moved to Texas, (working and living at) Addamsville for the time. I learned alot there and also got closer to my future wife (my devious ulterior motive) 2002 was Addamsville's last season (before being repurchased by one owner two seasons ago) as the owners at the time countersued and feuded with each other. I was never paid for any of my work there for the 02 season despite a contract. The weather was terrible and attendance was poor as well as legal fees so I saw no point in trying to get money out of them. I don't mention that because I'm bitter or pissed about it. I'm pleased in general. They couldn't have given me anything better than the wife I found on their grounds. I mention it to show that this is a business that people may try to rip you off in, like all businesses I suppose. That year I had to enter costume contests in order to pay my actors, In two contests I won $2,000 and was able to pay my actors.
2003 I started Creature Crates, a mask and stilt costume company with a partner and sold pretty well at the Transworld show. Our arrangement was that I sculpted and helped design and sell at the show and he would do the production work. I flew back from the show and he and other staff drove. He fell asleep behind the wheel and hit a semi. He was hospitalized for three months, so I ended up doing alot of production work. We barely got orders out on time. I worked with him on Creature Crates for two more years and then gave him the company. I saw it could support one of us, but not both. He still runs it to this day.
At the show I met some people who were doing a haunt in Allen TX and they asked me to be the general manager of their haunt. It was another park with four attractions one being a Hayride where guests shot monsters with paintball guns (great concept a nightmare to execute). The land the haunt was on was sold into development and the haunt had to move. While scouting locations for my wedding which was occurring in November, I found a ranch that would hold my 04 haunt and my wedding the month after it was over.
That season was terrible. It rained 10 out of 11 nights and very, very little money was made. The haunt owner did not give any money to the ranch owner as they had agreed to profits as opposed to ticket sales. So they needed to move again. I did not move with them.
I opened my own haunted trail at Screams Halloween Park in Waxahatchie, TX. Like every haunt year before that I learned alot. Mine is an upcharge attraction. They have 4 haunts on site plus mine. Last season I became Artistic Director of the entire park and started an actor training program. The Parks ratings went up last season and they are keeping me for next year as well. Even the job I have now is only 6 months of work a year, I have a spring attraction at a renniasance faire that I also do and between the two I get by. I'm not rich by any means but I'm doing all right and doing what I love. Thats the answer to how I got to be here.
In the beginning of my post I mentioned the often questioning young on the boards as of late. My advice to them is to do as much as you type about haunts. Build stuff, take up sculpting, servo projects, anything that will help, anything that will help you contribute to the boards as much as you take from it. And go work at a haunt. Work for free for now and then get paid when you are good at it. Work at as many haunts as you can before you open your own. In haunts its not dream it then do it, its do it, dream it, and then do it right.
I'm glad that there are young people interested in the haunt industry. Talking here won't get you good at it though, you need to do as much as you can.
12-09-2010, 12:13 AM
"Mount" Carroll, Ill. is where you walk uphill going to and from school.
I worked for 15 of my adult years in the heating and Ac trade, sheet metal fabrication, building stuff as a kid and I got into the haunt as an adult because I had Nothing else, so I had to make it work. Long hours, putting up with a lot of crap from people, just smiling and saying nothing as I put their money in my pocket to pay my bills, "Come back again! Thank You!"
Having no options freed me to do what I had always wanted to do. I pushed myself hard, worked very long hours doing all kinds of strenous work here which meant I had no trouble falling to sleep each night! Sound asleep by the count of 3! Opps, here I go again, "1...2...zzzzz3.'
12-09-2010, 09:03 AM
Allen, you need to write a book on your experiences...
12-09-2010, 09:54 AM
I feel I should give more of a background then a couple years ha haÖ Ill pick up from where I left off. Around 10 ish..
I visited as many haunts as I could when younger. At least 5 every year. By the age of 12-13 I was volunteering at the Asylum in Berwyn as an actor. Around 14 I started working at a youth program. We would hold a local charity haunt a couple weekends during Oct . I volunteered there as an actor one year. I designed the show the year after. Then the next 3+ years I ran/designed and acted when needed. I left that because I started college, a band and we wanted to tour ( I was in mechanic school, Love cars, just not working on other peoples crap). During this time I took off from halloween kinda to tour ,I learned how to record music, set up lighting for concerts, stage and big prop building, wiring and a big one promoting. You can have the best band ever, but if no one comes to the show to buy a shirt or cd you donít eat so the motivation was there. ( I actually meet my wife at a show about 7 years ago)
After the music and a couple tattoos later I realized I have always had a passion for horror. So I got a couple side jobs in Indi movies around Chicago as audio, set design and SPFX. Zombies, throat rips, blood squirts. Lots of reading, videos, trial and error. Lots of error. Welding classes and many nights starting my pants on fire (You know youíve been there B4). After molding my first couple masks and props I starting tossing the idea around about starting a haunt. I loved running the charity one but I want to do it on a bigger scale now. Purchased lots of magazines, dvds and books. Formed the LLC. Started talking with people in the industry, building props, buying props lighting, concept designs, layouts, marketing, actor training the list goes on I feel I am ready to start the haunt this coming year 2011. I enjoy working at other peoples, building and break down but its time to really work on my own.
Hopefully this is just the beginning and Iím glad to share it with everyone on here. I feel in many ways we all have a lot in common and each person will have an amazing history. I hope everyone has a great Holiday!
12-09-2010, 12:20 PM
Not too many of you know much about me or my haunt other than the rare posts I submit to the forums. I am a 3rd generation sod farmer, and grew up on the farm. We produce high quality turf grass to housing developments, sports facilities, and golf courses. My father, Mike, is the owner of the business, and he manages more than 1000 acres of farm ground. I started working for my father when I was 12, responsible for maintaining about 35 acres of grass/flower beds/ and a park-like lake on the family farm. From the first day, he held me to incredibly high standards, and never allowed me to slouch. I worked for him through high school, then summers through my college career. During my college years I directed my focus towards entrepreneurship and small business management. I spent the better part of 3 years of school developing a business plan for a multi-lingual safety consulting company to educate foreign workers on safe workplace practices. The business plan was submitted to the school's business plan competition, and won, and worked its way through the national competition (where it didn't stand a chance against MIT, Chicago, and other Ivy league grad students' plans). I was quite serious about starting this business, but hit a few snags upon planning to launch. So I returned to work for my father. I worked my way from the ground-up to being a full-time equipment operator after graduation . I came home from school with ambitions to change everything by using all these methods and ideas I learned in school. I went from 8-10 hours of daily mind-grinding college work... to coming home and running a tractor for 8-10 hours a day, working at a distance from the business side of the farm.
:::back to 1992::: a haunted attraction production company came to the family and offered to rent the farm for their haunted hayride production that year. I was 8, and a little too young to participate. My father and uncle (owner of the business at the time) worked loosely with the production, but lent them the tractors and wagons they needed to run the operation. I think they ran for 6 nights, and they had a tremendous turnout (at that time tremendous was probably 2000-2500 guests). I had my first haunted experience at this show... I was scared S**tless and vomited in the back seat of mom's car on the way home. Ever since, I have been a haunt fan, but not a frequent flyer. After that season was over, they skipped town, didn't pay all of their bills, and they stuck quite a few people with the tab.
:::back to 2006::: So I'm now 22 years old riding along in my tractor at 3mph going through thousands of thoughts in my mind, when somehow the old haunted attraction came to mind. I spent days or weeks thinking through the business plan of the haunt. I had never worked at a haunt, nor had I been to too many haunts. I presented a make-shift business plan to my father, and he seemed very interested. We spent the better part of October 2006 going to other haunts and working up a business plan to start the show. Due to the nature of the sod business and big public image we wanted to attract, we started the show as a for profit/not for profit partnership with the local Y. We sectioned off nearly 70 acres of the farm to devote to the haunt. We started with a 1 mile haunted hayride with 45 actors and a 1/2 acre corn maze with 3 actors.
I started the haunt with my wife, who is a writer, actress, and English teacher. She wrote the original story and script of the production. Our mutual friend, a haunt fanatic, was our creative director. My bother-in-law was the builder. My father and I handled the business end of things. We even picked up a few of the actors from the original show in 1992, who are now house directors for our tent haunt. We had absolutely no idea what we were in for... we just knew we wanted to be different... run a story-based haunted hayride production... and we went feet-first into the business w/o retaining any of the business knowledge available on haunt world or other haunt forums. However, 2 months before production, I was at a horror movie trade show where Leonard Pickel hosted a 'so you want to own a haunted attraction?' seminar. We had most of our bases covered except for one thing... his $3/1customer advertising strategy... and it saved our ass! So we tripled the size of our marketing budget from the go... and it saved the haunt from 1-and-done.
Through the last few years we have grown exponentially, and we are constantly tweaking our operations to be able to produce a quality show with growing volume. Because we have sectioned a large portion of the property to the haunt, it allows us to diversify into other business plans. The main business includes overflow athletic fields (mainly soccer). We have teamed up with a local soccer foundation to help host massive regional soccer tournaments where our facility provides up to 7 soccer fields. The fields were originally intended for sod production, but they serve as both soccer fields and parking for the haunt. We promote the hell out of the haunt during the soccer events, and have had some pretty good success with soccer tournament players coming to the haunt (most are staying in nearby hotels etc.) We are now looking into other year-round events and productions.
Throughout my brief career I have made a ton of mistakes, but learned from every one. The longer I am in this business, the more I realize how much I really don't know. I have been a smart-ass to people I shouldn't have etc. etc... But I have so many people to thank for their insight and information including all of the people who have helped build our show from the beginning and the haunt owners (both big and small) for taking the time to answer questions, and send us in the right direction. I hope that I can help other haunts start out just as much as others have helped me.
12-09-2010, 04:53 PM
It sounds like a it was a fun time to be a haunt fan back when Terror on Church Street and Skull Kingdom were around. It sucks in Orlando now when I do I am always in the mood to see a great haunt but there are none now...
12-09-2010, 07:48 PM
By Allen's wife who is typing for him while he is under some serious pain meds...
I really want to see you haunt. Im thrilled that there is now an awesome haunt in Harford county.
Maryland was where I grew up and began to love haunting and acting. All of my wolfman in a duffle bag days were there, often driving over an hour each way to work/volunteer at my haunt for the season. You are providing so many people in that area with the same (better actually) oppertunity that I had.
It was great to share the bus with you guys at MHC and talk about the area and the haunts and "hauntholes" (my term for asshole haunted house people) from there. Im proud of what you are doing for the industry in the area, great job keep it up.
12-09-2010, 08:04 PM
Mrs Hopps, I sent you a pm Hope Allen feels better soon!
12-09-2010, 08:37 PM
Shannon, (Mrs. Hopps)
Rotting Flesh Radio covered Legends of the Fog a few weeks back. I would suggest you go to the RFR home page and download the show to get a good idea of what they're doing. It's a nice operation and I foresee good things in the future...
/end shameless plug
I also send my best wishes to Allen for a speedy recovery...
12-09-2010, 10:14 PM
This is a long one...18 years in the business and the leading events make for a long story...i will prematurely congradulate you if you make it through the whole "story" lol.
For me.....I have always been fascinated with Halloween, the macabre, dressing up, horror movies, all that. I always enjoyed the really elaborate yard haunts...I remember there was one yard down the street from me that used to go really crazy with crank ghosts and the whole nine. It always gave me a tingly feeling at a young age.
My uncle started me on horror movies early even at my mother's disapproval...Friday the 13th films always gave me a phobia of windows as a child...I loved them but they often scared the pants off me when I was young. Got to see some greats such as CHUD at the drive in...followed by The Fog...which weirdly enough...actually got fogged out...true story.
My first haunt experience was a trailer haunt at a local Carnival...I was about 6 or so...and barely made it through. Next was going as a patron through a local Metropark haunt called the Haunted Chalet. I was terrified, and remember running a lot. I was about 8 at the time...and didnt go to another haunt until I was 13. The next haunt I visited was Bloodview Haunted House...and I really enjoyed it this time. Me and my friend were trying to scare each other in the dark halls the whole time...when we were going through for the 3rd time an actor at the door told us we should come up and work...but we kind of shrugged it off.
The following year had a similar experience at the same house with a friend and then another friend at schoold who had already worked there in the past and encouraged me to try it. So I did...loved every second of it...and began my journey as a haunter from there. Studied makeup...at one point looked very heavily into becoming a professional FX artist, but my mother was not at all supportive of anything concerning that, and had I had some support I may have went on a different life path. But everything happens for a reason and I would not have had the same life otherwise...good and bad I have enjoyed my life so far.
So I stayed on at Bloodview for many years joining the Legion Of Terror acting troupe...then through some political social issues they left Bloodview for a couple years and I decided to stay with a new group called the Nightmare Society which was basically formed in parts of Legion's shadow...Working with them after a year I met my now wife during acting...and there were rumors that that Lions club which produces Bloodview were going to bring back Legion and basically remove the Nightmare Society....so a core group of us decided to check out a couple other attractions for a backup home haunt for the group. Long story short...drama ensued because of this and that core group of people were asked to leave Nightmare Society...so we decided to start our our group The Demons Of Darkness. We toured around several haunts for about a year or 2 during which my wife and I visited Transworld for the first time in 1997. It was awe inspiring that there was anything like this for an activity we had so much fun with. Since then I have only missed Transworld twice, and that was the year it moved exclusively to Vegas, then the first year in St. Louis.
We spent that summer with an we learned the hard way to be an unsavory owner who we worked with on trust of a later paycheck which never panned out. We designed and built about 3/4 of his attraction before we caught on that we would never be getting paid from him, and that funds for design plans we had made would come to a standstill.
We left that, then continued on touring and found a "home" at a local attraction that was a modular setup at a Fairground. We enjoyed an amazing first half year with them, then got to design our own 3D attraction going into the next year. We started out the year with a huge bang...I was doing stilted acts, fire breathing etc... etc...Then there was an Ecoli scare at the fairgrounds and we got shot down for fear of public safety into our second weekend. We had Gunnar Hansen and Doug Bradley booked to appear the following weekends. In the end we ended up getting to just entertain them and hang out for the weeks they were booked....made for some great experiences and stories. There were never any findings that backed up that there was Ecoli anywhere on the fairgrounds within a week after that completed 100 tests....99 of which were negative, one was inconclusive, but they kept us shut down for the rest of the year. Many of us went and guest acted at Bloodview or other haunts again.
In a weird twist of events...the owner that we had the prior bad experience with before was kicked out of his location, and we seized the opportunity and moved the attraction from the fairgrounds to that very same place we had been just 2 years prior...most of it still the same with stuff we had not finished still unfinished. We decided to basically spend the summer gutting the entire haunt to one giant space keeping only a handful of the original wall panels and pieces. We were able to now take the once modular haunts and convert them into a permanent haunt. 2 attractions in one building and 1 modular in a picnic pavilion....the facility was really great...a bit out of the way...but the space and atmosphere itself was incredible. However, this was the year of 9-11...in addition to a very WET October....needless to say our numbers were horrible, and we feared not to re-open the following year due to such great financial loss the year of getting shut down, on top of a poor attendance year. Following that season, many of us worked at an attraction at a seasonal indoor amusement park along with some of the Legion Of Terror that spring and made lots of new connections (This is where I first mett Miss Katie Lane). Later that summer the owner got the funding together to keep the ball moving, and we were a week away from going in for some redesigns when I got a call from one of the new contacts from the indoor amusement park to turn on the news. I turned it on to see a helicopter view of our building engulfed in flames....Needless to say that, and the next morning going through the rubble of ash, plaster casts and nothing else but the metal frame skeletons of Scarefactory, Distortions, and other props...my wife's and my nearly 10 year collection of costuming...all nothing but rubble was utterly devastating. I've never felt so sick in my life. The embers were still smoldering.
In keeping up with our contacts from the amusement park we decided to sign on with them to do a multipart attraction in Washington DC. We would be actors, trainers, costumers, makeup artists, etc...for the cast of over 100 and 6 attraction full blown show. We were then promised several other shows in the coming months and the possibility to take things to the next level. So the wife and I quit our day jobs to take this opportunity. We drove to DC and did the show....however, in another streak of bad luck, this was the same year as the DC Sniper...which was during October of course. The numbers the first 2 weeks were aweful...but then thankfully they caught them, and we then had lines around the block. We had a great time for the rest of the show, and began making plans to further the company we were starting to do other shows and beyond. Well, the people we partnered with were not the most honest of business people, and we were in the end left without jobs and again no haunt to call home.
We remedied our employment situation and the attraction(s) that were burned down, we ended up being able to rebuild at a local outdoor concert venue (so back to modular again...but a priceless well known location). Success from the first year secured multi year contracts, and It is there since I have called my general haunt "home" with guest visits to others here and there... We also did shows 2 years in a row with this owner at the same seasonal indoor amusement park that we had been 2 years prior. My wife after all of the bad experiences seems to have lost her heart for the industry unfortunately and basically retired from acting, and staff coordination which she had come to enjoy...maybe one day she will get back into it....but we still enjoy horror and all things creepy together. We ended up getting married at Mansfield Reformatory (Haunted Prison where they filmed Shawshank Redemption and more) in 2007.
I would love to one day produce and own my own attraction...maybe some day. I try to find ways to bring more aspects of my life to allow me to enjoy this industry...and is in part where I started doing marketing with Jakprints to the haunt industry....it is an industry I know, and I stand behind Jakprints service and products...so it was a golden match...looking forward to continue this as well as getting to meet more and more haunters and have great experiences to share for many many years to come.
If you actually read through all of that I congratulate you...that's my history in a nutshell...lol. Lots more great details...but I have already written a book of a post...
Mike "Pogo" Hach
12-12-2010, 11:33 AM
Well guys I started working at a haunt when I was 17 in high school 1998 . I know Teenagers are the worst but I was one of the few you see that are there to WORK and not flirt with the girls. I worked at the haunt in taylorsville NC. The guys name who put it on was Nick Diamond. I dont know why I still remember his name. Went out to the haunt 1 week before it opened and helped paint and put props in the rooms. Thats all it took I Knew I wanted to be a haunter. I worked as an actor that season. NO PAY FOR THIS ONE. all year I was trying to find haunts to work at and it just wasnt any around. But by sept of 1999 I had a friend whos family has a Big party the weekend of halloween and I set up a SMALL haunt in her grandpaws barn. It had like 10 rooms and it was built with plywood and scrap wood around the farm. we had over 200 people walk though it. I was very proud and scared most everyone. NO PAY THIS YEAR. then the next year I build a 5 room haunt in the front yard of my girlfriends mom and dads house. it was open for 3 hours on halloween. it was fun and The poster for the grass roots haunt.AND NO PAY. The next 2 years I worked at a FD haunt. They gave me and a friend our own part to build and run how we wanted. our sets were so much better and had more scare factor than anything the had or have had. YUP NO PAY HERE. Then I set out on my own with a REAL haunt called The Henry River House of Horrors. This was in hildebran NC. I talked with the OLD MAN and he let me use his land for the haunt. It was a bunch of old houses in the woods so it was going to be a trail into the woods that went into 2 houses. I worked all year on it got the FD out there. Did what needed to be done. The last thing left to do was fill it with props and actors. I met 2 guys from a haunt close to me who wanted to do some promos together So we went to work on that as well. Then at the end of summer a Huge Storm Knock a tree into the main house and crush it. And there wasnt any time to start over. So I went to work over the guys haunt for that year. NO PAY THIS YEAR TOO. It was so hard to have 8 months work Just gone. The next year I became part owner in the trail I worked at the year before. So I did get pay this year but it wasnt much. Then the next year the man who owned the land our trail was on sold the land. So I was back out with nothing once more. From that time I have worked at haunts all over NC and have build props and sets for these haunts. I have been paid good some years and some years just get lied to and some years Ive be told Thanx but no pay. in 2009 I did makeup for a Zombie movie that should be out on dvd in the next few months. Called one last sunset. then this year I helped a new haunt owner Build and run his show in Lenoir NC it was small but VERY scary. I did get pay for this. NOW im going to hauntcon this year to teach a class about latex makeup. And looking for somthing to work on in 2011. Im still looking for that big Break into the haunt industry. its hard here in NC the big haunts are over 2 hours away from me. I have been driving over 1 hour to work but 2 is just to far. One day it will be my turn and until then I will Pay dues like I have for 12 years. I hope to meet some of you at hauntcon this year. Please come say hello.
12-13-2010, 12:27 AM
I'm going to try and not be as long as some of the guys so this is me.
I worked at my first attraction when I was 12 years old in City Park of New Orleans. I went one year with my stepfather and I would beg him to take me every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
He knew the owner so we got in free so don't pity him. I think it was my 5th visit that I realized one of the trolls was not a midget but a child of almost the same hight and age as myself. Without even asking I went in the storage rooms and garbed a costume I could fit in and started to scare people. I would do any thing I could to scare people. I volunteered at Spooky Park till I was 14.
At 15 to 18 I attended Alfred Bonnable High School where I studied in forensic law and basic law. In my two last years I was very lucky to study and work under Amy Smith (RIP) the Art director of the House of Shock. I learned about set and prop design and the workings of haunted houses. I was very lucky to be one of her last students. Her ideas and workmanship stay with me in every thing I do in this industry.
I graduated in 2001 with scholarship and move to PA to go to school and also be married. I drop out and start working with The West Deer Nightmare as an actor and this is the first time I'm allowed to create my own sets. My family is disappointed in me, except Amy, she tells me to follow my heart.
2003-2005 I work The West Deer Nightmare, Terror by the Lake, Zombie School, and Kennywood Scream Park learning management , prop work, detailed set designing, marketing, costume construction, scare tactic set ups, make up, miner FX make up, and more crap..
2006-2009 I am to sick to work and its decided I am move closer to home to be treated. I lived in my family's vacation home in Shreveport instead of New Orleans because there is to much damage done to the city due to the hurricane, so I'm treated at the LSU medical center.
2010 - I'm all better and my friends have brought me back into Halloween and I love and thank them all for it. Coming back has had its ups and downs though and that was expected. A lot of people expected me to move out of Shreveport with my return of my health and an already return to Halloween.
Future- I want to keep my feet planted for a while and see what haunted houses in my area have to offer. I like working with good honest people that believe in positive enforcement to there community. With hope one day I would like to start a charity that puts money back into the communality and also helps promote the hard work of other haunters helping there communality.
12-13-2010, 07:33 PM
All right my turn... My name is Dan I am from Tooele, Utah, Man i sound like i am in AA.... Well I am hoping this October 2011 to open X-Scream nightmares.... I stared haunting a age 5-6 yrs yes very early.... It all hapend Ticker or Treating we went to the door and knocked and yelled Trick or Treat well i was the last to get my bag filled with candy... when I turned around and everybody was gone and Frankenstin was standing there... I screamed like hell and ran top speed all the way home.... after I calmed down and thought about it and my mom explained to me that it was the guy next door dressed up......That was cool I then started to make haunted houses in the basement with Disney haunted houses music and sound.... I got in trouble a couple a time for making my friend cry.... When we got older we started to make them in garages and old sheds..... When I say we....my brother, sisters and the kids on our street.... we have competion to see who was best.... that was the first time I was punched in the face for scaring people.... It was Fun.... That lasted about 3 yrs, that is also were i started to learned make-up, set design and costume.... when we moved to Tooele the kids there did not get my obsession with Halloween and horror movies.... After a couple a years I started to decorate the front yard.... building props and making costumes..... I did Stephen King one year building sceans from most of his book..... Made the local paper.... and everybody wanted to barrow my props.... I eather did not get them back or broken....lesson learned ...... I stared to do partys and make up and costumes for everbody.... One year I made a haunt through my dads house....He about killed me....and made me one of the seans in my haunted house.....A good friend and I made a haunted house out of 5 freezer boxes for here 6 yr old and friends for a party.... It was a big hit! I have done sets for partys and helped on haunts..... 9 yrs ago became a filghtattendent.... My very first day was SEPTEMBER 11 2001.... I kinda did not celebrate halloween was to busy drinking all the time and trying to keep my job took all my time and energy.... I have been sobber for 7 yrs now and have comback full to halloween my first year back went back to yard haunting and rememberd why I love this holiday so much..... This past couple years everbody has told me to open a haunt I am now going to follow that dream with family and friends.... and all the advice i can get..... I will dedicate one room to Cydney Neil from Rocky Point Haunted House for scaring the SHIT out of me for yrs.... and inspireing me to do this...find somthing u love and make money at it.... Thanks for reading and your time Dan AKA Crackers....The bringer of X-Scream Nightamares......
12-13-2010, 08:37 PM
I wish you the best of luck on the haunt DAN.
12-14-2010, 01:07 PM
This is one thread I have to jump on. I have been fortunate to have worked a haunters "dream job" for the last 5 years - so maybe someone (besides my mother) might be interested in how I got here. Currently I teach haunting - virtually full time - to over 180 high school students (25% of the student body). I do have a few other duties but basically it's haunt! The result is a 70,000 square foot attraction that improved every year - up 23% for 2010. We actually fill the niche of the football team (no sports at school) and school pride rallies around the haunt event - even have our own cheerleaders "G-Star Cadavers"!
THE BACKSTORY- Like many of you I started as a kid with simple home haunts that were - sad to say - usually pretty weak, but I loved it. Growing up career and family took precedent and I didn't do much until 1991. At the time I lived in what I referred to as the "Edward Scissorhands" neighborhood - everyone had 2.4 kids, lived in 3/2 houses and - above all - it was safe. Shades of my youth crept into my head - trick or treating and filling a pillowcase, dumping it on the bed and doing it again. And here I was in a time when we don't let kids out of our sight to do those things AND I lived in the perfect place to revive it! First year - lame home haunt, second year better - third year over 1,000 t or t ers and 2 tour buses! Time to move up. The following seasons found me rising through a series of commercial haunts - making mistakes, losing money at first and finally reaching into the black! After that I managed to end up a "gun for hire" doing large Corporate haunts full time. I could get detailed but that's a book not a post! Finally 5 years ago I was approached by a VERY forward thinking founder of a Motion Picture Studio and High School - odd in itself. He wanted a fund-raiser haunt for the school - then I met the kids. As they say, it was all over but the crying! Never had I met such a motivated bunch of people. So X-Scream Halloween began as an off the grid class with teenagers actually designing and building a world-class haunt. What is really cool about the project is that these are film and tv students and by working a haunt they are having a ball while they learn skills that will help them if they move into motion picture production, I mean think about it - we as haunters build sets that take the abuse of thousands of people - so how hard's a movie set after that?
So now here we are with 180 cast/crew members, a 12 person makeup team, movie level costume department, a slick "lineless" entry system, video cameras throughout the haunt and a 70,000 s.f. single entry haunt - although we added another 18,000 s.f. for our last weekend of the 2010 season -(story all by itself!) and did record numbers BUT most impressive of all - I got to go back into character for the first time in 5 years! This was possible because FINALLY they ran it - all of it - and I had a little time to "play" instead of manage. It's really been quite the trip for me and will continue to be so I'm sure, - teaching what I can and watching a new generation of people develop a love of the haunt business. Life just doesn't get much better - and I'm thankful for it everyday! AND one VERY lucky SOB!
12-14-2010, 04:07 PM
WOW ive nerver heard anything like that That is so great. Thanks for sharing.
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