View Full Version : Backstory/Storyline

freak 'n' stein
01-12-2011, 01:20 AM
Despite whether it has been asked or not, can I ask a quick question? How many of us use a backstory or have a storyline for our haunt!?? How important do we find it as an attraction to have a backstory?! I know that it isn't essential to have a story, but how many of us use back stories either to drive marketing or actors in an attraction?!

Allen H
01-12-2011, 02:54 AM
I use a back story in each of my haunts. It helps guide the setwork as well as the actors. I also use it to entertain the quelines.
Allen H

01-12-2011, 08:55 AM
I think a back story is one of the most important thing a haunt can do to make it successful.

01-12-2011, 10:33 AM
We use a VERY elaborate backstory..... 50% of the people never notice.... 30% that do don't think about it one way or another... but that last 20% latch onto it like it's their favorite soap opera or something!

And I agree... it does help flesh out the show and keep the actors involved.

01-12-2011, 01:46 PM
I think you would be surprised at the number of people that read it on the websites. Our front door person talks with people outside and it's obvious when they get into the conversation how much they know. Helps set the mood. But make sure your actors know the storyline. If not, then customers are turned off.

I couldn't believe the number of emails in the past two years we have gotten asking us if it the legend was true or not.

01-12-2011, 02:14 PM
Just wrote the first draft of the backstory on our new haunt last night...

01-12-2011, 02:47 PM
My numbers were just off the top of my head..... we didn't do an official survey.

freak 'n' stein
01-12-2011, 03:39 PM
Haha. A.j., I will definitely have to look into signing up on the site :D !!!

Thanks for all the responses guys. The feedback was kinda what I expected. I'm a FIRM believer in stories. I feel a short, detailed story would get more attention on the website than a novel, because even I don't enjoy reading stories about haunts that trail on forever and go nowhere. I too use them to drive room design, character development and entertainment for waiting guests. I definitely also agree with "you may not notice outright, but you'll miss it if it wasn't there"

01-12-2011, 03:53 PM
Well, being a writer, every aspect of my life has a story... That's how i got involved with my haunt to begin with, writing their legend. Now that I understand haunts better, i'm excited to tailor the story type to the haunt fans.

We had several people come through who honestly thought our story was real, and we made sure not to tell them otherwise. We kept getting the "I keep researching for more and I can't find anything." I tend to want to say "i wish you could see the story in my head..." The actors came to me several times asking "well, what would this character do?" because the story of the haunt runs so much further than anything customers have ever read.

Not only does it give actors something to work with and customers something to identify with, but it gives journalists something to write about other than "well they're scary!"

Here's my proudest moment this past season:

01-12-2011, 04:10 PM
Backstory is always a good thing to have for your haunt and with good reason too! As stated people will read it off your website and this will give them a good idea of what to expect before even entering the premises of your haunt other then photos. An if your letting some one like me in charge of your photos, well I love being cryptic with the imagery I use.

Another reason its a good idea to do this is because its a good way to help yourself when you decide to expand your existing theme. It just helps you move yourself in a direction that makes things come together.

01-12-2011, 04:17 PM
An if your letting some one like me in charge of your photos, well I love being cryptic with the imagery I use.

Another reason its a good idea to do this is because its a good way to help yourself when you decide to expand your existing theme. It just helps you move yourself in a direction that makes things come together.

You do have a very awesome Cryptic style.

and I couldn't agree more!

01-12-2011, 04:32 PM
Wait till you see my Valentine video project, I go from creepy cryptic to just plain bloody an gore !! I just need to get off my bum and finish the project...I'm so lazy. Ok went off topic, sorry.

01-12-2011, 09:44 PM
Haha! I can't wait!

Allen H
01-12-2011, 11:38 PM
I came up with a novel (in my opinion) way to share my haunts back story with my guests this year. I suppose I should share since it pertains to backstory. I built an audio back stage tour, since folks all have phones on them now I figured they could call a phone number. Sign posts along the que line gave them stop numbers to enter into the "back stage info line" each stop number had about 30 seconds to 2 or 3 minutes of info about the haunt they were in line for, they all had info about the back story but some had info on the sound design, lighting or costuming info. By the time they got to go in it was like I got to have a conversation with them about my shows-they were invested. And more folks learned the backstories than ever before- the longer the lines the more calls they made.
I think I had 30 signs total divided between five attractions. If you call you will get an idea of what im talking about.
Allen H

Jim Warfield
01-13-2011, 12:34 AM
No backstory here.
The story came with the house.(And then it began growing) "You don't want to buy that house." "Why not?"
"Because it's haunted."
"Tell me more." ..and so it began 25 years ago. More and more elderly Mount Carroll citizens were seeing me on the street , stopping me to tell me their recollections, experiences, their relative's experiences over the years in what is now my house.
Highly coincidental things happened at first.. then the wine cellar light would be on, I was positive I had turned it off...then years later I am told this used to happen many years ago by the man who had to be hired to replace the prematurely burnt out big 300watt bulb with his tall ladder.
The first thing I did here was re-wire that wine cellar..yet the light stayed on as it must have turned on right after I had left the room. I finally put a small light down there and left it on= no more problem.
Over the years the front-back-sideways story got more personal and involved as my Wife left after "They" pulled her hair three times one night when she was alone in the wine cellar.
They did seem to put on special shows , just for her benefit, totally unappreciated by her.
As the years went on more and more things compeated to be included in my telling of the haunted history here and the telling got longer stretching to well over an hour!
Some people wanted to hear it, got deeply scared, something not to do to people.
I added attempted humor here & there in the story and I liked doing this too.
The story told here is still all true and it has some twists to it that does keep an average audience's attention usually. If attention wains I can cut it shorter, lose some details and away we go through the rest of the house, no problem.
As the story is getting told the mood chages alot back and forth, serious, to humorous, to fx with humor or fx played for the scare(same FX too!) When October comes around the haunted history has to be extremely shortened yet giving me the challenge to entertain quicker which I do see as a challenge and it energizes me. I am then often making people scared, then a laugh, more scare, more laugh, al in 10 to 12 minutes, besides imparting a air of craziness along with mystery. Some just assume the story is fiction, many know it is not and enjoy my creative methods of telling and the orchestration of the group's expectations and overall mood.
Afterwards it's up for their "vote". Am I a liar, an actor or just crazy? Or maybe all those things he told ARE True. They are. No need at all to make up anything because things happen here, I don't even make up my face (beyond repair)
Sometimes there happens that a backstory of this house comes along, usually after eating tacos. Lower back..whispering echos, rattling echos, something is going on behind my back!

01-13-2011, 02:26 AM
I came up with a novel (in my opinion) way to share my haunts back story with my guests this year.

OMG! I thought of doing something similar to this because Black Ops did it before their release... It's fantastic! Did you have to go through a company to get the call set up how you wanted? Like a service? or am I just not up with the times and that a really easy thing to do on your own?


01-13-2011, 01:50 PM
Allen..... you are one filthy McGyver!!!!

01-13-2011, 02:32 PM
Allen what a good idea.. wonder if I could set that up with texting somehow..

Allen H
01-13-2011, 02:54 PM
I originally started with the concept of an auto reply text program. I ended up using a service that sets up audio tours there are several to choose from out there on the web, If you need help finding one then Pm me and I will tell ya.
Allen H

01-14-2011, 07:45 AM
When we started Legends of the Fog we wanted to be "story-based." There were so many haunts in the area that didn't have the least inkling of story, continuity, or sense to the rooms in their houses. Although there was no story, there was a tremendous amount of funding behind their set design, pneumatics, layout, actors, etc. that it probably didn't matter to some people that they got a story or not, because they got what they paid for... the scare.

When we started, we knew we didn't have these things. We had a 1 1/2 mile hayride, and we certainly weren't going to fill every little piece with an actor, set, or scare, so we started with the story. Before we even started the haunt, we filmed a video telling our back story... we posted a trailer online, and we had a private viewing tent setup for pre-hayride 'briefing'. Once our customers loaded on the hayride, we had story tellers fill in the gaps between stops/sets.
F2GRG2xNVTY The wagon guides were to gain the trust of the guests, like they were there to get them through to the other side... then the wagon guides turn against the group at the end as the wagon was pulled into a gas chamber and everyone was "gassed" (fogged)... It worked. It allowed us to pull off a medium-budget haunt in a first year without a ton of moving parts.

The director of this film and co-creator is no longer on board, so we had to move on from this film in the 2009 season, and we posted it to youtube as an archived video. We have new videos (not published), and we evolve our story as time allows.

Personally, I don't think that our story isn't going anywhere... nor are zombies. I think we'll always be zombie-based, but we'll do whatever we can to change small things up to keep customers coming back.

As a young haunt or a startup haunt, or any haunt for that matter... investing time into the production of a story... building your haunt around the story... and executing the story... you will connect to your customers in a way that they won't forget. If your customers don't feel like they're on a journey, or there is no plot or compelling story, then there is a disconnect.

Think about hollywood movies. Even high-octane, action driven movies (Crank, Salt, Commando (takes you way back)) have a plot and story. Although people go to these movies to see shit blown up... there was still a beginning, middle and end... a common goal to keep the viewers invested in the movie.