View Full Version : Eureka Screams Spring Break Update...

Raycliff Manor
03-17-2007, 06:49 AM
Last night was our first night of our Spring Break event and many on this forum have PM'd me and asked me to provide updates. Sometimes the news is good and sometimes the news is not so good. Today... the news is not so good, but all is not lost! We still have tonight and next Friday and Saturday.

The update so far is that we only had approx. 60 people (That's right only 60!) attend last night. I could be off by 3 or 4 in either direction, we haven't counted the tickets sold yet, but that really won't take too long when we get to it. :lol: We're hoping for a much better turn out for the remaining nights, but only time will tell. We're still trying to find out what happened to our airbrush makeup artist. He's MIA and we haven't been able to reach him.

For those of you who have asked for a report because you too are thinking about operating an "off-season" event, take heart. This is our first run at this and it's not over yet! Remember some markets can do extremely well with something that will not work well in another area. I'll continue to provide updates as this event plays out. Please send us positive thoughts and energy! With a staff of 35 people we hope we can at least break even.

Actors get really restless when they're ready to scare and no one is coming through! Mari (our Fright Team Manager, that many of you met in Chicago) is awesome! She had the actors working on coming up with new lines for their character and encouraged them to develop their characters and rehearse during the downtime. My wish is for all of you to have a Mari! Don't any of you dare try to recruit her away from us though :!: :wink:


03-17-2007, 07:00 AM
One of the things we do in down times is let the actors go through a few at a time. It gives the other actors something to do and it lets the actors see the haunt while it is running.

Jim Warfield
03-17-2007, 07:44 AM
School breaks can be good or not-so-good, weather dependant too.
I turn on two low-energy bulbs at the front and two at the rear of my house and wait, just me.
If and when anyone shows up I turn on the circuits in pretty much one room at a time as we go into them. About 65 motion switches turn on and off many of the circuits for me.
The air compressor gets turned on as I am half way through the front room presentation and stays on until the tour is completed.
My wife is usually available to help if suddenly more show up at any time. We have a pocket doorbell made from a car alarm that even will send us a signal a black and a half away, so I could be in a store around the corner and not miss someone, it also works sending the signal to the underground wine cellar.
I think my college crowd has dropped off alot, maybe because of the economy? Summer jobs and part time jobs might not be so easy to find or good anymore?

03-17-2007, 09:16 AM
Today... the news is not so good, but all is not lost! We still have tonight and next Friday and Saturday.

It will work out just fine, Brother. You'll see. I'm sending good vibes your way. :)

Raycliff Manor
03-17-2007, 10:05 AM
Thanks for the feedback, suggestions and good vibes! I'll keep you all posted! By the way Brad's here visiting from Texas and he did an awesome job as a crazed clown last night! I wish I had have his energy! He's with Mari and a group of Fright Team members getting lined up for the St. Patty's Day Parade with the hearse pulling the giant headstone marquee. I'm busy with the inn and wish I could have gone, but I'm sure they're having a blast!


03-17-2007, 12:36 PM
Tons of positive thoughts and energy your way, Kel! Sounds like Mari is on top of the situation! Wish I could be there to help you out!

03-17-2007, 05:20 PM
I've never attempted such a thing for several reasons... first and foremost no time, but also because I can't get my haunted house ready in time, when you have so many updates you're doing.

Additionally the cost to market something like this, plus labor to operate, just doesn't seem like the risk vs. the return.

Maybe you make a few bucks, but is it worth it? If you do several thousand people its probably worth it.

I would have a few tips on how to promote something like this but it would all start with keeping your website current, constantly updated so people visit so often and an aggressive way to capture your customers email address's. The cheapest way to promote something like this would be email blast.

I don't know that I would ever try something like this but I'm glad to hear you're updating us with your results. Very interested!!!


Kevin Dells
03-18-2007, 08:12 AM

I know theres a feeling of despair right now as your thinking of lost moneys but if anything it is a couple of weekends your crew is getting together and acting that they normally wouldn't get. If anything they will appreciate it because now the long wait until October is shorter for them.

We do the same thing Barry described on very slow nights in October(Usually first weekend open) let a couple of the actors go through at a time to see the show themselves.

Im curios you being in Arkansas, is Eureka Springs a big spring break city? Do you have a lot of visitors every year that prompted this idea or are you trying to draw them in from other city's?

Jim Warfield
03-18-2007, 01:03 PM
One night I had maybe 5 or 6 employees doing nothing and only two people were here for a tour . The guys all pretended to be customers as everyone had a seat. Then as planned, after just a few minutes I said one certain previously discussed word (for the cue) and my people all screamed, jumped up and ran from the room(even though nothing the least bit scary was happening)
The customers were running too!
They didn't know why, but they decided they had better run!
Quite the experiment in group psychology.
"Everybody's doing it, doing it,
Picken their nose and chewing it, chewing it!"
(I don't care for the taste...but EVERYBODY'S Doing it, so I guess I will!)

Raycliff Manor
03-18-2007, 04:00 PM
Just another quick update. We had 105 people come through the attraction last night. Better than the night before, but still nothing like the fall season. We do still have next weekend though and the news coverage and other press and media attention will be taking place this week, so we'll seee how it goes.

Larry, We knew that any time you present a new concept to the public, you have to expect to face the challenge of getting people used to an idea. Visiting a haunted attraction during the Spring is definitely a new concept here! :lol: In talking to Cydney Neil though, they experienced incredible success for their first Spring Break event last year! If you're interested, you might contact her to discuss this. I have a feeling you'd be much better positioned to encounter more immediate success with something like this.

Kevin and Gwen, thanks so much for the words of encouragement and thanks Barry for the suggestion. We did have the actors take turns running through the attraction during down time and they had a blast doing so. To answer your question Kevin, Eureka Springs is a tourist destination town but not necessarily a big Spring Break destination. Because we are in a wet county and surrounded by dry counties, we do tend to get pretty busy during Spring Break though, but we need to offer more here for the Spring Break aged audience. We're hoping the haunted attraction is part of doing so. If we can break even this year and get a good start at it, we'll probably go ahead with it again next year and see if we can build it.

For an update on our Tinkle Tally, we had 2 on Friday night and three last night, so we're up to 5 so far! We had a group of people who own and operate the Chamber of Horrors in Little Rock, Arkansas drive 4 hours last night to check out the haunt. They said they had heard we have the best haunt in Arkansas! They said we not only lived up to, but exceeded our reputation! Now that was a sweet compliment!

One funny story; we had a couple who won tickets on the radio. They drove to the station in Fayetteville and picked up the tickets and then drove an hour to the attraction to enjoy the show. They didn't make it past the first room! After they encountered the first scare, they went back to the intro room and informed our actor that they were done and wanted out. Yep, we're doing our job. People pay to be scared and these two, even though they lasted about two minutes, got what they paid for!

Brad who was in visiting from Texas headed back home today. He has a 7 hour drive! He had a blast and informed me that he will be logging on here to share a couple of the stories from his experience here at Rayclif Manor. He's got a couple of awesome stories to share!

Kevin is absolutely right, this is an investment in our team and we are shortening our wait to the fall season! Some great memories have been made again at the haunt!


03-18-2007, 05:17 PM
I love your idea of haunts in months other than october. I wish someone would do something like that in DFW area.

Duke of Darkness
03-18-2007, 05:19 PM

It takes time to educate people. Hopefully next weekend will help you break even financially, but even if it doesn't quite get there, it may still be worth putting on the event. Not only does it give you a nice off season opportunity for your crew, it all helps in building media coverage and word of mouth for the fall. In the long run, I suspect it will turn out to be a benefit. Good luck and keep us posted.


03-18-2007, 06:14 PM
Hang in there buddy. You might not get the numbers this weekend or maybe this year, but like Kevin said, you are getting your actors excited about the haunt, and you are also networking for more actors. Plus next year, people will expect the haunt to take place!!


Jim Warfield
03-18-2007, 06:32 PM
The Ravens Grin Inn has been trying to educate the general public that a haunted house can be open (and worth seeing) every night of the entire year now for 20 years.
It has been an uphill battle.
You are talking, telling them this and part of their brain just shuts you off, the preconceived notion of October-Only blurrs out the words.
I really enjoy the "Off-Season" I have all my fun then, doing tours for small groups of mostly real fans of what I do here, people that want to be here and don't gripe about money or the drive to get here and are usually fairly lavish with their compliments as they finally find themselves still alive at the end of the show.
I am the haunt-junky who would like to scare and entertain EVERYONE that comes through my door.(Clarification:I mean EVERYONE, ALL THE WAY THROUGH THIS HOUSE, EVERY ROOM, EVERY CORNER, FOR EVERY MINUTE that they are here, that's what I mean!) I need my "Fix" everynight, so I'm open and ready for them almost everynight!!!
..and since I am such an addict, I am extremely gratefull to them when anyone shows up..........
5 to 10 may be showing up here tonight, they called ahead, one is a fan for sure, excited about coming here from 3 hours away.
I think you have done very well Kelly at least in certain important aspects.
You made it "happen" is number one.
You have had , what? 135 people show up so far? Very Good!
Onward and upward!

Kevin Dells
03-18-2007, 08:08 PM
Ohhh Dry county's nestled in between a wet one, that is tough! Myself prefer the wet ones,a lot actually! And yes im talking alcohol for you dirty minded that veered off imedialty think i meant somethingelse!

Im sure one or two of you did! LOL

A few things that Euraka Springs the city might do to help the Spring Break situation.

Pub Crawls are always fun and if you guys planned it make a Zombie pub crawl, those seem to be taking off lately! Still got to try one myslef.

My personal favortie, for the two weeks set up a bar in the laundramat,college kids need to wash their dirty britches why not have a cocktail while doing laundry next to the cutie washing those g-strings,i know i sure would! Talk to the local laundramat and advertise at all the hotels they stay at.

As far as haunt realted ideas, if you have the room for it next year possibly build a small stage out near the waiting line and ask a local band to play or bands if you can find a few to play. We built a huge stage for our local bands to play on, they did all their own scheduling and they made sure they had at least three acts a night all season long.They supplied their own sound systems.
They loved us for giving them a place to play and in return they gave us entertainment. We had nothing to do with it except supplying the stage and a building to play in they did all the managment with it and pefromed.
They now rent the stage from us all the time during the off season.

Matter of fact, the band i have on my Myspace is from Rockford where i live, they palyed our haunt 4 times a season and were always headliner, they just broke a record deal and are on the Yagermeister tour,pretty cool!
This is the band that did all the managment of the bands.

Think about it, bands have small fan clubs that attend their shows, if you have 3-5 bands play a night you will end up with an extra 200 in your parking lot. It's not huge numbers but it helps.

I guess Kel the really important question i should have asked is, what is the draw to Eureka Springs for Spring Break? Iv'e never been there.
Beaches? Amusment parks? Or just the fact that this is where they go to drink?
The other question is how do you tie yourself into it in every advertising posssibilty possible? If their going to the bars hit the bars up for help placing vouchers and for sure send a few monsters over to the bars on friday and saturday nights to make a quick apperance,ask the owners for permission to hand out vouchers, they may think you trying to steal their customers. Im sure somethings possible.

Just a few thoughts, i have zillions of them therefore i never sleep. I am Vampire!

Raycliff Manor
03-31-2007, 06:06 PM
Sorry it's taken me so long to post an update. We did end up doing better the second weekend of our Spring Break event, but nothing like the fall. We were able to cover our overhad costs, including payroll. We're glad we did it though for the following reason, many that were pointed out in previous posts:

1. We were able to get the team together for a great time of scares and laughs.

2. We were able to introduce the area to the concept of a non-fall haunted attraction event.

3. We were able to give a lot of new visitors the opportunity to see the show.

4. We were able to further brand our business and maintain a buzz about Raycliff Manor.

5. We were able to contact our sponsors and let them know that we were providing them FREE additional exposure through our marketing efforts, on our website and by displaying their banners in our lobby.

I'm sure there are other reasons I could list as well! Thanks to the many of you who have posted, PM'd me and emailed me with your words of support and for all the sincere interest in offering suggestions and ideas and in how the event worked out.


Duke of Darkness
03-31-2007, 06:16 PM
While you may not have made a big profit , it sounds like a success to me! Congrats Kel.

03-31-2007, 08:34 PM
Kel, Congrats on breaking even. I see it like a first year haunt, very hard to make a profit year one. Nothing but good things will come from this, great work!


03-31-2007, 08:38 PM
Awesome stuff Kelly... Once again, I hope to one day have the sucess that you've had. -Tyler

03-31-2007, 11:11 PM
Ok, now I can get on here and finally post a story or 2, or maybe 3!!!

We had a husband-wife VIP group cme through. I was the very last actor you encounter in Raycliff Manor, and when this group came through and when I did my thing- she screamed and said that I was the only person that scared her. The husband was just laughing and said he really didnt get THAT scared. As a special treat for the VIP guests, we pulled them off to the side, and let them go back through- starting near the begginning. The way my area was arranged- there is a U-turn at the end. As you come around this turn, that's when you see my position- I jump out of a sliding panel. As they came to this spot the second time, I hid below a cabinet at the U bend, rather than my normal spot. When they turned this corner, they were staring at my spot, expecting me to jump out again- and they were ready for it! All I had to do was stand up from my crouched position and I am directly behind them. They stood there for a solid 8 seconds, and nothing happened, so they figured that I forgot to get back in position. So they start walking again and the wife says that she was dissapointed in not seeing me again. In my wonderful Mr. Binky voice- "NO YOU DIDNT!!!!" Bothe of them nearly fell to the floor screaming!

This was one of my favorite scares. Being that I was the only one to get them the first time, and that I was able to get them even better the second time- even when they were expecting me to jump out- I still got 'em!!!

03-31-2007, 11:28 PM
NUMBER 2!!!!!

During my break one night, I went out to the front ticket area, to hang out and talk to some of the workers, and a car pully up. As they get out of the car and walk up to the ticket booth, I slowly trail around the facade and sneak in right behind them. Just as they stopped at the ticket booth, I got right up against the girl(they were in their 30's). We all stand there for a few seconds, and the finally gazes over her shoulder casually, and this put my clown nose about 3- maybe 4" from her face. She let out the loudest screech sound- not a scream, but a screech, and fully fell to the ground. She didnt even take a single step to try to run- she just simply collapsed! And I didnt even have to make a nooise, or honk my horn! She refused to walk in, but her man finally talked her into it. As they entered I stayed outside- but I notice that she goes straight to the bathroom. So I decide to slowly ease my way in the main area, and crouch down next to the entrance to the bathroom. Now in my position, you can easly see me when you walk out of the bathroom- but somehow, someway she didnt see me. So , as she passes me, I just casually jump in right behind her, and walk about 10 feet with her. Her man see's me, and tries his hardest to keep a straight face. She asks him what he's grinning about, and once again she turns her head around. MISTAKE!!!!! This time I honked my horn at her.

She took off running- doing 0-60 MPH faster than a Ferrari!!!!

Jim Warfield
03-31-2007, 11:33 PM
They thought that they had you at an unfair advantage because they had seen your hiding place, when actually you had them at a disadvantage because they merely thought they knew.
Having multiple hiding places, numerous ways to get them within the same setting, more than one way to activate a display (Auto and manually)all go to make it more easily changable and fun for everyone.
It really doesn't cost much to make such features happen, more thinking than money on these.
Many things remain the same here for many years , then someone returns with a friend who has never been here before and something happens that the veteran had never had happen before and they are the one screaming, jerking ,jumping because of it! How Funny!
When they think they know what's going to happen, because their own previous experience here has shown them (if you can't believe your own eyes and memory what can you believe?
This is when you have the perfect set up, they have basically fooled, misinformed themselves.
Lots of FUN!!

Raycliff Manor
04-01-2007, 07:04 AM
Hey Brad, I thought you'd tell the story of you and Mari tag-teaming so Mari could get in the car. You tell that far better than I can and I might get some of the detail wrong.

By the way everyone, if you ever have a chance to have Brad come and perform at your haunt, you should do it! He's an inspiration to the rest of the actors!


04-01-2007, 07:51 PM
Very cool Brad, thanks for the stories. Those types of scares, the standing behind them till they notice are my favorites! I love working the line!


Jim Warfield
04-01-2007, 08:26 PM
Hiding in plain sight offers much fun also.
One time when I was in the French Quarter by myself, I had on my spookhouse clothes which consisted of a black cape, a black cowl and knee length leather mocassins.
I went to the "hole-in-the-wall" bar located around the corner from Bourbon Street that is only an alley with a roof, but was supposed to the location where a phoney Sheik tortured his enemys to death back in the 1880's (Before he and his entire housefull were found all sliced and diced.)
This place is very narrow as you walk in, there was a built-in table with some stairs that went nowhere, so I walked up and stood on the table looking down at the entrance walk-way like a statue.
People walk in , look at me, then I would move and they would jerk and scream! I fit the mood of the surroundings pretty well, I guess?
Later I explored more of the place. When I walked into an upstairs room with numerous young college kids drinking, they all began wanting to shake my hand? They were thanking me for making such an nice , strange place for them!?
No, I am not the owner......
I guess I was doing what that old saying means "A Busman's Holiday"?
(He rides the bus.) One of my very few nights not haunting my house, and.......

04-02-2007, 09:53 AM
Hey Brad, I thought you'd tell the story of you and Mari tag-teaming so Mari could get in the car. You tell that far better than I can and I might get some of the detail wrong.

By the way everyone, if you ever have a chance to have Brad come and perform at your haunt, you should do it! He's an inspiration to the rest of the actors!


Well, I guess should become a professional actor like the good ole Rex Hamilton. Oh, by the way Kel, those guys from the Chamber of Horror got a hold of me, and are asking me to come up there at Halloween time.

So I guess that if mine doesnt work out this year, I will have to come up to Arkansas. But who's house should I work at? HHMMMM...

Maybe we can have an autcion!! High bidder gets me for each weekend!!

04-02-2007, 09:56 AM
An absolute congrats for breaking even! Are you planning on continuing the Spring Break haunting in the future?

Brad, it sounds like you had a great time!

Raycliff Manor
04-02-2007, 10:00 AM
We'll definitely be moving forward with the Spring Break event. My mind is already reeling with PR, marketing and publicity stunt ideas for next year's Spring Break event. Starting a Spring Break event was almost like starting a new attraction in an area not accustomed to having a haunted attraction. It's an education and familiarization process. I believe it'll prove to be profitable in the the future. We just had to bite the bullet in introducing the concept. Fortunately, other promoters "caught the bug" and want to work together with us next year to cross-promote a much larger overall event! Seeds firmly planted and fertilization has begun! :wink:


04-02-2007, 10:13 AM
Hey Brad, I thought you'd tell the story of you and Mari tag-teaming so Mari could get in the car. You tell that far better than I can and I might get some of the detail wrong.


Ok, by special request!! :D

We had a group walk through the was a teenage girl and her little brother. I got to work with them a little at the front, and figured out that she was very scared of funny clowns, and so I passed that on to the rest of the actors. After they walked through, they had to wait out front for their mom to come pick them up. So, Mari, me, and 1 or 2 other people walked around outside stalking her, while they waited. Well, the wonderful Mari made a deal with the little brother- that when mommy drives up, she can sneak into the backseat rather than himself- to scare mom. Well it worked out perfect- we distracted mom outide the drivers side window, while Mari climbed into the backseat. As they were saying bye to us, mom rolled up the window, put her seatbelt on, put the car in drive and started to drive away. They went about 5 feet, and Mari leaned around the drivers side seat and asked "HEY MOM WHATS FOR DINNER?!?!?!"
This poor mom screamed bloody murder, and then started laughing her head off! Mari climbeed out so that the boy could get in, and we were all laughing our heads off.
Well, of all things- mom started snorting as she laughed. And BTW- this is the most pig-like snorting I've ever heard!!

After about 10 or 15 seconds after laughter, they were saying bye to drive off. "Bye you guys, (Snort!!) you guys are awesome (OINK!!), thanks!"

As they started to drive off( they went about 15 feet or so, I had to go chase them down and make them stop. I started running along side the car to flag her down and make her stop. She must have thought there was some king of emergency!! She stopped real quick and rolled down her window and asked me what was the matter? I pause for a few seconds....


It was the loudest snort I've ever let out. She was laughing from embarassment and from having too much fun, and started to drive away. I've never seen a famly laugh so hard before!!

Needless to say, we all couldnt stop laughing about it for a while, and just couldnt stop talking about it!

04-02-2007, 03:50 PM
Hey Kelly, you got anything else you'd like me to tell?

04-05-2007, 09:48 AM
Congrats Kelly! It sounds like you a sucess. Are you going to try and run it every year at spring break?

Brad, sounds like you a great time!

04-05-2007, 10:11 AM
I heard rumors about a local haunt in WI that is opening this summer. Should be interesting to so how well they do if indeed they do open.


Jim Warfield
04-05-2007, 01:04 PM
When everyone in my front room was laughing one attractive young woman snorted loudly! It was just her style of laughing when she got to the point of being totally out of control.
Everyone was laughing at her.
After the room quieted down I leaned over her and said, "Thank God you don't look like you sound!"
("Oink"! Oink!")
Everyone was laughing again......

04-05-2007, 01:15 PM
Yeah I heard about that too. It seems that if a haunt opens in the off season, they will have to be aware of a few things. First, they should not think they are going to get the 700-1000 a night we get the third week in October, heck I am thinking that even with great advertising, you might be lucky to get 100. With that in mind, should a haunt try to be fully staffed, or go with a "skeleton crew". Forgive the pun....

04-05-2007, 01:49 PM
i would fully staff it. even when not expecting alot of people you dont wanna ruin what you acomplished so far. Also, it excites your crew and gets them back into the sceam of things.


04-05-2007, 02:34 PM
Well, if you can get everyone to donate their time, sure staff it full, but if you have 25 actors and you are paying them, you could end up losing money,. I mean, figure, 25 actors at $30 a pop, thats $750 a night. You charge, $10 and you get maybe 100 people, wow, thats cutting it close...

Jim Warfield
04-05-2007, 06:15 PM
You buy those 40 sheep once, a little feed, sheep Zombie make up lasts a long time.....Make sure the flock is "Fully Staffed", a trained sheep dog might be needed too?

04-05-2007, 09:08 PM
Jim, somebody beat you to it http://www.blacksheep-themovie.com/.

Jim Warfield
04-06-2007, 06:19 AM
"Beat me to it"?
Well, at least I am THE guy that invented "BOO!"
(Me and 5,834 others, that is.........)

04-06-2007, 08:52 AM
Yes, but did you trademark BOO? Check the library of congress, buddy. :)

04-06-2007, 06:55 PM
which haunt in WI? Might be worth it to take a peek. Thanks.