View Full Version : First year- indoor/outdoor?

02-02-2011, 07:12 PM
Hey Everyone, I am looking for some advice and opinions on a first year haunt.

I currently operate an entire attraction for my colleges Relay for Life that runs in May, and am looking to also branch out on a solo and unrelated haunt of my own for October 2011. I have secured a location that was later lost and now I'm looking for a new location. I have a fairly low budget and my purpose is to keep costs low so I can turn a profit in the first year but still provide an entertaining and worthwhile attraction to help me pay for some of my college tuition.

I have worked in both indoor and outdoor attractions, but would really like to hear from some more experienced people about which is more cost efficient and would be more realistic to accomplish with am actual build time of mid July to opening.

Thanks in advance for any comments, help, or feedback, it's definitely appreciated!


02-02-2011, 07:49 PM
An outdoor haunted trail is the cheapest way to go in my opinion but you still have to do your homework and make sure the trail is free of hazards like roots, rocks low branches etc. I was always striving to go indoors someday but now I really love the creativity I can go wild with outside that I could never do in a building. To save money I started building props out of sticks, lol! Weather is always an issue as well as electrical depending on your needs.

Good luck and don't bite off more than you can chew. It will be very hard to make a profit the first year especially if it rains. You may have a chance if you keep your costs very low and start off small, adding to it the next year.

There will be many different opinions on this I'm sure.

Good luck,


A few examples.

This prop was almost free except for the time to build it.


Very cheap. Wind damaged trees and the time to carve them.


Almost free except for nails. This is slab lumber from a lumber yard that would be burned if we didn't take it.


This one cost some money and a ton of work but makes a big impression on guests. 40 foot telephone pole's aren't cheap installed properly.


02-02-2011, 08:40 PM
Thanks Eric! I was leaning towards outdoors, and there's plenty of areas around that are forested, but not so many areas that have large parking lots and have forested areas, so thats the hardest part. I found a farm, but the town it was in said no to agratainment because it was too close to a large residential areas and the neighbors really didn't want it next to their houses. But I'm keeping an open mind and hoping I find a good location!

I love those props too, definitely would try making a couple if I get the right outdoor location! Thanks!

02-02-2011, 08:54 PM
Yeah, parking is a major issue as well as easements, zoning and neighbors.
We don't have as much parking as I would like but did a timed ticketing system with half hour blocks so it was a smooth flow of cars in and out all night. Not ideal but it can work if you don't have a ton of parking.

Good luck in your search, keep us posted.


02-02-2011, 10:01 PM
Thanks Eric, I definitely will! Once the location is absolutely secure, I'll probably start a first year progress/suggestion thread to keep everyone posted on here. I really enjoy reading your progress thread!


Bradenton Haunted Trail
02-02-2011, 10:11 PM
I am in the same boat I am talking to a guy that has a paintball field right on a major Hwy. But no electric. I looked into renting a diesel generator which will cost 1300 for a month. But i really would like a indoor location i am so worried about rain. I do not want to invest 50k and get rained out. But if i go outdoors it would be less expensive and would have more money for marketing. so let me know what way you are going, and also Eric a love your work and your photography is awesome.


02-03-2011, 07:34 AM
Use solar lighting, or hook up a chain of L.E.D's to a car battery? It's a reliable and low energy way of lighting a long pathway without having any major costs, and add in battery operated strobe lights (at about $10 each) to trees, buildings, whatever, for effect lighting, and use a generator for your black lights, fog machines, and props. You can buy a couple 1000 watt generators for around $125 a piece at any Home Depot or Lowes, and it will last you all season for the cost of gas. As for animatronics? Use electric, or not at all because actors are equally good at that and a lot cheaper than thousands of dollars. Just my two cents for keeping costs down your first year atleast, then next year use this years profits to buy a larger energy source so you can use those awesome animatronics you wanted to wait till your second year to use anyway so you can look like you invested a ton of time and money into your attraction (but we all know you secretly had them all along). ;)

That's my opinion anyway, or what I'd do, just because I'm a poor college kid lol. I'd invest more money in wood panels and providing costumes and entertainment so that the show looks worthwhile, because although those energy consuming animatronics look so cool, an actor in an awesome costume with great personality does equally well and costs less. Until...I can afford to use them that is! haha.

Anyway, there's a paintball field near me that is near a highway here in CT, but the owner wanted a crazy and unrealistic amount of money to lease it. $10k/month for an outdoor couple acres?? Get outta here! Haha.

Mr. Haunt
02-03-2011, 09:25 AM
I'm also one of those people that are ready to branch out to a comercial haunt. I would agree doing a haunt outdoors as the least over head. My idea is to keep my haunted trail as natural as possible. I love those pictures posted above. I think the idea of the dark woods coming to life to raise terror is a great idea and one I intend to use to keep my overhead low.

Over the years I have come to learn, the hardest part of getting into the haunting business, is getting a place to do it. May find a place that does pumkins, petting zoo, and a corn maze without the haunted part and offer to haunt their corn maze for them at night??????

Anyway, one solution to no parking is to bus people to your haunt from a close parking lot. I know this has it's pros and cons, but it's something that would work. I have been to one of these haunts.

Mr. Haunt

Allen H
02-03-2011, 10:02 AM
I recommend outdoors, once you have hit 4 to 5,000 guests then you could add a house. Your never out to much if you allow your customers to determine your growth.
Allen H

02-04-2011, 04:27 AM
yeah outside is the best way to start a grass roots haunt and its the most fun cause there is no where all the headaces with the fire marshell

The Forsaken Crypt
02-05-2011, 03:45 PM
Yeah most haunts down in Buffalo here mostly started as outside haunts then moved into department store buildings.

02-05-2011, 06:07 PM
Thanks for the input everyone! It's much appreciated. I'm more convinced now than ever that outdoors is the way to go for now. The search continues for a location!

Has anyone had any luck finding farms and convinced them to add on a haunt if you do all the work and they just get a portion of the proceeds?

Allen H
02-05-2011, 06:14 PM
I have done that plenty. It works great. Suggest they run a concessions stand, those can do well too. It also sweetens the pot for them, or have them offer an old fashioned hayride. If thats costs a few dollars also then they can do pretty well.
Allen H

02-05-2011, 06:35 PM
Eric, may I just say the photos of your outdoor haunt look crazy cool!!! I LOVE the details you have there! Amazing stuff! I'm in awe! :)

02-05-2011, 06:38 PM
Bobby....I think outdoors would be the way to go.

We have a haunted hayride that used to run through a fairly good sized park in our area. Perfect parking and all that jazz. Possibly a park in your area might be willing to work with you? Just a thought!

Good luck to you!!! :)

02-05-2011, 07:32 PM
That's a good idea Allen, and Kimmy I like the way you think. The local land trust wasn't interested, but I do know of a couple neat parks. Thanks guys!

Oh! And Kimmy! I hope you're doing well with your ladies auxiliary haunt, I'm sure it'd be real neat to see if I was closer! :)

02-06-2011, 09:28 AM
Thanks Bobby...slogging thru zoning stuff right now, but once that's done we can start the fun stuff, whoo hoo!! Can't wait!!! :)