View Full Version : *** OUT-DOOR HAUNTS***

Mr. Haunt
03-21-2007, 06:57 PM
After viewing some video footage on other haunts and pictures, I asked myself, Why not do my haunt out-doors?

I want some thoughts on this! I know weather for these are a big factor. I am not worried so much on the weather. Some times being out side gives a certain extra edge to a haunt, rather then an indoor haunt.

I am sure that anyone could get real creative with an out-door haunt.

Are they a little cheaper to opperate? Maybe this could be a better way to go.

I want your opinions. This would be a walk through haunt. No hay-ride. After all I am going to have a lot of space available to use if it were to be out-doors.

My other question would be, how do out-door haunts prevent theft?

03-21-2007, 07:12 PM
If doing a haunt outdoors please make sure your path is:

-Free and clear of ANY hazards; this could mean rocks, branches, potholes, wires, etc.
-Not on "off road" terrain... let your path be somewhat flat and level most of the way! People don't like and bunch of hills, ditches, drops, etc.

What we did for the maze was run all the wiring for lights, props, effects, etc. and then covered our path with gravel! This kept a nice, solid walk path that allowed us to run our wiring UNDER the patrons feet! For more on this PM me!

For electricity we used three (3) generators with appropriate wiring/cabling to run electricity to about 20 acres of maze! The only thing here was gas prices... it takes gas to run those big monsters!

For scares, we used the natural setting of the trees/woods to scare people. Scenes were inspired by movies like: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, SAW, Friday the 13th (we did Camp Crystal Lake!), Signs and others!

We rented out about 18 chainsaws and 8 weed-eaters... we were told that they where heard (with screams) upto 2-3 MILES away!

We had a cast of about, I think 80... about 2-3 people per scene/area and a handfull to roam around in our "deadzones". The "Deadzones" were straight blackness of the maze that the people had to find there way through with only a flashlight to guide them. This is where you found all the saws and roamers! LOL!... We also had BIGFOOT walking around... LOL!

We had to build a ticktet area, costume and backstage areas, parking, and have restroom facilites on site!

Hope this helps... If you have any questions, please just ask. -Tyler

03-21-2007, 07:21 PM
Thanks here on the iodeas. Going for outdoor midway and trailer and some mazes with no roofs as I live in a rural area with no light pollution. Somewhat gentle rolling hills all over, no really level ground, though. The ideas will help there :D

03-21-2007, 07:25 PM
Our areas that where themed and lit we your typical haunt style set-up with walls, effects, lights, fog, etc. But we used alot of the POD (OakIsland Pro.) technique in SEVERAL places...

We also used those "cattle gates" found at Farm Supply stores to control where patrons can and CAN'T go! -Tyler

Mr. Haunt
03-21-2007, 07:29 PM

03-21-2007, 08:23 PM
That's got to be one of the most amzingly scary haunts i've heard about. I'd love to check that out sometime if i ever got the chance!

03-21-2007, 08:26 PM
Just come on up to KY! LOL!... We'll give you the full show and "backwoods" tour, LOL! -Tyler

03-21-2007, 08:34 PM
haha maybe if i make enough profit off of mine i can do that sometime sounds like it would be well worth it....any other good haunts up there????

Jim Warfield
03-21-2007, 09:57 PM
The first Transworld I attended found me quietly sitting behind "Grandpa & Grandma" who were jabbering about their outdor haunt.
"We are open 43 days of the year, we have only ever been rained out 2 nights of those 43, we are located between two towns of 20,000 and 15,000, each town has a couple of colleges (more potential customers) we run with family and volunteer helpers, we pay them nothing but we will give them a free hotdog at the end of the night and a pat on the back........... we take in about $120,000.oo a season."
They didn't seem like braggerts they seemed genuine in their remarks.

"A free hotdog!??"
I'm sorry, I just couldn't operate this way....
Mr. Tuxedo couldn't operate this way either...he would keep the hotdog for himself! that beats out "Grandpa" for being a cheapskate old penny-pincher!

03-21-2007, 10:13 PM
Since we are talking about out door haunts I thought I would include one they do in New york...

Their haunt while smaller and less quality then some of you big guys, does fairly well. The haunt starts off in a picnic shelter about a 40x20 space...It then leads into a heavily wooded area, and goes up and around a hill. After that they enter a 2nd picnic shelter, and then exit.. takes a good 15-20 mins to walk through. Just thought I would post how one haunt does it.

03-22-2007, 08:26 AM
Things you will struggle with when doing an outdoor haunt:

- Vandalism. If possible, get a big fence and a scary dog.

- Power. Traditionally, power is a complete PITA. Make sure you have that all planned out.

- Plumbing. Your cast won't like you most of the year because you lack bathrooms. If you are near an area with gas stations or other public restrooms, this is less of a problem. You will be required to have Port-o-johns during the season for your customers. Suggestion: Get one dedicated to the cast. The main ones get horrible.

- Special materials / equipment and planning. You won't be able to use cheap materials like you can with props that won't get wet. You will have to water-seal everything. Plan on extra costs for cables & splitters, you can't use indoor grade stuff.

- Super long runs for everything. Your air lines will be longer, your power lines will be longer, your audio lines will be longer, your control lines will be longer.

- You will need a building that is water-tight for some things, like a place for your cast to meet, get makeup, do control/audio, have power come in, protect your air compressors, etc.

- electronic controllers, etc will need to be installed into weather-tight boxes. Sometimes electronics won't like this (especially microcontrollers), so you need to invest in a few other things to protect them against moisture, like electronics potting material, silica gel packs, and regular maintenance & checks to ensure things are staying dry (remember: weather-tight doesn't always mean MOISTURE tight)

- if you are in a cold part of the country, your actors will hate you for being outside. Keep them happy with hand-warmers, warm costumes, hot chocolate, hot food, etc, etc, etc

Don't think that running an outdoor haunt is less expensive. Sometimes, I think it would be less expensive to be indoors and having to pay a lease/rent (we do pay a lease on the land, but it's not terribly expensive for us). Your major expenses still exist: insurance, props & show related, advertising, inspections, permits, etc

Not that you shouldn't run an outdoor haunt, it is a great thing, and very rewarding. Just be aware that the money you save with not having a building to pay for will easily be chewed up by the other materials you will have to buy to support the wet environment.

There are a few things you don't have to worry about, like sprinkler systems. If you lack a roof, you don't need 'em (but you SHOULD have fire extinguishers EVERYWHERE)

I could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

-- I

03-22-2007, 09:01 AM
being in minesota i would be worried about the weather. I know in WI it gets COLD! it rains alot if its not snowing. Although it can be done if u plan it right.


03-22-2007, 11:26 AM
Hey everybody,
I'm new if you didn't already figure that out from my post count.

I just wanted to weigh in on this, though I am not a professional haunter I am an enthusiast and I got my first acting gig this past season so I hope I can give some helpful advice:

1. From an actor's perspective, working outside can get pretty dismal. It's cold. If it rains it can be a huge pain to stand out there getting rained on and freezing just to wait for the occasional group. One local haunt, The Terrorfied Forest, breaks up their outdoor haunt into scenes, all of which have at least one small shed, and most of them are heated, if I recall correctly. Obviously this means fairly high generator costs so I guess it's a thin line between taking good care of your actors and insane gas costs.

2. One of the things that makes an outdoor haunt so scary, at least for me, is the fact that you really feel isolated. The further apart you can afford to space the groups, the better.

Mr. Haunt
03-22-2007, 01:26 PM
Again thanks for all the imput. I checked out the slide show from an above post. Some good ideas. I think one down fall to some out door haunts is that as patrons walk and come across lights and other props, they tend to get the feel that something is going to happen.

I am not sure what I am going to be able to do with what I have to work with. I need to drive to the location and take a look. I feel though that there might not be a lot of tree's. But then again I could be wrong. I think that weather will play a part in my haunt, if I decide to do it outsoors. We are Minnesotans and I thing with the proper clothing and what not it will work out.

Any way more pics would help. Anyother information please share.

03-23-2007, 05:03 PM
Hey Mr Haunt,

We have an outdoor trail in CT and the advice given so far has been great. I'd like to add a few things:
-First of all look at your market to see how many outdoor attractions are in your area. When we got started 13 years ago there were mostly indoor type haunts or outdoor hayrides. Today, there's more outdoor than indoor, or a combination of both.
-Also, as mentioned above, lay out your scenes and have all the proper power cords. ALL ON GFI'S. We were shut down one year for having too many regular extension cords and some were not on GFI's. You'll need to hire an electrian and most likely need a permit.
-I would also recommend a walk-thru with the local fire marshall and authorities to make sure you are doing things right. It's better to know now then later.

We originally planned on an haunt inside a really old house but after talking with the fire marshall we decided outdoors would be better. We love being outdoors and when the weather is bad we close and visit other haunts. I will admit a permanent indoor haunt would be awesome, but for now we're satisfied.



Kevin Dells
03-24-2007, 09:58 AM
Outdoors haunts in warm places im sure do very well, in Illinois and wisconsin it can be done but expect to be shut down a few nights because of rain. IT RAINS IN OCTOBER,LOTS!! This meens you shut down and lose profit!

Bearded bill put up a picture link, i watched it and saw a lot of code violatins if that haunt was in Illinois,maybe not so in New York.

A few i saw.

Black Plastic in the buildings with no sprinkler system!!!! UMM why?

Indoor lighting being used outside in the elements! How can they get away with this?

Power cords within reach of the patrons, a huge no,no for us. These pictures had cords strewn everywhere.

In all reality all these things could be avioded with a few more hours of work (cable ties and cord hangers,man power) and for a few bucks more a few sheets of plywood could have been used instead of the plastic.

I know when i build in the future, i will think very hard about each room and it's safety.
The key question is Who is their Fire Marshall ? and how do i get him relocated to my town!

03-24-2007, 12:22 PM
This was not my haunt, however when I told them these things, they said since they are run by the local government they have fire/ambulance/police on staff at their location every night which i believe they only run it for 1-2 nights tops.

But I agree with you completely.

Twisted Dementia
04-21-2007, 07:39 AM
Depending on location, don't forget about the natural resident's.

5 Years ago I did a small outdoor haunt for free in south Texas for a community center, very simple set-up and we had a lot of visiters including a black snake (lucky for us was not poisonous) which was probably the scariest part of the haunt. We had us stop everything for about 40 minutes untill someone who was brave enough to catch the snake and take it away.

Jim Warfield
04-21-2007, 12:56 PM
And took the black snake away without paying him either, I suppose?
OH well, in court he wouldn't have a leg to stand on.