View Full Version : A ball park figure

Mr. Haunt
04-16-2007, 02:52 PM
By the research that I have done, it looks like you need a good chunk of $$$$ to start a haunt. Leonard has suggested that if you do not hire a consultant, not to open a haunt. I have researched haunt consultants and the prices they charge for services. It looks like, to hire a consultant, I would need to spend anyware from $1,000 to $20,000 just for their work. So if I need to hire a consultant and to pay for the actual bulding of the haunt, advertisement, legal issues, costumes, props, lighting, safety features, and other stuff. I am looking to need at LEAST $50,000.00 to build and opperate an average haunt. Or am I wrong with my figures?


04-16-2007, 03:24 PM



04-16-2007, 06:12 PM
I am just curious to how many have actually hired a haunt consultant and have they felt like they got their moneys worth?

I hear that Leonard Pickel is one to avoid.
But I only hear from the consultants that we should hire them...
What have you all come to believe about consultants?


Duke of Darkness
04-16-2007, 06:43 PM
I think whether you need a consultant or not depends on a number of factors.

1) What is your level of experience? Acting a few years in a haunt does not necessarily equip you to open one that will be successful both financially and in providing entertainment. On the other hand, my partner and I have 30 years haunt experience between us, including designing, building, acting, managing, training staff, etc. We also both have strong business backgrounds. I certainly don't feel that we would get that strong a benefit by hiring a consultant. That is NOT to say that it would be worthless, even from a group as experienced as we are.

2) What do you want and need to accomplish with the haunt? Are you trying to create a large attraction that is to be financially self sustaining and perhaps provide you with an income? Is this going to be a very major financial investment for you? If so, consider a consultant. On-the-other-hand, if you are opening a haunt because you love haunting and want to take it to the next level; if it is more of a "professional hobby" on which you are not risking your life savings our depending on for income, then you may not want a consultant.

3) Can you find a consultant worth hiring? I am not directing this at anyone in particular, but the truth is that anyone can call themselves a consultant. If you consider hiring one, be sure to ask about the successful haunts they have run. Also make sure to find out why they are consulting rather than running a haunt now.

The bottom line is that no one can tell you whether you need a consultant. A consultant does not guarantee success but, unless you know what you are doing, not hiring a consultant may guarantee failure.

That is my two cents worth, but since I am acting as a consultant in this matter, you can send me a nickle.


Mr Nightmarez
04-17-2007, 05:45 AM
You can open a haunt on your own if you have done the research and possibly worked w/ a couple haunts "learning the ropes" - If you are a "Home Haunter" jumping into the fray w/ no research, background or business sense, I would say a consultant would be a way to consider.

What do you want from a consultant>? We run our own haunts and consult.
But our consulting goes further than just "consulting" on some.
We actually manage, produce, and build events. So in reality we are a managing/consulting.

In most cases someone may have pricing on their site, but everything in life is negotiable...

So DO YOU need a consultant? If you are asking the question - then Yes maybe you should, but if you feel comfortable running on your own - Go For It!

Who should you hire...if you decide to go w/ a consultant? Who you feel comfortable with... and someone who has some clients that you can talk to about their experience with them.

Good Luck!

Jim Warfield
04-17-2007, 07:27 AM
Running a haunt is brain surgery. Where and how you slice into the customer's skull varies alot and depends upon which style of entertainment you are thinking you will be proficient at sustaining.
If you think the haunt business is a simple, quick money making scheme then you obviously need some brainwork yourself.
Need a consultant? How much talent and ambition and mental capacity to learn do you already own inside your skull?
Nobody knows it all . Things are changing all the time as far as any entertainment business goes.
Egos must be balanced as you go, you will need self confidence and ego to make your dream happen but too much ego will see you dancing along the edge of a steep cliff, reality checks are necesarry often(although many may disagree with this)
As a child did you buy all of your toys or did you fill in with your own talent to imagine? Or did someone else buy them all for you?
If you laugh at others who spend 25 years rolling up the largest ball of string maybe you should reconsider because the mirror may someday give you the shock of your life when it shows you next to a big ball of string that you thought was gold thread.

Greg Chrise
04-17-2007, 10:15 PM
So now you have figured out the game? The 30 or so people knowledgeable people that have been answering your every question will be expecting their cut of this $20,000 consultation fee. We only pretend to be overly helpful and free.

Now reviewing your itemized bill, you might wonder if all those questions were all necessary. Hmmm.

RJ Productions
04-18-2007, 04:15 AM
Dave brought up some good questions!
As to Ryan’s questions, I myself was asking the same questions. I have been instrumental in developing the interest of the trailer style haunt with articles in Hauntworld Magazine and seminars at TransWorld. Having been asked to share my experience as a consultant, I began delving into related questions.

My questions ended up creating an article for the upcoming Hauntworld magazine about consultants! What timing!!!

Consultants can be a very useful tool if you get one that can really help you. Hopefully the article can help define questions to see if a consultant IS the best thing for you. You are absolutely correct in that all we ever hear from are people who do consulting stating you need to hire them. Although I am the first to state that a good consultant can save you thousands of dollars, sometimes a consultant is NOT what’s best for certain individuals.

The first and biggest question you need to ask is the person’s REAL experience. This is one that really bothers me. Face it everyone “pads” their resume, but look at our industry. The number of real FULL TIME people in this business is a very small. We are only a month long business. People claim YEARS of experience. If you have a 9 to 5 job, most people’s REAL experience starts a month before they open the haunt through Halloween day. So they really work on haunt related activities all of September and October.

When Halloween’s over, they pack things away and their only real activity in the business is chatting on message boards and playing with a prop in the off season. September rolls around and they are knee deep in Halloween again. But how much EXPERIENCE do they really accumulate???? Do they have a full YEAR’s experience or do they have TWO MONTH’s experience over the past year???

Sometimes it is very easy to figure things out. You go to their web site. The home page may say things like “two decades of Haunt experience”. Or they have “…designed attractions across the country.” Then by looking through their OWN web site you see they started by working on a high school haunt in 1982 and finally opened a pro haunt in 2003. Yet they claim over 20 years experience???? 2003 to 2006 is only 3 years, and were they even full time in 2003?

Another works a haunt with their family back east. They move west and several years later open a haunt there. Now they claim to have “…designed haunts across the country.” Sure, one in one state, a second in another state “across the country”.

A consultant may make claims of designing over 70 attractions. But if you look on the same person’s website you only find 25 or 26 clients listed?? Now I am sure he could be listing each individual attraction and one client could have had 2 or 3 attractions. So this person COULD have actually designed 70 attractions. But then you read through the web site and again, numbers do not add up. It makes you think, did he really do that many? Is he listing total attractions but not all the clients? Are there clients that were less than satisfied??? Working with one or two clients a year is actually good for a consultant in this industry so why fabricate false information?

Face it we ALL like to tell the story of how we started as a little kid, and then decorated our yards for years. (Some yard haunts can be as complicated as some small pro haunts!) I myself have had that kind of amateur experience. But having done everything from kid haunt to yard haunt to pro haunt I can tell you NOTHING sets you up for what you will go through when you go pro!

So what is the answer?? It may be helpful to know that a person has a life long passion for holiday, but does that really translate into actual EXPERIENCE??? A boy wants to be a doctor since he is 5 years old, he lives and breathes wanting to be a doctor. In his first year as an intern you meet him in the emergency room. You’re bleeding; he appears quite young so you ask how much experience he has. Do you want him answering, “I have over TWENTY years experience” (since he was five!) or the truth that “…well this is my first week in internship”???? You’re now in the haunt business “bleeding” money on your project, which answer to do want????

I guess is a “teaser” for the article, but hopefully one that can start some productive conversation here (boy can we use some of that!!!) Since the article is not finalized for print I would be happy to hear from people and their experiences, good and bad with consultants. I do not want to do a fluff piece or a hatchet piece either. I do believe there is a real need for consultants. We just need to arm ourselves and educate ourselves. Hopefully we together can accomplish that.

Any comments you want to voice off list or provide for the article, just email me at rich@rjproductions.biz

Ken Spriggs
04-18-2007, 07:42 AM
Did you ever think that the longer the post........the less people actually read them?

Consultants........DO YOU NEED THEM? Yes and No

If you are looking to start up and have no experience what so ever....YES you need to hire someone. If you have been doing haunts for the last 10-15 years with other people and you want to do something on your own.....no consultant needed.

We (Dreamreapers/Nightmares, Inc) have NEVER hired a consultant.
But between the 4 owners we have 50-60 years of experience.
This will be our 8th year in operation......5-6 of them we were open for Transworld....We aren't getting rich.....but we have a fulltime 18,000 square foot facility to play in all year round (just incase someone wanted to know the cost yearly for rent.....$125,000 welcome to Chicago)

Greg Chrise
04-18-2007, 10:48 AM
The dream job of being a consultant with several projects a year paying $20,000 a year pretty much does not exist. People have their shingle out waiting for that dream customer to call and say they have that first $2500 and get to work. This might have once existed when all the amusement parks were looking for the next step in designs but places like Halloween productions that actually do the work rather than tell you what to do for a price have taken what ever small market there might be.

So all other potential consultants have gone into the next level which is information services to the poor and huddled masses or whoring out those that have an extra hour of information.

In fact to the regular sized facility, that $20,000 would mean instant death and has to so many new start ups. This forum is a replacement for hiring a consultant as people do offer their experiences and their payment is perhaps fully hearing their thought worked out or getting some feedback that adds to what they have at the top of their head. Literally many consultants working together attempting to bring others up to speed but, the advice is only as good as the questions.

The really good questions and misnomers put off by general how to be in business information and putting on an event with low funds do not match yet, a consultant must take the high road and say this is how it should be done, if you do it any other way it will be at your own detriment. That will be $500. Thanks alot Mister Consultant, it isn't the information we were looking for. Oh, you already had your own opinion? Hope that workd out for you.

So you learn by doing or by communicating. There are so many situations and unforseen opportunities or liabilities that no one "god" voice could have the correct first time responce so to attempt to be such a person is a bad choice of endevor.

On the other hand, no one is getting paid for any information. It literally IS people hearing themselves talk or think and I hear complaints about posters being a bit too "hearing them self talk" fasciintated. But, you get what you pay for.

In the higher levels of information people with 5 years experience feel like they shouldn't ask questions as they are embarrassed, they should have known that or done something differently. So these forums are held to smaller levels of possible thought like "what do I build walls out of" and is there a portable sprinkler system" and "where do I get latex"

For the next "free" level of information you must buy books, videos, travel to seminars and as many other haunts as you can over a period of time. If you cannot do that you might as well hang it up and stay in momma's basement, on grandpa's farm in the neighbors garage.

It takes YEARS to decide how you will do this or that. You would think listening to the advice of someone with years of experience would fit every situation but it doesn't. It only explains how it WAS done when the general customer standards and expectations were a bit lower.

You should have $150,000 they say, no situation has the training and prepackaged winning formula as a Subway restaurant franchise so you must still hold yourself responsible for your experience and confidence.

You will still spend that $20,000 perhaps but over years of education and mistakes like everyone else.

And like the Subway franchise, at some point no matter how much money you have it will come down to being a sandwitch artist at some point when others do not show up so you better be comortable with all of the doing positions.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2007, 06:38 PM
I have followed the knowledge of one prominant consultant and the end result is you are qualified to be a wall mover, maybe draw out a floor plan and communicate where the walls will go and why. Let this be no mistake, you are not a haunter at this point, you are a wall mover. Sure that's worth $20,000.

Then you must follow the advice of another to find the proper people to be actors and how to keep them interested.

You need yet another to set the tone of the patrons entertainment and then another to get into more technical effects. Perhaps another to figure out an advertising or a web prescence. So you need 8 consultants. At $20,000 each that's $160,000 and you haven't bought your first screw yet.

So this is where paying $300 for seminars or even putting $300 plus into 40 hours of videos and keeping up with the magazines and forums is positively the deal in comparison.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2007, 06:43 PM
Or read all of Jim Warfield's 6,666 posts and figure out what little secrets he hasn't given up yet. That's totaly free. When you are done catching up, then ask questions.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2007, 07:35 PM
If you follow the industry,

You could have.....

The detail of the Darkness
The characters of Netherworld
The permanence of Raven's Grin Inn
The locations of Ripley's Haunted Adventures
The number of customers to Disney's Haunted Mansion
The Web prescence of Hauntworld
The advertising campaign of Screams in Texas
Throw in a vortex tunel, a cave, a great facade, a little triangular grid action,

It would have a 50 year run and nourish 3 generations of your family.

and build it all out of found items from the dumpster, on donated property, with volunteer actors that compete for the chance to work there, insured by Evil Kenevil and Loydd's of London.

CNN and People Magazine and Robin Leech would wait for YOU to declare it was Halloween.

Start sending money and it could all be yours.

Jim Warfield
04-18-2007, 10:16 PM
But nobody has yet answered Mr. Tuxedo's question! How do you place the walls of a triangular grid inside a vortex tunnel?
Do they maintain their 60 degree angle when spinning?
Do Simpleton Straps still work at speed?
Come on you great myndz where r u now?
OK, I admit it. I once took $ for "Consulting" (versus the usual insulting)
I smartly stayed talking about what I know, "Wackiness", every haunt needs alittle wackiness, I got lots, dribbling from my ear holz...

04-18-2007, 10:26 PM
Mirror the walls to turn the vortex tunnel into a kaleidoscope.

It will drive Mr. Tuxedo crazy.

Greg Chrise
04-18-2007, 11:10 PM
The OSB walls breaks up into small wood chip particles and gasifies and the vortex tunnel becomes the induction system to a powerful boiler that creates a full 3 Volts to run your computers clock battery. For the haunt it is known as the tornado room. 3D safety goggles are dispensed on the way in and on the way out, they are collected by the local Lions club volunteers. Wearing their traditional yellow vests and badges.

The simpson strong ties have clamped previous patrons to the cloth skin of the rotating tunel and they scream in unison once with every rotation.

Or not.