View Full Version : First Year Going Pro - single theme or no?

03-15-2012, 08:22 PM
Greetings Haunters! :)

I registered on this forum a couple years ago to get ideas and learn about how to make my home haunt better. This year I have been offered the opportunity to potentially take my haunt to the next level, which I am extremely excited about! I also look forward to being more involved on the forums and getting to know everybody. I'm definitely a newbie to professional haunting but I want to learn as much as I can from you all!

My first question is for a first-year pro haunt, do you think it's better to do a single theme haunt or one that has a wide variety of sets and themes? I love the storyline and detail that goes into single-theme haunts but I have so much random stuff from my home haunting days that I feel could be put to use if I had a haunt with a bunch of scenes... if that makes sense. If this year goes well, my goal is to have several different houses at my attraction at which point each would have a unique theme, but for this year I am at a loss...

Thank you so much!

03-15-2012, 08:40 PM
Starting your account over since just yesterday???


03-15-2012, 08:46 PM
Not sure what your question is, but I registered back in 2009 and unfortunately didn't make any posts during the time I was viewing the forums (felt insignificant compared to all of the pros :P) but I'm back and will definitely be more engaged this time around. :)

03-15-2012, 08:48 PM
I may be confusing you with another guy who was defending the Money back haunt guy yesterday.



Bradenton Haunted Trail
03-15-2012, 09:02 PM
Congrats and good luck from Twisted Woods in Sarasota Fla. If you need some local help just PM me I will share any info that I can.


Scenic Art Productions
03-15-2012, 10:03 PM
I really am a fan of themes with a story to tell. I, if you are wanting to use items you have from your home haunt would ask myself some questions. First I would look at these items and weed out items that would look like they were made for a home haunt. Since you are going pro you want to look pro. Then I would look at these items and see if there was something in common with them. Find a common ground. From that you can start a theme. Then from there you can get your story line answering these questions. Where am I? What happend here? How and why did it happen? Who did it? Who was it done to? Who else was involved? Once these questions are answered you can start designing and building. I hope this helped. Please let me know when you open. I would love to see it. I was thinking of drving down this year to see Twisted Woods also.

Thank You,
Robert Travis
Scenic Art Productions

03-15-2012, 10:16 PM
Personally, im a fan of single-storyline haunts. I, personally, find them much more original and entertaining... (thus they usually appear to be a good value for my entertainment dollar!)

Ive NEVER been to or worked for a haunt that theme-jumped and still impressed me... i might be completely wrong and missing the good ones, but i just havent seen it done well enough to seem impressive.

I'd really like to hear everyones input and suggestions as to how you would successfully theme-jump extremely and still come across as a wow the crowd pro show. input? anyone?

03-15-2012, 10:27 PM
Shawn: Thank you so much! We're pretty close in distance; I live in Tampa but the haunt will be in Fort Myers. I would love to collaborate and also visit your haunt. :)

Robert: I really appreciate the feedback and suggestions. The goal is to go pro... so I will definitely need to re-evaluate a lot of my inventory to maintain that professionalism. Great ideas.

icarian: The theme-jumping element would definitely be the most challenging... and I'm a sucker for a good backstory and theme too, so I'll probably end up deciding on single-theme attraction.

Thanks guys for all of the feedback - very much appreciated!

Howie Slobber Erlich
03-16-2012, 06:20 AM
Since I have owned the haunt that I own now, half the years had a specific theme and the rest were rooms I just liked. Both ways have worked for me. If you do it right, either way can work. I have had customers who loved the mixed up rooms not knowing at all what to expect and then I have patrons who liked the theme haunts much better. I change every room in my entire haunt every year so that allows me a bit more freedom in room designs. So if you have a permanent location and you are using, a "Mansion" theme for example and don't want to have to change it over completely each year then you may want to stick with the same theme. If you're starting fresh each year you can mix it up or provide a theme. Either way, just make sure to give your customers a good show worth the ticket price and you will be just fine.

Good Luck,

Howie "Slobber" Erlich
Deadly Intentions Haunted Attraction

03-16-2012, 06:33 AM
Just my opinion of course, but our haunt is on a farm so we immediately thought we needed a farm themed haunt with a back story etc. but then once we really looked at it.....it is HARD to theme a 8-10K sq. ft. haunt with nothing but farm rooms and.....even harder to change it year after year. So we decided to put in a little of everything into our haunted house in hopes that eventually we can reuse the props again. For instance we have an asylum in the haunted house....if we ever want to do a seperate attraction of an asylum we will already have half of the set and props. Once I again it may just be my target audience but they really enjoy the different themes and I'm not sure they "miss" not having one theme or backstory that matches if there isnt one there. If you tried to tie in egyptians with hazardous with aliens with asylums under one story then yeah I could see where it would be a problem......but I agree with the post above I think opening a door and not really knowing what kind of room is next is just another element.

03-16-2012, 06:42 AM
I'm a fan of single themed haunts, but having multiple attractions with varying themes.

When I visit a haunt and see a polka dot room that goes into the dungeon then into the doll room, through the waterfall swamp scene past the hillbilly shack then onto aliens and finally the Exorcist/cemetery scene I've pretty much checked out. I mean sure it can be fun to see the different sets and styles but I think sticking to a theme requires more creativity and narrows the focus and vision for the designer. For some people that makes it too hard and they find the random scenes easy.


03-16-2012, 06:49 AM
Congrats on your new challenge. I hope that you have done research by actually going to other haunts, talking with other haunt owners one on one, and have a business plan. Ask another haunt from a distance away from you to mentor you and have them review your business plan as well.

Start with a single event. Start with a name that can be kept as your namesake with other events that are added later under that unmbrella. Look at Haunted Network, Talon Falls, Indy Scream Park, Wisconsin Feargrounds, and others for examples of that. My event has been around for many years and has no growth opps with our location. But, when I did my corn maze with haunted hay ride and haunted corn, we named it JamBam's as the umbrella name.

Do that first single event very well. Then add another event in a year or two, Then another if needed/wanted. From what I have heard from others about 70% OF customers at multi events buy the whole ticket package. Some price it so that nearly everyone buys the whole package. Look at Harold's Scare Fair for an example of that. Mike Goff, Harolds owner is speaking at Midwest Haunters as well.

Your customers will like the expansion over time better that trying to be all / end all the first year, especially if your attempt is weak.

Business plan is key to make sure you are on the right track, budget wise so plan cautiously.

Good Luck

03-16-2012, 08:44 AM
I've always felt that while most haunters appreciate a Single-themed haunt, it will be lost on 95% of your customers. Half probably wont even see most of the sets, and the other half don't analyze haunts like we do.

That being said, going with a single theme could definitely work. But if it's easier to do different styled rooms/halls/etc., with it being your fist year, go for that.

03-16-2012, 08:57 AM
As another 1st year I'm doing several themes which all tie together.

03-16-2012, 09:16 AM
I'm a big fan of the single theme also. I find you will have a better following if you can build a great story/theme for the public to grab on to.

That's all i got it's been a long week and a half. LOL


03-16-2012, 10:18 AM
Congrats on going big time. Let me know if I can be of assistance. I have worked with several first-year haunts and gotten great feedback and results, including a few on this board...

Haunted Prints (EOM)
03-16-2012, 08:03 PM
I've always felt that while most haunters appreciate a Single-themed haunt, it will be lost on 95% of your customers. Half probably wont even see most of the sets, and the other half don't analyze haunts like we do.

That being said, going with a single theme could definitely work. But if it's easier to do different styled rooms/halls/etc., with it being your fist year, go for that.

I am a huge fan of theme haunts, but I agree with The Great Phantasmo. The average custom will lose track Of the theme will running and screaming thru your haunt. You can have a theme and still incorporate various scenes as long as they aren't completely out of place. Build a quality haunt that is memorable and scary. Thats what will keep the patrons coming back.

03-17-2012, 07:21 AM
For your first year going pro, I would recommend sticking to a generic theme. You're going to have so much going on that you weren't thinking of, or didn't count on that you should concentrate on putting on a good, solid show. Once you build up a following, you'll have a feeling of what your audience likes and can start a theme from there. My advice is to concentrate on building a good, solid show; make sure everyone who comes through enjoys themselves, and don't skimp on your website in order to save money! (I'm speaking from personal experience!). Good luck.

03-17-2012, 08:03 AM
I do a haunted trail through a corn field. I do not have a central story but do tend to stick with sci-fi monsters and hollywood bad guys. I am ALWAYS changing scenes props. I am in a trading circle. Last year I swapped out my Distortions Gargoyle Shock for a SF Hallway to Hell for a year. This year Gargoyle is going to Realm of Darkness in Pontiac and she is loaning me a prop for one year. Customers seem to like 'wonder what they did this year?" and keep coming back because it never gets stale. Vortex tunnel at beginning will probably NEVER leave. After that anything goes.. but you do not have the abrupt change in a field like a house does. I have a couple 8foot by 10foot tarp covered shacks along the trail...withches shack...etc. The only thing "fun' for me is "change"....and how customers react. I am afreaid I would burn out doing same stroy over and over.

It could be argued that monsters in the corn is my theme...but the monsters always change.

Wicked Farmer