View Full Version : Whats your opinion about a haunt with NO scares?

05-06-2007, 01:18 AM
I've been thinking and wondering since I do a party that basicly has no scares, just big impresive scenes. Would a haunt that has no scares work??

Don't get me wrong, I think I'm creative but trying to design a haunt, there are some things I dont know how to do. I can design scenes and put someone in the room for scares. I can even think of places for animatronics.

But, what I cant picture are all those other cool scares, like the drop down pictures/windows, you know all the random cool scares that nobody thinks of.

So basicaly I was wondering do you all think a haunt with no scares would work?? It technically would look like an abandoned haunted museum.


05-06-2007, 05:56 AM
I would think people would be disappointed if there were no scares, that is why they go to a haunted house, to get scared. I've found that having really detailed rooms are best if it enhances a scare. But most people will not notice the hard work of extreme detailing, they just remember that guy who jumped out on them, or the chainsaw guy at the end and so forth...


Jim Warfield
05-06-2007, 08:33 AM
Many will be "scared" just anticipating something happening and impressive locations or sets can influence this thought pattern.
If your patrons are all 14 to 18 years old, they will be expacting more than just scenes. If you are catering to familys with small children no scares also works because , well, you know why.
People tend to get critical of the money they just paid to enter a haunted attraction if they feel little effort was put into entertaining them. For some, entertainment does not have to be frightening(in the right setting)
I personally feel that high levels of anticipation, a creepy setting (an actual , really creepy setting is better) then have some starle/scares from which the majority will recoup quickly, having situations in which a few get scared and the rest of the group can laugh at them, is perfect.
Alternating who gets scared or startled is more than perfection, you will be creating often repeated memories, passing around the fun to everyone!
If everyone has "FUN", they will return for more of it.
Those who feel ripped off (that admi$$ion-thing again) might return to steal or vandalise......

05-06-2007, 10:09 AM
You could pitch it as a museum of sorts but I would let people know through your advertising. People pay to go into wax museums and those for the most part are just sets, it could work.

Greg Chrise
05-06-2007, 12:52 PM
Even if it is billed as a party and people are just left to wander or stand around, they will want to explore each scene just because it has been made available to explore.

Somehow a typical concept of a haunt is sending groups of people in a given path and pushing them through and they never go to the same place until they are ejected out the end and you are done with them and have their money.

On a different approach, there could be a secret corridor and a number of people mingle and wander and things happen from time to time as the back stage people find new victims. Thus instead of one actor doing a certain predescribed "scare" over and over 400 times, it might be that there are 200 options to get customers that each might only be done 4 or 5 times.

This customer interaction could be pretty cool as not only is there mingling but the entertainment factor is describing what happened to so and so down in the room they are trying to describe to each other. Instead of having 400 customers a night file through with only 10 minutes each for their $10 investment, it could be several hours with 400 people enmass experiencing the event because of the sheer size of the place and sharing an experience.

Think of how groovy a haunt dinner is. A large attraction usually $20 for a meal and a tour of the haunt for so many people. So why is it that a similar number of customers is just ushered though rather than given a similar evenings entertainment?

I know I have spent $80 in just gas going and coming to haunt dinners and this means customers will spread the word too and tell all their freinds whan an event is ON or when THEY will be attending from 2 plus hours away.

The strain of how much has to be in there is lessened as well as you would want 6 foot hallways so people could pass both ways in the experience. They leave when they are satisfied not when ejected.

Sure most people do expect to put up $10 to $12 and have a very hightened experience in only 15 to 20 minutes and this is perhaps the thrill but, it has been done for years. Top notch entertainment venues have headed to things more like "Interactive" entertainment venues. There is nothing more interactive than the grey squishy thing between the ears of the customer so give them the what's next museum with a few scares and thrills installed.

As far as scares not being operated over and over? It has been my experience that in the higher through put haunts it is a long trail of broken and not operating props anyhow only one is expected to file through looking at the inventory of nothing at a brisk pace. Why not slow it down and some of those things you figured did nothing come to life after yo have been standing next to it and quite comfortable being there for 10 minutes. Now that is a scare.

Then a dimension of hanger outers will occur as people will hang out and even socially engage others waiting to see Their reaction. Give them things to read, buttons to push to hear or see little presentations. You are training them to be comfortable when perhaps they shouldn't?

You could even have push the button and an actor does not come to life until the button has been pushed?

If you are indoubt about how this would work I would drive a few thousand miles and pay the man at Raven's Grin Inn $12 for a tour. It takes an hour and a half and even in one of these 4 hour marathon tours Jim gives there is no way the whole place can be absorbed and so you have the next 20 years of return customers creating a demand in their own head. They must see it, they must experience it at all cost even if the place is 1200 miles away and costs $12 to get in.

For decades the Raven's Grin Inn has been poo pooed as the way it "used" to be, but, it is the future. Interactive means more than pointing a lazer beam at spiderman, it means engaging.

The threatrical seance rooms I have seen attempt this but usually do to expense it remains one room like the GE Theatre from the world's fair and has a limited time factor and a given performance. Well, once you have seen this, you have seen it. No reason to return.

If it is ever changing and never fully experienced and continues to be talked about long after and before an event, you have something.

People have been trained to stand in line at the bank and the movies ticket booth. They have been trained to browse every isle of a grocery or discount store. So they will without guidance go through any place.

Now out in the real world the old customers tell new potential customers that it's nothing, groups of people go through and they do stuff to you, ultimately you spent $10 and it might not be worth it. Especially when they are the ones that will have to fork up the $10. Now if it is an event, you have something that can not so easily be put off or described away.

Ulitmately it comes down to the best marketing being people WANTING to come give you $10. Rather than just getting that small percentage of young people that have just never been to a haunted house before and have been able to weasel $10 despite all advice.

As you have done parties, there is no reason to alienate your existing party clients with oh, sorry you only run through in 10 minutes now methods.

Greg Chrise
05-06-2007, 02:35 PM
I'm thinking this event would be somewhere between a party and an everyone hold the rope and listen to the guide haunted house, where people complain that $10 to get in is ridiculous, that if they are having a party they should just invite people when they have some money to throw a party.

Yes, I have heard the complaints of even parties, let me get this straight, we get to come into your yard and pay you $10 to do so, there are no drinks, we stand in the sun all day and after dark a band shows up we don't necessarily care about? Well, we can go stand in roy's kitchen and drink for free so we will be at Roy's house.

In comparison you might gather 700 like minded people that have been trained bring their own bottle to stand in the sun talking to each other but when it comes to Halloween and there are decorations to see and you should get a costume together, that is such a bother that only 80 people show up. The rest were at Roy's house.

Really large multi haunt parks get an ambience going on. These days you pay anywhere from $19 to $43 to wander around and go through as many as 5 haunts and mingle, just take in the offerings, possibly even midway type games and activities but the bottom line is always the haunts are all broken down, the actors are on break and all the lines are long.

The haunters way today has been to make that 20,000 SF into 3 haunts. This sort of meets the same requirement of having an hour and a half worth of entertainment even if half of that time was standing in lines. Half of the entertainment IS looking at other people in line or coming up with some deviant self entertainment. One need not pay for this. Nor should one need to pay $3 a gallon for gasoline to go somewhere to do this.

So an event must be completely unusual and compelling these days. Not only is it going to be seasonal but can so easily be not attended because you have to do something like drive quite a distance or fashion a costume.

By geographically spreading out where the csutomers might come from changes things. This might be a meet up for people that previously only conversed on the internet or certainly mentioned what event they would be attending.

But, if the offering is lame or has previous customers able to completely descibe it's lameness, even $150,000 in advertising will not change that. The big venues with all the broken props just say it's the economy is why their numbers flatlined or have dropped but, it is sheer numbers of population. It still works for them to some degree but it is not as positive a function as it could be.

As far as animatronic props go, of course they are all broken, there aren't many even industrial machines that aren't designed to last more than 10,000 cycles. Have you ever heard of a haunt having 5 replacement props in the ready because they are going to see 50,000 customers? Nope. So after the first 10,000 customers, every thing is broken.

Humoungous numbers of customers does not mean actual success. Smaller venues with more efficient approach to how many cycles something must run or how many times someone will have to do something exactly like they were told is key to having a well thought of event. Doing all of this where cost is also watched is real success.

just like a museum something that has had hours in it's preparation will make people stand at each item for 10 minutes and read the card and look at something untill their brain rejects the input of useless information and just looks at the pretty pictures. Was it worth the entry fee? These days even the museums charge to get in unless you just walk in the door where the outdoor exhibits are. They are faced with making things interactive and engage the customers as well or it isn't worth going and paying.

I'm just thinking out loud here.

Duke of Darkness
05-06-2007, 02:51 PM
In addition to doing haunts, I do ghost hunts and theatrical seances. In these type of events, if you really want to scare someone, the effects have to be very subtle. An old key sliding a few inches across the table can be much more realistic, hence scary, than say a floating skull that glows in the dark. In my ghost hunts, the vast majority of the scares are in the patrons mind. I don't do anything at all. So, it is possible to provide a creepy, haunted experience with few, subtle, or even no scares.

The problem is this, people come to a haunt with certain expectation. If you placed them into the darkest, creepiest, old mansion and just let them explore, they might get really scared. The problem is that hey still would be unlikely to consider it a good haunted house or a good value for their money. Why? Because they came in expecting special effects, startle scares, actors, and more and those things were not delivered.

The bottom line is, I don't think that something billed as a haunt could keep customers happy without any real scares, no matter how much you managed to creep them out.

Just my two cents worth. I could be wrong.


05-06-2007, 03:22 PM
Thanks for all the input. I was just curious to see if it was a good idea or not. But if it was haunted mueseum with scares then it might work. lol

I like the idea about patrons pushing the button, but I think it would have to be on a delay so they can get scared. Cause once they push it they expect something to happen but if it takes time and they say to each other it didnt work, then BAM the scare comes to life and might even startle the patron(s) since they didnt think it was going to work. Antisipation is one thing and knowing whats coming is another.

Not saying I want to do a haunt with no scares, it was just a thought that came to my mind.

IMO I think a haunt with scares would do better than a haunt with no scares.

But in reality museums get thousands of people each year. And with the thought of a museum full of haunted house relics might work too. I dont know. Just my crazy brain at work again.


Greg Chrise
05-06-2007, 03:57 PM
On the contrary, pushing the button means you are in a certain spot. It might mean you are operating a scare that is getting other patrons, it might mean something crazy is coming out of the wall, the box or an air cannon from behind, the floor might vibrate. No way to know? The anticipation is sudden and senses sharpening. A crowd stands freaked all ready for what ever. It never is what is just in front of you lights up and moves one arm like a lame Christmas Elf display. It might even be a recorded message that says "thank you for pushing the green button"

A few might be just like a museum telling a spooky story with lights coming on various visual aids. One way or another, nothing is going to be usual or the same. People will want to have others be the button pusher and it might not get them at all?

While a group is facinated with when and if they will push a button IS the big distraction that allows for actors to come in from behind.

There are so many variations to this idea. I've watched people play with a fart machine for days in public restaurants. All you need is everytime you push the button a fart comes in a different style from a different place in the room or wind blows the curtains and you would have people in one room for 10 minutes.

You push a button and a curtain opens to show hundreds of sticks of dynomite all wired together with a little sing that says "I would run if I where you!"

They push a button and the doors slam shut and another to a maze opens where they feel compelled to enter and follow and can't leave untill they solve some kind of puzzle?

You might have the quandry of 4 buttons and you must push the right one?

You have to be creative. You push a button expecting to see a display and instead the ceiling slowly comes down and crushes everyone? It really stops at about 4 foot and is totally padded but, for a time as it slowly moved they freak.

You come to the pedestal in the center of the room, push the button and the doors close and the whole room rotates and there are maybe 12 door around you?

You push a button at the plaxiglas window and something bangs up against it with perhaps a slight random time delay.

After so many automated gags, having one where a live actor does something is 10 fold to the senses. The brain was ready to watch the nice machine and this did not happen.

It's like going down the Halloween toy isle, you have to push all the try me buttons even though you know it will be stupid.

Now look at your watch, how long have you been in here?

Duke of Darkness
05-06-2007, 10:32 PM
The push button scare reminds me of a gag that we did years ago. I don't remember where we got the idea, but it was very effective. We built what amounted to an ornamental wishing well. Attached to it was a bell and a sign that said, "Ring Bell For Monster." When the guest would ring the bell, a light would come on under the water and it would begin to bubble. This would last for about 10 seconds. Just as the guest were just turning away in disappointment, the monster came from above and behind them.

It was a great scare (as long as you didn't scare them right into the wishing well). I might have to resurrect this one.

damon carson
05-07-2007, 09:36 AM
I've been through many haunts that were like that. No scares! I mean they attempted to scare you but just didnt really pull it off. But alot of these so called haunts in this area they have kids working for them practically sayin boo to you as you go out the door. Really lame!

Jim Warfield
05-07-2007, 10:10 PM
I used to say :"Scaring people is not "Brain surgery", but you know IT IS!
No anesthetic! (No call-back!)

05-08-2007, 12:00 AM
:D I purposefully did not check any of the other posts regarding this topic related to your original question which was "could a haunt with no scares work"?. Based only on your question and your brief explanation about how you were talking about the idea of designing a haunt without out any drop-down panels,etc, my answer is yes! Now, before I go any further I will say that having door ways with curtains and doors with spring hinges and other pop-outs do help. But, in general, I don't think a haunt NEEDS drop down panels IF (please pay attention to this part) you have TALENTED ACTORS. As you may have heard once or twice in your life "the best resource a company has is it's people". Well, my creative friends, a haunted attraction is no different, and the actors are your bread and butter! For one, they are cheaper to train and pay ofr than big elaborate sets (including drop panels). Secondly, they are able to relate emotionally with customers. Now back to drop panels--they are effective, but if you have great actors that are in the customers walk path (either assigned to that room or perhaps a "roomer" who wanders throughout your haunt), then you are able to have them relate and interact more with the patrons as they walk through the room. As far as pop-out scares go, it is more effective to have an actor be able to come out of a hidden door in the wall or out from behind a curtain to startle someone than stuck behind a drop panel. But I don't even consider doors and pop-outs "scares". Scares come from actors, not from room designs, so when designing rooms it makes the most sense to have them assist in the actor in getting to a customer on an emotinal level. Drop panels do work, but I wouldn't use too many of them. They seem to turn a potential great actor into a stage hand, and coming from an actor that is death to my creativity. This is my opinion and thanks for listening.

Geoff Beck
Performer/Makeup Artist/Video Producer

05-08-2007, 12:11 AM
LOL! I was just watching the 1960s version of 13 ghosts. The guys door buzzer wrang and he got up to answer the door, opened the door and no one was there. Then a messangers hand appears and taps him on the back. It made me jump even though I expected it, I guess the music in the movie had something to do with it. LOL

05-08-2007, 12:35 AM
:) I just looked at the other posts now--very interesting! If you had a haunted museum in your backyard or as a professional haunt, again, I would have very interactive actors there to entertain your customers. I understand that this is just an idea you are throwing around in your head now, but I personally am not sure a haunted museum would work as a professionally run haunted attraction. As a backyard thing you do for a day or weekend near halloween--cool! But, either way, you have to move them emotionally. Even if it's not supposed to be scary (especially if there are a lot of young kids attending), you have to entertain them with "live" actors. I am a traveling actor who has worked at over 20+ professional haunted attractions (some with very expensive sets and animatronics), and it is my experience that the best entertainment and ability to interact with the customers is located in the "que line" or waiting area of a haunt. They usually have to wait for a while (between 20 minutes to an hour), so they feel like there is a definate attempt by the owner to entertain them if there are actors out there interacting with them. So, back to your idea. Could you have a haunted museum without scares? Yes, as long as you had actors that would entertain them and give the impression you went the "extra mile". Whether there is a fee involved or not, or if it is a party or not, people are the happiest when they feel someone really tried to give them a great show!

Geoff Beck
Performer / Makeup Artist / Video Producer

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 07:08 PM
It has taken me several days to come up with this!

You push the button and an ocean away in India, the scare has been "outsourced" with the use of microphones, listening devices and passive sensor systems.

"Hallo, My namw is Ganji....I am so happy to be scaring you today!"

I'm talking no pizza consumption and a troup of several in an affilate capacity, $4 an hour with no tax laibility and a work force always on shift to provide your scares with no breaks, flat rate payment billed on an account after the scares have been provided as contracted!

Jim Warfield
05-08-2007, 08:45 PM
Well to heck with actually having a structure just get paid for providing line-entertainment.
The line goes around a couple of turns but goes to nothing and no where!
No rent, no props, no compressors clunking along.
With people concerned about high ticket prices and a down economy charge a measly couple of bucks for being entertained in line and everyone goes home happy! No tare down! Just go to a car wash and hose off your makeup!
Neighbors complain about the crowds parking or the noise! Set up your line-entertainment in a new location every night!
All you would need would be a sign on the side of a van and dark.

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 08:55 PM
A van with a cash window on the side. Or to be cost effective, a subaru powered by free hydrogen with a sunroof.

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 09:00 PM
It could be the Halloween version of hands across America!

Jim Warfield
05-08-2007, 09:29 PM
Dried, severed hands of pick-pockets displined by the mid-east justice- ax!
"Chop til you drop!"

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 10:50 PM
There ya go, it's a conspiracy, even severed hands are outsourced.

Jim Warfield
05-08-2007, 11:37 PM
Oil soaked hands slipping so smoothly into our wallets, CAUGHT!
Look closely, under the smear of oil are fat golden rings showing club affilliations from local organizations, "Home boys" all, no foreigners allowed!

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 11:41 PM
The lions club? the kiwanas? The moose lodge?

Jim Warfield
05-08-2007, 11:47 PM
"Skull & Bones"? The Moronic Lodge?
Snake Oil Salesmen! The Mystic Mudhens? The Know-Nothings?
The International Brotherhood of Yes Men?
"Will a gallon of gas cost us $4.00 next month?"
Five years from now we will all be trying to remember the good old days when the computer in the corner didn't make us stay home all day to flush the toilet once each hour.
It is all about control..
..and the international price of corn mush.

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 11:56 PM
Yes, the greasy hand. They either work at Churches Fried Chicken or they are the Illuminati.

Greg Chrise
05-08-2007, 11:59 PM
I have to go. It's time for my robot sponge bath.

Jim Warfield
05-09-2007, 12:18 AM
A robot's sponge should have some oil in it unless it belonged to the Tin man in wizard of Oz, rusty old statue he was!
Speaking of robots.. I have been finding some very interesting old items while arranging my Dad's two buildings full of obsolete heating, air conditioning and plumbing parts and controls getting everything boxed and sorted for the auction in the beginning of June.
Most of the items are so old and obsolete that their value at the auction is very questionable? But "Robots?" ...maybe..... "Yes!"
(Using such items in their design will insure against duplication!!)

Warren Vanderdark
05-24-2007, 09:12 AM
I've long thought that there would be a market out there (say, the under 15 crowd) for a haunt that didn't have any of the bigger scares (i.e. chainsaws, autopsy rooms, animatronic zombies, etc.) and instead was loaded with more subtle scares. (Think the "haunted house" skits done by Abbott & Costello).

Imagine stepping into a dusty, cob-webbed library in an old house. You walk towards the center of the room when the lanterns on the mantlepiece suddenly flicker on and an old rocking chair suddenly begins to rock back and forth by itself. Above the mantle hangs the grim faced portrait of the late master of the house and his eyes are quite noticeably following you...

Jim Warfield
05-24-2007, 11:20 AM
Very good Warren. You realise though Bud & Lou had the help of the camera lense to put the audience's attention where it was supposed to be(and when)
What you describe requires small groups, some attention-getting acting and the energy to do this repeatedly for a long time but boy can it be alot of FUN!
Subtle things in the side vision, just at the edge of perceptible hearing, little sounds..."Are they real? Are they real rats chewing? Someone trapped inside of the wall trying to claw their way out?"
Once the customer's own imagination is engaged anything becomes possible in their minds, it then feeds upon itself with little or no outside stimulation, just stand back and watch! SO MUCH FUN!
You never know where it will lead them either!
Not that I would ever do such things to people coming here, lie,lie,lie,lie!

06-11-2007, 08:15 PM
Idea for you the USS Nightmare holds daytime walk throughs with the lights on and no actors for the kids. maybe you coud hold something like this during the day and have actors at night

06-12-2007, 12:32 AM
Turbidite Manor in California is a haunt without any classic haunt startle scares. The detail is incredible and the special effects are amazing. Great use of Peppers Ghost. Check them out at www.turbiditemanor.com. (http://www.turbiditemanor.com) Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDLlg2JzejM. If anyone knows how they do the quill illusion, please let me know!

06-12-2007, 08:47 AM
Quite honestly i hate Haunts with no scares. I go to a Haunted house to get scared, not look at the rooms. In a perfect world you should have a great mixture of both.

06-13-2007, 04:25 PM
A haunt with no scares... that would be something new! I'd love to hear how that works out. I think most people expect to haunted houses even if for kids have scares.


06-13-2007, 04:50 PM
WOW... I am loving this haunt so far! It's like there playing off of the same feelings/ambitions that make people want to tour REAL haunted places, but it's a fully designed attraction! So COOL!!!!! Thanks for the links. -Tyler

Jim Warfield
06-15-2007, 12:16 AM
A few nights ago I took a phone call just after midnight from a young woman who said she had been through my house twice and she wasn't scared and that I should "Spice it up, abit."
She went to another haunt that uses screaming in your face and chainsaws and she was "scared!"
If I promised her that I would "spice it up", then she would be bringing herself and 35 of her friends back here!
She was only here in October (with her 35 friends)
I admit it, in many ways "October" is not my favorite time of the year. I love to really tell the haunted history of this house in the front room accented by my use of some props and judiscious use of a hand-held small flashlight.
"You have to have most of the group's attention, or at least their good manners, to have a chance of them understanding what you are talking about and react correctly to the stimulation. They need to have an attention span to scare them or to entertain them."
"You just need to spice it up!"
She said this at least 50 times in 15 minutes of phone time, she might have been drinking?
"Come here some other time besides October and only bring three of your friends instead of 35." But of course if she shows up drunk , she still won't get scared or entertained--------short attention span, again.

The next night two couples were here and I overheard the one man (about 30) say:"This is the best haunted house I have ever seen, I mean he's scared me about 8 times already,..YIii!" He got me again!! (Yes I did) The tour was only half over.
Not really any high-tech here, just simple-minded stuff that maybe works because nobody is expecting it to work or they are just not expecting it? (or maybe had never seen it done before?)
Screaming cardboard cutt-outs, wrinkled garbage bags, home-made monster claw arms reaching silently for their heads and me just rolling up my shirt, biting it to keep it rolled up as I make a face (no makeup) (this is a drastic costume-change)
This complaing , maybe drunk woman, did inspire me to now have a new prop in my front room though, a special scary , potentially gory new" tool" disguised as something else.
All I need is to hear her say, "Spice it up abit" and I'll spring into action!!