View Full Version : Parking lot haunts

01-13-2008, 09:47 AM
I know I've heard of some people doing their attractions out in a parking lot under a tent or an open feild or somthing like that. But i was wondering how you could lock everything up, and keep things from being stolen, weather damaged, or vandalized.
Thanks in advance

01-14-2008, 07:15 AM
You'll need security. Set up in a location that already has security patrols, like many malls do. Make sure you tell the security office you will be there and the hours you're open/working. If you can, have someone stay on the property overnight inside the fencing. If you have any friends in the police dept. see what they can do, it makes a different for sure and in or out of uniform.

Weather damage, not much you can do there. Make sure you have things installed very secure, ratchet down any outdoor facades and use strong ratchets too. Keep sensitive electronics or animations away from the sides if you can, in a more secure part of the house fully walled in. Plan for the worse and hope for the best.


Jim Warfield
01-14-2008, 08:12 AM
Sandbags, weight and roping things to a car bumper might help fight wind, just don't drive away and forget to remove the rope!
Any sign or object can become a damaging object in the wind and wind does make itself known in October..sometime, most places.

01-14-2008, 09:51 AM
MDKing was right on the money. Security is a necessity. Bonus points if your parking lot is fenced off and lockable...but you still have to have someone there. And sometimes even that doesn't deter people from trying to sneak in.

If you decide to utilize a tent, make sure your tent flaps are secure when you close up for the night. Also be sure to check for holes, etc. Leaky tents are no fun.

Unfortunately weather is a hazard. If you are in an area where you have heavy snow...it may be worth your time to find a different structure for your haunt. Clearing snow off a tent is no fun.

01-14-2008, 04:41 PM
Thanks for the advice guys. And, luckly I live in Florida so snow won't be too much of an issue.


01-14-2008, 05:43 PM
Florida, thats were I am. No snow but, don' forget the hurricanes. You can put up a fence around the haunt and then put a dog in there or put signs up "Beware Of Dog" and then inside the haunt put a boom box that has a repeat button and burn a cd of dog sounds . People will think there are dogs inside and stay away. You could just turn on a TV so it sounds like someone maybe in there, things like this may or may not work but you can try.

Jim Warfield
01-14-2008, 05:58 PM
Just have a reversable sign for the haunt, flip it around when you leave so the curious may be discouraged from trying to enter the tent.

When we have hide & Seek groups here we tell them not to go out the north emergency exits unless it is a real bonofide emergency because if you do, you will just end up in DOG POOPLAND!

haverghast asylum
01-14-2008, 06:16 PM
Have some satanic sounding music play. no one in their right mind would go in.

01-14-2008, 06:34 PM
A parking lot is cheap and easy to find compared to the alternatives, but there are obvious trade-offs - problems with weather, security, no structure to work with, etc. Something I have been seriously looking into is the use of semi trailers. They are portable and you can set up a lot of your haunt inside well before the season starts. You would have to check with the building/fire departments to see how they would classify this, but it may allow you to combine the best of both worlds (cheap and semi-permanent).

01-14-2008, 06:56 PM
About the semi-trailers, do you have to purchase these or can you possibly rent them? Because this parking-lot haunt would probably just be for this season (if i decide to do it) and then I will most likely be moving indoors for the 09' season.

What part of florida are you in Somthingintheice? I'm up in Jacksonville.

01-14-2008, 07:49 PM
Even here in Southern California where things are expensive you can typically find these in the 45-foot range for under $1,000 each. You don't need something with eight new tires and great brakes, just something that is roadworthy. There are places you can rent them almost everywhere. Another option would be cargo containers, although they are a pain to move. The good thing about trailers in they have wheels on them, which is a big part of what makes them so attractive. There is a haunt in Vegas that uses them that is going to be a part of the tour.

Greg Chrise
01-14-2008, 08:42 PM
Even rain can suck. A parking lot has some mathematical gallonage of water run off heading toward your haunt at ground level even if the tent and such hold together fine. I have watched parking lot haunters run to the back to sweep out water that begins to accumulate in back rooms sufficiently high enough to start pushing walls around.

The solutions are, sand bag the upper side of the walls at floor level to divert run off water, raise the whole wall system on bricks or some other added device or don't do it.

For security, we are indoors and even I can't get in with out calling someone but, I have always thought any sensitive equipment and all the tools would be in a van or small enclosed trailer that can be pulled with a pick up truck and it goes home when the place is not in operation. You can go nuts with stereo type connectors to be like quick disconnects.

I also thought that there are usually lots of sensors to run lights, sound and props, why not have a second circuit for off time that just lets someone know there is someone wandering the halls in sector B?

For the most part, these kind of haunts have very few props, only walls in fear of things being taken and that sucks as far as entertainment goes. On the same token, lots of props and set decorations can be made cheaply and considered expendable or disposable. Sort of like you can tell how good a party it was because they took everything. Alas, no storage expense for those small items.

01-14-2008, 09:00 PM
I wasnt even thinking about the fact parking lots arn't completly level. I've never actually been to a tent haunt, so alot of this is new information to me. But, now trailers are looking more attractive than a tent, or it sounds like the extra money it would cost to go indoors would probably be worth it.

Thanks for the input.

01-15-2008, 01:29 PM
Jordan24, I'm in Melrose Florida. That's just east of Gainesville, home of Tom Petty and the Gators.

01-15-2008, 03:04 PM
I always thought it was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Is that his new group? :)

01-17-2008, 11:07 AM
I always thought it was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Is that his new group? :)
lol. very funny, ? you were making a joke right?

01-17-2008, 05:43 PM
We use trailers for our haunt in a park and theres never any problems. They are old construction trailers and we have a semi in the back for the dressing room, locks up at night and works perfect. Although the haunt is shorter than most 7-8 min, the scare factor is much better because the trailers are so small, the haunt has been named the most intense in state a few years running due to this fact. Heres some pictures and video, Good Luck!

Greg Chrise
01-18-2008, 01:01 PM
So many townships have adopted a no temporary establishment or no shanty town approach to what is exhibited or sold from tents. The permanent businesses don't like it when the carnival comes to the mall. It sounds like it would be an attraction but only to the property lessors so, this may have been more common back in 1979 or more recently only in the parking lot or off fields of an existing attraction.

Then, being inside city limits arguments abound wether even a tent show must have a sprinkler system, pay year round licensing and show to be an established company with all the liability insurance for workers, customers and property.

It can be done but, if a tent purchase or rental is in the neighborhood of $12,000 it just becomes obvious that that could go toward rent that would keep all of your stuff secure and out of the elements.

Back in the day it wouldn't be uncommon for an attraction to go with no top, totally exposed maze with no roof to by pass the sprinkler enforcement. This can also be done but, takes it's toll on how many years you will get out of your investment.

01-18-2008, 01:31 PM
Good points. Tents aren't nearly as cheap to rent or buy as you would think.

Jordan, Another option you have is a hayride type of attraction, as opposed to a house. Then things are generally built from the start with the weather in mind.

01-18-2008, 04:16 PM
No one ever said tent shows are easier, but if you live in in a strong urban center there simply isn't any available properties to rent or buy, without big bucks. Developers snatch up all available property often before you even hear it was up for sale. You do what you can with whatever you have until things change....


Jim Warfield
01-18-2008, 07:18 PM
An outdoor maze with no roof?
"See the New Flooded Maze! Aquatic monsters! Drowned lifeguards!
Did you get wet in there or did you get excited?"
Stay away from the "Yellow-Water" Zones!
"Floaties" too! Lincoln Logs float too but these aren't them!