View Full Version : Space Is Too Big. Who'da thunk?

Uptown Haunts
06-14-2008, 05:13 AM
Hi, Everybody,

Wouldn't ya know it? After searching 3 years, tons of money spent on the business loan, storage payments, property owners/managers only looking for long term lease tenants, red tape associated with code requirements, I may have finally landed a great property for my haunted house attraction in NE Philadelphia, Pa. but it's kinda huge. 33,000 sq. ft. huge. Being new to the business and with 2008 being my first season, my ability to fill this huge space is somewhat limited. Space needed for my haunt would only be about 5,000 sq. ft. which leaves 1/2 acre of vacant, industrial space.

Before committing to this monster, I was wondering if any haunters in the Philadelphia area would be interested in sharing this space for 2008. Due to the building configuration, you could very easily setup 2 huge haunts or 4 average hunts. Possibly 5. Main (original) building has 12,000 sq. ft. of space with column spacing of 33.5x40 and newer building addition is 16,000 sq. ft. with 30x40 column spacing. Wet sprinkler system, exits are conducive to haunted house attractions. Parking lot isn't too big but on-street parking will take care of that. Rest rooms are limited. Only 3 of them with 2 being in the front office area. Office and mezzanine areas total 4,800 sq. ft. and are in addition to the 12,000 and 16,000 sq. ft. spaces. I contacted the City of Philadelphia in regard to zoning, special requirements specific to haunt attractions in the city, etc. but have not heard from them yet. I'll keep at it with phone calls, e-mails and snail mail.

The rent is cheap and the building is huge. If interested in possibly sharing this space, curious about it or if you have any suggestions to utilize this huge space more effectively, please e-mail me with your haunt space requirements, questions and/or comments. If I can't fill this space effectively, I will have to continue searching for something smaller. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanx.....


Jim Warfield
06-14-2008, 03:53 PM
To suddenly fill that much floor space..you would have to have alot of "Stuff" and alot of plain old money to make it happen.
A very daunting task without an army of good helpers, paid or not.
Even if you could manage to fill a 1/3 of it effectively, some customers , if walked through the totally empty space would still feel as if they had gotten ripped off because of the empty space, illreguardless.
You would suffer fewer complaints to just wall-off the unused portion, or maybe have a rock-n-roll dance going on there, or a haunted track meet with competitors in costumes as they ran, threw and jumped.
Wrap the posts with a lot of soft padding, turn off the lights and let everyone wander around in a wall-less dark experience.

Uptown Haunts
06-15-2008, 06:49 AM
Hi, Jim,

Filling that huge space is a major concern of mine because of the 'perceived value' customers will have when they walk through. A huge building and a tiny haunt. It just won't look right. Like going to Bike Week with all those Harleys, etc. and I roll up on a scooter. < Meep, meep! > "I'm here!"

With the clock ticking and no takers to help fill the space, I'll continue searching for something smaller. Classic case of Murphy's Law. If I find out who this Murphy guy is he's getting a knuckle sandwich!

The building itself consists of two warehouse spaces joined at the hip so to speak. I can use the front (original) section which is 12,000 sq. ft. Much easier to fill. One thing I considered is just setting up a dark maze for maybe a $2 up charge. Or, since I was supposed to do a haunted trail at an area farm (that deal fell through), do the haunted trail indoors but that will require replicating hundreds of trees. Although, I guess I could put up camo tarps on chain link (rented) fence and zig zag the people through a long 'trail' experience. I could even run the trail through standard haunted house passage ways painted to look like the outdoors.

If I happen to acquire another haunter(s) to help fill the space, that would be superb because it would be more of an event rather than just a couple of haunts which obviously increases perceived value. I may be new at this but I've been paying very lose attention to the how-to books and videos, other haunts, message boards, horror films and learned some very useful stuff at the Horrorfind seminars in 2005. Actual hands on experience is what's lacking but, with the message boards and thanks to folks like you, Jim, my fear of moving forward is gradually becoming a distant memory.


Jim Warfield
06-15-2008, 08:02 AM
Having an indoor trail might be easier than you think.
Old farm machinery situated for displays and other normally outdoor items might go a long ways to fool people into thinking they were outside.
Some real dirt brought in for the floor would also help.
People are regularly fooled here thinking they are still indoors until they happen to eventually look up and see the night sky above them.
This realization usually happens right after I overhear them say, "We are in the basement now."
I once had a group of architects going through here , they were all in town attending Campbell Center and they spent days later arguing with one another as to where they had been in which part of the house, which part was above what part?
I felt pretty "smart" being able to mess with those guy's minds to such an extent.
Another time during a Murder/Mystery I had going on here a young man suddenly began repeating himself to me saying, "I'm an architect, this is amazing! I'm an architect, this is amazing!"
He was scripted in the mystery to play the owner of my house and it was just him and me sort of behind the scenes as I was showing him around, since he was supposed to own the house he had to have that advantage of such knowledge over the rest of the players.

06-15-2008, 03:00 PM
Jim has a good point about making an indoor trail. You could make up multiple scenes that reflect the outdoors such as cemetery, forests, swamps, old creepy cabins, Crypts, and than all that leading into your haunted house.

Uptown Haunts
06-15-2008, 03:40 PM
Yes, Moto,

I agree with Jim and your suggestions. Since posting my earlier response, it got me thinking about alot of things that could be done in this space. Usually, space is lacking. Not this time. Thank God for message boards and haunters like you. Let's just say that I will probably use a good portion of the ideas posted here but, as we all know, inspiration will take hold as I get moving on this. Bailing out of this big space may not be necessary but it's a shame I can't find other haunters to help fill it for a mere two or three thousand dollars a month in rent. Where else are you gonna find something like this? A place where haunts are okay and a short term lease. This property owner and leasing agent are a dream come true for those of us who have to seek out a short term location yearly since we don't own haunt space.

The idea of a trail leading to the haunt was one idea that popped into my head earlier when I was thinking of all the ways this could actually work out. The more we kick this around, the better it gets. There may be a chance to make this work after all. It's just that doing the whole place on my own seems a little overwhelming.


Greg Chrise
06-15-2008, 04:10 PM
If you lok at how a dark ride works, the cars go from end to end, the lights come on and show you something. That something is right next to the last something you saw only the lights are not on to see it.

So, you have the haunt front and center with several flower pedal runs out into large open scenes that only the ones they are in are offered low light.

Of course this is all magic.

06-15-2008, 04:30 PM
If I have lived in your area I might consider joining up with you. 2 separate haunts in ONE location!! Split the cost 50/50 for advertising and such. Makes out to be a good deal I think. Dang

06-15-2008, 04:45 PM
Yeah its too bad we didn't hear about this earlier. We could have moved out there. I want to move to a major city.

Uptown Haunts
06-15-2008, 05:08 PM
I wish I could've landed this location sooner. My search for a haunt location started in 2005. About a month ago, I finally got a positive response to my request for a haunt location from a leasing agent who represents an investor who is actually catering to short term lease tenants. Perfect for our kind. This leasing agent is also familiar with the haunt industry due to a previous business partnership with people who are now successful haunters in the Philly burbs. Prior to that, all I found were places where long term leases were required or they didn't want a haunt there, etc. What would I do for the remaining 11 months of the year in a long term lease? It's insane. I've spent tons of money for the business loan and storage fee payments. About $1,300 out each month and nothing coming in for 3 years. Not a good recipe for success although, with this new real estate source and the right business decisions, I may be able to salvage everything I've been working toward.

If moving to a new city is a serious option for you, the property owner and leasing agent are here to stay. Something to think about and they're buying up more properties. Philadelphia is a pretty big city. The burbs surrounding Philly are built up as well but cut throat code enforcement. Thanx again for all of your thoughts, comments, ideas, suggestions, recommendations and ongoing encouragement. We're all in this together.


hearsley gray
06-15-2008, 10:12 PM
We have 60,000 SQ feet, And do I have storys to tell!!
I would be happy to talk with you, I have been there and done that!


Be careful!

Uptown Haunts
06-19-2008, 10:31 AM

I'm sure with a bigger Halloween attraction space comes even bigger haunting issues. One can only imagine.....


06-20-2008, 10:45 PM
It definitely would be tough to pass up on that much space when starting out. After all of the years in our current spot, we have run into major space issues for storage, workshops, etc. We are now rushing to find a piece of property to build into a storage facility. Ever think about subleasing out some of your space to vendors?
Not necessarily haunt related, but things like concessions and trinkets for the kids always sell.

Steve I try to make it out to Philly a few times a year. Last year my crew and I got to tour some of your competition right after halloween. If I make it out there early this year, I'll gladly meet up and share some stories with you. Granted I've only been a pro haunter for 5 years, so I'm far from an expert.

Uptown Haunts
06-21-2008, 11:10 AM
Hi, Damon,

Thanx for writing. In spite of this possibly being my first year, I already know there will be space issues. Just securing a location has been a nightmare (no pun intended). Renting space to vendors was a consideration but based on everything I've heard or have been told about selling food and/or merchandise at events like this, it doesn't usually work as hoped for. Then again, it would really depend on the market of a given area.

Renting space to other haunters seemed like a good idea. A couple responded but it already too late into the calender for them to make the move. Had they known sooner, it would be an option for them. Had I known sooner myself, everybody else would have known sooner too. Just the luck of the draw.

The huge space at the beginning of this thread may be going to a long term lease tenant now. Unfortunately, they take precedence over short timers like us. This means my search is still on so, if anybody has a space they'd like to share, please feel free to contact me or post a message here with all the details.

Have a great weekend, Everybody....