View Full Version : Trouble opening on time?

10-14-2008, 12:36 PM
Hey does anyone else have trouble getting open on time? It seems like we have opened 10-15 minutes late every night for two years. I have tried getting there 3-4 hours early, counting down the minutes to open, yelling at people, begging people, everything. I think our biggest problem is people and their make-up. Everyone(but me) wants to wear make-up but they want to show 10 minutes before I open to put it on. I am thinking about a new rule for this weekend, if you aren't here 45 minutes before we open you have to wear a mask.

Dr Spooktakular
10-14-2008, 12:43 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem. Part of our problem is that we are a charity haunt, so our actors are all volunteers, so they show up on their own time table. If you gripe at volunteers, well, they stop coming, so you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Our advantage is that we are the feature haunt in a complex of 4 haunts, so we are #4 out of the 4. We send the customers in order starting with #1, so that gives us about 15-20 minutes post opening to get everyone set. Whether paid or not, a haunt is at the mercy of its actors for just about everything, like it or not, it's a haunters true nightmare!

10-14-2008, 01:23 PM
It's easier with a paid staff, but getting open exactly on time is always going to be a challenge -- especially on weeknights when your staff is coming from work/school/etc.

One thing that helps us is our lobby ... which is themed as a crumbling, 70's-era Grindhouse-style theatre. The last few minutes of our line involve waiting in this lobby - which is a great way to get people psyched and entertained -- but also enables us to open the doors at or before 7pm even if the actual attraction isn't ready to open yet. Wondering characters outside also help - especially if they start working the line when doors were supposed to open.

I find people in line will be much less likely to grouse about opening late if they feel that they're being entertained, or if the wait is actually acknowledged in some way. Even a few simple "Just a few more minutes folks" ... or "just a little more blood to clean from the walls and we'll be right as rain" can help...

It gets easier if you can maintain stability with your actors and make-up artists... ie, your actor knows what they're doing, what they're wearing, and who's doing their make-up before they arrive.

You can also use incentives to get people there early ... cast photos, food, prizes, raffles for anyone who arrives 60 minutes early, etc ... especially with volunteers, I think you need to make the preparations fun and social so that the actors want to get there early to see their new friends and socialize before the haunt starts.

10-14-2008, 01:30 PM
Even with requiring our actors to be there 2 hours early, we still get people rolling in 5 minutes before we open and saying "i'm here, ready for makeup". In the 6 years I have been involved with commercial attractions, i dont think we have opened on time once, at least not all the houses.

10-14-2008, 04:46 PM
Wow, I thought I was the only one that happened to. Nice to know that there are many others in the same boat.

Killer Katie
10-14-2008, 05:51 PM
I think any haunt that actually opens on time and has a staff of more than 10 are darn dirty liars!!! LOL I consider it a victory if we open 15 mins late.

10-14-2008, 05:54 PM
Well maybe it is normal but it sure is frustrating. I wish we weren't CLOSING on time because that would mean we had long lines.

10-15-2008, 04:42 AM
I have over 35 actors, and most are in makeup, they are required to be in scene , 15 minutes prior to opening for my walkthru, those that show up late get placed in a BodyBag halfmask, and get a crappy spot.... 3 weekends under our belt, everyone has been ontime and in place.......... knock on wood!

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-15-2008, 06:15 AM
In six years, we have only opened late 2 times. Once was because of power problems and once because we were short a couple actors. I require all of my actors to be there an hour before we open. We have a couple that always show up later than that. Those who are late know that they will be in masks and that they won't get one of the best spots in the house. For some reason my actors like getting there early most arrive a couple hours early. Oh yeah, I am not a dirty liar either. LOL

Howie "Slobber" Erlich
Deadly Intentions Haunted House

10-15-2008, 06:26 AM
Wow, Katie, we must suck. No, wait, I still blame the 75 screaming 17 year olds who won't get in line and get make-up done. Oh, and makeup artists not showing up on time either!

Every actor in makeup, we don't even have masks to put them in if we wanted to.

10-15-2008, 06:40 AM
No matter what we try we are always 15 minutes late but our customers do not seem to mind. My philosophy is that the only opinions that matter are those of my customers.

Mr Nightmarez
10-15-2008, 07:24 AM
We are in place and ready 15 minutes ahead of schedule every night!

We offer a $100 bonus for everyone that shows up on time every night....

Our night consists of a pre-meeting, make-up / costumes, blood then head to the scare zones... and a post meeting every night. We have 50+ actors and we are ready every night. But the $100 incentive is always a key!

Crack that Whip! :)

10-15-2008, 09:06 AM
It is hard! The more actors and complex costumes/ make-ups you have makes it even harder! We have a bunch of "stunt" scares as well, and if one of those isn't prepped when the lights go down it costs a few more minutes.

We spent a lot of time working on this, and we pretty much licked it by adding more prep staff, more make-up artists, and "the Armory" Also using lots of sock masks, foam masks and silicone masks keeps the quality up and takes some of the heat off of the make up department.

The armory is in an entirely separate area from costuming where all of the big suits, icon characters and complex costumes go. For example, Wardrobe can dress 90 actors in an hour, but our Lizard man might take 20-30 min by himself. Since most of the Armory creatures only need Eye Black, it can get 10- 20 actors walking all by itself, inculding assiting the lot actors who do do their own make-up.

Still the biggest bottleneck we have is actors coming in late from day jobs, especially on bad traffic days. If last minute re-casting has to occur it can hold things up as well.

Really all you can do is fight to get open on time, and weigh getting the show to 100% VS getting open on time.

The important thing like Scott said, is to get those lot actors out early, and just keep your customers happy.


10-15-2008, 09:37 AM
Do you start paying your actors as soon as they arrive? So if you open at 7pm, and actors show up at 5:30, do the sign in and start getting paid then or do you pay your actors one flat rate per night? Actors getting ready takes time I know...



10-15-2008, 11:05 AM
Well next year we will have a trained make up person on hand. So hopefully and it should speed up production.

10-15-2008, 11:45 AM
I think this is a big problem at all haunts regardless of size. I have well under a dozen actors, many of whom are family and we still have trouble opening on time. I try to do dry runs the night before and have everyone in place an hour before we open so that I can do timing walkthroughs but even with that we are usually ten minutes later.

This year we have fewer nights and hours than in the past so we can't afford these mistakes. I'm hoping that by preparing everything well in advance (makeup, costumes, etc.) that we can avoid these issues but I'm still concerned about them.

Still, we have pushed opening back an hour this year and kept out staff meeting time the same. Hopefully that will help.

10-16-2008, 10:32 AM
We use a master control for the house lights. The actors and others know the house light go out a few minutes prior to our walk through checking readyness.

We then can open quickly as everyone is attuned to this process.

The secret is to not to let time get away and not turn the house lights down on time.

Killer Katie
10-16-2008, 11:42 AM
Another thing is the talent and quickness of the makeup artists. And the amount of them you have. That would have to help as well.