View Full Version : I want to start a haunt...

10-26-2008, 07:12 AM
Throughout the year I get emails from people asking for advice on haunted houses. Below is what I just sent to someone which is what many of us have been saying for a long time. I thought I would toss it out there: What else would you add to this list?

Learn as much as you can before attempting a haunt. Spend a season visiting other haunts. Read everything you can. Tale seminars like those we offer at the Midwest Haunters Convention. Watch the DVD’s that are out there. In other words gain as much knowledge as possible because there is so much that goes into a haunt that most people do not realize.

Go to the conventions and talk to other haunters. Most of us are more than willing to share our knowledge and valuable insight can be gained.

Be prepared to not make a profit for 3-5 years. Owning a haunt is owning a small business and, statistically, most small businesses fail while those that succeed do so because they are properly capitalized.

Following number two, if you are not business savvy then take some business classes and/or partner with someone who is. Like it or not most people can be classified as artists or business people. It is rare to find someone who excels at both. I have seen many great haunts go under because the artist who created them did not know how to run it as a business.

Funding? Almost non-existent. The options are to start small and grow your “business”, partner with another organization as a consultant, or inherit a bunch of money. The typical number thrown around to get a haunt up and running is $150,000 unless it is an outdoor event. This may seem like a lot of money but keep in mind your advertising costs, construction materials, payroll, insurance, permits, unexpected costs (that $100 fogger that breaks the first night), etc…

Jim Warfield
10-26-2008, 08:00 AM
A $100.oo fogger is Not supposed to go up in smoke?
If we all were actually "Actors" we could walk into the Bank and "Act" our way into getting financing, couldn't we?
Or walk in pretending to be bank robbers.....
Do, did, banks like to lend money to any small business that won't see any profit for the first 3 to 5 years?
I found two local benefactors who loaned me money, which I did pay back.
One of them simply did not want to see this house destroyed (historic value and family ties) the other man was a rebel of sorts putting money into ideas that were not the normal thing.
Both of these men were already maybe 80 years old when they invested in my ideas.
I was not related to either of them, but both of them knew my family and my own personal work ethic well.
(Sometimes working your ass off at a menial job for 15 years can have rewards eventually!)

11-03-2008, 12:32 PM
I would add to the list to check out the fire regulations and see how this will effect your haunt. The people who first built our place went bankrupt after the Fire Department came in and made them spend another $60,000.00 upgrading their sprinkler system. Otherwise, their business model would have probably worked.

11-03-2008, 12:51 PM
although i dont own my own haunt, i have worked in the industry for several years... i think i would ad that its okay to go "cheap" on some things to save money here and there, but REMIMBER, every inch of spiderwebs, every light fixture, every drop of blood, every staple gun, and every 2 X 4 is an investment. When designing your haunt and getting down to the nitty gritty of purchasing all of your props, effects, show controllers, and equipment, you need to take into consideration the lifespan of said item AND how it effects the entire show.

I.E. a foam filled latex skull from wal-mart costs 6 bucks, vs. a bucky skull which can run anywhere from 10-30 bucks. that extra 4 dollars spent will improve show quality AND give you a versitile prop that can be re-used year after year, whereas the wal-mart prop is only designed to be viewed from one angle, made of cheap latex (wal mart latex props and masks tend to rot and decay VERY quickly.)

if you dont absolutely need a prop to accomplish a great show, save it! re-use that scene and add the prop next year!

While it may cost quite a bit to get started, you CAN work around it and work within a budget, you just have to talk to both sides of your brain at the same time. dont let the artist in you drive you to bankruptcy, and dont let the business man in you force you to use black plastic for all of your walls.

i agree, read up on as much as you possibly can before you ever invest a single penny, and if money is an issue, it IS possible to make a lot of things on your own. while the larger prop studios may have some pretty wicked looking stuff, look into altering what you may already have to make your own animations. The possibilities are litterally endless, all it takes is determination and a lot of inner-monologue debates.

Boo Crew Production
11-03-2008, 02:39 PM

After our 1st year in the haunted attraction business and partners who didn't agree on advertisements, they now realize no advertisement........no patrons.

HA go figure. what a concept, huh