View Full Version : Changing the theme?

11-18-2008, 02:12 PM
As I have spent a good deal of time on this forum over the last couple of months, I have noticed that some pro haunts have a name that denotes the theme of the haunt they are providing (i.e. Pirates of Emerson). It is always a pirate theme year after year--actors are always dressed like pirates (at least a good deal of them). The props and scenery change but the basic theme is the same. Is this a good idea? Or is it better to have more of a generic set up where one can change the theme or storyline easier each year to make it more attractive to the customers?

Front Yard Fright
11-18-2008, 02:34 PM
I think both have their ups and downs. With sticking with one theme throughout the whole haunt, you run into the problem of filling your entire haunted house with pirate themed props. Where as with having an attraction with different rooms it makes it much easier to fill up your space. However, when doing a solid theme, I believe it creates a nice flow from room to room where as with having different themes, people go from a clown room to a pirate room, to a butcher shop... It doesn't flow really well.

Just depends on you and your personal style I guess. I do two haunts for my home haunt we have a house themed out to stuff you would find in an old abandoned house (Kitchen, bathroom, kids room, library) and then we have our garage haunt were it is themed to be different rooms (Clown room, Egyptian room, prison cell, funeral parlor, butcher shop) So I guess you could say we have the best of both worlds.

Greg Chrise
11-18-2008, 03:32 PM
When I was a customer, I have gone to one themed haunt that changed very little every year but had great detail literally 30 times paying for ticket for 2 to 4 people each time.

A haunt that had a clown scene then a butcher then a horn and headlights, then dracula talks to you and then some girls screaming covered on blood then a little girl's bedroom, I have generally gone through and enjoyed but, can scratch it off the list after only one visit as having seen it. I don't care if they have come up with 30 different ways to do a clown room or a little girls room.

The whole scattered concept of going from Egypt to a volcano to aliens is not as great as jumping from ship to ship and off shore scenes of Pirates of Emerson. The customers exploring what can possibly be done with one theme and still finding the unexpected is more entertaining. Getting into the possible philosophy of an Immortal Pirate vs Hey, you are now in a bloody bathroom? And now the post menopausal witch has a few things to say to you.

The difference is how great is that vs WTF, we aren't 8 year olds.

There is reminders in daily life with movies. If you watch Pirates of the Carribean you might think of Pirates of Emerson. If you watch Underworld 2 you think how Verdun Manor had that down 20 years ago. It's as good a brand recognition as someone in a movie drinking a coke only Coke had to pay half a million for that to happen.

You see Jeepers Creepers you think the drive to Raven's Grin Inn.

But, the brand recognition doesn't go the other way. You don't see an Elm Street movie and think of that stupid Freddy at a theme per room haunt. You don't see some one room with a SAW movie inspired cutting off their leg and think hey that's better than the movie.

A haunt themed all one way took lots of creativity and work to pull off. The haunt with 15 different rooms was like lets make a list and spent about 10 minutes figuring out what is in each room. To the customers it shows. If you don't care, why should they.

11-18-2008, 03:39 PM
That's the cool thing about the haunt industry. There are so many different themes and shows to choose from. What works for one haunt or part of the country may be poorly received in another. It's also about your back story and the training of your audience. Now that The Pirates of Emerson has a huge loyal following it would be a mistake to totally change their show one year to aliens or clowns for example. Their audience expects pirates and they do a great job of theming it to the max with everything pirate related.

I know in my location there are limitations because we are on a farm. I play up that theme to the hilt with giant scarecrows and a general Halloween theme with tons of pumpkins, ghosts, witches and stuff like that.

I wouldn't try and do a haunted manor theme or pirate theme because it just wouldn't make sense and it would confuse the audience now that they expect a certain thing from me. I did add a clown section this year because my back story was broad enough to allow it and not seem out of place.

Some haunts are located in old hospitals which would be the perfect setting for a psycho ward or haunted hospital would be a no brainer. You can use an awesome location to dictate your theme like Eastern State Penitentiary. There are no hard and fast rules. There is an audience out there for every kind of haunt.

The exceptions are the ones out there that call themselves haunted houses but are really religious fanatics that have abortion, AIDS, drug and shooting scenes. They trick people into thinking they will be treated to some Halloween fun and a scary haunted house. Then when the people get inside they are shown all these crazy scenes and are not prepared and offended by the show, possibly giving them bad impressions of all haunts.