View Full Version : First Impressions

Raycliff Manor
06-03-2009, 07:18 AM
Along the lines of the other thread regarding "perceived value", I'm interested in feedback from other haunters, haunt Actors and haunt lovers. When visiting an attraction, what gives you the impression that you are arriving at a good quality attraction that will provide great entertainment value? Some things that come to mind are:

*Cue line entertainment (visible quality Actors entertaining the crowds)
*Great looking facade
*Outdoor entertainment (please list types of entertainment you enjoy seeing outside a haunted attraction)
*Light show
*Video, either on TV's or projected on screen

I'll stop there and I look forward to the input and insights of others! ;)


06-03-2009, 07:36 AM
First and foremost... a KICK ASS facade and just a great, creepy enviroment! Have some roamers outside, play the creepy music, add some fog, have your lights up and aimed at the facade... then the awesome facade. That's the very first impression because it's was seen first, even before getting out of the car! -Tyler

06-03-2009, 12:58 PM
Horseman wrote an excellent article a few years ago..

It all starts in the parking lot!

It's the first thing your customers will encounter when they arrive and the last thing they'll see when the leave.

06-04-2009, 05:51 PM
A "low rent" facade immediately lowers my appreciation (and expectations) for a haunt. If the facade clearly looks like a large flat painted board, in my mind I immediately classify it as "amateur". I realize that most haunts don't receive much walk-up foot traffic (but rather people drive specifically to the haunt), however on nights when there is a line, the facade (and other outdoor elements) can determine if casual haunted house patrons decide to stay and wait in line or not. If there is a low rent facade, and a long line, some people will decide it's not worth the wait.

I think lighting design plays a large role in the outdoor elements of a haunt. A few well placed lights can make an average facade seem good, and can make a good facade seem great. I personally also like to see at least some kind of technology out front. Seeing a well set-up video display, or a good animatronic out front makes me believe that the haunt will have more to offer inside than just kids in masks jumping out at me.

Erebus haunted attraction in Pontiac, Michigan can have very long lines, depending on the night. In the outdoor section of their cue line area, they have horror movies projected on a wall. In the indoor section of their cue line, they have video monitors every several feet broadcasting "newscasts" relating directly to the story (back story) of the Erebus haunt. These newscasts are very professionally done. In fact, it reminded me of the cue line videos at the "Back To The Future" ride at Universal Studios Florida. For me, if you toss some technology out front, I start to think of your haunt along the lines of a theme park attraction.

Lastly, sound design for the outdoor area is important. A lot of the people standing in a cue line are trying to imagine what horrors must await them within the haunt. Exposing them to scary sounds and/or music helps to fire their imagination. If you hear the horror, but do not yet see it, your mind can create horrors of its own that are far more terrible than anything a haunt owner could build in reality. As a pro Sound Designer, I personally like it when the outside area of a haunt is loud (pumping up the energy level), and then once you enter the first area of the haunt, everything gets dead quiet (and very dark). That kind of transition makes you feel as if you're leaving the land of the living, for the land of the dead. You also become very aware of the fact that the horrors can hear you coming. The fear level rises in the silence, until the first scare hits them with an accompanying wall of sound. It's all set-up by the sound design outside, and how the transition is made to the indoor area.

Ken Spriggs
06-04-2009, 07:11 PM
You can have the best facade and the worst haunt!
And the people would still come!

We have a warehouse entrance...thats it
No facade at all........

06-06-2009, 02:02 AM
I think having no facade is better than having a bad facade. Besides, most warehouses are naturally fairly spooky at night, right?

You can have the best facade and the worst haunt!
And the people would still come!

We have a warehouse entrance...thats it
No facade at all........

Jim Warfield
06-06-2009, 04:31 PM

Raycliff Manor
06-09-2009, 10:54 AM
Thanks for the responses to this topic! I really appreciate gaining the perspectives of others. If there are others willing to share your insights, I'd love to hear what you feel helps to increase the preceived value in the first impression at a haunted attraction. Thanks!


06-09-2009, 12:39 PM
kel you have both an awesome facade and an awesome haunt from what i have experinced and q line entertainment is good as long as you dont scare them so bad that they dont buy a ticket and that has happened to me several times my friend in the past we have every thing from metal bands playing on the roof of the event to huge 20 by 20 movie screens which draws curiosty as well but what ever you do man dont make the mistake of having clowns on a pro banner that we keep people from buying tix now i have this huge professional 10 ft by 30 ft banner that cost 700.00 and cant even use it but live and learn and then you buy a hummer H2 lol well hope that helps man ttyl brother

Raycliff Manor
06-09-2009, 02:38 PM
Thanks Greg! We hope to have the next phase of our facade improvements going soon. It seems difficult to get contractors to follow up with us right now. They must all have work right now, which is a good thing! Since youve seen our place, in addition to the facade, is there anything you would recommend we could add to improve the outside of our attraction and the perceived value for our guests? Come on, you can be brutally honest with your own brother! We're hoping to make it up to your neck of the woods this year for a visit. I still can't convince Mom to go through ours or yours!:o Talk to you soon Bro!


PS. That reminds me, did you get Grandpa's ashes/urn back to Mom? I've been afraid to ask, especially after the spill!

06-09-2009, 05:41 PM
i,m not Greg Kel lol

Raycliff Manor
06-09-2009, 05:48 PM
Ha! I guess I'm not fully recovered from MHC yet! LOL Sorry about that.


06-09-2009, 06:37 PM
Wow Kel dont even know your own brother..... That Hurts LMAO Anyway, FYI I gave Mom back grandpas ashes last week when I went over there for dinner. As far as the spilled ashes, I dont thing she noticed but it did make a GREAT PROP!
Later Bro.

06-12-2009, 01:09 PM
Ha! I guess I'm not fully recovered from MHC yet! LOL Sorry about that.


Damn Kel, did you get THAT drunk at MHC?


06-13-2009, 01:01 PM
I think what sucks me into a Haunted House is...
#1 facade
#2 A Creative BIG MONSTER (Animatronic) on the roof. That's big eye candy!
#3 Some type of creepy sound or music playing to set the tone.
#4 Cue line entertainment.

Allen H
06-14-2009, 11:27 AM
* Atmosphere of course
* Im a sucker for big archways that make you feel like you are entering something in an "abandon all hope ye who enter here" kinda way
* support staff in tshirts and jeans (the grim reaper should not help me park, it weakens the job the actors do if there are half ass costumes all over the place)
*Que line/ entertainment for the grounds
*good looking stilt walkers
* a professional logo (not just the name in drippy scary font #2)

With out repeating others, thats my list
Allen H

Raycliff Manor
06-14-2009, 12:20 PM
Awesome feedback as always. Thanks for participating in this thread everyone!:)


06-14-2009, 11:21 PM
Hi Kel,

Sorry for the delayed reply, I always make an effort to reply to your posts.

My goal is to WOW the customer before the even get to the haunt location. I do this through interaction with our fans through our social media, newsletters, feedback forum and IM. One example of how I wow the customer just happened this week. I run contests for a free ticket through our social media accounts that I started this week. I had a winner that I found out was getting married soon by her tag line she had on her profile. I decided to give her two VIP tickets instead of one general admission ticket as an early wedding gift from Spookywoods. This wowed the customer and come to find out she is getting married on Halloween! She is now planning on making Spookywoods the reception with lots of family and friends!

The customer knows in the first few seconds of seeing our attraction from the street that they have arrived at an event!

Professional signage, parking lot staff in costume and trained in customer service. Our midway is themed as Ghost Town and special effects lights entertaining the crowds with our DJ above them from our two story entry facade. The DJ shooting T-Shirts with air cannon into the crowd is a sign of excitement. We employ County Sherriff and security personnel insuring guest safety with metal detectors at entry points, this portrays a professional operation as well as just good sense.

Our best actors are stalking the ticketing and waiting areas. The ticket booth area is themed in great detail. The staff selling tickets are the up most professionals dressed in Spookywoods button down shirts that glow in the black light. The ticketing employees are tellers at the local bank that are trained to those standards we strive for. The tickets print up through the counter in front of the guest and are handed a latex wrist band with our website and tag line with each ticket. Not only does the ticketing technology blow their mind for a haunt, but they also get a free gift. We have two scares that each of the 5 ticket window staff can activate to scare the customers before the even purchase a ticket.

Every staff member that interacts with the guest is trained in customer service. The midway shops are designed to encourage window shopping just by walking by them. I could go on and on with details, but overall your first impressions start way before they get to your location by your interaction through web design, news letter, social media and our phone center. When customers call us they are talking to a seasoned staff member on location that knows every detail about our event.

Of course all the other things on your list are important, but I just wanted to shed light on what no one else mentioned.

Just my .002

Raycliff Manor
06-15-2009, 06:33 AM
Tony, you have it so covered! I would love to make it out there some time to see your event! Thanks for freely sharing all your tips my friend!


Jim Warfield
06-19-2009, 07:47 PM
When a customer talks to any employee here , they are usually asking for a date, or vice/versa.
Sometimes I am "psychic", did you used to work for an airline?

06-22-2009, 01:04 PM
I agree, a kickass facade and Q line really pumps up your customers for the night. Music out front helps people get in the mood also.

As a Q-Line actor i usually try to steer clear of customers and focus my attention elsewhere untill that ticket is securely in a buyers hand, then all bets are off and they are fair game, or, i wait untill they are also so deep into the ticket line they wont chicken out.