View Full Version : What is the one thing haunted houses must...

06-18-2009, 11:36 AM
What is the one thing hauntd house owners must change about how they build or operate their attractions to compete into the future? Do they need to embrace a different way to market their attractions, build the attractions to run more people through, do this or do that?


Jim Warfield
06-18-2009, 12:17 PM

Mr Nightmarez
06-18-2009, 12:34 PM
Sadly no one will ever meet every customers "Expectation".

So first we need to listen but again - you will hear 10 to 50 different things. Maybe even more...

"I want to be a part of the movie or feel like a movie that unfolds around me"

"I want it darker, who cares about that or this - I want to be scared!"

"Less Gore"

"More Gore"

"More realism"

"Less mechanical props and more actors"

"Less actors and more cool props!"

"More interaction"

"Less Interaction"

I believe each area - state - city could poll and get a majority of different answers. So what do they really want? Good question, but I believe we will be asking that for a long time.

What can haunt owners do to help keep it fresh? We re-theme EVERY YEAR. And are the only haunt in our area that does that. Our attendance continues to grow... so I believe that is key for the future of haunts... keeping it fresh and changing. But that is merely my opinion...

06-18-2009, 12:56 PM
Last year we offered 8 different haunted mazes. You want clowns? Go there. Hillbillies? Over there. Slaughter House? Down the way. there was a little something for everyone. On top of that we rotate each haunt out after about 3 seasons so there is a constant variety.

Jim Warfield
06-18-2009, 06:35 PM

Kevin Dells
06-18-2009, 08:15 PM
I think Badger hit it right on the head. I know as of right now it's next to impossible but if i were an owner and i knew i had a permanent location i would build a haunt thats very fast and easy to change over year to year.

Maybe build a two sided wall system where one year there getting a certain theme but the next year you spin the wall 180 degree's and it's a whole new theme, Facades that easily come apart in sections and could be put up and taken down in a few hours.

I know a lot of you guys are building very detailed haunts that keep up for a few years and then respend to build brand new again. I often wonder if this is a bad decision moneywise or should i say maybe finacially you would gain more per year by changing themes year to year.(IF it was easily done)
Your crowds going to come wondering what this years themes they would see.

Who knows this is a tough question. Perhaps if you owned two haunts in city's a couple hundred miles apart and you just switched haunts back and forth, but after two years your back in the same boat unless you built more haunts in other city's and then your changing numerous haunts a year... Good luck with that!

06-18-2009, 08:48 PM
Here is my simple answer in two parts..

1) Give them what THEY want: Know your audience, scare them, thrill them, challenge them, give them what they want.

2) Give them what YOU want: Bring something new, something unique something creative, something strange to the table. If you don't have your own voice then what is the point?

Give them what THEY want and give them what YOU want. Then if you got it right they will come.


Mad Wax Sculptor
06-18-2009, 11:54 PM
People see what they want. Its a unique experience for everyone attending any haunt. I have done exit poles to have people from the same group say we had too much blood and gore while others said not enough. How about those who come out raving about stuff not even in the haunt . I loved the 20ft tall queen alien eating midget clowns .... uh hmmm you saw this where becuase I didnt build that here.

Allen H
06-19-2009, 01:05 AM
I also re-theme every year and its a ton of fun, I think one of the keys to staying viable in future years is to really develop the feel of your show, decide on a style and an atmosphere for your show and be true to it. Tweak your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses, but do not deviate from your style.
My show is an actor driven show with costume candy. My monsters often crack wisecracks and that has become part of the show. Those elements are ones that I wont diverge from, my sets are steadily getting better as is my sound-scapes and lighting. My customers know what to expect I have a loyal fan base who keep coming out.
This is going to sound crazy, but I keep my audience at a size that I can handle. I do not want so many customers that I cant give them all a decent show. There is NO WAY that I could give a great show to 4,000 people a night. If I find Im getting that many then I raise the price enough next season to change a few of their minds. I want all of my audience to want to be there. Personal relationships with the audience developed by the style of your show and the demeanor and interactions of your actors is my key to the future.
I am serving a niche audience, other shows in my area serve other niches, and we all get overlapping regular haunt crowds. They do not all use my formula and thats great! they have their own identifiable styles. Identity is key.
Allen H

06-20-2009, 02:03 AM
My immediate thoughts on things not previously emphasized:

I want a theme for the haunt. If the theme doesn't change the following year, at least expand on it or improve it. Poll the customers as they are leaving to ask them what you could do better for next year.

Entertain the customers while they are waiting in line. If possible, sell advance tickets with entrance times, and get the customers in as close to those times as possible.

The trained actors/monsters/staff are soooooo important. My worst experience ever in going through someone else's haunt was due to a drunk leading us through a haunt. He kept stopping at every scene to drink beer that was stashed in a hidden ice chest at each scene. This only happened once. Most of my experiences have been excellent!

I also enjoy the personal touch (not physical). While entertaining the crowd, try to get info about the customers (even just a name), and have the monsters call them by name while they are "pursuing" them through the haunt. I have found that most patrons find this particularly spooky.

Patrons go to haunts to be scared, and I think the key is the element of surprise. This will keep them coming back.