View Full Version : What has worked in your haunt and what hasnt?

Kelly Anderson
10-08-2009, 06:43 PM
Being its still a bit early yet in the season, I just wanted to start a thread asking all the haunts about things that they tried new this year, and if they worked or didnt work. I know we all work damn hard to create the perfect haunt or the perfect scare. We spend countless hours trying to set this all up with the most detail given to every aspect of the haunt; whether its makeup, or acting, prop building, or just designing a room/scare in general.

My question is after giving all the preperation and hard work, has something still just not worked how you thought it would have? And how did you fix it or make it better?

One of the rooms in my haunt for this year, I set up about a four foot sawblade sitting horazontally in the middle of the room. The blade is covered in blood. The blood is also splattered all over the walls as if we were cutting people apart in there.

Before entering the room the guests are given our house rules and then the rules for my room where they are instructed to sit down on a 12 long bench seat that is built into the wall. When the group enters the room, they walk by the saw blade. At this point (based on the patrons reactions) they are quite horrified from all the blood but their attention is quikly given to the non moving saw blade. After passing by the sawblade, they sit on the bench seat that is only a few feet from the blade. Some of the groups dont like to follow the rules but for the most part they all sit on the bench no problem.

After sitting on the bench I turn on an electric motor that is attached to the saw blade (the blade is made from 1" foam). This immediately startles them. Next I can move the saw blade towards them a few inches by means of a pneumatic cylinder. And finially, with the guest wondering just how close the blade will get to them, the lights go out and in the total darkness the 12 ft bench seat begins to tip backwards (freaks the hell out of them I tell ya). Then as the guest are sitting back in a reclined postion, the lights come back on only to have about four characters over the top of them giving one hell of a scare.

The first night pretty much all my actors could do was the "BOO" effect and then it was dead.....a big let down....after all the work building up to the altimate scare just to say "RAWRRRRR!!!"

The second night I was able to get into my rooms and work right along side the other actors. To not only tell them what to do but also to show them and explain to them that you can do so much more than just the initial screaming at them.
That night we got so many scares and tons of laughs by the guests as well as the characters. It was so cool!!!

We still have alot of work to do but just seeing the progress in the scares is the best.

Please share any of your stories....Thanks


Jim Warfield
10-09-2009, 10:40 AM
Refine what works and how something can be made to work better. Some of the best input for this , of course does come from my customers, listening, watching their reactions and comments.
I have terrorized so many people with such simple, small, cheap items, but of course the rest of the house and set-up leads them down the path of anticipation greatly.
A few dots of glow-in-the-dark paint on the wall has sometimes been of a great concern to some people here.
You have to get them "thinking" first that "anything can happen here", then their imaginations will fill in the blanks. I believe that my artwork and house decorations begin this process for them.

10-09-2009, 11:10 AM
As someone still very new, what do you tell your actors beyond boo and rawwrrr.

What is the next step to take?

My initial thought was to have 2 to 3 lines typed out for every character to pick from to use. What else could I do to spruce up my actors acting.

Kelly Anderson
10-11-2009, 10:44 AM
WOW!! I am very impressed...very few haunts had any problems with there haunts or a cirtain scare.......Now I know where I stand.......HA!

For Boni, in my opinion, the most important thing I tell my actors is to PAY ATTENTION!! Be alert and know whats going on around you. That means dont be sitting there texting you friend in another part of the house. I want them to be listening to what are guests are saying, what they are doing, are they already scared and nobody has even done anything to them? Or are they TOO COOL for our haunt to get scared. What are people in the next room doing, what are people in the previous room doing, what are they all saying. Whos getting freaked out the easiest and who isnt?

If your actors are paying attention and acting like they want to be there, they will be able to pick up on so many things. So many things that can lead them up to how to exicute the next scare. Taylor each scare to the individual group.....the best you can...Now that doesnt mean you will have an entire different dialog for a hundred different groups..But each group can be delt with a bit differently if your actors try. It will be alot more fun for the actors and tons more fun for the group than just jumping out and saying BOO and then standing there staring at them like a deer in the headlights look with nothing to say. Buy doing that, with most groups it seams, is a big let down when it comes to the scare. If I went through a haunt that someone jumped out at me every few seconds and said boo, after 5-10 minutes I would be ready to leave. I dont want my guests feeling that.

Now there surely can and will be a time when just staring at a guest or following closely behind them down a dark hallway and not saying a word will be creapy as hell. And there are cirtain charactors that can ONLY do that, and thats fine. But if your actors dont pay attention and feel out each group indiviually, then your probably not getting the best reaction from each group.

I dont believe in having a whole haunt with scripted material. Cirtain room with a specific theme, then I think the dialog could be more structured. But I want to see parts of our haunt that really interact with the guest in a more personal/customized way. And thats when you have to know your actor, what they can and cant do and work with each and coach them the best you can.

My opinion

Kelly Anderson

freak 'n' stein
10-12-2009, 02:01 AM
Do you have the time? Hahaha...I just sent a VERY long e-mail with critiques to the other MAJOR players in our haunt who help bring it together every season. We have a few rooms where we've decided the ACTORS are what have made the rooms fail and one room we have which is a swamp looks AMAZING every year, but it's just never scary, no matter how hard we try. OVERALL it's a good show.

10-12-2009, 03:46 AM
There's an effect that's BOTH hit and miss that we're using in the area I'm in. It's a pitch black hallway with a dead end to the left, and a switchback that proceeds to the next room. However to see where you need to go, there is a button that activates a monitor connected to a infrared camera which enables you to see the directions painted on the wall. However the only light in the hallway is a black light and probably 10-20 percent of the people guess and just feel their way through, making it somewhat akward for me occasionally. When it works and they see me coming up behind their friends/boyfriend/girlfriend etc, I've had groups of 3-6 grown adults screaming like girls or just flat dropping to the floor, but when it doesn't, I don't even hardly have time NOT to get mowed down by an overzealous guest. However after talking to my boss, we're working on a solution to the problem, such as adding another black light to emphasize the button.

I've been such a student of haunt acting for the last year and really soaked up so much knowledge that they moved me and my friend up to more or less costumed managers because of how well we were doing and due to the fact that MANY of the kids made some very stupid mistakes and cost us about 8 refunds the second night we were open. Since they moved us inside and let us take the new guys under our wings, things are going MUCH smoother, since now I can keep an eye on the people near me and give them tips on how to improve and what tactics of scaring to try.

Jim Warfield
10-12-2009, 12:43 PM
..their senses to warn them, so when the monster arm reaches out for them don't go "Growl" or "Arrah!" This warns them. It is so much scarier to sliently move towards them.
The verbal sounds of Growl or Arrah usually only come from human voiceboxes, don't they?
Leave them more mystery by not giving them that safety net of that identifiable human origin, then maybe it was a real monster? Creature? Wombat? Rabid raccoon? Or something from their own personal nightmares?
"OMG! It's the old one-eyed widget salesman again! How did he find me here?"

10-13-2009, 04:56 PM
I just stay silent and move in behind them as though I'm not really there. For being 240 pounds, I can move completely silently, even while holding my trusty, ol' rusty tow chain. They may not get the monitor gimmick, but they sure do get me, especially when they turn around to look and I suddenly pop up inches from their face or DO see the monitor but don't get the part of the instructions that says "HOLD down the button". I sneak up silently and push the button for them and invariably I hear "Oh hey, it says that way... and there's a guy there... wait, there's a MONSTER THERE! OH SH**!"