I have been laughing all day while going about my business with Jim's $85,000 worth of spagetti and peeled grapes. What would that look like? Couldn't you actually start a haunt by going through a restaurants dumpster?
Our society is so brainwashed. For ever ailment or smell there is something you can buy for that. For every drink or piece of bread there is an appliance for that. For every stage of business and work there obviously must be a magical cost to overcome. If you just had $75,000 all at one time it would all magically happen. I have watched that not work too. Those that have accumulated that much cash and have nothing better to do are not necessarily fun people and so they fail.
If you have the ultimate goal of being rich it also involves being seriously anti social. No one except those that are going to talk to you involving you getting $1000 from them get to have a conversation. So how does such a person change their predatory nature to all of a sudden be super accessable and sociable? It doesn't work. At least not long enough for their true attitudes to be found out.
It is an important part of the process to have support for what ever entertainment you have from the masses. Today driving around I thought how one consultant was saying he liked reviewing how small bands with a CD promoted themselves from town to town living on the road, living off of cover charges and CD sales at the various bars to propmote and somehow this was important. Well, yeah if the band sucks they can still use facebook to put out 3,000 messages to the town they are headed to and 75 people show up anyhow and the cover charge is at least what is needed. However if the band was really good, those sales wouldn't require spam notifiications. It wouldn't be forced, automated, here is what we do that works, people would pack the place wondering in advance when that type of event uld be available in a town near them.
Some of the gypsy haunts did this too, a forced sale that sort of worked but had no real life to it. They got the money and made the payments. They didn't even know or perhaps care if their offering was lame. It worked in their eyes. No word of mouth at all or perhaps leave town when the word of mouth does come around?
Developing a market is tough, perhaps it develops faster than one person can make things and expand a haunt and someone else captures it with more money, more energy, more people involved. Still there was a market there to begin with that was developed over decades that had to be cultivated all the way from peeled grapes feel like eyeballs in the dark or behind a blind fold. Pulling in with 6 semi trailers full of peeled grapes doesn't translate or throwing people into an entire small river of apples to bob for. The notions started out fairly cheap. How much does it cost to be in the dark? Maybe it costs alot if you are in a place that there are lights on everywhere?
So do you get people in a city that never sleeps to be in a 50 million dollar building and turn the lights out or do you get them to drive to a place that has no street lights? One is just stupid, turn the lights back on asshole. The other is an adveture that even the trip is memorable as a life experience enjoyed, different.
The location I wanna use is a shopping area which is a zoo during xmas. 1 mall and probably 6-7 strip malls all located within arms reach of one another. Provided the town allowed it, I could make it zoo during halloween I bet too. I see alot of value by searching the for sale forum here and see quite a few big scale props which would appear to let me stretch my dollar much much further. I think I"m more concerned on what isn't cheesy and as my other post indicated what a room will cost me and how large that room is. I've seen a haunt which was totally dark but extremely scary. All you could see where lights on the floor with guys with night vision goggles walked around you. These dark rooms, catastrophic rooms, and black light rooms seem very cost effective which seems a good deal for the money.
Rooms can and should be sort of small, roughly 12 feet by 8 feet or odd shapes that are less than that. Or you go for a ful 12 by 12 if there is some significant amount of props and scenic dressing. So 10 walls per room at $30 per wall is $300 plus some kind of door header in and out. I do this with panels that are 16 or 18 inches and leave the exit or entry a full panel 4 foot width. The some form of 2x4s would be screwed into the top in a bunch of angles or a full grid to keep all the walls stiff.
If you are clever you can make lots of props for uder $150 per room. That's 12 x8 or 96 square feet. I consider even hallways between rooms to be decor worthy or another room. They become either mini dark mazes or also have something going on with openings in the walls whether is kind of looks like a window or a willy wonka door or bricks missing in the wall or the dredded drop picture or a jail cell type opening. Every 1000 SF section might cost $3,000 to $5,000 and include 6 to 10 rooms.
My original responce what kind of room could you build for $3,000 to $5,000 would be a man cave or kitchen with granite counter tops. See the designers at Home Depot for that. I would buy a truck to move the walls for that much. Or us that much for payroll for a couple weeks.
Being outside a mall this might be under a tent? or several tents that can be rented? Like how they have someone sell oriental rugs for too much or sell Christmas Trees? I wouldn't put more than about 2,000 SF out in a parking lot. I have seen 3,000 and it ended up not being quite as detailed as it should be because of the time to move it in and out, the kind of things you don't mind leaving unsecured in a parking lot? Remove all valuables and lock your car door territory, we are not resoncible for theft kind of deal. You only put things no one would want or could not unbolt.
It could be a cheaper ticket and only 1,000 SF to see if the location works. Sometimes that type of building expecs everyone to be gone by 9 PM to protect all the stores. You can actually be open in broad day light if you do it right when there is alredy exisiting traffic and when everyone is gone you are done too.
I'm not sure what you would have to pet there, all the mutated animals no one cares about? Homeless people with nice hair?
A whole 2,000 SF haunt can be done if you make everything yourself and repurpose things from the real world for under $10,000. You might make $3000 to $30,000 the first year. All your totally groovy efforts need to be how attractive the outside looks.
To stay away from cheesy don't paint all the walls with stuff. One room might be weird only like that. No Walmart props. If you must, use those for inspiration to make bigger ones. Hand fashioned figures even crued are apreciated. The walls might be new materials but everything else is something used, disguarded and simply givin a haunt paint job and some cob webs. If something that was free with 10 minutes invested gets turned into kindling who cares.
If you are clever and buy all the wall materials on craigslist, each panel might be $5 with every paint stores used paint on it. That 2,000 SF haunt could really be done with say 120 wall panels at $5 for a total of $600 if you don't mind pulling nails and patching holes. You'll spend more than that like $800 on fire retardant spray and paint additives. Grand total $1500 not including your find crap for the haunt $50 a day rock star budget. $20 in gas and 6 meals a day at McDonalds. Work off that 8,000 per day calorie diet and don't forget onsite porta potties for the revenge of ronald the clown.
The system needs to be up off the ground to let ground water through or you have to build a sand bag wall on the up side of the parking lot so you don't create the Possiedan Adventure haunt in a heavy rain storm.
Now whether you would be allowed to do such a thing and how much the lot rent is, I dunno. You can start out at $8? Something better than that would need to be high dollar detailed with your own watchmen/costumed super heros 24/7.
For haunt lighting, jump a fence to a gated community dressed like a Ninja and steal all the little solar side walk lights. Or you gotta have a $600 generator or rent one of those and take it home everynight. If you figure out how to repurpose rich peoples lawn jockeys, garden gnomes and concrete squirrel collection, lemme Know :cool:
LOL funny Greg, No this area with the economy has quite a few vacant spaces. The one I keep eying use to be I think a BBB (Bed, Bath and Beyond). It's gotta be least 10,000sqft. There's the shopping center parking lot, an park and ride across the street, as well as a huge distribution center with a very unused LARGE parking lot across the street too. It's also right next to the highway too.
more nervous I'd f**k up.
Those are kinda empty because the rent is about $8,000 per month or $15,000 per month even in hard times.
The most important thing to consider with budget is if you're using investor money, you want to pay back the initial investment within 3 years. So when you do your demographic study (find a marketing intern at a college, they work for free and know how to quickly get that info) , then plan your haunt budget accordingly. It's very tempting to go for all the fun toys, but it's very possible to start off with a reasonable amount and build on it. Last year was our first year and our budget was around $45,000. We went for actors over animatronics and had a very successful first year. The most important thing is to BE SCARY. If your haunt isn't scary the first year out, you'll have a hard time attracting customers back the following year. I expect to pay back our investor within the 3 year time limit and have plenty left over.
I started almost 20 years ago doing haunts.....I think our starting budget at the time was maybe $200 out of my pocket....but we worked with what we had. We scanned the free ads for unwanted building supplies, built most of our props by hand...and most of all relied on the dark to fill in the detail. Our first few years were ok and we usually made a few hundred bucks <mind you this was a tiny town>
As things grew we added on and eventually we decided to move it to the closest big city - When we started doing a haunt in the city we called on all the vacant buildings, informed them of what we wanted to do - we stressed that it would draw people to the property which in turn may help the realtor to fill the space when we left, we also stressed that we would leave the building in the same shape - if not better, than when we start. People have an idea of haunts in their head and seem to think we have to destroy things to make it scary. We would generally get the space for a percentage of the sales, or a flat rate - it helped that we always donated some of our proceeds to charity, we would make the donation in our name as well as the realtors name - they really liked this idea.
Over the years it grew and grew - Due to one fire marshal we ended up taking a $6000 loss one year.....but most years we would break even, and we were ok with that because we loved haunting and it wasn't about money. We are to the point now where everyone knows about us in the area and have a repeat customer base and are considered one of the best haunts in Northern Michigan by many. Our budget has grown to about $30k a year after paying rent, utilities, storage <we still do not have a permanent location>, etc. We pump that right back into next years show for advertising and new additions.
So my suggestion for a starting budget is.....A Love of what you are doing!!!! Without that your haunt will not survive, you can always tell which haunts do it for money and which ones are in it for the sheer enjoyment of what they do - and with imagination and some thinking you can make a haunt with any budget at all.