Hello everyone...been following these forums for a little while now & figured I have to jump in sooner or later. Been around this great biz for awhile now. It all started in the late 70's early eighties @ the Brigantine Castle @ the Jersey Shore. Anyone remember that great place? Acted there during high school until the entire pier burnt down. Went on to work at several volunteer haunts over the years along with some pretty elaborate home haunts but I really am looking forward to a "ground up" build. This will be my first run as at professional haunt. I've been a general contractor for 22years and have built & sold various businesses over that time. Now I want to do something I enjoy! One of my "hobbies" includes metal fabrication & have built many custom motorcycles & race cars but I really enjoy designing & building props.
We are looking to lease a 27,000 square foot space in a "strip center" behind one of the largest malls in a 60 mile radius. We are in a densely populated part of New Jersey with no professional style haunts within 40 miles or so. We would like to operate two fully themed, very detailed attractions under one roof with all que lines & concession area as well. We intend to lease this space year round because of the money & complexity of the build out we want to sign a 5 year lease. We have an offer to the mall operators of $3.00 per square foot with a .50 cent per foot increase each year. What we wanted to ask an opinion on is - does that sound about right for leasing prices? This building has been closed for about 10 years but it is in great shape & it does have a full sprinkler system.
Being in the building biz for so long (I don't know if that's good or bad anymore...lol) I have good working relationships with all the inspectors & I am VERY familiar how to approach them. I am well versed with all the rigid requirements (which I am on board with most) and have a near genius friend who handles all our sophisticated wiring, sound & fogging systems & animatronics. We plan on having several large "interactive" props (of course in NJ their called "Amusements!) that should be worth the admission price alone. The designs for these "props" has to be approved by a licensed engineer & inspected by a NJ DCA inspector prior to using each season. We feel the cost to bring these types of "props" to our customers is well worth it...hopefully they will be blown away. Rather than gore, we are more into what naturally scares people...heights, elevators, claustrophobia, etc. and I think we have the right "wrinkles" on some classic ideas.
We're going to start with a $30,000. marketing budget this year. I have been in talks with several sponsors & luckily I'm close friends with a billboard operator & a popular morning show DJ...so we'll being getting some decent discounts. We will be located approximately 5 miles outside of Atlantic City and a short distance to all the popular tourist towns...Wildwood, Ocean City, etc. We were thinking (although probably not this year) to possibly doing some heavy advertising in those shore tourist spots with those millions of tourist in the summer and opening during August. Any opinions on that? I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts on trying something like that.
Lastly, we were thinking of charging $13.00 per attraction or $24.00 for a combo ticket. The attractions should be about 8,000' - 9,000' sq. ft. and very detailed. We estimate about a 15-18 minute "walk-thru" time. We would like any opinions on our pricing...too high...too low...whatever. Although this is a "for profit" haunt we do intend to donate about $1.00 per ticket to the local homeless shelter, one of our favorite charities because there are NO paid positions there...every dollar goes to help the homeless.
Sorry for the long thread...guess I've had all this bottled up for so long! lol Appreciate any thoughts on any matters on opening a new haunt. Glad to finally be a part of the "community".
LOL nah...well @ least nothing I can get into here! LOL I might have to change up that screen name in the future.
Welcome to the fourms!
Hey Pickel! Good luck with your attraction! I hope that it works out for you! I've just got a couple questions. You say the building is around 27k sq ft and that the attraction will be around 8k. How many attractions were you putting in there and were you making sure to leave enough room for backstage areas like a workshop, makeup rooms, costuming, ticket sales, administration, etc... I was recently looking at a building with around 26k and each themed section I was designing was around 8k also. So just curious to know a little bit more about your plans for the layout. As far as price, I think that depends on what the local area is willing to pay, the quality of the haunt, and your operating cost being covered by the price of the tickets. If your a high quality haunt with a great scare team that's around 15k sq ft scare floor, then I think anywhere between $13 - $16 is fair. But like I said, it depends on what your local area is willing to pay.
I'm not seeing anything noobified in anything described so far.
I have paid $23 something for one attraction: Check
Enroute or on the rebound to the many board walks: Check
Construction experience: Check
Tweak on staff: Check
Advertising budget: Check
Know what rent is: Check
In the bigger picture, I would want to see maybe some year round action or summer season as the coast has a season and that is when the people are flying by. Not just October when the boardwalks are a ghost town. Some grande facade work and a road side attraction vibe.
No mention of what the themes of the two haunts would be. What type of customers to expect. Boardwalk travelers are the customers, casino goers are on a one track mind thing.
I'm wondering if two haunts and two themes might actually confuse the we'll stop by because it won't take that long and it will be fun thing. Or if it can be seasonally converted to two attractions in October and one haunt run in Summer only? This might help how much it costs for actors off season. The rent sounds kind of high but on the back end for where it is located, anything less might seem to a land owner that it could do more. It is going to take some serious spectacle to earn several times the rent money. Working two seasons might make up for that?
By summer season I'm thinking May June July. Skip August September then open October after sweeping up abit.
Thanks for your reply. What I meant to say is each attraction would be around 8,000' - 9,000' sq. ft. So yes the other 10,000' sq.ft or so is for ticket sales, administration, costuming & make-up, concession area, que lines. Myself & my crew are very detailed oriented...both attractions will be of the highest quality. And when I said "walk-thru time I meant each attraction should take 15-18+ minutes. I think this area can easily handle $13. each or $24. combo pricing. Thanks again for your reply.
Thanks for your reply. Maybe I didn't explain the location quite right. We are not ON the boardwalk but about 5 miles outside of Atlantic City, 7 miles outside Ocean City & about 30 miles from Wildwood...our three largest shore tourist towns. While Ocean City & Wildwood are mostly made up of families, teens & twenty somethings coming to the shore for family entertainment, Atlantic City is a whole different animal. We weren't really thinking AC type tourist, we were shooting for the demographics in the other tourist towns. As I said it is behind the Mall so it will take so marketing to get them to drive from the boardwalk...but living here my entire life I think when families are here for 7-10 days they look to actually do something "different" than the boards every night. As far as the seasons you brought up, the reason I was thinking August weekends was that is our areas highest concentration of tourist...and those who spent the entire summer here are REALLY looking for something different to do by then. I do like your idea about combining the attractions in the "off" season. I thought if we did operate in August it would kind of be a mini training session for some of the actors to hone their skills.
We do however plan a grand facade...I believe that IS the "first impression" & sets the tone for the customer. We also plan on making our concession area & indoor que lines very detailed & themed to match the facade. The two attractions would be separated by the concession area and have their own facades to match their own themes. We have worked on designs for several themes but I think we are really leaning towards a warehouse basement/boiler room theme with my own version of a "hellavator" and a cavern/catacomb type theme with realistic rock work. We are still kicking around a few others but I like the two I've mentioned. Open to all suggestions though and thanks again for your replies.
Yeah, we thought about some type of boardwalk fun house...was actually on the drawing board a while but the other themes got more votes! Maybe down the road we'll do a whole haunted boardwalk theme? But we are sure going to try & get the Jersey Devil in there somewhere! Thanks again for your thoughts.
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