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Thread: Am I crazy considering opening a haunt for $50,000?

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  1. Default Am I crazy considering opening a haunt for $50,000? 
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Well, before you answer that please consider the following:

    My company is known for our elaborate theme parties, mostly done for bar and nightclub venues, Halloween being our biggest event. In addition to my company, I am a professional bartender.

    We have exhaustively researched the haunt industry for over eight years, attending several of the Halloween and Party and IAAPA conventions, including seminars and traveled across the US to visit some of the most popular haunts (Rocky Point, The Beast, Edge of Hell, The Darkness, Pirates of Emerson, Headless Horseman, Spookyworld and many more). I have seen and read most of the haunt videos and books which are available. We have a very detailed business plan, power point presentation, art work, logos, and even a mock up of one of our haunts, etc, etc.

    I live in a very large city (don’t want to disclose) which has less than 20 haunts and corn mazes, most of which are poorly done and overpriced for the experience. The market is fairly new and uneducated on haunted attractions, mostly due to the fact of poor detail and overall poor experiences.
    The one thing that caught my attention when traveling and talking to other haunters was their memories - visiting haunted houses during their childhood and how they would make it a point to go every year. I had no such experiences in my market, simply because there were none.

    So, what’s my problem? - CAPITAL!
    Over the years we have presented our project to many potential investors, but are reluctant to invest because of how the haunted attractions are perceived in my market and I also do believe that more people are not willing to part with their money especially in our financial market today. We have also have worked with banks and city programs, which all require a partial investment on our part – hence the saying: “It takes money to make money”. I did have one bank loan me $50,000 for expanding my current company, which we all know it is not even close to what I need for my whole project.

    So, this is what I have:
    My home sits on almost an acre lot approx. 15 min. from downtown. I figure that I can use at least half of my property for my attraction. It is on a very busy road. I have a 1200 sq. ft. garage/building on the back of my property, were I host our annual Halloween private parties. My property is in an un-incorporated part of the city and zoned Agricultural, which means I able to do my event at my location. The back and side of my property is next to a church parking lot. The other side of my property is farmed by my neighbor. Most of the area I live around is small farmland and industrial with a few homes scattered around. The night temp in October is usually around 45-50 degrees and snow could possibly be a small issue, but usually gone in a day or two if it did occur.

    So, my plan/goals:
    Produce a simple unique and entertaining open-air venue with elaborate detailing, utilizing great actors and scares to create an awesome experience for a reasonable ticket price.
    Budget approx. $20,000 for advertising and promotions and use the remaining amount for building materials and props.
    Utilize my garage as a ticket booth and actor area, since I will not be able to use for customers without adding sprinklers.
    Give the church a kickback on our admission for using their parking lot.
    Convince the farmer next door to grow a corn patch for an added attraction.
    Come up with some elaborate publicity stunt – because we going to need all the help we can get!
    Overall, to produce an unforgettable attraction/show and start to create a higher standard within my market and attract a potential investor.

    So, what do I need?
    Any suggestions or comments will be welcomed.
    Am I really crazy for considering this for such a small amount of money?

    Thank you for reading and any suggestions or comments that you can provide,

  2. Default  
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    South Lyon , MI
    Before I would spend a nickel, I would talk to all of your local authorities. Even if your property is zoned Agricultural, around here you still need a special permit to hold an event. In many of the communities around the Detroit area they have really cracked down on all codes and have stopped others from opening. They can hit you with things like easements and access to the event for fire and rescue etc.. Others have stopped corn mazes because the corn might burn and wanted everything outside sprayed with fire retardant. Yes it is stupid but if the authorities don’t want you to open they will find a way to stop you.

    I would also suggest talking to all of the authorities, city, county, fire, building, etc… We tried to open a haunt a few years back and received the ok from all but the building inspector which my partner said he had spoke to and got the ok but he did not and they came out and shut us down cold.

    It’s good to hear you have done your homework on haunting but have you worked at any haunts? If not, I would suggest working at a local haunt for a while too. It is very, very hard work and you can learn a lot from busting your hump at a haunt for awhile. Even if you think the local haunts suck you can still learn a lot from them. Find out what works and what does not, etc..

    Just a couple of thoughts, hope it helps and good luck!
    Jeff Londos
    Innovators in Haunt Technologies
    Proud Member of the Halloween and Haunt Vendor Association

  3. Default  
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    It is very possible to build a haunted house for $50,000.00 but you need to make sure the location you're going into already has the safety stuff you will require in tact such as sprinkler systems and things of that nature.

    I would go with a haunted mansion theme because you can make a haunt look really good with a lot of old furniture and old props. That stuff can be had pretty cheap. I wouldn't buy anything expense and stay away from animations and things that would chew into your budget.


  4. Default  
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    That was an excellant costume idea from Larry!
    A person with the ass ripped out of their pants, bloody, nasty, with an animatron 's fangy -mouth doing the deed.
    Think of the dialog we all could come up with!
    "I'll never get drunk at Transworld again!"
    "Please help me! So far it has eaten my wife, my kids, my bill-paying ability and we are still along ways from the second week in October!"

  5. Default Volunteers 
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Since you are on a tight budget try to find some locals interested in volunteering. I have found that after people have worked a haunt event. They generally do not care for the money. Also if you get the community involved you can save on marketing. Also lokk for surrounding businesses for sponsors. I have found that marketing trades and sponsors are the backbone to alot of these event. These attractiona can be very very profitable. The halloween season and its appeal to the youth and the rest of the public that enjoy these events is never going to fade. So it would be a good investment.

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