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Mr. Haunt
02-02-2007, 09:30 PM
I do not want any animated props, do haunts need allot of live actors?

gadget-evilusions
02-02-2007, 09:38 PM
WELL.....if you don't have any sort of automated scares, you need someone to do it. The number depends on your haunt, the layout of it, the volume of customers you have and such.

Mr. Haunt
02-02-2007, 10:11 PM
What would you say 15-20

PumpkinHead
02-02-2007, 10:48 PM
it all depends on your haunt and its layout.
-PH

ClusterOne
02-03-2007, 01:39 AM
I would say for most haunts, the perfect combo is a 50/50 split, ya need them both. Different strokes for different folks.

Jim Warfield
02-03-2007, 02:54 AM
Fishline or Weed Eater line strung through pvc pipe can make many things seem to move by themselves from many feet away if done right.
Grease, garage door pulleys and pvc and steel cable might have given me the record? I pull this cable from 70 feet away, around one 90 degree corner and then several lesser angles to make a full-sized Zombie slink out from his dark corner.
Run your house in the method that you are the most comfortable doing, or in the method that flows with your talents and abilitys. This might require several seasons of trying to determine this.
If you can act and make it interesting or scary,make it a theatrical story-driven product or if you are a mechanically-minded tinkerer build all your stuff, have fun doing it and running it.
Maybe you are a "General" ? Able to recruit helpers, keep them motivated and happy?
There are numerous ways to flourish if you work at it.

Duke of Darkness
02-03-2007, 02:28 PM
You can have a great haunt without animatronics, but the are useful. I am a believer that it is actors who make a good haunt. The more and the better that actors, the better the haunt will be. I really think that you could run a haunt with black walls and no props (NOT what I am recommending, by the way) and if you had a large number of great actors, all your guests would get a great show.

That said, there is no way to answer your question as written. How big is your haunt going to be? What kind of theme will it have? What style of scare? There is no right or wrong answer, except that if your guests find themselves walking through large stretches of your haunt and nothing is happening, they are likely to be less than entertained.

Dave

Mr. Haunt
02-03-2007, 03:08 PM
I have 12 staff member's lined up. They all work with me. I am not sure if they will stck around once I decied to become profit.

Greg Chrise
02-03-2007, 03:14 PM
From going the other way, doing highly detailed scenes to a black plywood habitrail I couldn't believe just how better recived the simple black walls were. No animatronics, some sound effects, strobes and other lighting, lots of actors and a few dummies to fill in the spots. Something to contend with every 12 linear feet or so. Lots of good props, perhaps a bridge through a cemetery that is larger. Its almost like customer expectations also change from location to location. Some may actually not appreciate big toys with just plain not every day experienced black mazes being better. It may have been more well recieved as it was not visually overwhelming, their minds made it entertaining wondering what is next with adrenalin rather than forced perspective.

On the same token there is a fine line to customers entertaining themselves. What are they paying for if it is self serve.

I would expect this to be a starter haunt. I have been through 30,000 SF of black plywood with characters pointing the way every 100 feet or so, not really interacting with two really poorly decorated scenes. That was a pro haunt. I felt like for $18.99 patrons should be able to take a piece of plywood home on the roofs of their car.

In comparison, 3,000 SF plywood habitrail with lots of interaction and 12 to 17 scenes is better than 30,000 SF of nothing. 3,000 SF with lots of actors and not much detail is better than a haunt of the same size with painted walls to look like a mansion and no actors and few props inside. The price must be lower as well to be a success. Bigger is not always better.

It seems somewhere a memo went out that $18.99 is the new $5 and no one told me. It has been done, but I would not open with a "what the market will bear" price. I would work the detail and realtive price up over years of development.

If I had 8,000 SF to start out with, it would be two haunts one at 5,000 and one at 3,000 or two 4,000 SF units with different themes. Then yu can bump the price up a bit to $12 or $13. Maybe 3 or 4 haunts and lots of side activities qualifies for $18.99

Although we try to come up with a formula, there are too many variables. You may have really large hollywood level sets that each take up 3,000 SF each and several of these comprise a 24,000 SF haunt. Or it is a mix and match of sized experiences. Really tight mazes and huge scenes. Little scenes and still high interaction. Huge scenes with anticipation. Having to walk through the woods or even an indoor wooded scene knowing the monsters are assembling for some reason along both sides is kind of freaky.

I personally have not seen a "theatrical" style scene work well or when the manner of operating maybe 1 in 10 little plays is actually captivating. So I am expecting good acting pertains to just being creepy and staying in character.

Duke of Darkness
02-03-2007, 03:31 PM
I disagree with Greg about theatrical haunts. I love theatrical haunts. In fact, for a start up haunt, if you have good actors, making the haunt more theatrical can make up for a lack of square footage. In other words, if there are several places during the haunt where guests are held up for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, you can relatively few square feet and still have a show that lasts 15 or 20 minutes. I think many people think about whether they got their money's worth in terms of time per dollar.

That said, you have to find a style that works for you, your props, and most of all your actors.

Dave

Greg Chrise
02-03-2007, 03:45 PM
Dave,

Just so you know, I have enjoyed finally having someone with a confident opinion and an independent perspective.

I can now think of one but it is done so well I wouldn't even consider it theatrical. I have my brain blocked with post menopausal women being witches telling me a bunch of rules. Just like at home.

Duke of Darkness
02-03-2007, 04:22 PM
Greg -- I have never been shy about stating my opinion. :D

Empressnightshade
02-03-2007, 10:00 PM
I disagree with Greg about theatrical haunts. I love theatrical haunts. In fact, for a start up haunt, if you have good actors, making the haunt more theatrical can make up for a lack of square footage. In other words, if there are several places during the haunt where guests are held up for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, you can relatively few square feet and still have a show that lasts 15 or 20 minutes. I think many people think about whether they got their money's worth in terms of time per dollar.

That said, you have to find a style that works for you, your props, and most of all your actors.

Dave
We've always been a high startle type house to where the customer keeps moving. BUT, I've been seriously giving it major thought to have 1 or 2 theatrical scenes. One reason being the one that Dave stated above -- increasing the time the customer spends in the haunt, thus them getting the feeling they have gotten more than their money's worth. The other reason is because I'm a locallly nominated actress and have been in the theatre for most of my life. I SHOULD have a few scenes that are theatrical. PLUS, our nonprofit is ShadowBox Theatre Company. It's time we do something that reflexs our name. The problem is....

If they've been use to moving constantly for the past five minutes, how do you slow them down? That was a problem we had with one of our scenes last year -- getting them to slow down and stop for the scene they are in.

Duke of Darkness
02-03-2007, 10:41 PM
There are a few ways of getting them to stop. The easiest, of course is a door (or secret panel, or whatever). Then come to a room with not exit, they have to stop. You can also slow/stop them by simply putting actors in their path. I have also found that if you have a well lit scene with an obviously interactive scene, people will generally stop.

Being a magician, I like to incorporate the use of large scale illusions into my haunts. It is important to have the guests focus where you want it to be.
I have found that a engaging actor can control even a very skittish crowd.

If you are adding theatrical scenes for the first time, also give thought to flow control. I am not talking throughput here, but rather having a system in place to ensure that the next group does not arrive halfway through the actors bit.

My personal preference is to vary the pace of the haunt. Make them grope through the dark for a stretch. Make them run "for their lives" for a bit. And use the theatrical bits to entertain, provide humor, tension relief, or to set up a good scare. Experiment, you might like it.

Dave

Hell American Freak
02-03-2007, 11:24 PM
I personally am not a big fan of animatronics.

Actors Vs. Animatronics is like Athiests Vs. Roman Catholics, you'll never be satisfied with an answer and it will go on and on...

You just have figure out what works best for you. Is it in your budget to purchase animatronics, do you have the technical staff that can repair said animatronics. Blah blah blah... All you can do is give it a shot and see what you think for yourself...