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View Full Version : Haunted house vs ADA



frightmarefarms
11-26-2011, 04:25 PM
We just had our first year and it was extremely successful, we did however run into some snags. I think that our biggest one was havin the building dept tell us that we needed our facility to be wheel chair accessible. This wouldn't be a problem if my haunted house was in a barn with steps, a mine shaft that drops down about 4 feet, and a suspension bridge. I was wondering if there was any information that would help us haunters maybe be able to get by without having to spend tons of money and completely change the layout of our haunted barn? Thanks for your time!

The Frightmarefarms team.

HauntedPaws
11-26-2011, 05:04 PM
You need alternative passageways to allow wheelchairs to get by. Steps can easily have a ramp placed over. The drop needs an atlernative ramp to get down those 4' and the suspension bridge you would need an alternative path.

Karl Fields
11-26-2011, 06:08 PM
First of all you need to change the attitude. It's not haunt verse ADA, it's how do you stay in compliance with the ADA regulations. Just like another other requirment (life safety, building, electrical, etc), get a copy of the reg and read/study them. There is no way we could be ADA compliant trying to retrofit, we needed to design from the git go.

The biggest issue you will have with ramps is the 1" rise per 1' rule. To have that ramp go down 4' requires 48' of ramp, and them another 48' to get back up. But then 48' is too long to have a ramp without a turnout. Catch 22!
To get up to our tipping ship requires 36' of ramp, on 8' switchbacks. Then the same thing back down. Chews up a lot of floor space, but that's just the price for having a raised guest area.

To have a bypass for wheelchairs is fine, as long as they are not missing a key element of the attraction. This would not be allowed in our jurisdiction, but might be in yours.

Don't forget to have your counters (tickets/food/etc) at 36" max height from ground. Can't forget Handicap toilets, 44" hallways and parking!

Heck, if it were easy everyone would have a Haunted House :)



We just had our first year and it was extremely successful, we did however run into some snags. I think that our biggest one was havin the building dept tell us that we needed our facility to be wheel chair accessible. This wouldn't be a problem if my haunted house was in a barn with steps, a mine shaft that drops down about 4 feet, and a suspension bridge. I was wondering if there was any information that would help us haunters maybe be able to get by without having to spend tons of money and completely change the layout of our haunted barn? Thanks for your time!

The Frightmarefarms team.

rwrussom
11-26-2011, 07:28 PM
Thanks Karl, as an architect, it seems that I am the only one sometimes trying to explain this issue. Worse yet, local jurisdictions apply the law loosely, by that, I mean wrong. At this point, there is no law specifically covering haunted houses or dark mazes. There are draft regulations for amusement rides, but nothing adopted there either. There are no exceptions for temporary events, on the contrary the potential change of use for the event can kick in upgrade requirements for a facility.
As you noted, some cities apply the requirements different than others. While the general alternate way around is a common answer, it is technically not a legal option and certainly not for new installations. Compliance is from car to ticket booth, to restroom, and through the event and all required exits. Compliance also extends beyond the wheel chair issue. Thatís why we have flashing strobe fire alarms. These days the code is pretty tight but there are still many areas for local interpretation that will allow for a very workable solution. I have had the mind for a while to write a simple article on the application in our industry. Really should do that.

screamforadream
11-26-2011, 11:01 PM
Is it more reasonable then to just say that you are not handicap accessible?? Maybe just in our area it's looser...we were told to just state that we aren't handicap accessible....one of the best attractions in CT up in Baltic is two stories and to purchase your ticket you have to go up old cement stairs...maybe CT just isn't too pushy with all of that?? This upcoming year, we are working towards being entirely handicap accessible, but out of want not need....

monsterwax
11-26-2011, 11:35 PM
My understanding is that you cannot opt out. You have to have it. It's another one of those famous "one size fits all" Washington mandates. They pass it, and everyone else has to comply and pay for it. I know of one small town where the entire school had to be shut down because they had no elevators and it was too expensive to retro fit them, so it cost $6 million to build a new school that was fully wheelchair accessible. (Never mind that they never had a student that needed the ramps, before or after the change.) And this has happened to businesses and communities all throughout the nation, costing hundreds of billions of dollars (and that's no exaggeration).

Personally, I'm all for wheelchair access, but the common sense approach would have been to phase it in over time, as new buildings were built, rather than force immediate and very costly retrofits. Unfortunately, common sense is not very common in Washington...

lonewolfmage
11-27-2011, 08:00 AM
Greeting all ~

Much of the ADA requirements will be set .. yes in a state/federal level .. BUT you can "get around" them, in a good way .....

1) You CAN say (without any legal problems) either on you website or at your ticket booth that you are not recommended (this must be noted) for handicapped... depending on the hadicapped.. i.e. walkers, canes, wheelchairs. You CAN opt out depending on the circumsatances. Your disclaimer/rules.. has/have to be worded corretly.

2) As long as you have AT LEAST 4ft wide(basically the width of a sheet of plywood or luan) walk ways and door ways ..you CAN be considered handicapped acessable as long as it is NOT a multi level attraction. i.e. stairs to get form one place to the next.

3) If the building you are in is considered "historical" and is "grandfathered in". it would "destruct" the historial aspect of the building.

4) Most/many haunts are temeporary structures, ergo the ADA requirements don't alaways apply , check with your local fire marshal and building inspector for comeplete details. Many marhsals/inspectors, as long as you are on good terms with them , will let things "slide" since you are considered temporary, and your hallwaly and/or door ways are ada colplinant and you are not "multi level" .

5) If you want to be ADA compliant considering what you (Firghtmarefarms) say you have in your haunt then YES as a few have said you MUST have alternate routes for the hadicapped to get around obstacles .. but again you dont HAVE to be 100% handicapped acessable as long as you have a notice that is posted where people can see it .. either on your print adverts, website and your ticket booth .. you SHOULD .. theoretcially be all good to go whithout any hassles.

This information comes DIRECTLY from a building inspector in my state (NY) .. as well as firemen .. and fire marshalls. Your state and city or county may and probably will differ .. just remeber your building inspector .. fire men .. and fire marshal can sometimes can be you best friend when trying to do a haunt .. in any setting either outdoors or indorrs.

I have had to deal with this aspect both running my own haunt and working for other haunts.. and have had the building inspectors out and fire marashals .. and they have approved how the haunts were set up .. with out issue .. as long as we had the correct width of walk ways and such ..they were good to go ..


Just some food for thought ... and of course "your mileage may vary" depending on where you live. Good luck :)

LoneWolf

rwrussom
11-27-2011, 11:34 AM
A couple of perfect examples of how the law is loosely or incorrectly applied across the country. We should all be thankful for that.
The 44Ē corridor certainly works for single direction and that can be lessened also but that is additionally controlled by fire and building codes. The problem arises at tight corners. This requires greater width.
The ADA is generally reviewed by building and is not part of fire. The code is written in such a way that the responsibility to comply, even after local approvals, falls to the business owner or building owner. So you could be making the fire marshal happy and the building official happy and still run into issues that are your responsibility. In this circumstance you are dealing with 3 different codes that all have jurisdiction with the most stringent governing, Fire Code, Building Code, and the ADA. They are not perfectly coordinated.

Ultimately it comes down to good relationships with the building officials and the fire department. They cant be beat, but a good relationship can get you a long way.

mikeq91
11-28-2011, 08:59 PM
Do outdoor attractions such as trails have to comply?

screamforadream
11-29-2011, 07:46 AM
^From my understanding, everyone everywhere is supposed to comply. Most trails don't usually have to deal with it because a lot go under the radar or don't deal with the fire Marshall at all...

WeAreTheUnion
11-29-2011, 11:00 AM
My understanding is that you cannot opt out. You have to have it. It's another one of those famous "one size fits all" Washington mandates. They pass it, and everyone else has to comply and pay for it. I know of one small town where the entire school had to be shut down because they had no elevators and it was too expensive to retro fit them, so it cost $6 million to build a new school that was fully wheelchair accessible. (Never mind that they never had a student that needed the ramps, before or after the change.) And this has happened to businesses and communities all throughout the nation, costing hundreds of billions of dollars (and that's no exaggeration).

Personally, I'm all for wheelchair access, but the common sense approach would have been to phase it in over time, as new buildings were built, rather than force immediate and very costly retrofits. Unfortunately, common sense is not very common in Washington...

I'm shocked by this. I work at an old movie theater (built in the 1930's), and we still don't have an elevator due to a grandfather clause. If we ever renovate, we will have to build an elevator. Until then, we are free to operate without being handicap accessible. I'm a bit amazed that this school situation didn't pan out similarly.

rwrussom
11-29-2011, 11:42 AM
Do outdoor attractions such as trails have to comply?

That is a good question. I will look into it.

My first hand experience with campgrounds might give some direction. Everything seems to start with idea that all locations and uses should comply. Then that gets watered down with what comply means. I public housing, a designated number of units need to be able to be retrofitted easily and quickly. In historical buildings, alternate accommodations are allowed if retro fits would alter the historical fabric or character (historians have a stronger lobby than the disabled I guess). In the case of campgrounds, not every point needs to meet the test. In general parking must always meet requirements (many, many donít, the slope test is often not met) All public facilities need to be accessible as do public meeting areas. For example a camp ground would have to have some parking, an accessible path of travel to an accessible campsite, a path of travel to accessible restroom, ranger office, and fire circle. Any accessory buildings designed for public use would require the same. Things like trails on the other hand are different. Even though they are maintained for public use, it is of course impossible to make accessible to the standards. Where does that leave a haunted trail? Not really sure. If its a for profit business on private land that may be something. If you are using existing trails, effectively providing entertainment along a trail, that may be something else. I would bet that if basic areas, parking spot, restroom, ticket booth met the requirements you would be good with the ability to offer assistance to anyone who needed it along the trail.

As a side note, we have had 4 people in chairs, and one or two with walkers come though our show. There is one point in the line with steps. We offered assistance if the guests who wished to remain with there group or a bypass around that would result in them meeting in the first show room. All other paths of travel were accessible. Both options were used and everyone was happy and thankful for the accommodation. They noted that this was not typical and they really appreciated being able to enjoy the event. We also provide a shortened post season guided show for the local deaf community. They love it. I highly recommend giving back where you can.

mikeq91
11-30-2011, 09:02 AM
Thanks Randy, that was helpful. I guess the best way to actually find out is just to talk to the inspector and see what is going to be required.