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View Full Version : Just signed my lease, any tips for a first year pro haunt?



fearforyourlife
04-10-2012, 08:47 AM
I just signed my lease and got a 4500 sq ft place (3500 sq ft is for the haunt). It's on a major road which is great and has ample parking. It only has stairs in the front but does have a long metal ramp in the back at the loading dock. It has 3 bathrooms one of which is handicap accessible. I'm hoping the ramp and the bathroom are adequate for ADA regulations.

As for fire equipment I talked to the fire marshall before I signed the lease and he said to make sure I had fire sprinklers, a hand pull fire system and fire alarms as well as multiple exits. I have all of those things in this house which is great.

Lastly before I signed the lease I went to the county and asked what they want from me to make sure it can be zoned properly. They took care of the zoning right there and then so zoning is taken care of. I was told the only thing I have left to do in their eyes is get a drawing to scale of the haunt.

With all of that is there anything you guys see I may have missed or overlooked?

I'm putting everything I have into this so I really want to make sure I don't get shut down because I missed a step. Any and all help would be much appreciated.

HauntedPaws
04-10-2012, 03:47 PM
fire and zoning are you 2 biggest. Did you get approval fro nearby businesses? Here anyone within a 100ft has to be contacted.

Darkangel
04-10-2012, 06:45 PM
Congratulations! It's pretty small at 3500 square feet so make it really detailed and have great scares but keep the price pretty low, I'm think $10 a ticket unless you have incredible stuff and scares you may be able to get up to $12.

Good luck!

DA

mrfoos
04-10-2012, 09:47 PM
but keep the price pretty low, I'm think $10 a ticket unless you have incredible stuff and scares you may be able to get up to $12.

I wasn't aware there was a national price formula based on the square footage of the haunt. :p

Haunted Prints (EOM)
04-10-2012, 09:50 PM
That is awesome. Can't wait to see some build pics!

Good Luck.

screamforadream
04-10-2012, 09:59 PM
Lol, well just think about it, a 3400sqft haunt can be GREAT!! But at that size you really do need the most quality you can possibly have, it will take maybe 5-7minutes to go through. If it wasn't your haunt, what would you pay for it?

But, on the upside, I can't wait to see pics! I really hope you keep a thread going, I plan on doing the same. =)

I think you covered everything, unless you have something like a vortex tunnel or anything that involves people going through, over, under, or around, moving mechanical pieces, you need to get that inspected as an amusement ride, (basically vortex tunnels like i stated, a spinning floor, hellavator, etc). That's the only other thing you might have to worry about, should you have any of the above. =)

fearforyourlife
04-10-2012, 09:59 PM
fire and zoning are you 2 biggest. Did you get approval fro nearby businesses? Here anyone within a 100ft has to be contacted.

Good to know. My landlord owns all the business's within 1000 ft and was told it was no problem, but definitely a good point to think of. Thanks.


Congratulations! It's pretty small at 3500 square feet so make it really detailed and have great scares but keep the price pretty low, I'm think $10 a ticket unless you have incredible stuff and scares you may be able to get up to $12.

Good luck!

DA

Thanks :) As for price I was looking to charge $10. I figured that was a pretty fair price and would do well in this economy being cheaper. I plan on working on making this extremely realistic and gory. I'm focusing on an older crowd.


I wasn't aware there was a national price formula based on the square footage of the haunt. :p I'm glad he made me aware of the national price formula :p


That is awesome. Can't wait to see some build pics!

Good Luck. Thank you, I can't wait to get started.


Anyone else have any good advise or tips please post up. I really appreciate all the help.

fearforyourlife
04-10-2012, 10:03 PM
Lol, well just think about it, a 3400sqft haunt can be GREAT!! But at that size you really do need the most quality you can possibly have, it will take maybe 5-7minutes to go through. If it wasn't your haunt, what would you pay for it?

But, on the upside, I can't wait to see pics! I really hope you keep a thread going, I plan on doing the same. =)

I think you covered everything, unless you have something like a vortex tunnel or anything that involves people going through, over, under, or around, moving mechanical pieces, you need to get that inspected as an amusement ride, (basically vortex tunnels like i stated, a spinning floor, hellavator, etc). That's the only other thing you might have to worry about, should you have any of the above. =)

Good points. I never knew that hallavators or things like that were considered amusement. I was considering that but I think I'll keep away from that this year just to keep the zoning aspect in check. Would claustrophobia halls be considered amusement?

You're right it does need to be detailed. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve to make this last longer and scare the crap out of people. I'm estimating it to take 10-12 minutes to go through. However I could be wrong. :cool:

I'll definitely be posting up pics. I'll let you know the ups and downs so you have a good plan for when you do yours.

Tom
04-11-2012, 06:58 AM
Congrats on your contract.

I know you mentioned "talking" to the fire marshal but you really need them to come out and "physically see" the place. Walk thru the building with them and express your ideas of what your plans are. What looks good on paper can sometimes be a total surprise in person (this goes for any inspectors). Get aquainted with them and show you're there for them. You inviting them out before even getting started will show them you are serious AND concerned of doing it right and to their specs. Then after the build, reinvite them to come visit. Believe me, it will make a difference. Inspectors are the best friends to have :)

I owned a dark ride and had the "amusement inspectors" (Dept of Labor). If you do choose something in the amusement industry, keep all parties (inspectors) informed. For me, the amusement inspectors were easy to work with, if you get with them early, not just after you did something.

For the most part, if you keep the inspectors/marshalls involved with everything "from the start", you will be surprised how much easier life can be.

Good luck with your haunt.

screamforadream
04-11-2012, 07:22 AM
Claustrophobia doesn't count as an amusement, or at least not here, and we have some pretty strict rules in CT.

But dont just do the squeeze walls, take the onadira way out and use half a claustrophobia wall and mount it on the top of your wall panels, your customers are more likely to react to that way of doing it because EVERYONE knows about the regular way...

Badger
04-11-2012, 07:55 AM
Make sure your actors are hired well in advance and properly trained. they are the backbone of your haunt. All the permits, props, animatronics, and scenes won't matter if your actors are terrible or unmotivated...

Dark Scares
04-11-2012, 09:41 AM
Get those plans into the city! Ours came back 3 times the first year with them wanting or needing different things. Haunts are not something they encounter everyday and it is a learning process for all. Be prepared for anything they might throw at you.

Best of luck to you!! It is the hardest, but definitely one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Laughing Jack
04-11-2012, 03:52 PM
What part of Florida??
I'm down in the southwest and I'm planning a maze about the same size +/-4000 SF.

I have partnered with a costume shop so I don't have to deal with biz license and the only only thing the
Local Gov. says I need is, well really nothing as long as I have under 500 people at a time there are no inspections required.

It sounds to good to be true but I can't find anyone to contridict this info.
THere is a permit required and proof of insurance and a seperate permit if I put up a tent over 10' sq.

LJ

Bradenton Haunted Trail
04-11-2012, 08:56 PM
Hey guys it is my second year and I am just outside of Sarasota Florida if you guys want any help just Private Message me and I will help both of you as much as I can. I am also a General Contractor so if you have any building questions I usualy can help with those as well. We did just under 8K in attendance our first year.

Good Luck
Shawn
http://www.twistedwoods.com

Scenic Art Productions
04-12-2012, 12:37 AM
Hello,

I just wanted to congratulate you on your new haunt. I had spoken with you last fall and you really seemed to enjoy building your home haunt. I am happy to hear you made the leap towards building a pro haunt. I look forward to seeing it.

Good Luck,
Robert Travis
Scenic Art Productions
ScenicArtProductions@Yahoo.COM
http://www.facebook.com/scenicartproductions

fearforyourlife
04-13-2012, 02:56 PM
Congrats on your contract.

I know you mentioned "talking" to the fire marshal but you really need them to come out and "physically see" the place. Walk thru the building with them and express your ideas of what your plans are. What looks good on paper can sometimes be a total surprise in person (this goes for any inspectors). Get aquainted with them and show you're there for them. You inviting them out before even getting started will show them you are serious AND concerned of doing it right and to their specs. Then after the build, reinvite them to come visit. Believe me, it will make a difference. Inspectors are the best friends to have :)

I owned a dark ride and had the "amusement inspectors" (Dept of Labor). If you do choose something in the amusement industry, keep all parties (inspectors) informed. For me, the amusement inspectors were easy to work with, if you get with them early, not just after you did something.

For the most part, if you keep the inspectors/marshalls involved with everything "from the start", you will be surprised how much easier life can be.

Good luck with your haunt.

Thanks bud. It's definitely good advise to keep them in the loop.


Claustrophobia doesn't count as an amusement, or at least not here, and we have some pretty strict rules in CT.

But dont just do the squeeze walls, take the onadira way out and use half a claustrophobia wall and mount it on the top of your wall panels, your customers are more likely to react to that way of doing it because EVERYONE knows about the regular way...

So you're saying a three way inflatable wall? As in both sides and ceiling? hmmmmm.....that sounds pretty cool. I'm going to have to talk to the guy that makes it to see if he'll sell me a third side. I bet he will. Seemed like a really nice guy when I talked to him last. I saw his stuff on ebay (think his name was maser).


Make sure your actors are hired well in advance and properly trained. they are the backbone of your haunt. All the permits, props, animatronics, and scenes won't matter if your actors are terrible or unmotivated...

Many of the actors worked at the local pro haunts last year so they definitely have experience (pro haunts as in Universal Studios / Busch Gardens).


Get those plans into the city! Ours came back 3 times the first year with them wanting or needing different things. Haunts are not something they encounter everyday and it is a learning process for all. Be prepared for anything they might throw at you.

Best of luck to you!! It is the hardest, but definitely one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

You're talking about the drawings that are supposed to be to spec right? If so I'll get working on them sooner rather than later then. I need to get some equipment as I've never drawn a to spec sheet. I wonder if they have computer programs that are easy to use that I could use?

fearforyourlife
04-13-2012, 03:02 PM
What part of Florida??
I'm down in the southwest and I'm planning a maze about the same size +/-4000 SF.

I have partnered with a costume shop so I don't have to deal with biz license and the only only thing the
Local Gov. says I need is, well really nothing as long as I have under 500 people at a time there are no inspections required.

It sounds to good to be true but I can't find anyone to contridict this info.
THere is a permit required and proof of insurance and a seperate permit if I put up a tent over 10' sq.

LJ

If I told you I'd have to kill you... :p 8-)


Hey guys it is my second year and I am just outside of Sarasota Florida if you guys want any help just Private Message me and I will help both of you as much as I can. I am also a General Contractor so if you have any building questions I usualy can help with those as well. We did just under 8K in attendance our first year.

Good Luck
Shawn
http://www.twistedwoods.com

I saw your groupon last year. I never got to go but wanted to so bad. I'd love to get together with you and maybe do a local deal (I'm about an hour from you) where we can each promote the others business by handing out discount coupons to the others house.


Hello,

I just wanted to congratulate you on your new haunt. I had spoken with you last fall and you really seemed to enjoy building your home haunt. I am happy to hear you made the leap towards building a pro haunt. I look forward to seeing it.

Good Luck,
Robert Travis
Scenic Art Productions
ScenicArtProductions@Yahoo.COM
http://www.facebook.com/scenicartproductions

Thanks bud, I've been scaring people at my house for years. I thought it was time to throw my towel in the ring and see if I have what it takes :p

BrotherMysterio
04-14-2012, 10:10 PM
You're talking about the drawings that are supposed to be to spec right? If so I'll get working on them sooner rather than later then. I need to get some equipment as I've never drawn a to spec sheet. I wonder if they have computer programs that are easy to use that I could use?

My brother-in-law owns one of the top Architectural firms in Boston, doing major commercial projects, and, believe it or not, they use Google Sketch-Up. It's easy, it's free, it's 3-D, and once they have the basic designs on a project, they can easily send it to clients for approval at various stages, without the clients themselves having to have any special, proprietory software.


I wasn't aware there was a national price formula based on the square footage of the haunt. :p

There isn't, but there is one for time spent. General rule of thumb: $1 for 1 Minute.


I plan on working on making this extremely realistic and gory.

How gory?


I'm focusing on an older crowd.

What age range?

C.

fearforyourlife
04-17-2012, 09:35 PM
1. My brother-in-law owns one of the top Architectural firms in Boston, doing major commercial projects, and, believe it or not, they use Google Sketch-Up. It's easy, it's free, it's 3-D, and once they have the basic designs on a project, they can easily send it to clients for approval at various stages, without the clients themselves having to have any special, proprietory software.



2. There isn't, but there is one for time spent. General rule of thumb: $1 for 1 Minute.



3. How gory?



4. What age range?

C.

1. That is awesome to know! I'll definitely try it out, Thank you!

2. Makes sense.

3. I don't know how to define it other than I'm trying to make things as realistic as possible. Lots of blood, lots of mutilation etc.

4. I'm focusing on the 15+ age range. I'm more interested in the 18 and over crowd, but will allow older teenagers in, I will however warn on the website that younger kids should not be in the house without parental consent and if they do come in the parents have no one to blame but themselves if it is too gory. I'm tired of local haunts that tone things down for younger kids. It's about time that they older crowd that actually has money gets a chance to have something catered to them.

Tom
04-18-2012, 05:30 AM
I'm focusing on the 15+ age range. I'm more interested in the 18 and over crowd, but will allow older teenagers in, I will however warn on the website that younger kids should not be in the house without parental consent and if they do come in the parents have no one to blame but themselves if it is too gory. I'm tired of local haunts that tone things down for younger kids. It's about time that they older crowd that actually has money gets a chance to have something catered to them.

Your already discriminating against age?

You need to have a mind set that every age has money. If it's kids or young teenagers, their parents will pay. Just post a sign at the ticket booth of the younger kids warning stuff and be done with it. Don't judge the age, just take their money. And as for toning it down for younger kids, I did that for 8 years and worked out great!!! But to each their own on that one.

You might want to expand your horizon being a beginner pro haunter. You're going to need every dollar you make for it to be a successful first year.

fearforyourlife
04-23-2012, 10:05 PM
Your already discriminating against age?

You need to have a mind set that every age has money. If it's kids or young teenagers, their parents will pay. Just post a sign at the ticket booth of the younger kids warning stuff and be done with it. Don't judge the age, just take their money. And as for toning it down for younger kids, I did that for 8 years and worked out great!!! But to each their own on that one.

You might want to expand your horizon being a beginner pro haunter. You're going to need every dollar you make for it to be a successful first year.

Maybe I should broaden my range a bit, but tone it down I will not (that last part said in a yoda voice) ;P haha

scottylmt
05-01-2012, 09:51 AM
Fear for your life, I think you and I may be in the same boat. Im trying to make mine as intense as possible; two reasons 1) the kiddie market is being met and 2) I went to some and was so disappointed that it made me angry lol.

Imo its the SPECIALISTS who succeed in industries, while the generalists keep it alive. Keep in mind im coming from a service industry perspective tho not entertainment... but (and im hoping some pros can chime in here) wouldn't it make sense that he makes it as bold as possible because 1) that's what he's passionate about so he'll do better and 2) he will gain a reputation faster by having a "thing" for ppl to hear about, possibly even by generating shock publicity????

For everyone my age I've interviewed, 25-30, we seem to be starved for something legitimately shocking when it comes to haunted houses. This may also just be my area too...

fearforyourlife
05-01-2012, 09:57 PM
Fear for your life, I think you and I may be in the same boat. Im trying to make mine as intense as possible; two reasons 1) the kiddie market is being met and 2) I went to some and was so disappointed that it made me angry lol.

Imo its the SPECIALISTS who succeed in industries, while the generalists keep it alive. Keep in mind im coming from a service industry perspective tho not entertainment... but (and im hoping some pros can chime in here) wouldn't it make sense that he makes it as bold as possible because 1) that's what he's passionate about so he'll do better and 2) he will gain a reputation faster by having a "thing" for ppl to hear about, possibly even by generating shock publicity????

For everyone my age I've interviewed, 25-30, we seem to be starved for something legitimately shocking when it comes to haunted houses. This may also just be my area too...

Right on the money brother! I'm tired of haunted houses that are catered to the general public. Sure that is great and needed, and I'm glad their are some out there for everyone, but why can't there be houses that are catered to people that want a real scare? I think with societies obsession with Dexter, The Walking Dead etc it is abundantly clear Americans like gore. So with that I think it's time I serve up a dose of gore that will give people what they are paying to see.

Shock factor is what I want. I really think you and I are on the same wavelength on this. Are you opening this year too?

scottylmt
05-03-2012, 09:20 AM
Im trying man! Spoke to the fire marshal yesterday about alarm specifics. Really i just need a location so I can get things moving. The haunt is pretty much fully conceptualized. Now im moving on graphics work and establishing a facebook presence, so things are in place for searching for volunteers.

Either way im setting up my corporation this month, and gonna start buying necessary equipment. Worst case scenario is we do a haunt at my parents house this year, and would then be able to spread some expense over two years instead; but that's only a contingency plan.

I've got a meeting with my landlord to discuss how to appeal to other landlords, and what types of deals I should propose. Im also hoping maybe I can get some other building owner names from him so I don't get ignored lol. Either way im going to call everybody and push push push!

Thanks for asking! Yeah we seem to be on the same page; if you'd like any ideas on how to make your maze really intense I've got a ton. I actually went to universal last year just to study their methods, and learned a TON of tricks regarding scare tactics and maze setup.

nightmarezhauntedhouse
05-04-2012, 09:48 AM
cool theirs alot of new haunts in florida. I am trying to open one their as well. I hope we can be good competiton to universal. :-P