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View Full Version : The next big movement.



Cincyscreams
04-29-2012, 12:53 PM
Within the past decade we have seen the largest improvements in the haunted attraction industry yet. Going from black mazes to elaborate sets with over the top effects. But has anyone ever wondered what's next? It seems all haunted houses are following a standard today set by the top haunts. Everyone wants the biggest elaborate sets, best animations, newest effects, and coolest costumed characters. But with all this detail it seems that haunted attractions are loosing the actual "scare" factor. So what's next? What's the newest innovation to the haunted attraction industry? Do we continue on with this high detail orientated haunts or do we switch gears? Haunted houses are supposed to be a theatrical experience, where you are the victim. But doesn't it seem like most haunts are just museums for their fancy new props now? just thoughts to ponder about as we venture on.

Haunted Prints (EOM)
04-29-2012, 01:39 PM
Maybe the "Blackout Haunted House" in NYC is the next big thing. They are taking it to the next level!

http://jadedviewer.blogspot.com/2011/11/blackout-haunted-house.html (http://http://jadedviewer.blogspot.com/2011/11/blackout-haunted-house.html)

SeanMassacre
04-29-2012, 03:44 PM
3D haunts seem to be making a large presence these days. Most are just a few small effects, but some are putting a lot into it and actually putting characters and moving props into them. Our haunt just started with 3D last year and we are investing a lot into it this year. Want to make sure people are getting the true effect. The blackout haunt might be going backwards. The scare isn't really there. I would love to try it, but I would feel I was just getting lost in a room. Nothing scary about getting lost.

HordeOfUndead
04-30-2012, 08:59 AM
I have to agree with the original poster. Although what's now available to the haunt industry within the last decade is truly amazing, some haunts rely far, far too much on extreme Hollywood set detail, animatronics, and special FX.

I've been to many huge haunts in different areas of the country that are just like what the above post said, "walking through a museum." Maybe getting scared or jumping once or twice.

Last year was our first professional season and we had zero animatronics or special FX (other than a thunder & lightening simulation). We focused on as many creative scare points as possible.

This season we are in fact adding some special FX and animatronics that are very specific to our attraction theme to have a well rounded haunt. But last season all of our tremendous amount of positive feedback came from how many creative scare points we had.

At the end of the day your actors and scare factor points throughout an attraction should still be of the utmost importance.

If guests are walking through a haunt with hundreds of thousands of dollars in set design, animatronics, and special FX, but don't get scared at all...then what is the point?

I think the next best thing is incorporating the technology we have in the industry today to somehow compliment the exact moment an actor scares a guest (or vice versa). Timing, creative original scare tactics from above or below what a guest "expects" to happen are definitely what sets you apart.

We're adding a second attraction this season that won't be very large, but our crew has not seen anything like it anywhere before. :twisted:

Blackout Haunted House in NYC does in fact look wild. We'd love to get to that one!

Cincyscreams
04-30-2012, 06:23 PM
I have to agree with the original poster. Although what's now available to the haunt industry within the last decade is truly amazing, some haunts rely far, far too much on extreme Hollywood set detail, animatronics, and special FX.

I've been to many huge haunts in different areas of the country that are just like what the above post said, "walking through a museum." Maybe getting scared or jumping once or twice.

Last year was our first professional season and we had zero animatronics or special FX (other than a thunder & lightening simulation). We focused on as many creative scare points as possible.

This season we are in fact adding some special FX and animatronics that are very specific to our attraction theme to have a well rounded haunt. But last season all of our tremendous amount of positive feedback came from how many creative scare points we had.

At the end of the day your actors and scare factor points throughout an attraction should still be of the utmost importance.

If guests are walking through a haunt with hundreds of thousands of dollars in set design, animatronics, and special FX, but don't get scared at all...then what is the point?

I think the next best thing is incorporating the technology we have in the industry today to somehow compliment the exact moment an actor scares a guest (or vice versa). Timing, creative original scare tactics from above or below what a guest "expects" to happen are definitely what sets you apart.
.

We're adding a second attraction this season that won't be very large, but our crew has not seen anything like it anywhere before. :twisted:

Blackout Haunted House in NYC does in fact look wild. We'd love to get to that one!

I highly agree! I think all these special fx need to be integrated with our actors..l which is something I am embarking in entirely this year. Every animation, sound effect, etc, is integrated with an actors action.

scary bill
04-30-2012, 08:51 PM
3D haunts seem to be making a large presence these days. Most are just a few small effects, but some are putting a lot into it and actually putting characters and moving props into them. Our haunt just started with 3D last year and we are investing a lot into it this year. Want to make sure people are getting the true effect. The blackout haunt might be going backwards. The scare isn't really there. I would love to try it, but I would feel I was just getting lost in a room. Nothing scary about getting lost.

IMHO I disagree. 3D haunts I have been to do nothing for me. Now on the other hand a dark maze if done right can be very frightening. Just think, what was the first thing most kids are scared of? THE DARK. A few well placed actors or startle scares go a long way. Cerebral scares are the way to go. I love all the high tech props and animations, but in reality, a dark hall with some good actors and unexpected events are the best for actual scares.

I think most haunted houses are about the show and props, or eye candy, and not about the actual scares.

Just my opinion, that if like most instances, means nothing

Haunted Prints (EOM)
04-30-2012, 08:59 PM
Those actor controlled animatronics by Gore Galore encompass the a tor and the animatronic perfectly, maybe they foresee the nest big thing.

Deathwing
04-30-2012, 09:21 PM
To put it nicely, actors pretty much suck. Of course you absolutely need good actors but the reason why all the big haunts use spfx and animatronics is because they are what the public wants to see. I would venture to say that 90+% of the actors I've seen in a haunted house were teens or younger using fake British accents and just aren't scary. Then there are those that take haunted house method acting way too seriously and think they are legendary and irreplaceable to a haunt. People just want to be scared, they don't want to hear an "actor" going through long drawn out dialogue that only bores the guest. And a large number of guests will simply not get scared and they are the ones looking for details and animatronics. I've seen guests walk through and COMPLETELY ignore the actor doing his skit and talk amongst themselves about a prop or scenery. Then there are those that not only miss the scenery but the actors as well as they get bunched up and refuse to look up. I think as long as its still scary with scare actors not speaking actors and full of great scenes and animatronics it's a winner to the public.

Jake

Allen H
04-30-2012, 11:54 PM
Jake,
In my opinion you are wrong. Yes untrained actors suck. It sounds like you are talking about bad actors- yes bad actors suck and will detract from a haunt, animations do not add scare factor to a haunted house, they add production value and a wow factor.
If our actors suck it is because you have not trained them correctly or you have not thinned the herd as much as necessary. The big haunts use animatronics and spfx because they are "big"- to big to train actors effectively. A smaller show has an energy that the big shows do not have, they have a personal touch. Actors in a haunt are like teachers in a classroom. a high actor to customer ratio only pays off if the teachers know what they are doing. They are hard to train, it is an investment that an owner cannot see for 10 months out of the year unlike an animatronic they buy at the show.
Most owners dont know what they want from their actors so they dont know how to teach them- I have been guilty of it in the past but no more, now i know what i want and what kind of personality/actor/body type can give it to me.
I think good acting is the future of haunts and a more personal tailored scare experience, imagine getting a customers name and having 30 seconds to look at their facebook wall before they get into your set...

Deathwing
05-01-2012, 06:08 AM
Allen,

I disagree with you. Show me one haunt that actually has great actors because I've never seen one. If you tell me of one I will make it s point to go see it. The reason why the smaller haunts focus on actors is because they have to because they don't have the money to buy the big props and sets and the actor is the only focus they can present. The big haunts are big not because of their actors people just don't care they just want quick scares and believable scenery. Everyone knows they are in a haunted attraction and not a real haunted house no one really buys into the fact that they might be in real danger but if the sets look real enough they can more easily imagine they are in a real scary situation. I've seen and heard from actors and trainers who fancy themselves as great actors and they actually look foolish not convincing. Ask any guest that tours your haunts and ask what they like and more often than not they will comment on the scares or details and when they mention an actor it was "that guy with the chainsaw" or things like that they will never say "yeah that girl talking about her lost mommy scared me". Again I think the big haunts are big because they invest in great looking sets and animations and hire scare actors with the occasional actor actor. Disney's haunted mansion is considered legendary and they have "0" actors during the ride but nothing but details, spfx and animations.

Jake

Greg Chrise
05-01-2012, 08:44 AM
Somewhere out there there is some good acting. I have seen it. I have had the sense of belief and enjoyed zombies slowly following a trailer hay ride after the scare by staying in character. And not all haunts are great because they piled on the animatronics and line up TV sets showing video that are supposed to be some scenery element.

Yes letting loose Shakespear inspired idiots is not scary. True looking at a bunch of go this way ushers in not exciting but, it is up to you to figure out what sucks and figure out what is more powerful and do it. If no one is doing it right in your region you have a moral obigation to make it right and teach people and lead people even if it means on the job training.

Since I got busy I haven't been out much but, I have been able to go to any haunt and answer the question what can we do to make it more scary and mention one body motion that can get even the most hardened haunt goer or serious enthusiast. People want to do it right. Someone has to make themselves available. Any one can bitch. The problem sometimes is the people who volunteers to lead dont have any idea what to do. There are a gazillion haunts that don't even take the first step to figuring out what to do or do any home work at all.

This spells opportunity. It isn't even an arguement. What are you doing to make things seriously as cool as they could be, compensated or not. Any haunt, even ones that are not yours. If everyone does well, the customers are more engaged to go to any haunt they hear of.

Badger
05-01-2012, 09:29 AM
Jake,
In my opinion you are wrong. Yes untrained actors suck. It sounds like you are talking about bad actors- yes bad actors suck and will detract from a haunt, animations do not add scare factor to a haunted house, they add production value and a wow factor.
If our actors suck it is because you have not trained them correctly or you have not thinned the herd as much as necessary. The big haunts use animatronics and spfx because they are "big"- to big to train actors effectively. A smaller show has an energy that the big shows do not have, they have a personal touch. Actors in a haunt are like teachers in a classroom. a high actor to customer ratio only pays off if the teachers know what they are doing. They are hard to train, it is an investment that an owner cannot see for 10 months out of the year unlike an animatronic they buy at the show.
Most owners dont know what they want from their actors so they dont know how to teach them- I have been guilty of it in the past but no more, now i know what i want and what kind of personality/actor/body type can give it to me.
I think good acting is the future of haunts and a more personal tailored scare experience, imagine getting a customers name and having 30 seconds to look at their facebook wall before they get into your set...


Thank you Allen, you bring up a lot of points that I make to my clients. It's difficult to weed out poor or unmotivated actors if you don't get a chance to properly train them. I have many haunts write me after the season and tell me how customers (and reviewers) tell them how much the acting has improved. When people start to rely too much on animatronics, the quality of the haunt always suffers...


And Jake, I would suggest you visit the well-known haunts in the following cities and let me know how their actors are. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which ones I'm referring to:
Atlanta
Kansas City
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati

(And for the record, I have not been hired to work at any haunts in the following cities so there is no personal bias)

HordeOfUndead
05-01-2012, 09:57 AM
We're just waiting for Larry to chime in to this debate... :D

We quickly learned last season that actors (especially volunteers) are a handful. But we were very, very fortunate to have such an excellent group of actors that were enthusiastic every single night during our first pro season. Sure we had a couple mishaps and one or two kids we let go, but during each performance all of our compliments were a direct result from our awesome actors and their scare factor.

Bottom line, as long as any haunt (no matter what the budget) is WELL-ROUNDED and doesn't overkill certain categories (animatronics, special FX, etc) then the show is going to be very enjoyable for all guests.

freak 'n' stein
05-01-2012, 10:13 AM
We're just waiting for Larry to chime in to this debate... :D

We quickly learned last season that actors (especially volunteers) are a handful. But we were very, very fortunate to have such an excellent group of actors that were enthusiastic every single night during our first pro season. Sure we had a couple mishaps and one or two kids we let go, but during each performance all of our compliments were a direct result from our awesome actors and their scare factor.

Bottom line, as long as any haunt (no matter what the budget) is WELL-ROUNDED and doesn't overkill certain categories (animatronics, special FX, etc) then the show is going to be very enjoyable for all guests.

I'm waiting TOO!! Hahaha...

But I whole-heartedly agree that a successful haunt is a great mix of all elements. Our haunt is relatively low budget so we're actor-reliant. An excellent mix of elements in my opinion is Netherworld. I can never speak more highly of a haunt. Haven't missed a season in three years and every year it gets better. Our first year, the thing my group remembered most was the doll character they had in the parking lot. Most the lot actors are the best but the sets are extremely detailed and the actors inside have great dialogue which can make or break a haunt.

mrfoos
05-01-2012, 11:56 AM
imagine getting a customers name and having 30 seconds to look at their facebook wall before they get into your set...

WOW! Online ticket purchase + field for customer to enter facebook link + ticket bar code scan at entrance = WOW!

It would be difficult (nearly impossible) to manage in a fast moving haunt... but that's a fantastic idea to ponder and day dream about.

Spikerip
05-01-2012, 12:47 PM
Iíve enjoyed reading the posts; Iím not surprised some of you havenít seen good actors at haunts. The actors are what can make or break a haunt. Iíve always said I would take a Class B haunt with Class A actors over a Class A haunt with Class B actors. Of course having both rated an A would be optimum, but thatís a real challenge.

The majority of our actors are over 30, some in their 40ís, 50ís and 60ís. Iíve been operating a haunt for 27 years and some of my actors have been with me from the beginning. We hold auditions each summer; recruiting 10 Ė 20 new team members to replace those leaving. We usually hire about 120 team members. Years ago; all you needed was a pulse to get a job, now we do background checks and hold auditions.

We hold actor training year round (January through September). We meet at the haunt and host a variety of classes for our team members (Character Development, Costuming, Makeup classes and Interactive Acting Techniques). We also have an acting troupe thatís been together for 10 years; Feature Creatures of Central Ohio. Our haunt, The Scare-A-Torium has 55 scenes in a 31,000 sq ft building. It takes about 25 minutes to walk through it.

Weíll be open Friday, June 8 from 8 Ė 11 pm during the Midwest Haunters Convention. In addition to our regular staff, weíre bringing in about a dozen actors from around the country to assist. Weíll have 70 actors performing that evening. We donít claim to be the best haunt or have the best actors, but we do try hard to entertain you and provide you with a memorable experience.

The next big movement? I wish I knew. We do have huge plans for 2013, but I canít share that just yet. I can tell you that weíve prepared something very unique to the industry in our final scene at the Scare-A-Torium during MHC.

Treat your actors like team members; train them year round, involve them in your designs/planning sessions and let them know how much you appreciate them. I promise it will pay off in the long run.

Kelly Collins
The Scare-A-Torium
The Midwest Haunters Convention

Allen H
05-01-2012, 05:38 PM
Allen,

"I disagree with you. Show me one haunt that actually has great actors because I've never seen one. If you tell me of one I will make it s point to go see it."
SCREAMS in Waxahatchie TX, 13th Street morgue in Redoak TX, Haunthouse in Cado mills TX to name a few. Come to TX and I will change your mind.

" The reason why the smaller haunts focus on actors is because they have to because they don't have the money to buy the big props and sets and the actor is the only focus they can present."
Untrue, sets are not terribly expensive either the only thing they are priced out of range on is big and mid-sized animatronics.

"The big haunts are big not because of their actors people just don't care they just want quick scares and believable scenery."
I will quote my friend Alex Lohman here- "I have never heard a guest come out a haunt saying how great the crown molding was"

"Everyone knows they are in a haunted attraction and not a real haunted house no one really buys into the fact that they might be in real danger but if the sets look real enough they can more easily imagine they are in a real scary situation."
I dont think the sets change their attitude that much either, haunt owners tend to focus on sets because they have them to tinker with for 11 months out of the year- as opposed to actors who they really only see during Sept and October. Scary situations do not come from settings- an alley is not a scary place unless there is an aggressive homeless man in it's dark corners- A graveyard is not scary unless a gravedigger or zombie makes it so. A set is not a museum destination that guests have come to look at, it is the wrapping a monster comes in.

"I've seen and heard from actors and trainers who fancy themselves as great actors and they actually look foolish not convincing."
Possibly- there are several reasons for that, it is hard to judge your own success as an actor, the person in front of you is scared so you think you are doing great, but that was one out of a group of four so that is only 25% success rate. Truth is that if a poodle in a pink skirt ran by a group of ten in a haunt then two of them would jump and scream. A good haunt actor will be able to startle 8 out of ten. I am pretty good, I don't toot my own horn very often but I am good at three things and three things only. Scaring people, fighting, and loving my wife. So I feel qualified to talk a bit about the topic. Scaring people is hard work and it takes smart people to do it effectively and efficiently. It is actually like fast food- lots of people do the job but only about 5% give a damn and do it right. The key is to find ones that give a damn, or be able to inspire them.

"Ask any guest that tours your haunts and ask what they like and more often than not they will comment on the scares or details and when they mention an actor it was "that guy with the chainsaw" or things like that they will never say "yeah that girl talking about her lost mommy scared me"."
My exit surveys prove the above statement false. I have five different actors that continually make the exit survey as the guests favorite thing at the park. I dont know if you own a show or not and it doesn't matter either way- but my exit surveys tell me that actors are needed, vital and THE most important factor in a haunted attraction.

"Again I think the big haunts are big because they invest in great looking sets and animations and hire scare actors with the occasional actor actor."
Big haunts are big because they market well and have a good enough show to retain an audience. Marketing determines attendance not decor or animations in my opinion.

"Disney's haunted mansion is considered legendary and they have "0" actors during the ride but nothing but details, spfx and animations."
You are switching classes here- very few people find the haunted mansion scary- so this supports my side of actors making a show scary. It is legendary yes, but not scary and that was the original point I was defending.

I want to point out that we are not really arguing here- we are explaining two separate viewpoints that exist at the same time. One of us is not wrong and the other right, If you own a show then you take less stock in your actors and they act accordingly- at the shows that I train actors for they do put a lot of stock in their actors and the actors act accordingly. I am glad that there are different viewpoints and opinions when it comes to haunting- you will build a show that pleases guests who think like you do and I will build a show that pleases guests like me.
I will close by saying that there are more good haunts with good actors than there are good haunts with bad actors- that alone tells me that actors are a factor. Good sets make for good pictures, but good actors make Nightmares.
Allen H

Badger
05-02-2012, 05:11 AM
Good sets make for good pictures, but good actors make Nightmares. - Allen H



I want to steal that line for my Boo Camp (with your permission of course)

Darkangel
05-02-2012, 07:18 AM
Good sets make for good pictures, but good actors make Nightmares.
Allen H[/QUOTE]

True, but good sets make for good pictures and that's what helps you make good money which is really what matters most.

DA

Speculo
05-02-2012, 07:35 AM
It is simple really... The guests want it all. If you have the resources for big sets and effects, of course you would put them in. BUT they don't replace actors. Back in the day I heard people talk about repacing actors with animations..wrong. Animations are like adding actors, but they don't REPLACE actors. Actors are the soul of the show, the haunt is a stage for them to scare and entertain, but a decked out stage with the very best you can afford to serve your public is the way to go.

This debate has played out a dozen times in the last 15 years - but it boils down to this: Do the very best you can for your customers, charge a fair price and with luck you will grow. A good haunt producer looks to improve ALL aspects of the haunt every year, sets, props, effects and actors unless time or money prevent it.

Once again it is not either or... it is do it all or as much as you can. A big show that doesn't work on its staffing/performances/presentation is making a mistake, just like a smaller haunt that doesn't work to grow its sets or effects when it starts making the money to do so is also making an error.

Or so I have observed.

Thanks!

Haunted Prints (EOM)
05-02-2012, 07:47 PM
So what's the next big movement?