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son-of-sam
07-03-2012, 11:10 PM
I bought a haunt this year and I was wondering if I should change the name? The haunt was open for four years but there has to be a reason why they sold because nobody sells when there making money hand over fist. The only reason why I was thinking of keeping the name because it already has a website and they must have some faith the name has a following because I only put down 10% and were working the rest out on ticket sales. I am changing the hole story line to the haunt to fit it better to what I want to do but I am not sure if I should change the name. I am going to advertise that its under new ownership and I did a 15k renovation to the haunt of things I have had from home haunting[really good professional stuff pneumatic props, pro lighting, set design etc]. Any advise would be nice.

BrotherMysterio
07-04-2012, 06:03 AM
I bought a haunt this year and I was wondering if I should change the name? The haunt was open for four years but there has to be a reason why they sold because nobody sells when there making money hand over fist. The only reason why I was thinking of keeping the name because it already has a website and they must have some faith the name has a following because I only put down 10% and were working the rest out on ticket sales. I am changing the hole story line to the haunt to fit it better to what I want to do but I am not sure if I should change the name. I am going to advertise that its under new ownership and I did a 15k renovation to the haunt of things I have had from home haunting[really good professional stuff pneumatic props, pro lighting, set design etc]. Any advise would be nice.

First, there are plenty of reasons why someone would want to sell a successful pro-haunt, just like there are many reasons why people would sell a successful business. Maybe they are getting tired of the business. Maybe they are getting tired of the lifestyle. Maybe they have medical conditions, or need to handle major life changes. Maybe they want to try something different. Maybe it's just not fun for them anymore. Maybe they suck at it, and it took them four years to figure this out.

I've heard people say that pro-haunting is a young man's business. Maybe. Maybe not. I've known of a lot of people in their older years who love it and could work any younger person under the table, but there is some truth in that statement. It is a visceral business that requires vigor and vitality, no matter what age you are. It is a year round lifestyle that requires a very large commitment; the kind of commitment you don't see on the front end when your local, friendly neighborhood pro-haunt is only open three weekends a year.

Also, there is a major distinction between what I call "home haunters wanting to go pro", and "dream-haunters", who want to own the "haunt of their dreams", but don't really know what they are getting into, or know anything about the industry, or have ever even worked in a pro-haunt before. It's kinda like the yuppies who love spending Sunday Brunch at this lovely little Breakfast Eatery, or a lovely B'n'B that serves Breakfast, and they think of how wonderful and life affirming it would be to own their own Eatery or Café, or B'n'B even, even tho they have never set foot in a restaurant or professional kitchen, don't know a thing about the food or hospitality industry, don't really do a lot of cooking, don't really do a lot of entertaining, aren't really foodies, per se, and have never owned a business or done anything related to customer service. Of course, on the plus side, they do have a lovely place already picked out, and they've already written up a wonderful "business plan" that is sure to impress the local bank manager and secure them a half million dollar loan. They may not even have to mortgage their McMansion to do it.

Second, before advice, we need details . . .


What was the name?
What do you want to change it to?
What was the old theme?
What will be the new theme?
What was the old storyline?
What will be the new storyline?
What is the square footage of the home haunt?
What is the square footage of the pro haunt?
Will the competition in your area allow you to make such a radical change?



All of these things are important, and if you just change them (or the haunt's name) willy-nilly, you can lose your whole business model. The only reason why you buy a preexisting haunt is to either a) lessen the work of creating a new one from scratch, b) capitalize on an already established market and attraction's popularity, name-recognition, and existing clientele or fan-base, or c), ideally, both. Well, if you change everything, then you just basically killed all the advantages of buying the already existing haunt. The only thing you did for yourself was save yourself from making some new wall panels.

As for advertising a change of management or ownership, well, no, you didn't. You didn't change management or ownership because it's not going to be the same haunt with a new manager or owner. It's just going to be a bunch of wall panels and props that used to belong to one haunt, that you now own and will fashion into a completely different haunt.

The biggest advantage you'll lose is owning a haunt that has some life and a history to it. For instance, even if you kept it within the same general theme - a Big Top theme, for instance - it would still be a totally different haunt. If the name was CarnEvil of Death, and you changed it to Mr. Chuckles' Funhouse of Terrors, all the preexisting fans of CarnEvil of Death will simply think COD closed down, as Haunts typically do from time to time, and now Mr. Chuckles' Funhouse of Terrors, having absolutely no name recognition whatsoever, will simple be another first year haunt, which may totally suck in the minds of potential customers, which many first year haunts typically do.

The fact that it used to be a good haunt will mean absolutely nothing to anyone, and wasting valuable advertising dollars and marketing resources to try and make old customers aware of that change is a bad idea. Most people have a hard enough time getting patrons out to their regular, "same name as before" haunts, let alone make the general public aware of something as esoteric as a new name, management, or ownership team. (It's not like a restaurant where you drive by it on a daily basis, and they have an "under new management" banner out front.)

Also, it seems to me that allowing what you did in a home haunt decide what you will do in a pro-haunt is a lot like the tail wagging the dog. I'm not sure how great your home haunt is, and it would be good to see what your pro-haunt looks like, but I have rarely, if ever, seen a home haunt that would be good enough to decide the artistic direction of a pro-haunt, and, believe me, I've seen some really, really good home haunts, some that I thought were better than some pro-haunts.

To wit: if the two entities are compatible enough so that the transition would be fairly seamless, then you should repurpose the home haunt, not the pro-haunt. If they are not compatible, and a lot of changes need to be made, it would again be much easier to repurpose the home haunt materials than completely retheme a pro-haunt. You might also look at keeping the pro-haunt the same for your first year (and the pro-haunt's fifth year), and then let your home haunt be the start of a new element, so you can have a two element (attraction, house, haunt) event, rather than just the one, say for the following year.

Also, if this will be your first pro-haunt experience, what you learn from this will most likely impact your future decisions, and you might consider different approaches to what you think you'll doing anyway, so, you don't want to go changing things willy-nilly.

Ask yourself, "Am I a home haunter who wants to go pro?" or "Do I just want to have 'the haunt of my dreams', whether it's actually worthwhile to go that route or not?"

C.

son-of-sam
07-04-2012, 10:01 AM
First off I am not just some ''yuppie'' that just wants to own a haunt to feel some dream that I thought up of yesterday. Why I bought the haunt because they had a 23k fire panel that I really needed and the haunt had 30,000 dollars worth of panels that were already treated with flamex pf that costs 180 dollars a five gallon bucket and it would take a hole lot of buckets to treat 30,000 dollars worth of panel. All the stuff I am adding is pro stage lighting that costed me 190 dollars a light plus three special fx lights that were five hundred bucks a piece. Also I am adding a cut in half zombie that thrashes I bought off of juneaustudios, also a unit 70 bed with the chicks head is split in half, a scare parts exorcist bed, Exploding fuse boxes, and some other things just to name a few. Also why I bought the haunt because I am not rich like alot of people that get in this[even though alot of people try to act like there not] and did not have a 100k to blow out my own pocket to start my own haunt[I did not even have 25k to start if I wanted to]. The haunt I bought did not really have any props except props that ran off of electricity. I was warned that people on this forum could be pretty harsh but for you to jump to the concept that I pretty much have no clue without you even knowing me is pretty pig headed. Also I heard some negative comments by local critics on the haunt and with the props I seen they had made me think it was justified [no silicone masks either but I have a friend custom making all my masks that is pretty good and my masks will only be in my haunt and no other haunt. So sorry I even asked for advise yoda of the haunted house world.

screamforadream
07-04-2012, 10:21 AM
Woah woah woah, relax son of Sam.

Listen, no one is out to get you. But there is a reality of pro haunt done for income and a home haunt done for fun! If you can make something fun and profitable out of what you have acquired, GREAT! But don't jump down someone's throat for telling you something you asked to hear.

I'm 19. And have been screwed over as many times as most veterans in this industry, since I've been on this forum I've grown exponentially as a business owner for both my haunt that I am newly opening with my business partner, and the DJ company I have built from the ground up. That growth stems from accepting and adjusting to harsh reality's and not getting all fired up just from someone being honest with me.

If you're that quick to get all pissy, you are in the wrong business my friend. Take the 10% loss and find a new way to make money. Sure you may not have liked what BrotherMysterio had to tell you, but maybe you needed to hear it.

It's a good thing you didn't say the name of your new haunt, you are the official person representing your new business, you don't want to look like an ass. It reflects poorly on your business, so even if you now hate me and BM, put on a happy face and learn basic business practices, otherwise you will quickly fail and won't have many friends to help you back up when you need it the most.

Ps- this is from my phone, sorry if it has any grammar issues lol.

son-of-sam
07-04-2012, 12:21 PM
If your just opening your doors this year then me and you are in the same spot my friend. Do not try to act like your Larry over here and you have a hole bunch of great advise to give when you have never even opened your doors yet. I was not mad at all I was just saying how I felt like BM did and if he has the right to then so do I. Maybe you should take some of the advice that you gave me and do not get all upset when some one else is just saying how they feel. Something also to is what is wrong with having a ''dream'' how can I touch the sky if I stop reaching for it? Martin Luther King had a dream and if he would of gave up because he felt he was out of his league then how would the world be today. All I was getting at was if other people can make it in this biz why cant I ? I am not all that different from anybody else on this forum except for experience. If someone says I probably do not know what I am doing then of course I am going to say something. I am a very proud person and I do not jock anybodies jock. Since your just starting you could fall flat on your face to and it even makes it harder on you when you have a partner. After you pay rent you have to split profit with your partner when All my revenue after rent goes just to me. If you think you know more because you were on this forum first then you are mistaken. I know quite a few haunt owners that do not even get on this forum that are moguls[one of my friends made 8.5 million dollars in 17 years just off of one of his haunts and thats after paying uncle sam]. Do not take this to the heart and I wish you the best of luck even though I probably will not get it back in return

freak 'n' stein
07-04-2012, 01:11 PM
Woah woah woah, relax son of Sam.

Listen, no one is out to get you. But there is a reality of pro haunt done for income and a home haunt done for fun! If you can make something fun and profitable out of what you have acquired, GREAT! But don't jump down someone's throat for telling you something you asked to hear.

I'm 19. And have been screwed over as many times as most veterans in this industry, since I've been on this forum I've grown exponentially as a business owner for both my haunt that I am newly opening with my business partner, and the DJ company I have built from the ground up. That growth stems from accepting and adjusting to harsh reality's and not getting all fired up just from someone being honest with me.

If you're that quick to get all pissy, you are in the wrong business my friend. Take the 10% loss and find a new way to make money. Sure you may not have liked what BrotherMysterio had to tell you, but maybe you needed to hear it.

It's a good thing you didn't say the name of your new haunt, you are the official person representing your new business, you don't want to look like an ass. It reflects poorly on your business, so even if you now hate me and BM, put on a happy face and learn basic business practices, otherwise you will quickly fail and won't have many friends to help you back up when you need it the most.

Ps- this is from my phone, sorry if it has any grammar issues lol.

I couldn't agree more Bobby! This forum is here to HELP, not hurt anyone. Occasionally we get those individuals who have nothing better to do with their lives other than to put people down. I've seen it all. I HONESTLY think BM gave very sound advice, some of which even I'm going to use to my advantage. Maybe EVERY bit didn't apply to you Son of Sam, but take what you need instead of feeling attacked, cause that clearly wasn't the intent. I'm going to answer your question straight up, no frills...

I've talked A LOT with my team over the last few months about changing the name of my show. The show has been around longer than I have and it's name reflects it's age. "Hall of Horrors". In going with a few reasons I wanted a name change, haunts these days seem a lot edgier in their titles. "Netherworld", "Necropolis", "The 13th Gate" to name a few. Those names and others definitely reflect a newer generation of haunts. I've since resolved to keep the name the same only because it's got history. In my opinion it would be easier for me to branch out and do a sister haunt rather than changing names completely. Don't get me wrong though, this coming season we're working on the BRAND IMAGE...cleaner more up to date logos, websites, marketing, etc. Haven't launched any of it as of yet, but I assure, your customers will probably take better heed to a re-imaging than new title cause then you might come off as a "Fly-by-night" attraction. Our market has had plenty of them. Haunts that don't stick around and try to reemerge as an all new show by simply offering a new name. Future plans to expand are where I'd introduce new show names. Take Larry for example. The Darkness, Creepyworld, Lemp. All different venues under the same parent. Just my two cents! Best of luck!!

screamforadream
07-04-2012, 02:12 PM
Thanks O'Shawn!

And your reply only validated what I said.

I hope you learn and grow with time, otherwise with that attitude you'll never go far in this biz. I only wish you the best and that you'll realize I, nor BM, was trying to do anything other than give you what you asked for.

tonguesandwich
07-04-2012, 03:54 PM
If you can't find it having a fantastic rap I wouldn't keep it..... more because I would want to personalize it with my vision, at this stage, if its not already built up a following. Just redirect the domain to the new site for the stragglers. Just my opinion...

Allen H
07-04-2012, 04:22 PM
Brother Mysterio- Work on answering the questions that are asked. No one asks to be judged and you are unwise to guess someone intentions or even to question their intent. that was not asked . You are most helpful when you answer the questions that are asked. Never answer questions to prove how much you know, answer them because you want to help. You want to help I know that, just make sure that the text reflects that. it is so easy to see context in writing that is not there, make sure it is very hard to read anything negative in your replies.

Son-of Sam- Chill out, relax. Accept any help in the text and leave anything negative on the page. Breathe in, Haunt, Breathe out. No one is out to insult you and if they are the best thing you can do is ignore them. You have said some foolish and insulting things hopefully that is a forum phase we can move past. Be nice, all we can be is a good example.
The name your haunt is and the name you want to change it to are important. In general I say never change the name or location of your show if you can help it. However if you bought "SATANS SHITTY SCAREHOUSE!" then a name change may expand your audience quite a bit. You did not ask this but I feel it is important to throw in whenever names are discussed, If you change the name try to move forward in the alphabet as opposed to backwards. Most events listings are alphabetical, being seen first will help you get more customers.

Happy 4th all, lets leave the fireworks in the sky and off of the forum,
Allen H

fearforyourlife
07-04-2012, 04:39 PM
Son of sam...you need to relax and realize when people are trying to help you. Brother Mysterio took time out of his life to give you viable information and the only thing you focused in on was misinterpreting what he was saying. No one is on here to try to bring you down. So take a step back, breathe and learn how to take advise from what people say. It doesn't mean you have to do what people say, but at least hear people out and try not to be confrontational. Being confrontational is certainly not the best way to make friends.

Just my 1/2 a cent....(adjusted for inflation) ;)

son-of-sam
07-04-2012, 05:01 PM
Allen I respect what you have to say and I did not mean to get so confrontational but its in my nature even more when my integrity is being misrepresented. The name of the haunted house is Dungeon of terror. I have not decided on a for sure new name but have not come up with anything that is more up in the alphabet then D. The problem with the haunted house is there is only a small portion of the haunt that is actually a dungeon. I was thinking of changing the plot to more of a devils rejects kind of theme. That the cops,F.B.I. stumble across a house in the middle of nowhere that is a gruesome scene. The cops who find the house nick named it the dungeon of terror because of the horror and sadistic torture scene that they found within. I did not mean to get all charles manson and for my part I will try not to let the little things get to me so much. Five haunted houses closed in my area last year[out of about twenty] so I was thinking if I change up the time is now. The haunt last year was huge [about 25,000sqr. ft.] and is now 10,000 sqr. ft. There was a lot of things that I did this year to make it better with all the wood that I got[ I ran the walls back every four feet so no one can see the frames of the walls which is something the old owner did not do he just painted the other side and did not care]. Hopefully this info will help THANX.

Allen H
07-04-2012, 06:04 PM
I think the name Dungeon of Terror is a good one, the story line you have fits well with the name so I would not change. That is just my $.02. You know your market better than anyone but if the haunt had 2,000+ customers last year then I would no want to have to retrain them as to wha we are called. location is a bigger factor but name recognition goes a long way.
Allen H

screamforadream
07-04-2012, 08:31 PM
That and "D" is pretty close to the beginning of the alphabet lol, we're Decimation ScreamPark :)

Greg Chrise
07-04-2012, 11:21 PM
It's hard to come up with a story line for A Affordable Aardvark Abyss.

BrotherMysterio
07-04-2012, 11:54 PM
It's hard to come up with a story line for A Affordable Aardvark Abyss.

This is true.

Abyss Asylum? Anarchy Asylum?

C.

son-of-sam
07-05-2012, 12:12 AM
Can you please elaborate on the subject? Maybe its a wise crack but if it is hate thats what makes the under dog great and if not maybe this is another reply that I took wrong. Thats why I want to make sure this time that someone is taking a sucker punch prior to saying anything.

Greg Chrise
07-05-2012, 12:29 AM
This is obviously a joke, Allen suggested going earlier in the Alphabet for haunt listings. How much in front can you be, like in the Yellow Pages?

Of course Allen is absolutely right in suggesting that. Yes, decades of doing this and I'm still trying to get Aardvark in a haunt name somehow.

son-of-sam
07-05-2012, 01:17 AM
If I made a comment on how affordable your haunt was that would not bother you at all? I will not set my show up under the terms affordable and be proud if I did not do everything possible to make my show the best. Larrys show costed him more then the average house costs ten folds and if you went to him and told him his shows were ''affordable'' you do not think it would bother him just a little? Every one wants me to settle down but let me call your show cheap another term for affordable and see if that does not light a fire.

BrotherMysterio
07-05-2012, 02:17 AM
If I made a comment on how affordable your haunt was that would not bother you at all? I will not set my show up under the terms affordable and be proud if I did not do everything possible to make my show the best. Larrys show costed him more then the average house costs ten folds and if you went to him and told him his shows were ''affordable'' you do not think it would bother him just a little? Every one wants me to settle down but let me call your show cheap another term for affordable and see if that does not light a fire.

Dude, hold up. Greg wasn't saying that you had some cheapo rinky-dink haunt (and neither was I). He was making a dumb joke about trying to push the haunt name as deep into the A's as possible. Out Greg's way, you have a lot of people with insurance companies using names like "AAA Affordable Insurance" and stuff like that cuz, apart from playing on the whole affordable angle thing, they also want to show up near the beginning of the "A's", hoping that when people check the yellow pages or phone directory and see their ad, that customers will call them and not go any further in the listings. It's the same idea with trying to get top rankings in Google when people search on a "buying keyword term" and all that. That's where that joke came from. That and the bit about the "Aardvark". Believe me, Greg is the type of guy who will actually put a were-aardvark into a haunt, but the other thing is that with two A's in the beginning of the word Aardvark, it's right near the beginning.

Actually, quite the opposite, if you want to learn how to do something cost-effectively, then Greg is one of the go-to guys, along with Allen Hopps, and Jim Warfield as well. They are the last guys on Earth to tell you to whip out your credit card and charge 100's of thousands of dollars on bright and shiny toys. They are all about making things as cost effective as possible. I decidedly fall into that camp as well. In fact, when Allen has one of his Gatherings, which Greg and I have gone to (along with about 80 other haunters), he does about 12 hours of workshops showing how to do thousands of dollars worth of props and special effects and make-up and you name it, all for pennies, and have it look amazing. That's why Allen's videos are so popular. It's also why he teaches so many darn classes at the conventions. Amazing haunt stuff with maximum utilization of resources. That was also something that the late, great JB Corn advocated as well. Real do-it-yourselfer type stuff.

And, frankly, if someone talked about my haunt methods as being "affordable" (or even cheap, or free for that matter), believe me, for me that would be high praise indeed, and I would consider myself honored and in very good company. People like Allen Hopps, Jim Warfield, Greg Chrise, JB Corn, and a whole slew of others; people whom I could only hope to be half as good as; that's what they do. If I can do everything as cost-effectively as possible, like they do, then that allows me the luxury of putting money, time, and resources towards something that gets special attention. It also allows me lots of flexibility in research and development, which is really exciting to me.

For instance, right now I'm working on a strobe circuit to make a strobe light for $4 that will never burn out and, hopefully, rival the performance of a $40 commercially available strobe. (We're talking super bright!) The whole strobe will also be about the size of a playing card or drivers license, and can be built into a wall panel, meaning that you can put them anywhere and they can't get stolen. It will also only run on 12v, so I won't have to worry about any compliance issues. And once this strobe circuit works, I'll be able to do different colored strobes, or UV strobes, and so on, all for pennies. After that, the next stop on the haunt lighting parade is doing Allen's LED minispots, which cost less than a dollar a piece, and you can put 4-5 in a scene and have it look magnificent.

At Allen's last Gathering, he showed us how to make an army of zombies for about $20-$30 in materials and chemicals, plus cheap, salvaged clothes. I know, cuz I helped. He showed us how he would make up a mold with modeling clay of bones and intestines and all that good stuff, and then pull upwards of 20-30 latex pulls from it, and make basic costume plates, that anyone of them would cost $30-$40 a pop thru a vendor, and we were doing them for pennies. Seriously. Then, he breaks out a suit he got for, what, $5 from Good-Will? He then gets a canister of silicone caulk which is a buck or two, mixes it with another household agent to melt it, adds some black pigment, and uses that as zombie juice on the suit, followed by some leaves and twigs for good measure, and then airbrushes some dirt stains on it. Add the bones and guts hanging out with the appropriate airbrush paint job, and you have a zombie costume for some $20 a pop, that would normally cost hundreds of dollars. And least you think that Allen just does cheap crap that any sensible person would scoff at, when he does his high-end mask and costume lines, he uses similarly innovative methodologies, and sells his masks at shows for $80-$100 at his booths at the conventions, and his costumes for a lot more. What's more, he usually sells out. That's why people pack in to his workshops.

You mentioned keeping it real. Believe me, people like Allen and the others I've mentioned keep it real. I can only hope to be as good as they are.

C.

BrotherMysterio
07-05-2012, 02:47 AM
Well, I just got a bizarre PM about not having a heart and hiding my guilty hands and not making it on the mean streets or whatever that was about, so, here is my original response I was going to put up. I felt it only appropriate to bow out of this exchange as gracefully as I can, before someone invokes the haunt equivalent of "Godwin's Law" or something.

Incidentally, I'm not sure what the whole "egging on" thing was about. As you'll see from the response below, I was trying to come up with an "A____ A____" haunt name in connection to the original question of changing a haunt's name to something else, and what to change it to. The "Abyss" bit was a nice touch, and I also thought of "Anarchy". Ergo, those two suggestions I listed, with "Abyss Asylum" and "Anarchy Asylum". As to "egging Greg on", seriously, does Greg look like the kind of guy who really needs "egging on"? He's got "crazy" nailed down all by himself. I usually just break out the popcorn, sit back, and watch the show. Anyone who knows Greg knows what I am talking about.

So, anyway, with all that said, I humbly submit what follows, with all good intentions and best wishes, and I'll leave it at that . . .

*********

Subject: Dude, I totally did not mean to sound like a d*ck and that was not my intention . . .

Text: I tend to be very thorough in my answers, and your question about a "name change" was, to me, a bit of a sleeping giant. One of those questions that has a lot going on inside of it.

As for judging you, or calling you a "yuppie haunter", I can assure you, I wasn't, nor would I intend to. Quite the opposite, I see you as something of a champion, taking on an incredible challenge, and was even applauding your efforts. I was the one who, in your "Going Mad" thread, said "Keep the Faith, Brother". I can assure you, I meant it.

As for the "dream haunter" stuff, well, I can assure you, in your allusion to MLK Jr, many of his contemporaries also had a dream, but he was also a man of action. I applaud people like him, and people like you, who are willing to risk something to take action, and have the courage to deal with the consequences, and, especially in your case, put their money where their mouth is. If you weren't willing to deal with those challenges, and consequences, you wouldn't have posted that "Going Mad" thread, because you wouldn't have been willing to risk anything. As it is, you didn't just dare to dream, you dared to act. That takes courage and guts, which you have.

Truth be told, elements of a private conversation I've been having with several members on here sort of bled over into the post, and for that I apologize. In all truthfulness, I don't really write my own replies . . . they come from that weird place that artists talk about when in the creative mindset. Being a creative type yourself, I'm sure you can relate. In a few moments or spots, I think I might have been "thinking aloud" on those points, and I think I was probably bit ambiguous in my comments. So, in that regard, I am totally sorry for my faux pas. In retrospect I can definitely see how it could sound really negative . . . especially with you hearing how harsh some forum members can be. I try to be honest, but I don't like being harsh, or sounding harsh, and I am seriously sorry if that was the result. Big "no-no" on my part.

As for everything else, I was trying to be as dead on as I could. All those questions weren't and aren't rhetorical. They were important, especially since as Allen astutely pointed out, you do have a good haunt name, and I think it is a strong name you can build on. If there were some critical voices in the past in regard to that name, well, everyone these days seems to be a critic, whether justified or not (if in doubt on that point, just visit rottentomatoes.com sometime. *yikes*). If the name is totally not salvageable, then perhaps it is time to change it, but, actually, there is an easier way to do it, and move into the A's while you're at it. Keep the name Dungeon of Terror, treat it like the name of your production company, and then add "A_____ Asylum" to the front of it, like Arkham Asylum, or Azagoth Asylum, or perhaps Aleister Asylum (like Aleister Crowley). You get the idea.

That way, you get the name recognition of the fans from previous seasons, but you can also mix it up just enough to perhaps shake off any previous bad press, and also move to the front of the line in the social event pages, which also can be free marketing. Not only that, Asylums and Dungeons (of Terror) are often flip-sides of the same coin, and what's more, the clinical setting brings plenty of phobias with it. You list it as "A_____ Asylum by Dungeon of Terror" in the social pages, and then at the event it's Dungeon of Terror's A_____ Asylum, or something like that.

Incidentally, your Devil's Rejects motif is an excellent one, and the whole FBI style "fresh crime scene" brings a visceral vibrancy to it which can be very strong. Plus, it's dirt cheap set dressing to put $6 police tape (http://www.amazon.com/Police-Plastic-BARRICADE-TAPE-Halloween/dp/B0001CUMGO) all over the place, and looks great!

Anyway, again, totally did not mean to sound like a d*ck, and I wish you only the best in what you are doing.

*********

So, anyway, on that note, again, keep the faith, brothers and sisters, and good luck to all good people. :)

C.

Frightener
07-05-2012, 07:50 AM
I'm opening my first year as "pro" this year. I've been on this forum a while now, where as I feel I should add my $.05 worth.

1. I totally agree with Allen, both on context of posts and name changing.

2. I don't know what's going on behind the curtains, but what I'm seeing, and I'll be the first to admit, I may be missing something, but looks like every time someone tries to help you out, you take every chance to get defensive. My wife was reading and she was thinking the same thing, so I know it's not just my mind.

3. NOT A SINGLE PERSON HERE, in this forum, would I believe to be "out to get" anyone. These are some of the same folks that have helped me out every time I needed it. The point is, everyone posting in this thread has been the epitome of what a good forum resident is. They're mostly all respectable gentlemen that's contributed much more than you give them credit for. I think you should take some time to think about what they're saying.

Lastly, when you get on here, with less than 10 posts talking about the purchase of a haunted attraction you have to understand, when these guys talk about particular points, it's kinda obvious that they don't know your background, your history or capability. So the answers may come with the appearance of being aimed at a noob. (we call ourselves 'noob' int he gaming world) There are points that they're going to say that needs to be made clear, like the "home haunter going pro" or w/e. All you had to do was just nicely let them know you have more of an idea about what's going on than what they may be expecting. Not crashing in with insults.


These guys are here to help you. They have to get to know you, they don't know anything about you or your capabilities so you have to work with them so they DO know. Widdle it down, shape it into the relationship it needs to be, then all the juices get flowing and you're all on the same page. THIS has to happen to everyone new to the board.

Thanks for reading my thoughts and good luck with your venture.

Dewayne

mindtumor
07-05-2012, 09:56 AM
If you ask a question on here and then get confrontational with each reply, people will just stop responding to your posts on here very quickly. Nobody on here insulted you, you appear to be looking for something that isn't there. Relax, go have a lemonade, then reread with a clear head.

If you like the name, keep it. You have four years of a track record there so your going to get some sort of an audience. Personally, I would change it to make it my own, but that might not be the best move.

What you might want to do is keep the name, see how it works for you and then use that information to make an informed decision the following season.

son-of-sam
07-05-2012, 01:28 PM
It was my fault for taking the hole affordable thing out of context. The name was just so silly that I took it as an insult. I should of took it as more of a joke then him being serious. MY bad

BrotherMysterio
07-05-2012, 02:29 PM
It was my fault for taking the hole affordable thing out of context. The name was just so silly that I took it as an insult. I should of took it as more of a joke then him being serious. MY bad

No worries. It's all good. :)

C.

James Kennedy
07-10-2012, 02:54 PM
I have been working, managing and coaching people for years. First off, advice is hard to give in writing. Just like emails can misinterpreted due to not being able to hear ones tone. Giving advice on a forum can come off the same way. Best way to give advice it to first ask as many open ended questions that you can to learn as much about the persons issue as possible. Then ask more questions! Most of the time, your advice will come out in the questions.

This is a hard industry to be in. Unless you have a large budget and even larger facility, you are most likely doing it as a second job and using money from your first job to feed it. Most haunts arent even profitable if the owners were to truly take a salary, but we do it any way. Why? because we love it. I love catching that first group with a new scare. Watching grown men cry and pee themselves. Hearing people say how much they loved it. Thats what makes me do it.

I have been lucky to receive good advice from many people over the last 15 years. That advice, sometimes good sometimes bad, helped me so much. I guess what I am trying to say is take it all with a grain of salt, but take it all.

Thanks
Jim

mrfoos
07-10-2012, 07:34 PM
As a newer member of these forums I can related with son-of-sam. Some of the guys on here can be a little confrontational. I've pretty much only answered two questions and both times I answered directly with experience on something I was business-successful at... not just an opinion. Both times I was kind of insulted, once being called a "fly by night scammer" and the other a naive youth although I'll take the youthful reference since I'm 40 ;)

It does make me think twice before trying to help anyone else or express an opinion. I don't really take it personal because I know it wasn't meant to be but it DOES take away the fun of feeling like I'm are part of a helpful community – which I know this forum is ultimately.

I congratulate the forum owner for letting the discussion finish out. There are many forums that would have simply closed or deleted the thread or banned the user on first sign of dissatisfaction.

With that said, I will give my opinion. :P

OPINION ONLY:
I'm in a marketing profession. Personally, I think small business owners get overloaded with marketing advice meant for the "big guys". Name and branding isn't going to be as important to the success of small business as it is to a national corporation that spends millions on advertising. Locally it's more about your service and the reputation you build with your customers.

Does the name have a reputation? And is it good? If either are no then I'd change it. If keeping the name means a guaranteed customer base, I'd probably keep it.

Thanks for listening!

BigT
07-11-2012, 01:42 PM
Let me put on my marketing hat for a minute (its what i do in the daytime). The name of your attraction is your brand. I am going to assume that the name is decent since it obviously has been around a few years and you dont have churches and Chamber of Commerce officials burning banners in your yard.

Once a company puts out their name, its all about the branding around that name. The logo, the website, your business cards, advertising, everything becomes your brand. You are actually better off keeping even a bad name and changing the branding around it to show the attraction has changed.

I ahve worked with companies that have been around for years, and when it comes time to refresh the company image, we go on major rebranding exercises where we slap on some new paint, update the logo, and freshen up our advertising to give it a new and younger look!

Hope that helps and good luck!

BrotherMysterio
07-14-2012, 12:55 AM
Btw, is this the haunt in question? It seems to be getting pretty good props. I suppose that's a good start. I'd take that any day.

6QqJRywXCFM

C.

Darkangel
07-14-2012, 07:55 AM
It doesnt sound too scary.... Tour guides??? Haven't seen that in a long time as well.

DA

BrotherMysterio
07-14-2012, 08:49 AM
It doesnt sound too scary.... Tour guides??? Haven't seen that in a long time as well.

DA

Oops, might have missed that bit near the end. Well, I imagine that that is one of the first changes that SOS will make. I had a similar experience at one haunt I did. The lady put in charge of it thought that they would need guides - even "silent" ones - but fortunately we lucked out in that about 9 actors that were supposed to show up didn't. Ergo, not enough people for guides, and, amazingly, everything still went smoothly.

I'm sure SOS has some cool goodies planned for the new version of DOT.

C.

Jim Warfield
07-14-2012, 07:47 PM
So many times some one would come on asking basic questions, pleading for help, I would spend too much time typing them numerous answers, sending them a personal e-mail only to find that some of these questioners had totally misrepresented themselves and admitted privately to me that I had just wasted MY TIME because they were several steps up the haunt -experience ladder than they were pretending to be, so Scratch Jim's honest effort into the cat-crap pile!
For any noobies looking for answers just look through the old posts here or on other sites because most of the answers are not becoming obsolete very quickly.
One point to remember:Nobody knows it ALL.
Second point to remember:There are many definitions of "Success" and in haunting it can run from the common coins left for you in the bag, to scaring someone and enjoying their reaction, to having a beautiful, intelligent woman give you a genuine and serious conpliment .
Passing up the "Stockholm Syndrome" thing of having numerous females pretend to like you because they are in fear for their life, is a good idea, don't go "there".(Uncomplicate your life, personal and private.)

son-of-sam
07-14-2012, 09:02 PM
I could not watch what BM posted on the haunt because for some strange reason it only comes up white on my computer. I am definitely not having any guides in the haunt like the last owners did. Thank you all for the time you took to post your feelings on the topic. The old owners said they had guides because they were scared of people breaking there stuff so it was more to watch them then to guide them. BM is right on I have a HOLE bunch of renovations that I did to the haunt and it will be ten times more gory and vile then DOT ever has been. I have added ten new pneumatic props and about 3k worth of lighting and a hole sloop of other static props plus custom made silicone masks. I am pretty sure I seen the video if its those two critics[ I dont remember there names]. Again thank you all and I hope EVERYONE has a record breaking season

BrotherMysterio
07-14-2012, 09:33 PM
I could not watch what BM posted on the haunt because for some strange reason it only comes up white on my computer. I am definitely not having any guides in the haunt like the last owners did. Thank you all for the time you took to post your feelings on the topic. The old owners said they had guides because they were scared of people breaking there stuff so it was more to watch them then to guide them. BM is right on I have a HOLE bunch of renovations that I did to the haunt and it will be ten times more gory and vile then DOT ever has been. I have added ten new pneumatic props and about 3k worth of lighting and a hole sloop of other static props plus custom made silicone masks. I am pretty sure I seen the video if its those two critics[ I dont remember there names]. Again thank you all and I hope EVERYONE has a record breaking season

Yeah, basically two guys giving DOT props for being a good starter haunt, which isn't bad, per se, but I'm sure you'll be taking it to the next level (or even the level after that). It will be interesting to see how it progresses, and how you really ramp it up.

As far as the guides go, that was precisely what the lady in charge of that last haunt was worried about, namely, damage to the haunt. Well, we are not daintily touring people thru a tea room or an antique mall. We're doing haunts, where people are getting the crap scared out of them. It's supposed to be high impact. If people aren't blasting into walls a bit from being scared, then I'm not sure that we are doing our jobs. One of the scariest rooms in Castle Dragon had the record for the most damage, including four teenagers being so scared that they fell to the floor, and collapsed the floor. Now that's an effective room!

C.

son-of-sam
07-14-2012, 10:42 PM
The floor giving out[look out below] is when you know for sure your doing your job. I feel the same way that it costs to be the boss and collateral damage is something to be expected with any type of biz that provides entertainment.

Jim Warfield
07-15-2012, 11:34 AM
If a floor collapsed under the impact of just 4 teenagers... that floor must have been built very flimsey! Dangerously flimsey.
People get hurt when floors give way. What were the extent of their injuries? Broken bones? Chipped teeth?
Not an ounce of "Good Times" or humor found in such accidents as far as I can determine.
Did the floor fall a few inches or ten feet? If it falls at an angle then sideway impacting forces could potentually cause abrasions as skin makes contact with the non-moving wall surfaces surrounding the floor.

As far as having "Guides" in a haunt, think about it... what could be a safer way to run a haunt? Real human eyes and ears and a body to protect people and objects from damage, to see if a last shot of whiskey is now taking it's effect upon what seemed to be a sober customer just minutes ago...let alone the other chemicals some need to ingest that might make for a hell on Earth scenario for the other customers who are now alone and at the mercy and whims of a raging psychopath..in YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS!
Who gets sued? It is your place.
If you think guides subtract from the fear potential in your haunt, think some more... Guides can set up, distract and make much better scares for the hidden person actually making them happen.

Jim Warfield
07-15-2012, 11:43 AM
If the customer is causing a disturbance and can't or won't stop, we warn them once, explain it to them for a few seconds, then they get the nearest exit if they keep it going.
People spend a fair amount of money and effort to see my house and it takes an hour or more to go through it, so if there is an obnoxious customer... sometimes the other customers will want a whole NEW tour of the house or want a total refund, and Jim is not about to enjoy doing either of those possible things.
Yes, we do own this place and we also live within it's walls, so we are maybe more "touchy" and particulair when it comes to "Idiot-customers" who have a different agenda than the normal customers.

BrotherMysterio
07-15-2012, 12:34 PM
If a floor collapsed under the impact of just 4 teenagers... that floor must have been built very flimsey! Dangerously flimsey.
People get hurt when floors give way. What were the extent of their injuries? Broken bones? Chipped teeth?
Not an ounce of "Good Times" or humor found in such accidents as far as I can determine.
Did the floor fall a few inches or ten feet? If it falls at an angle then sideway impacting forces could potentually cause abrasions as skin makes contact with the non-moving wall surfaces surrounding the floor.

It wasn't like that. On lunch break and need to get back to work. More detailed response forthcoming.

C.

son-of-sam
07-15-2012, 03:13 PM
When I catch people acting wild or breaking stuff they will be kicked out no questions asked. I will have an actor or two in every room to scare and watch with walkie talkies to get ahold of me and security if need be. I just know when you have live entertainment things happen. My friend owns a venue that holds live concerts and has to deal with damage on a regular basis. I will not tolerate it but I think in the end it will happen[not on a serious level but wall panels and other little misc. things]. I will definitely keep what you have to say in mind Jim because you have been at this for awhile and people do act WILD when there drunk are on misc. toxins.

Greg Chrise
07-15-2012, 03:37 PM
The original Castle Dragon had a wood deck made out of a grid of 2 x 6's with 4x4 posts every 8 foot. One layer of 3/4 inch plywood on top of that and you have a deck. Normal home costruction would have a foundation and 2x8 lumber on 16 inch centers and 2 layers of 3/4 inch plywood. Plus load bearing walls have something designed under them, a mid wall or some foundation. In Castle Dragon the walls that wieghed 90 pounds would end up anywhere on that grid. A few walls into an 8 foot area and it is already sort of preloaded.

There are pictures of the set up and on top of this deck, ready to set up the pattern there are stacks of 8 to 10 walls in any which way locations that would total as much as 900 pounds or more plus helper weight and bouncing around. I'm guessing the actual crack happened when setting up the walls and then 4 little girls who of course do weigh individually the atomic mass of lead in these parts bounced through and it felt kind of week and only flexed a few inches. One by one the screws broke off from the floor and this thing moved and probably 100 people said oh my and never reported it. They continued to operate and fixed it the next day by adding more lumber to the beam and jacking it up.

It could have been but I doubt it was really a tribute to scaring little girls or Thunder Thigh Thursday celebrated here.

In the 80's at the worlds fair, was a research house that showed how construction of the future was going to have beams and studs on 2 foot centers and how it saved the planet so much. There was all sorts of chip board manufactured wood beams and basically crap that you can buy in the future. Even modular pre designed systems you can assemble on site all glued together and pressed instead of nailed saving so much labor and cost. So luckily this didn't catch on in a big way in the real world. Modular homes like this are cheap crap that have no value in the long term and a lot of this construction finds people actually removing their whole roof structures to double the amount of lumber it has to support itself. Home builders actually did some crazy cheap things and then instead of lumber insured each home for some kind of later remodels. Ten years later there is hail damage and people get on the roof and beams start breaking then it is time to reframe the whole thing. Kind of expensive to fix later.

The new homes are back to 100 years ago and walls are 2x6, taller ceilings, double 2x6 in as many places as necessary, back to tongue and groove sub flooring or right on to concrete floors with 3/4 plywood on cement. All 16 inch centers and strapped together with metal fittings instead of just nail guns.

Of course little girls are now fed Genetically modified foods and gallons per day of liquid high fructose corn syrup and they wander around with full pringles cans to keep them quiet, so their density might be increasing exponentially. Everything might be going to more the specs of building a Hippo Habitat with reinforced 2 foot thick gunite concrete rather than wood. It might not hold them back. Everything will have to have thick non skid surfaces because they kind of slip around instead of walk and fall down a lot. Of course I'm already there installing such stuff.

screamforadream
07-15-2012, 05:18 PM
Greg, thank you. Thank you so very much for that.

Jim Warfield
07-15-2012, 05:41 PM
Or other wise known as the Quad-cities in Iowa and Illinois along the Miss. River had a new neighborhood built so flimsey that after the homes were there awhile the stores selling major appliances would not deliver the Freezers, ex cetra because the floor's 2 by 4s would break and they would end up in the basement!
My old house (1870?) has 2 by 6 exterior wall studs on 16 inch centers and the central walls "xing" the whole downstairs and upstairs into (originally) just four large rooms are also 2 by 6's. All of this rests upon 6 by 7 inch sills with floor joice dovetailed into the 6 by 7, I run into square cast iron nails and round nails used to build this house.
The heavy interior doors are held inplace by just two hinges, but they still hold . Hinges must have been costly back then?

son-of-sam
07-15-2012, 08:55 PM
I did not mean the floor giving way was good. What I meant was if you could scare people bad enough for them to pass out so hard it broke the floor then that is a super scare effect that is like no other. Now that you guys explained how the floor was built that is no good.

BrotherMysterio
07-16-2012, 05:20 AM
I did not mean the floor giving way was good. What I meant was if you could scare people bad enough for them to pass out so hard it broke the floor then that is a super scare effect that is like no other. Now that you guys explained how the floor was built that is no good.

Well, no, the floor was built fine, and it was never really an issue anywhere else in the house except that one room. That room got EVERYBODY!! I know because my room was two rooms later, and I could hear the screams clean across the house. Every night of operation, like clockwork, you'd hear a pause, a murmur, see a strobe flash from that area, immediately followed by a yell and a huge scream. Never failed. Like clockwork. You could set your watch by it.

And usually the damage sustained to that room was simply the patrons jumping backwards and crashing into the walls behind them (which made necessary extra bracing on the walls). Again, never an issue. The one time it was an issue was like Greg said, when the four teens, with a collective weight of some 700-900lbs total, did a dead weight drop right in the middle of the floor, like dumping a truckload of kettlebells in that one spot. Now, yes, obviously there are questions of density and whatnot between kettlebells and a human body, but being that as Greg pointed out CD was on a raised deck, regardless of density and concentration of that weight drop, that one 2x6 ate the whole weight. It cracked thru completely, and the adjacent one cracked thru 75% of the way. In fact, it's a credit to how well built CD was in that the kids didn't plow thru the floor, and that the floor only had a bouncy quality like a trampoline. As Greg said, a few screws and some lumber later, and they were back in business.

Incidentally, one of the things I did on slow nights while I was not in my room was to do two other different characters in the Central Corridor. The guests couldn't see me but they could hear me and feel me. I forget offhand what one of the characters was, but the other one was this carnivorous, cannibalistic ogre, who would scream "fresh meat! fresh meat!", sung to the tune of "Red Rum! Red Rum!". I would then jump up and down the hallway, like a human pogo stick. It would feel like this huge giant was stalking the patrons, going all "fee, fi, fo, fum" on them. Then when I would hear the scream from the room in question, that was my cue, and I would hop back into my scene in wait for the guests, playing a totally different character. (Score one for Central Corridors.)

In all that time of pogoing around, jumping up and down, not once did the floor ever feel unsafe or not sturdy. It was also solid. Ergo, I think Greg's assessment is probably accurate in that regard.

The only point that I was making earlier is that I want to see room designs and scare designs where you really get a really good scare; where people are really thrown for a loop, not just startled by some expensive prop or yet another kid jumping out in a mask. All of that is fine, but it's good to see a room design or concept that really knocks a customer out of their sensibilities, where they walk away, shocked out of their gourds, thinking "boy, didn't see that one coming!"

Just sayin'. :)

Btw, what's of particular interest is that that room was a totally free scare! And when I say "free scare", I mean it consists of only walls, paint, and basic lighting (which to me is the base cost of a Haunt) plus maybe $5-$10 in costuming or electronics. Iow, no walls = no haunt, so, to me, that's the base line cost of the whole house, and any room that doesn't require anything more than that, such as the case with a Dot Room, pretty much counts as a free scare. So, iow, you don't have a situation where you have walls, paint, lighting, and then you have to add 1000's of dollars of additional stuff to make the room work.

And before anyone says it, the obvious exception to the "no walls = no haunt" principle would be Allen's principle of "10 good friends + 10 good costumes + a patch of woods" concept, and I would concur. However, for virtually every other kind of haunt set-up we have going on, "no walls = no haunt", so I think it's easier to determine room cost if you just assume a base-price of painted walls and lighting, and then build from there.

C.

PS. - And before anyone wants to get cute, yes, Haunted Hayrides don't often have walls, but they do have tractors, and flatbeds with hay on them, and fuel costs. Lots and lots of fuel costs. And scenes. Lots and lots of scenes.