View Full Version : Check out this new article I just uploaded to the site... what is your feedback???
08-29-2012, 10:33 PM
I just uploaded this article and I think its important read for anyone in the industry who owns or operates a haunted house. Tell me your feedback on this!
08-30-2012, 12:06 AM
I cant afford custom props[yet] so I try to by props they no longer make. I bought a exorcist prop made by scare parts that was made ten years back. It is not the best looking prop but I bet there is not many of those props out there which gives my show something that almost every other show does not have. I repainted the face which gave the prop a way better edge but either way I like that prop more then the over produced props that I own. I would hate to be those zombies that are getting shot with paint balls all day[if they are real humans in the zombie paint ball]. Even though you have protection on there are parts of your body it does not cover and paint balls HURT[leaves welts and bruises]. I even use some of my other props in different set design then they were originally made for. You have to be yourself and not try to be everybody else.
Larry you are right on the money. Keeping it fresh and different than every one else is what makes people come back for more. I originally posted several points but they got lost somewhere so I had to repost a shorter version. Basically we change our sets, lighting, effects, and audio every year. We even like to mess with people who come year after year by setting a scare the same for two or three years in a row, then suddenly changing it (like a coffin that has a dummy in it every year, and suddenly the dummy comes alive in year 4).
We are adding a new haunt this year, Camp Nightmare, outdoors on the waterfront utilizing several camping sites on the property. As an added differentiator, we are offering tent sites on the road leading to Camp Nightmare for Zombie Camping!. Camper get to decorate their sites accordingly, and become part of the prelude to Camp Nightmare. We are getting a great response for this already.
Being a campground we have a lot of other unique elements we can incorporate to keep people coming back to us as a destination, and I plan on exploiting that year after year. We never plan on doing the same thing each year ...... it gets boring for us!
08-30-2012, 04:14 PM
Awesome article Larry!
It was a ton of work this year to revamp the entire trail, tear down scenes and build new ones but it keeps people coming back. I feel we have some good momentum going now and look forward to improving each year and coming up with completely new ways to entertain our guests. This business has to be your passion or it will be the death of you, lol! It may be the death of some of us anyway, lol!
I'm going to post this article on our private Facebook group for my actors to read. I always have to chuckle a little at kids that tell me they have a dream of opening a haunt nowadays. Most of them have no motivation, just dreams in their head. It's so incredibly hard to start up now compared to years ago. You need to go way over the top like you said to attract and keep an audience and it does not happen overnight. Social media can kill you if the show is bad. I feel like we are just starting out, still playing catch up from our move two years ago. I feel it will take many more years to have the haunt of my dreams. My goal now is just to improve each year and build a really solid core audience. It's been working so far.
Thanks for writing that article.
08-30-2012, 07:18 PM
It's hard to keep up in the game with all the new and exciting stuff. This year will be our 2nd year and we have changed some lil things up like making a room into a small maze and changes some walls around. It is really hard to go big and exciting because we live in a small town and sponsors are hard to come by.
08-30-2012, 07:42 PM
Excellent article Larry. Every haunt owner should read and chime in here!
Evolution and differentiation are key to any business, especially something that is in the form of entertainment.
We're only heading into our second professional season and have done major modifications and added a new house, with a huge twist most people in our local market will not expect. But not only that you're right we live in a world of instant gratification now. People's lives have gone completely digital as you mentioned in your article and we've learned quickly you always have to be on your A game.
Our haunt is based 100% on zombies, one because we live and breathe anything in that genre, and two, like you said it IS one of what's a hot topic still!
We've been to too many EXCELLENT haunts that have become stagnant over the years, now the same basic show, and even a lot of our feedback from exit interviews last season were in reference to that. It's not a good thing when our general public haunt go-ers who see us each season start to notice the same show not being changed!
Many of the vendors who do offer the custom made-to-order products is a good opportunity to stay ahead of competition. If nothing else be as creative and as original as possible when it comes to scare tactics! Most people can rattle off the top 5 general scare tactics in any haunt, which have been around far too long and far overused.
The haunt industry should continue to thrive off of what a huge market Halloween has become, even including so many different branches of entertainment now offered besides haunts. As long as the owner/operator (s) of any haunt stay focused on a forward vision, continue to involve themselves with the creativity, and stay on top of current trends/technology they should still be able to put on a killer show each season. The haunted house is our baby, and we love doing it. No owner should ever forget that. Too many veteran haunts IMPO get so large and comfortable with making money each season they become stagnant and our customers eventually notice that decline...
08-30-2012, 10:12 PM
When we designed our Zombie safari paintball attraction we had no idea the impact it was going to have on the industry. It has been embraced by haunts, corn mazes, paintball courses and fun centers all across the country.
Since our debut at Transworld and Creepyworld our phones have not stopped ringing. We have sold attractions to over a dozen states. Many have said our Zombie Safari paintball attractions are the next big thing. It makes me proud to hear things like that knowing all the hard work and research that went into building our product.
Our customers have expressed how excited they get to have the opportunity to enjoy a truly interactive experience that the whole family can enjoy.
Our Zombie Safari Paintball attraction has opened up our demographics to a whole other level. Your not limited to the 13-20 crowd. Our mission is not to scare on the Zombie paintball attraction but to let the entire family have a great night out full of entertainment and fun.
We have kids 3 years old and kids 93 years old come to our event. These people normally wouldn't come or bring their kids but this is not your normal haunted house attraction and word has spread that this is fun for all.
Your right about the need to keep things fresh and exciting. I have been given a great opportunity to see many haunts, mazes, paintball fields and farms across the country while delivering our trailers to their locations and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there. I have taken off the blinders so to speak and have realized there is an unlimited potential for all of us to expand our business in many ways.
Whether it be by Zombie Safari Paintball or other options we as owners must take a step and move forward to keep thing new and exciting for the future.
Zombie Protection Services L.L.C.
Zombie Safari Paintball Attractions
Fearfest Haunted House
08-30-2012, 11:15 PM
08-31-2012, 12:44 AM
All this competition is the now over night success of things that have been developng for 30 years. Rave, techno, house and electronic dance music, major festivals where numbers of bands can be seen for $100 a day ticket prices or as much as $300 for a 2 hour performance. Big promoters have figured out that some places have enough money and enough population to have 10,000 people stand in a place and watch a spectacle of some sort for $75 to $100 or have 70 grand things happen over a weekend an hour each with 4 stages for $300.
Still you have to study that only some cities and destinations can draw exactly the crowd to make it happen. How many of these events can any one person have the expendable income to go and see, how many rock concerts and house music events can your ears put up with. How many flash mobs can you spring into action because your iphone told you to before it is no longer fun. Or the consumer begins to wonder if all the problems associated with getting to an event, finding parking and dealing with all the hassles and abuses another 10,000 people all in one place have for you, can you stand.
At some point you just have had enough and "have done that". Meanwhile the haunted industry is only asking around $20 a pop or less, generally is not in a location that has police jamming up how to get in and out of a location. It can offer more detail that a super large event and so I have to say still holds it's own.
I don't see these things as a threat. I see them as things sure are crazy in the bigger cities. Maybe it will happen here in 20 years or all these things will be proved out as why they were a social problem of some sort. As I say some of these festivals began 20 and 30 years ago with 3 bands in the middle of a field. All these convention centers didn't even exist 30 years ago. Somehow everyone thought there needed to be a tradeshow for everything in every city and that would make money. There are conventions for Barbeque, for plastics industry, oil industry that no one ever sees unless you are in the convention biz. Same thing, 10,000 people show up for one or 3 days and it costs $75 to $125 to get into the door. Products to make signs. Products to antique things, all have their own conventions.
Identifying your event as part of people's life is where it needs to be. Most haunts I'm associated with, we see it like that, you might not make a brilliant profit but, it would be a shame to take it away from the community that it has gathered together, Some 8,000 people that depend on having something to do, some 12,000 that count on seeing something different every year, even if it is the same thing it is recalled differently as the acting is never the same exact interaction.
For years, supposed intellecutals have been pondering how to make museums interactive, how to use game dynamics in rewarding customer participation at all levels of some activity, to bend it all into some use of technology, except not everyone is buying into owning an iphone. What isn't working are little first world problems. None of it really threatens survival of the human race or whether the world will keep rotating. The customers don't all have the same machines and in reality if you watch how many debit and credit card transactions happen at every store and some bozo is trying to swipe a card through a plastic bag to make it work or how many times a month or even a week is your ocal ATM machine out of service. How many robot flushing toilets are broken, how many infrared paper dispensers don't work.
The future doesn't really work that well. It cost lots to participate and isn't anything truely necessary in lots of places in the country. Meanwhile a 40 year old father and his 14 year old kind just watched an 80's Freddy Kruger movie for the very first time just last week and the cycle of expectations starts all over again. Not that haunts should be trying to duplicate movies but, the charities and the uncreative that do many of them can only think on that level. So it repeates.
Just like there really doesn't need to be 200 restaurants in every town. There could be only people cooking at home if it got down to it. There doesn't need to be 50 department stores and big box stores in every town. You could get everything from a catalog. Still all of these things and the demand for cars to go 5 places everyday have become part of the culture. So if you are a restaurant, you be a really good restaurant with good food and good service. A place that no matter what some segment of the population likes to frequent once a month or twice a year.
All of these things that are competition might be seen as the things that are big money, wearing out a concept in a hurry and they are doing the advertising for the culture to continue for those that just keep fighting year after year. There is always something. There are several ways of doing everything. Some box factory buys a $600,000 machine to print cardboard boxes and computer programs do all the type settings and change the postion of the cutters. The same exact job is being done in another factory where the operator has been making minimum wage for 20 years, the cutters are hand set and when they wear out there is only one guy in peurto rico that has a file and can melt that kind of metal that was originally made in 1944. Same product comes out in the end, can't tell which box came from where or how it was made or how much it cost to make. How it is done comes down to how many boxes one company can really routinely sell. On the high tech one when the controller goes bad, it is down for a year and requires a crazy re-engineering adaptation. The guy in pueto rico doesn't even have a work bench and makes new blades in 2 weeks.
If things get heavy you do it with controlling costs. You let the competition play themselves out. Even if it is another form of entertainment. Big spending seem to crash big or failing big and seemed to be part of the plan while everyone made sure they got big paychecks while it lasted. Totally different than managing a long term business where you put everything back into your product over and over.
08-31-2012, 01:12 AM
In fact, even poor people have decided they need to spend $100 a month on a smart phone bill so they can call for rides and where to bum $30 everyday. Apparently they can get ahold of their parole officer and tattoo artist as well on a moments notice and inquire about food stamps. So there is the real price point. If they go to a $100 concert or some other event, maybe their phone gets shut off for non payment.
So some percentage of the population regularly has been trained to spend $100 on something that isn't totally necessary but makes life wonderful perhaps. So can you put in such a spectacular something event that can grab $100 once a year? Maybe. How well it is fleshed out is whether or not is will remain popular.
Are we talking about making money or how great some experience is technically for a customer? You can make money but it might only be one time.
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