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arden
09-17-2012, 01:41 AM
It is VERY late in the game to even be considering this but the opportunity has JUST come up to do a haunt this year at a flea market. It is just meant to be an extra attraction for customers and vendors and will only be be open during the daylight hours on weekends beginning 2nd weekend of October. The owner will provide the space free of charge (some materials and advertising) and we will provide sets, props and actors (i.e., family and friends). Charge will be low - probably $3 - $5 and possibly free for vendors. We are not expecting anything more than an exhausting experience money wise and are ok with that. We have been doing it at home for years with plans to go pro someday and have quite a stockpile of set materials (20x30 storage unit worth).

My post here now is to get opinions on the location.

There are a few possible locations. One location is inside near a food court with sprinkler system. It has has outdoor access with two external doors but is really small. Probably about the size of a 2-3 car garage. Lighting completely controllable.
Other locations are outside and much larger (at least double the size) - completely or partially sheltered (roofs and overhangs) depending on location chosen but for the most part, completely open and very bright.

Ideally, I would like the extra space but have never considered a daytime, outdoor haunt. There will be A LOT of kids but I don't want it to be completely lame. Is there a way to do an outdoor haunt during the daytime successfully? Any ideas?
With such a small indoor space and being already sprinklered, will it be a nightmare in regards to Fire Marshall? The owner seems to think not (they were recently inspected) but I'm not going to rely completely on that.

Personally, I would like to try outside (more space, less concern about Fire Marshall I think) to see if it can be done but need someone to help me trigger should creative juices on doing that.

Again, I know it is really late in the game but I think it can be done. Any and all ideas and thoughts greatly appreciated. Thanks!

BrotherMysterio
09-17-2012, 11:47 AM
It is VERY late in the game to even be considering this but the opportunity has JUST come up to do a haunt this year at a flea market. It is just meant to be an extra attraction for customers and vendors and will only be be open during the daylight hours on weekends beginning 2nd weekend of October. The owner will provide the space free of charge (some materials and advertising) and we will provide sets, props and actors (i.e., family and friends). Charge will be low - probably $3 - $5 and possibly free for vendors. We are not expecting anything more than an exhausting experience money wise and are ok with that. We have been doing it at home for years with plans to go pro someday and have quite a stockpile of set materials (20x30 storage unit worth).

My post here now is to get opinions on the location.

There are a few possible locations. One location is inside near a food court with sprinkler system. It has has outdoor access with two external doors but is really small. Probably about the size of a 2-3 car garage. Lighting completely controllable.
Other locations are outside and much larger (at least double the size) - completely or partially sheltered (roofs and overhangs) depending on location chosen but for the most part, completely open and very bright.

Ideally, I would like the extra space but have never considered a daytime, outdoor haunt. There will be A LOT of kids but I don't want it to be completely lame. Is there a way to do an outdoor haunt during the daytime successfully? Any ideas?
With such a small indoor space and being already sprinklered, will it be a nightmare in regards to Fire Marshall? The owner seems to think not (they were recently inspected) but I'm not going to rely completely on that.

Personally, I would like to try outside (more space, less concern about Fire Marshall I think) to see if it can be done but need someone to help me trigger should creative juices on doing that.

Again, I know it is really late in the game but I think it can be done. Any and all ideas and thoughts greatly appreciated. Thanks!

First, vendors absolutely go thru free! Why? In a word: free advertising! The vendors are effectively your street team. The word of mouth you get from every vendor potentially telling every customer of theirs about your haunt will more than make up for the $3 you would have made off of them. Plus, you'd much rather have them go thru for free and enjoy it and appreciate you for it and tell everyone how great it was, rather than squeeze a measly extra $3 out of them, only to have them think it sucks and tell everyone they see as much. "Oh, that haunt thing? Yeah, I went thru it . . . even at $3 it was still pretty lame. Waste of my time and money. I should have gotten a corny dog for that $3 instead." :(

Also, you have another great marketing opportunity here as well. Regardless of where next year's haunt is going to be, odds are you will use some of the same room designs and props and whatnot. The vendors, in exchange for going thru for free, might be open to having a pic taken whilst in the haunt. Perhaps some of those great action shots you see on websites, and the sets and decor will match even if you are at a different location. "Hey, if you really enjoy yourself, can we feature you on our website picture page?" That can only help with your future marketing efforts. The fact that they are co-vendors you are, in essence, all family, may make them more amenable to that. Again, another good opportunity.

As to your other concern, what kind of theme did you think you'd be leaning towards. Some themes lend themselves better to outside settings than others. Either way, you will most likely need to create some kind of darkness for the most part. You also need to try to make some close, or tight quartered, spaces.

If it was me, I'd lean towards the indoor setting, if only because while it may not be as spacious as the outdoor settings, at $3 a pop (vs. the $20 some other haunts charge), you don't really have to deliver a lot of haunt for customers to get their money's worth. The usual rule of thumb is a dollar a minute of walk-thru time, and I'd have to imagine that the walk-thru will be a lot longer than 3 minutes. If you give them a lot of production value and a lot to look at, and use a lot of funhouse elements, which are cheap cuz they only cost the cost of basic building materials and construction, such as wobble floors and so on, they can get a lot out of it, and it will be well worth the $3. Not only that, at $3 a pop, they may want to go thru several times, which only adds to your bottom line. You could charge $5 for the first trip thru, and $3 for additional trips thru. If you give your actors multiple scare points, and different places to pop out of, then the patrons won't get the same show the second or third time thru. They will get a new experience with new surprises each time.

Exactly how much indoor square footage do you have to work with?

C.

Greg Chrise
09-17-2012, 01:05 PM
Once it hits 5 oclock, flea markets are gone. If there is some kind of night life, it is all under wraps by 9 PM. So, I would do the indoor small space and embrase the idea it is for every kid that comes to the flea market for $3. Adults sort of demand expensive facades, large buildings of mystery and something worth $20.

I have a hunch it could be actually somewhat successful. At our area tradedays there is a billy the Kid museum for $3 and some strange 800 SF pet a donkey and go in a mine and pan for gold attraction for $3 and the latter is always swamped. It is an interactive kid activity and one can only imagine that little kids go through basically two rooms of gold glitter on the walls and see a mine cart and a skeleton and all the parents know is they have a smile on thier face. Instead of buying junk, they got something for the day.

Really shouldn't be a problem with the fire marshal as the size is possibly below 1000 SF and it is only open a short time. So some stupid city permit for $45 might be in order or the flea market land lord is the god on this private property. You can be open and torn down and the land lord said it was fine. And it's for the children you smuck!

Of course in the real world, I judge success as making more than a job at Walmart making $62.50 for a days work and I have no idea what the traffic is there but the one here I'm sure could make $300 even on a bad weather day. On a good day it might be $900 a day. You can have a $150,000 haunt and still not put that much in your pocket.

I would go nuts with such an opportunity and convert it to Santas village and then for the summer maybe a haunted gold mine, all year once a month or what ever the flea market schedule is. Smaller is easier to convert to something else very affordable. So just being a goof just turned into making $10,000 a year.

The trick then over time is renvesting that money in storage costs and maybe even some animatronix whereas you know you are a success when the adults are paying $3 to see what the kids are so excited about. Take over the space and pay some marginal rent and lose the storage building. Some day that space will be the storage building for the haunt event you have on the outdoor property that is huge and has adults "trained" to come see it.

arden
09-17-2012, 10:28 PM
Thank you for the replies! We looked at both of the areas again and I agree - inside would be much better. It's only around 1000 sq ft but I think it will work out great. It took the night to wrap my head around it but now I'm getting super excited. Many great ideas here and now I'm off to plan - I'm sure I'll be back. Thanks!!

BrotherMysterio
09-17-2012, 10:31 PM
Thank you for the replies! We looked at both of the areas again and I agree - inside would be much better. It's only around 1000 sq ft but I think it will work out great. It took the night to wrap my head around it but now I'm getting super excited. Many great ideas here and now I'm off to plan - I'm sure I'll be back. Thanks!!

Excellent! What kind of theme were you thinking of or leaning towards?

C.

arden
09-18-2012, 12:26 AM
Excellent! What kind of theme were you thinking of or leaning towards?

C.

I'm still working on that and trying to narrow down. I've been accumulating for years and have many complete themes - everything from real gory (lots of medical), clowns, coffins, skeletons and bodys, probably hundreds of dolls and toys in various stages of creepiness, snakes, spiders, rodents and bugs. Not a ton of animations but some compressors and such to utilize. I'm probably leaning towards either a Haunted House sort of theme (living room, library, play room, workshop, etc) or school. Those I can do quickest in the amount of time available. Figure I'll have the plan completely down in the next day or so. Many options but want it to flow well. It will be fun :)

BrotherMysterio
09-18-2012, 10:46 AM
I'm still working on that and trying to narrow down. I've been accumulating for years and have many complete themes - everything from real gory (lots of medical), clowns, coffins, skeletons and bodies, probably hundreds of dolls and toys in various stages of creepiness, snakes, spiders, rodents and bugs. Not a ton of animations but some compressors and such to utilize. I'm probably leaning towards either a Haunted House sort of theme (living room, library, play room, workshop, etc) or school. Those I can do quickest in the amount of time available. Figure I'll have the plan completely down in the next day or so. Many options but want it to flow well. It will be fun :)

Well, but none of those are really themes. More like design elements, potential settings, and motifs. Which is all good, mind you, but you need a unifying theme to tie them all together. A theme is comprised of several key elements, the main one being a meme that people can immediately relate to, such as an Asylum, Hospital, Circus, Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, Victorian Manor, and so on. All those memes have real built in fears and phobias, and suggest storylines and ideas that the patrons don't have to work too hard to work out what's going on, and, more importantly, you don't have to work too hard to work out a good backstory.

Now, if by "a 'haunted house' sort of theme", you mean the classic Victorian Manor, that can definitely work. Something else you mentioned was a school setting. Well, why not put those two elements together and do a Haunted Boarding School, haunted by the horrors of what evils took place before. Imagine the headmaster being something like Freddy Krueger (without the claw, of course) who tormented the students?

Now, the one drawback to this is that since you may be doing what essentially is a kiddie haunt as Greg suggested (which is a really good idea, btw, and makes we want to do one), then making school out to be an evil place wouldn't be that hard of a sell, but the "message" may not go over well with parents.

Of course, that being said, R. L. Stine has made a career making familiar kid settings scary for kids. He's like the Stephen King for 'tweens and younger. Your backstory could be that this is an old, abandoned, haunted boarding school, where the parents of the kids there captured the evil headmaster and had him tried and sent away to an asylum, and now his spirit haunts this place. You might even have a hero character - a ghost of one of the school boys or school girls - guide the kids thru to safety. Not an actual actor, mind you, but you could have his/her image appear telling the kids which way to go to get away from the evil headmaster's ghost.

Those are some ideas. The haunted Victorian Manor style boarding school would probably be your best bet. You could do that and probably still work in some funhouse style effects like wobble floors and funhouse mirrors, or use two-way mirrors with ghosts appearing behind them, and so on. The more tactile and interactive it is for kids, the better. Actually, the more tactile and interactive it is for adults, the better, too, but it really goes over well with kids.

And the more kids are wobbling on wobble floors, or going in and out of doors in a hall of doors, and looking at themselves in funhouse mirrors, the less actor interaction they need, which can help cut down on your actor needs. At about 1000 sq ft, with plenty of non-actor, interactive rooms, you might be able to do everything with 2-3 actors, which can help if this is just your first year and you are trying to get this off the ground.

C.

Greg Chrise
09-18-2012, 08:46 PM
When I say kids will likely be the ones "sent" though, it might be a 3 year old and a guardian to a 14 year old. Inside doesn't have to be ultra themed out with a mind bending multi dimensional back story with time travel clever inuendo.

It just needs to be something to look at, a few obviously canned sound effects, a nice sign and doors that are detailed and little rooms that are maybe the graveyard, the front porch the living rooms and so on. No gore or real startle scares, just look at the halloween things. Kind of a Mister Rogers meets Madd Magazine.

Like the monsters when they were kids. Smaller dummies in little diarammas, It takes on a monster museum kind of quality. Going back to maybe even a playground scene with little frankenstien on a swing or dracula being told it is bath time and doesn't like that. Kids problems. Maybe there is a psychic and pulls the cards and you have been delt the clean your room card.

And dear I say whip out the puppets, really mister rogers neighborhood, the magical land part only all the puppets are on crack. No one expressly says that but this is the vibe. Something kids have sort of thought of only you are doing it so it is highly entertaining.

Overall though, if it is day light, the place is only the size of a 3 car garage, you aren't entertaining bikers as your core customer. It will just be thought of as something to do with or for the kids. $3. What do you get for 3 dollars. Maybe the small air compressor blows at them low from behind and that is a scare, everything else can literally be ropes and pulleys and clown horns, lights come on.

The home haunt sensibility matches perfectly what it should be. Expectation of the customer satisfied. Nothing more, nothing less.

So perhaps the whole thing actually makes sure more families come to the flea market. Or that is the over all goal, rather than you only expect to prey on who already mills about as a routine. So you get out of paying high rent and being treated like just another vendor. Just pay the $40 a day pal and shut up. No you can't have any more electrical circuits. However, you aren't going to change the culture of how the flea market at night becomes a ghost town after 6 PM. Someone told me an a traveling attraction was set up and running. By time I got off work and drove an hour to get there it was shut down. The slightest coolness in the air, nothing esle open and it's over. The snack bar is used to closing early because they were there at 6 AM serving coffee and breakfast to vendors. Even places that have entertainmet supposedly for free and it is wonderful live music supposedly, in October, no one is out there in the mist with their instruments freezing their ass off in the cold. It isn't going to happen.

So you focus on the daylight regular business time cycle that already exists and go for it. There is no hey kid how old are you? 4? Are ya married? Have you wrapped your head around the grand unified theory of physics yet? No, it's did you see the pretty lights in the pumpkins and the ghosty thing. At the very creepy level you figure out what their name is and all the monsters know their name somehow and say hi.

I don't know this specific flea market but that first week in November is the biggest attendance to a market as the Christmas shopping thing hits. It could be an amazing line to see something.

BrotherMysterio
09-19-2012, 01:53 AM
The home haunt sensibility matches perfectly what it should be. Expectation of the customer satisfied. Nothing more, nothing less.

What he said. Save what I said for when they want you back for a full size, adult haunt.

C.

arden
09-19-2012, 10:59 PM
Some great ideas! I'm already having to refrain myself from adding too much :) I would love to be able to do it all. Maybe next year. Were meeting with them tomorrow and coming up with a few alternatives just in case. They have to relocate some games and figure out what they are going to do (they said they will put in some additional electrical, walls, etc).

We've been to this market a bit so rather familiar with the clientele and working to accommodate as many as possible. Nothing too freaky for the little ones but prepared for the older ones as well. The basic concept we finally went with is a rustic Inn and the story line will flow around that. We can get in a pretty good variety of scenes and effects that flow well together.

The original thought was to finalize it the weekend before Halloween but looking at that first weekend in November in a different light. Possibly change out a few things with some modified Christmas items we have :)

Ok, back to work now. Thanks everyone!