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View Full Version : Can we talk about Throughput?



TheNightMare
07-10-2007, 07:04 PM
Not sure if this topic gets talk about much, since I really couldn't find it while using the search feature. If we could I would like to talk about throughput.

8 people every 30 seconds would be 960 per hour. Is 30 seconds too short of a time frame? Also would 8 people be tooo big of a group?

I also wonder if having a BIG haunt, can you just funnel people through quickly and faster than a smaller haunt?

I realize that the smaller haunt will have less people in it every hour, but will have a constant flow.

With a bigger haunt the people would be inside the haunt longer, but will be a constant flow giving the patron more entertainment for thier value.

I realize actors help move the people attending your attraction to move through the haunt faster and at a good speed. Is that really the ONLY trick to move customers through effectively??

If NOT what are some other tricks that you use?

Nightgore
07-10-2007, 08:12 PM
:30 seconds is NOT too long of a time... in fact, most haunts use the 30 second time frame for sending guest through. When I worked for a local theme park, they had me sending through groups every 15 seconds!!!

I believe that in bigger haunts, you'll have more areas or are more prone to "bottle-necking" than smaller haunts. I have seen some haunts just run the entire line through... like a huge cattle call. This just means is that they didn't break the line up and everyone just walks on through. I didn't like this approach.

But it ALL depends on how busy your haunt is. If one night is really slow, you can afford to wait upto a minute, minute-and-a-half to send people through. But this does lead to actor boredom, that "in between time", and may cause some really bad behavior/results from the actors.

But if it is a really busy night... you'll need to push as many people as you can through! More people, more money!

-Tyler

Speculo
07-10-2007, 08:22 PM
This is very interesting topic.

A couple of issues to grapple with-

People don't always come in groups of 8, If you break up a group they are often ticked off and will wait anyway, and it is tough to get them flowing at 30 second intervals. Also once you get them in the show some run fast and some lag behind.

Here are some other things you will face.

If your show is big they will still jam up at times, unless you are running them VERY slow.

You need to decide what is worse, a jam packed show or a 4 hour wait.

Unless you have guides or elaborate flow controls the rate that you put them in your door has very little to do with the way they move through your show.


This might be a haunters greatest challenge. You start small, run a quality show and you get slammed. Unless you evolve to a different type of show that can handle big crowds you must face HUGE waits or turning them away.

I just don't think that timed entry gets you much control beyond the first few rooms when you are nearing the 1000 per hour mark, IMHO

Thanks!

Ben
NETHERWORLD

Jim Warfield
07-11-2007, 12:20 AM
Walking through a "Haunted House" four bodies wide with lights on and an ocassional tired actor just sitting there looking at you kind of becomes a rip-off in the paying customer's mind(and wallet) They just might Not come back next October.
A customer's good experience will be your own best advertising for next time.
Give them crap and a customer becomes a Cussed Tumor!
Now the disclaimer: No matter what you do, no matter how much time, money and talent and experience and novel ideas and concepts you put into your show, you will still not be able to please everyone.
Of course I usually feel sorry for them because maybe they are just chronically depressed and the world looks crumby and bleak to them.(But they ain't gunna take me down with them!)

Empressnightshade
07-11-2007, 07:48 AM
This is very interesting topic.

This might be a haunters greatest challenge. You start small, run a quality show and you get slammed. Unless you evolve to a different type of show that can handle big crowds you must face HUGE waits or turning them away.

I just don't think that timed entry gets you much control beyond the first few rooms when you are nearing the 1000 per hour mark, IMHO

Thanks!

Ben
NETHERWORLD

Agreed, Ben. This is a very interesting topic. One I hope to get an answer to -- if there is an answer.

So, what do you do to control the traffic, Ben?

RobbeOne
07-11-2007, 09:00 AM
Normally what we do is "open" the house when the line gets really massive and people start really bunching up. It only takes one slow group to really cause a back up. To open the house we will tie back curtains that seperate certain scenes. This helps the customers get to the next scene a little easier. Also, we have our security go inside and help find the bottlenecks and try to speed it along. Ben is right in that this might be one of the hardest things to control in a haunt. You cannot control how fast people walk or move. Your entry time is controlled for the first couple of scenes, but after the 4th or 5th scene it is most likely off the mark. It is hard to space groups and get a solid flow through the entire attraction.

RobbeOne

SpFXChic
07-11-2007, 09:22 AM
We send groups through every 30 seconds only on busy nights - generally it's a minute and a half on steady nights. I don't believe we've ever gone any quicker than that. Our groups are groups of 6. We ask patrons whose groups are less than 6 to bunch up together to equal 6 on busy nights, but we don't ever force them.

We try to remind our actors to scare patrons forward and not to linger in order to help throughput when it's busy. Also, we make sure that our icon characters and staff members are available to help break up any traffic jams, should they happen.

You'll probably always get a few jams here and there...it's only natural when you've got Mary-Jo and Jimmy-Lou Who-don't-get-scared going through looking at all the props and the makeup and really taking in the atmosphere, and then a group of 6 screaming/running teenagers behind them...they'll inevitably meet up somewhere in the haunt.

From past experience, as long as it's handled smoothly, with as little distraction as possible, everyone pretty much leaves happy.

imax
07-11-2007, 10:48 AM
We, like some of the others above, run 30 seconds on busy nights, and that is more out of necessity than want.

We've been doing this for quite a few years now, and I can pretty much tell my staff at the beginning of the night if this is going to be a 30 second night or a 2 minute night. Your staff has to know what you plan on doing, and they have to be prepared and trained for it. Teach them how to handle the speed!

"Conga lines" are impossible to avoid, even at 2-4 minute intervals, so don't even try. The only way to fix that is one group at a time though the attraction. If you've ever eliminted congas without doing that, I want to talk to you.

We make no effort to group people together. It takes longer than just sending them in. If it's a group of two, in they go. If it's a group of 13, again, in they go. Large groups typically self-divide anyway. They have more fun if you don't split/join them, which makes for happier customers.

And, ultimately, happy customers is what we are all after. I've discovered that there is a large corrolation between the wait time and the number of complaints about the haunt we get. If the wait exceeds about 45 minutes, we get complaints... and stupid ones, too, so we try to keep the wait at about 20 minutes, tops. By doing this, our compalints have dwindled to pretty much zero for an entire season, which I can't quite figure out. Either people are happy, or they didn't feel like they wasted enough time to care.

-- I

Jim Warfield
07-11-2007, 11:34 AM
If you send in groups, the larger the group the more vandalism and upset customers you will be seeing.
But that old Halloween clock is ticking every night of October . Prime time is always from 7 pm to 12 midnight, the drunks show up after 9-9:30.
(Maybe this is why some local charity haunts close at 9:30?)
Years ago I found myself staying open and doing the last tour at 6am! (It is extremely difficult yo entertain people at that time of day, especially after they had been waiting since midnight!)
I could tell they wanted to kill me. I quickly convinced them that I was crazier than they were bloodthirsty so they allowed me to live.
I stepped up on a concrete block on the floor of my kitchen, pulled a small yellow stuffed Bunny Rabbit from behind my back and began playing both parts in the drama, the rabbit and me, using different voices of course.

MMManiac
07-11-2007, 03:12 PM
What we did one year worked out pretty good. It's fairly simple, just requires some basic wiring. Basicly we had a door 4 rooms in riged so when the customer went through the door it would light up a spot light outside so then they would know to send the next group in. It beat trying to time groups when to let them in. We also one year had a "master floorplan" in our control room with a LED light in each of the rooms on the floorplan. When a certain door would be opened it turned on the led light so then our security could watch the board and know more or less where people were. Even with all that we STILL had groups meet up. Thats where our actors came into play to seperate them so the customers could all enjoy their experience.

Hope that helped!

Sean

TheNightMare
07-11-2007, 04:16 PM
Now the disclaimer: No matter what you do, no matter how much time, money and talent and experience and novel ideas and concepts you put into your show, you will still not be able to please everyone.


Statement is so true

----

Hey MMManiac - I like the idea of triggering the light outside to let you know to send more people through. Sounds like a wonderful idea.

----

I understand the slower the night the longer the customers will wait in line. Thats understandable. I also realize by having customers wait on slow nights, people driving by can see a line and then they might stop to check it out. If you didn't have people waiting in line, then your haunt would look "dead" and not worth taking a look at. IMHO

Since slow nights speak for themselves and if Im wrong with that statement please correct me. I guess throughput really needs to be focused on busy nights. I for one don't have a haunt yet, so I cannot speak from experience.

----

Thanks to everyone who has posted thus far. I do hope more people join in on the discussion as I think it would better ourselves in what we as haunters need to accomplish. Meaning its not HOW FAST you push people through your haunt, but HOW EFFECTIVELY you can push them through.

~TheNightMare

dr0zombie
07-11-2007, 11:55 PM
My opinion is and always will be you never hear anyone say ... "the show sucked but at least the line was short".... have you?? I doubt it... but people will say ..."That was worth the wait!" if the show is great... so make your show great. People stand in line at the big parks... and for the big films... hell, even to get dinner on a Friday..... If the time of your groups rules your event you will always have difficulty putting on a good show. Let the show rule the group times.... and try to blend. That, and face the fact that all your traffic is coming in a very small time window on your peak nights. So even if you get your magic number of throughput of 950 or 1000 when 2000 people show in 30 minutes your parking is maxed, the line is to the street, and you better have some good line entertainment and a show that makes them scream. If not... you could be the best show on the planet Wednesday night at 9:00..... and only a handful of people will ever know..... figure out the minimum time you need for people to experience your show, figure out how many people can fit in your event with minimum conga lines, and then send the groups through on that clip.... of course a big key to all this is good actors who can control your groups on those bad nights.....

As for triggers I have seen people go so far as to have a light in ever room integrated into the scene to "time" their actors. I never saw it in practice... but the operator of that event loved it.

of course... this is just my humble and silly opinion.....

drfrightner
07-12-2007, 02:05 AM
As Ben said very interesting question because it brings up many good points.

For one I love it when some small haunts comes to my haunt in the middle of a Saturday nights and brags about how their customers say their haunt is scarier than ours. My first response is always the same...if you're so much better why are you here on a Saturday night at midnight? Don't you see all the people still lined up around the building? LOL

If you put the people through very slow you will no doubt get better scares, but can you really afford to do that? You're always damned if you do or damned if you don't... if you put them throught too slow the customers complain you make them wait to long. If you put them through too fast they say they're not getting scared.

I have a simple solution actually... on those nights you know you will be slammed ass busy, open 30 minutes early, and PUSH THE SMALL crowds in the door as fast as 6:30 as you would at 9;30pm. WHY?

Some people say I want a little line so it looks like we're busy, or because its not busy lets give a better show. SCREW THAT...

That little line will catch up to you eventually. Almost EVERYONE comes at the same time (9:30pm). Why wait until you get overwhelmed to start pushing them through? When 9:30pm rolls around I do not want ONE single person in line to enter the haunt not one!

This will help you a lot of you follow this ONE simple rule...ON BUSY NIGHTS OPEN 30 MINUTES EARLY, AND NEVER STOP PUTTING THEM IN THE DOOR EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE A LINE!

THIS WILL HELP YOU COME 9:30PM TRUST ME!

ON TOP OF THIS YOU WILL GET MORE BUSINESS THAT NIGHT!

Larry

drfrightner
07-12-2007, 02:08 AM
Now more to the question asked...

At the Darkness we put 8 to 10 people in every 45 seconds and try for about 650 per hour in the busiest hours. The key is simple though... at the start of the night run them through this fast as well so we don't have a line come 9:30pm.

I've learned over the years this is the best plan. Additionally if a group says they're 14 people we let in all 14. If a group says they're 4 and the next 2 and the next 3 they all go in together.

On slow nights we let groups in every 2 minutes no more than 6.

Larry

RobbeOne
07-12-2007, 08:44 AM
I agree with Larry totally. We do exactly the same for the Nightmare. If opeople are lining up early, OPEN early. It works great for us as well. I also sencond the point about the larger groups. If a group of 12-14 want to all go together... send them in together. If you split them up they are just going to wait for the rest of their group in the first few scenes to catch up to them. We use a timing light that we can change to know when to send the next group. It is nice casue we can change it when we need too as it relates to how busy we are. To hit your numbers you have to be able to send them in. As long as your actors and scenes are on the mark, most people will enjoy the experience. You are still going to get sausage lines from time to time, but that cannot be avoided. We have cameras in our control room, and the operator of the control room can see where the bottlenecks are and let security know. This way they can go and break up the bottle neck. It happens during those peak times, and with a good security staff to watch the lines and great communication with the actors it is normally not an issue. This is a great topic to discuss. Someone should do an article on it!!!

Empressnightshade
07-12-2007, 12:33 PM
For one I love it when some small haunts comes to my haunt in the middle of a Saturday nights and brags about how their customers say their haunt is scarier than ours. My first response is always the same...if you're so much better why are you here on a Saturday night at midnight? Don't you see all the people still lined up around the building? LOL

Larry

Hate to break it to you, but a long line does not a good haunt make. There's a large haunt here who has long lines for the simple fact it has been here the longest without anyone to seriously challenge them. Every year, I hear customers come here complaining of their plain black walls and lack of scenes. I'm a "small haunt" who has been told our show is better than the larger ones....just because we are "small" doesn't mean we cannot give a better show. As I hope you know, it takes time to build up a clientele.

Empressnightshade
07-12-2007, 12:45 PM
This is a great topic to discuss. Someone should do an article on it!!!

Someone did!
Norm Glenn, owner of Mansion of Terror in Texas wrote an article in Haunted Attraction Magazine entitled, "Effective Throughput in a Haunted Attraction." VERY informative!

Here's the link:

http://www.hauntedattraction.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=45&MMN_position=69:14

MMManiac
07-12-2007, 01:07 PM
In my opinion the point of a haunt is to entertain our customers. Pushing people through faster just so you can meet your "___ per hour" quote to fatten your pocket book shouldn't be what haunts are all about. Yes I would LOVE to bring in $100,000 + for our charity but overall we just want to put on a good show for people to enjoy and what we make for the charity we make. Although on the other hand I believe you dont want the customers to have to wait to long either so at times u have to find that happy balance of wait time vs show time.

Empressnightshade you said it the best. Long lines means nothing. We may not have the longest lines but I think we put on a pretty goos show too for being a small haunt.

Sean

TheNightMare
07-12-2007, 02:05 PM
Someone did!
Norm Glenn, owner of Mansion of Terror in Texas wrote an article in Haunted Attraction Magazine entitled, "Effective Throughput in a Haunted Attraction." VERY informative!

Here's the link:

http://www.hauntedattraction.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=45&MMN_position=69:14

Yes, I agree that acticle is so worth reading.

Putting on a good show and keeping people happy is the success to the busines. I have waited in lines before, half hour tops and then I would have been able to go in. I dont see a 30 minute wait that long, but 4 hrs. Thats insane, I would probably leave and not come back, if ever.

----

Some of you talk about letting large groups through(12+). Thats sounds like a lotta people going in at once. Sounds like tooo many people to scare. What if your haunt had a rule that ONLY let 6-8 people in at a time? They would have to be split up and wait for there friends outside after they've done the walkthrough. That too me doesn't seem unreasonable.

gadget-evilusions
07-12-2007, 02:45 PM
At our haunt we try to put through a group of 6 every 30 seconds. If there is a large group (6+) we ask them if they mind splitting up, if they don't want to then we don't make them. If your actors are good they can still get 2-3 scares out of 12 people, scare and reset fast, scare and reset fast. Even with 4-8 seperate attractions (all with seperate lines) we can still wind up with a 2 hour wait putting people though every 30 seconds (mostly when there are 2000+ people on the fairgrounds trying to get scared). 30 seconds per group is as fast as we can go and still hope to be putting on a good show. If we only have 10 people in line, we do slow down to maybe a group every minute or so. Our individual house managers are responsible for keeping the line moving at the appropriate pace depending on the number of people in line and clearing bottle necks. Now if there line gets too long the veterans come over and run their line for them for a bit and pound the people through, but only in extreme cases.

Empressnightshade
07-12-2007, 03:02 PM
I am so very concerned about throughput as we have the potential to have very long lines this season.

BUT, this keeps running through my mind.....
I was a bank teller years ago and there were many times I'd look up from a transaction with a customer to see the line almost heading out the door. I was told to take the attitude that the line didn't exist and give the person in front of me my full attention and the good service they deserved. In other words, forget the line.

If we have long lines, I know I will feel the stress of trying to get them through, but if we're putting 8 people through every 30 secs to 1 minute, the line will continue to move, thus giving people the feeling they are making progress. As long as they feel this, it should keep them much happier than a line that goes nowhere.

Frighteners Entertainment
07-12-2007, 03:02 PM
Here's something we have been doing for the last 4 yrs or so.
I put in alternate entries. These entries would bypass other areas in the haunt. So, they don't get to see everything. They don't know it until they're out and compare notes with their friends (did you see that?) Sell another ticket.
Now mind you, everyone is on headsets, so we know where all of the Hauntes are, so we would know where to send the ones waiting to enter.

MindWerxKMG
07-12-2007, 04:26 PM
On busy nights we bring a group of 15 into our grand hall where they get the intro spiel from our Skulltronix skull. We then send through groups of 5 every 30 seconds. On slow nights we bring in groups of 5 or 6 and send them through.

Jim Warfield
07-14-2007, 07:53 AM
If I had ever imagined that I was creating a "Monster", I could have done it like The Blue Man Group", hid my face, stayed anonymous, then hired others to pretend to be me and kept every customer more "happy".
I have fans who will only accept "Me" as their entertainer here even though I have some very able and talented people that have worked for me and many that still do.
How do I overcome a line standing there when I am what many of them want?
(No sharp knife suggestions please, I am confidant that I won't do that "Earthworm" thing and become multiples if disected.)
About all that I have come up with over the years is to give everyone a high-energy, very "Jim-Based" 10 minute front room routine to begin their tour.
Of course I do mess with their sense of "time" by speaking slowly for at least a part of this so they feel it was longer than ten minutes.
It is all scalpul-less Brain Surgery isn't it?
"No outside scars...but yes, someone has definately been working on your brain!"