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~nail in the coffin~
02-03-2008, 06:51 PM
alright guys, i'm trying to get feedback on my idea. i thought maybe you guys could tell me what you think, since some of you have been in the business for a while. as i reported a few weeks ago, we are buying an old school for our haunt. we will be using the 2nd floor for the haunt, and the 1st floor will have different businesses~my nail salon and my sister's hair salon among others. my brother and i will be the owners of the building, and we are also the ones who will be in charge of the haunt. we usually see eye to eye, but he doesn't seem to like my idea of a theme for our haunt.

since it is in a school, i want to do a school theme, of course. as i have said before, he's afraid of painting himself into a corner and not being able to expand and do more. he said he is invisioning lots of different things that a school theme won't work in. so in my eyes, basically, he wants to do your run of the mill haunted house. he wants a chainsaw, and spooky guys, and scary trees, and boogie-men and demons, and 9-foot tall monsters. that's all fine and dandy, i'm all for it. but here's what i want to do:

i want our haunt to be more than a walk-thru haunted house. i want each person to "experience" it. i want to promote it as "a day in the haunted school". the promotional materials will be printed up like a class schedule: 1st period, 2nd period, and so on. the bell will ring signifying the start of the school day. the groups will walk into the classroom and have a seat at a desk and the teacher will start to teach. each teacher will be scary in some way. maybe just an old witchy-type teacher with old wrinkly skin and long creepy fingernails. let's say the 1nst period is anatomy. we will have an actual human body disected with blood and guts all over the place. i am picturing more of a "theatrical" take on a haunted house. the teacher will get everyone involved in the class.~"let me show you the heart" as she digs deep into the body and grabs ahold of a still-beating heart. i'm picturing that in one class the teacher has had enough and sends the group to the principal's office. they walk down a long dark hallway and at the end the door flies open and there stands the principal~who is the big 9-foot tall monster! each class period could be 3 minutes long, then the bell rings and they go to the next class. i'm thinking a minute to get to the next class. then there's lunch with the lunch lady with her big nose with a wart on the end and rotting teeth. she's in the cafeteria trying to get a group of kids to eat the gross school food, which looks like maggots and eyeballs. maybe some of them ARE eating it, and it's smeared all over their gross faces. gym class? i'm picturing a crazy coach who's all banged up from sports injuries. i have no idea what the class would be like, any ideas? music class will have the music teacher introducing the school choir, who are a bunch of zombie-looking kids with limbs missing kinda like night of the living dead while pink floyd is blaring "WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION!"

ok, am i way off base to think that something like this could be cool? i have no idea about how many people would be in each group, i have no idea how long we should make each class. i don't know how much to charge. i don't know what the heck i'm doing, really. but dang it, i'm gonna do it. i don't want to be like every other haunt in our area. yeah, we could always stick the chainsaws in there somewhere (woodshop?) . but i would rather people leave the place with the thought "wow, that was way different than any other haunted house i've ever been to" than "well, seen one, seen em all."

so what do you guys think?

shawnc
02-03-2008, 07:18 PM
You definitely have the potentialthere for something different.

Nightmaretony
02-03-2008, 08:12 PM
you are looking into a theatrical type of haunt. The throughput tends to be slower than the "shove them through as fast as possible" that some places specialize in.

The psychological and storyline aspects would be important. Ask yourself though, where would a chainsaw fit within a school situation? Maybe a leaf blower would fit instead. Teacher's handbell as a sudden surprise?

as another song, I was planning one years ago which I am discarding since it has no storyline antecedent within my haunt: pitch dark room. Suddenly, a school bell begins ringing with the lights coming on, zombie students at their desk and the very loud music of Alice Cooper, "School's Out"

think to yourself of what constitutes and a school, and such. Work towards that end.

Some references: Knott's Berry Farm used to have a school haunt called Hatchet High. It had a wicked sense of humor with the final room being graduation with Elgar's march played on kazoos.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAhTDKQ8seI
youtube video of the maze.

Notice how the set of rooms plays into your typical things associated with high school: cafeteria, infirmary, principal's office, locker room, classrom, principal's office, etc. Amazingly, this was a conga line style haunt which still told the story excellently.



Another good source to look at for storytelling is the Kevin McCurdy videos. His haunt specializes in the storytelling aspect.


Hope this helps.



Also as some points:
1. ADA compliance. Second floor, elevators?
2. Music: you need to license via ASCAP or BMI to use the music. The price depends on attendance.

~nail in the coffin~
02-03-2008, 08:28 PM
thanks tony for the input. i checked out that link, pretty cool. it actually gave me a few ideas for some things i might have forgotten~cheerleaders, prom, hall monitor, graduation. maybe somehow my brother and i could compromise and still do my idea but do it like the hatchet high and move people through a little quicker.

we still have a long ways to go, we haven't even even closed on our building yet, hopefully in the next 2 weeks.

ScaryJerry
02-03-2008, 08:30 PM
We've done a theatrical show each year. The up side is the crowd loves the shows. The serious down side is the time it takes to get people through the haunt and the resulting effect on the bottom line. If this is a business you rely on for income I'd suggest maximum throughput - but it still has to be scary.

Scary Jerry

Jim Warfield
02-03-2008, 10:51 PM
I think that your school idea is brilliant! Use the building for the" school" and you are already nearly " done" as to getting your customer's minds into it happening.
What year did you graduate from Mount Carroll, Ill. ? I graduated in 1967 ,or was that 1867?
You remember so much of what that experience was like here and it all comes front and center with your creepy school ideas!
I drew a big picture it's sort of hidden in my kitchen of the class all being hooked up via tubes to a machine that keeps them semi-conscious for the "learning " process. Trouble starts with the Homecoming parade float when it's traveling along the parade route gets the kids all yanked from the float because thier head-hoses weren't long enough! ("Like, Duh? Man?")
I could see this production becoming very popular in a short time since most of your customers will probably be of high school age or close to it.
Sounds like nothing but fun!
"FUN" is where it's "At"!
When coming up with a name for your school I think it would be funny if it was one of those schools named after somebody, of course it could , should, be a fictious character of questionable worth and demeanor just for humor's sake.
Maybe a used car salesman? Serial killer?
Have fun creating a bio for him (or her?)
Class pictures hanging on the hallway walls would be nice , pictures of nasty types and creatures pretending to be kids.
Remember "Norbert?" the janitor from that comedy-horror high school movie who peed in waste baskets and moved his tall , thin body so strangely? He was the hit of the entire movie to me! They said he had once been a teacher there but had been in a bad accident.
Your description of some of the teachers in Mount Carroll is so right -on!
80 years old, only ever was seen to wear two different dresses, spit and slobbered when she talked , forcing the kids sitting in the first three rows to bring umbrellas to class, meaner than hell! She used a full coin purse as a missle thrown at students who were only doing minor screw-ups, it was alot like a blackjack when it hit you.
I had some teachers that had taught ny Grandmother and she was born in 1910?
She had taught my Mother too!
Another elderly teacher had to use a hearing aid so some of the kids would begin lip-syncing , she would keep turning the volume up on her hearing aid, then the class ending bell would go off! She would get a real loud blast then! Rattling her teeth (if she remembered to bring them with her that day)

~nail in the coffin~
02-04-2008, 08:33 AM
jim, it was 1968. i think i remember you.


no, really, i went to catholic school. we had some pretty scary creatures there, too.

GraveStalker
02-04-2008, 10:11 AM
We've done a theatrical show each year. The up side is the crowd loves the shows. The serious down side is the time it takes to get people through the haunt and the resulting effect on the bottom line. If this is a business you rely on for income I'd suggest maximum throughput - but it still has to be scary.

Scary Jerry

Is it just me or do these high throughput haunts lose their ability to be scary? I have been to a number of the top (rated) pro haunts and found them to be more entertaining than horrifying. I found the the scares to be ineffective - especially in the security of the conga line. On the other hand, there were times I thought -Man, this would be pretty unnerving if I was by myself or leading a small group.

I guess you have to decide what your goals are and who your target audience is. That will determine whether your idea is good or not. Obviously, if income is king then forget the theatrical aspect.

Personally, I think your idea of using a common theme and the building for its original purpose is excellent. This surely will save you money by not having to alter the structure in an attempt to make it look like something it's not.

TheCareTaker
02-05-2008, 04:38 PM
i think that is a good take on the same ol thing, my only issue is money making will it make enough money to support its self and how will you get th epeople through fast enough not to have a riot in the lines. awaiting such a good idea.
i guess if you have show times and schedules cool.

oh and dont forget the crepy lunch room with all the smelly students.
it just would not be school with out themLOL

Mr. Haunt
02-05-2008, 07:48 PM
I like your idea but will it work year after year and what will you do to keep it new and differant each year?

Mr. Haunt

Jim Warfield
02-05-2008, 07:57 PM
I don't see through -put as a problem if you ring the class-change bell like clockwork every 3 to 4 minutes and everyone goes right to the next room.
There have been some conga-line haunts that took in a lot of money , for one or two years, then ........"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me"
The complaints about the no-scare conga line are very common from customers, if you CARE about mere customers...oh , wait, those are the ones supposed to be buying all of those ticket-things now aren't they?