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RJT
04-05-2008, 11:18 PM
Estimated cost of a 3600sf haunt?

For about five years I have debated on starting a haunt and it looks like I am getting closer. I have been researching a lot over the years but wanted some advice from the pros. We are starting our business plan and need some help.

I was lucky enough to acquire two 3600sf tents free of charge to use from a friend in the furniture business.
I was going to use one for the haunt and the other for queue line and ticket area. He has one a little smaller we can use also. We are planning on setting up in a parking lot of a large shopping center or mall. I am trying to setup a meeting with the FM to make sure we can avoid the sprinkler system.

My general question is what would be a estimate for this size attraction. I know that all depends on what goes in the haunt itself. We are looking to charge around the $10.00 to $15.00 range so with that what would we need to spend to justify that charge? Keep in mind that this is a brand new start up haunt and we are building from the ground up. We are thinking around 15 to 20 rooms/scenes of nice quality show.


We are not going to do an outside façade other than some banners and such the first year. We are going the “Hollywood Horror” or “Circus, Carnival” theme to keep from doing a façade. Might consider doing a façade next year if we think it is justified. We have bought the domain www.thehollywoodhorrorshow.com

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Jim Warfield
04-06-2008, 02:01 AM
Do you have anything to fill the tent with? Have you and your partner been making walls, props?
Your posts makes it seem as if you don't have anything ready yet to occupy the inside ?
Most common advice is to plan and build for a couple of years, work in another established haunt to learn more basics. Maybe you have already done these things or maybe you don't feel that you need to, you might be correct?
When I was trying to get started many locals had tons of advice for me but no phone numbers of any experts that I could call.
Running a large haunt calls for organizational skills, people handling experience.
With just a black Magic marker you can give yourself a very cheap "Hitler" moustache so everyone realizes that you are the boss, after that everything falls into place, the Seudanten land, Poland, France...

graystone
04-06-2008, 08:54 AM
1. You dont seem to have anything yet as far as props,walls,decorations actors, even a set theam ect.
2. You already have a price in mind of 10 to 15 bucks.
Let me give you my two cents. First check out local fire codes building codes ect that may make your mind up real fast. Now if that dont scare you and you still want to do this then you need to sit down and come up with a theam. Then you need to get on HauntWorld, ebay, Haunted Attractions any sight where you can pick up props and ideas as you seem to be on limited budget. If you have some extra funds go straight to Unit70, Distortions, Oak Island, Gore Galore, ScareFactory and many many more they will be willing to work with you always the more you buy the more you can save. However be ready to pay a deposit and the remainder before shipping. So know how much you can spend. Myself I am not a big fan of Haunt Tents but hey you got to start somewhere and the idea of tent and circus just seems to fit the mood. Dont skimp on your outside a tent and banner may only look like a car or furniture store or swap meet sale to some. Let them know your a haunted attraction make the outside look as good as the inside!!!!! With that in mind dont forget the net,radio,tv,posters or any other additional forum of advertizement. You got to get the word out and the tent alone is not gonna do it. Now if you got the place, theam, decore,advertizment in place what about actors? You know they are needed. You may want to try a charity that will work for a donation if you cant pay actors this is very important to start looking now not after you open.. This may be the best way to go your first year. Finally after all this then make a decision on price. You may need to drop it. I mean you might get 10 or 15 bucks but rip them once and they wont be back. Give them a cheaper price and they will give you another chance next year. Basically if you got 100,000 to spend then you might can get the 15.00 if you have 15,000 to budget then you might look at the 5 to 7 dollar range. I have over 350,000 in mine and change 13.50. Well hope this helpes you some.

RJT
04-06-2008, 11:47 AM
Thanks for all the responses. Let me clarify a few things that have been asked. No we do not have anything at all like a wall system or any props. My partner and I both are handy and can build stuff on our own. We are in the construction business and have access to people to do things we cant, like electrical work. Years ago I used to work in a semi/pro type haunt a Church group put on. I am a pretty sharp guy and have done my research about the haunt industry. I have talked with a FM last year all the way up to the State level about things. I have been gathering info for about five years now. I don’t jump into a business head first and then fail. If I do something I want to do it right and be successful at it. We are both business people and have managment,organizational, and people skills.

I never said I had a budget…But everyone has a budget to some degree. ;) I want to design a nice haunt but keep the cost down. That is general business sense. Lower the cost the more profitable you are. We live in a small area and want a good reputation from the start. I want to be able to have a solid haunt the first year out and be able to expand the following year.

I was told last year by an haunt industry insider "expert" to look at spending around $25.00 a sf for everything including props and construction. This seemed cheap to me but I am not sure. I know props can get expensive but I know based on my research you can save by buying used. I plan on using more actors than trying to use animatronics and such.

Any more help would be great and thanks for the info so far. “Dang newbies” LOL

shawnc
04-06-2008, 01:59 PM
The price per square foot will depend on a lot of things. Do you plan on having a lot of actors or a lot of animatronics? The actors work cheaper, but that depends on how long you will be open. Are you looking at the whole month of October, or just Halloween weekend? Back to the actor/animatronic thing, do you want to be mostly scary or mostly entertaining? Someone jumping out of a dark corner is scary a few times and a cheap way to go, but then you need to fill the rest of the haunt and that's where you need to get creative and start spending some money.

I think your downplaying of the facade could turn out to be a big mistake. Some people do judge a book by its cover, and you want to set the mood before your customers ever get inside. A convincing facade might be your biggest bang for the buck in the whole deal.

I think a theme is very important and something you should decide on as soon as possible. The circus seems like a natural and would explain the tents. Read this month's HauntWorld magazine for some thoughts by those who set up portable haunts. One of the points made was that setting up inside a mall or tent makes it harder to convince those attending that they are in a conventional haunted house, but by working everything right it can be even more successful than a regular old house.

Jordan24
04-06-2008, 03:09 PM
$25sqft!!, $90k for props and construction alone?!? That figure sound very, very, high for an outdoor tent attraction, even for an indoor attraction that sounds pretty high.

Like Shawn said, there are lots of other things to consider. The type of market you are in is huge. There is only one other pro-haunt in my area, and I'm going to try to get away with spending around $50,000 to start an indoor attraction. I know that sounds low. But the other haunt in my area was in their first year and they made money with what I thought was a not so great haunt. They spent practically nothing on marketing, one newspaper add.

So, theres lots of other variables, but I would definetly say you could deliver a quality event for much less than 90k.

RJT
04-06-2008, 03:11 PM
Thanks for the response... I am learning more and more everyday. As far as the facade I was planning on doing some black banners and some other things (props) on the outside of the white tent. I may reconsider doing more of a facade but not sure as of yet.

I was wanting to go with a Hollywood theme and also thought that would help get past the tent thing. My idea is to do the whole Hollywood theme (Freddy,Jason,Scream, etc.) I know I will have to be very careful with intellectual property rights but think we can pull it off legally ok. I think the whole Hollywood thing is a great marketing theme that will bring customers in. It will look kind of like a BIG Hollywood production come to town thing. That is why I bought the domain www.thehollywoodhorrorshow.com

The Circus theme is not totally out but am leaning towards the Hollywood theme mostly.

I am wanting to use actors mostly with only a few animatronics. It is more cost effective and I am not a big fan of animatronics. In my opinion the haunt industry as become to dependent on them and take away from the haunt experience if used to much in a haunt. They look neat but are not really scary IMHO.

Room designs would be something like this but not in this order.


Room 1: Elm Street Freddie
Room 2: Friday 13th Jason
Room 3: Frankenstein
Room 4: Dracula
Room 5: Werewolf
Room 6: Psycho
Room 7: Exorcist
Room 8: Halloween Michael Myers
Room 9: Tombstone
Room 10: Dawn of the Dead Zombie
Room 11: Fear of Clowns
Room 12: Deadly Spawn
Room 13: Chucky
Room 14: Shining
Room 15: Children of the Corn
Room 16: Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Room 17:Poultergiets
Room 18: Scream
Room 19: Amityville
Room 20: The Boogeyman
Room 21: Silence of the Lambs
Room 22: Hellraiser

RJT
04-06-2008, 03:21 PM
$25sqft!!, $90k for props and construction alone?!? That figure sound very, very, high for an outdoor tent attraction, even for an indoor attraction that sounds pretty high.

Like Shawn said, there are lots of other things to consider. The type of market you are in is huge. There is only one other pro-haunt in my area, and I'm going to try to get away with spending around $50,000 to start an indoor attraction. I know that sounds low. But the other haunt in my area was in their first year and they made money with what I thought was a not so great haunt. They spent practically nothing on marketing, one newspaper add.

So, theres lots of other variables, but I would definetly say you could deliver a quality event for much less than 90k.

Jordon I thought the same thing. I thought that was a little high but I was talking to a "consultant" that I am sure was padding the cost to cover his fees if we hired him to do it. I was thinking between 50k and 75k. I am going to do TV, road signs, discount cupons at all the surronding middle and high schools, (maybe radio.) I was going to offer each school a special night with a discount. Like Monday would be for Central High and middle School with $2.00 off Tuesday would be East High and middle School, etc. Just drop them off at the local office and let the Home room teachers hand them out. Partner up with local resturants to hand out discount cupons and hang a sign also etc. My idea is to charge around $12 to $14 but hand out a bunch of $2.00 off cupons. Thought about even doing a "free drink and popcorn" with a VIP pass on a off night like Mondays that would get you faster through the line.

Gore Galore
04-06-2008, 03:40 PM
I don't mean to criticize but I think you might be selling yourself short by sticking to iconic characters and hollywood theming.
I think you can do so much more and NO you will not be able to get away with STEALING licensed characters. It is very difficult for Haunted Houses to stay under the radar these days. Especially if you are properly marketing your event.
Plus I find that these type of events keep your ideas limited.
Nor allow you to develop creative, evolving, and involving attractions.

I feel the best events come from a developed storyline and EVERY room stems from that theme.
It is more involving for your patrons and more believeable so it can be seriously scary for your customers.

Furthermore, most people who come into this industry for the first time shoot for this same type of design. And don't last long because of it.
You want to make your customers think it could be real. And that type of planning always pays off.

I wish you luck and the more questions you ask the more information you will receive.

shawnc
04-06-2008, 03:44 PM
I just came across this thread while looking for something else that might help you:

http://hauntworld.com/haunted_house_forums/showthread.php?t=32&highlight=pirate

Your theme idea does sound like a good one. Do you know anyone who could design some original looking movie posters, either on computer or simpler ones that are painted? These would look great hanging up as people are walking in and could be part of the facade itself.

You have also come up with some good ideas for promotion, which can be even more important than an effective haunt (or at least equal). You wouldn't want to build the scariest, most entertaining attraction ever and then have no one show up. But I have heard of lots of people in that same boat. I have also hraed about many who didn't put on the best show but had lines of people all month.

RJT
04-06-2008, 04:47 PM
I don't mean to criticize but I think you might be selling yourself short by sticking to iconic characters and hollywood theming.
I think you can do so much more and NO you will not be able to get away with STEALING licensed characters. It is very difficult for Haunted Houses to stay under the radar these days. Especially if you are properly marketing your event.
Plus I find that these type of events keep your ideas limited.
Nor allow you to develop creative, evolving, and involving attractions.

I feel the best events come from a developed storyline and EVERY room stems from that theme.
It is more involving for your patrons and more believeable so it can be seriously scary for your customers.

Furthermore, most people who come into this industry for the first time shoot for this same type of design. And don't last long because of it.
You want to make your customers think it could be real. And that type of planning always pays off.

I wish you luck and the more questions you ask the more information you will receive.


We would do a story line but use the "Hollywood" characters in the story. I would not try and duplicate the exact scene in a movie. I might have a butcher scene but put Freddy in it. I plan on doing a mix of things but include the Hollywood theme mixed in. Kind of like creating a BIG Hollywood horror movie with all the characters in one movie type thing.

Constructive criticism is good. I don’t mind ideas, thoughts, criticism, etc as long as it is constructive.

Keep the ideas and "criticism" comming. ;)

Transfusion Tom
04-06-2008, 05:08 PM
Another good idea, at least in regards to keeping your costs low on the operating end, would be to team up with a local Boy Scouts or other similar organization in your area. Additionally, offer to donate $1 of every ticket to a specific charitable organization. This can allow for more news reports and increased customer awareness but it also being a good steward for your community.

Happy Haunting!!

-Tom

RJT
04-06-2008, 05:26 PM
Another good idea, at least in regards to keeping your costs low on the operating end, would be to team up with a local Boy Scouts or other similar organization in your area. Additionally, offer to donate $1 of every ticket to a specific charitable organization. This can allow for more news reports and increased customer awareness but it also being a good steward for your community.

Happy Haunting!!

-Tom


Tom, Done deal...I have already spoke with a local ROTC group and a few others. I am trying to involve "adult" type organizations so we don’t have a bunch of 15yo running around. I prefer adult characters over teen. I am also planning on involving some of the local Volunteer Fire Houses and let them help out and make donations to them also. 90% of my staff I want from volunteer groups to help keep the cost down. Plus other than looking good in the communities eyes I also “want” to give back to my community. I think it is a win win situation for all of us.

I figured on a base of $8.00 an hour per, per person. Times that times 6 hours of work. Times that times 20 employees then I can pay upwards of $1000 per night towards different organizations. If I just donated .50 per ticket I would be doing good. Hope my formula didn’t confuse you but you get the idea. If I just donated $500 per night I would come out ahead and they would make a little money also.

JamBam
04-06-2008, 07:08 PM
Gore Galore has a very good point. You say that you will make your own scenes similar to the movies these "Hollywood" characters are from, yet you still list all the "Hollywood" characters in your room names. Either pay for the licensing ( many could be avail) or be ready to get the letters in the mail from the real "Hollywood" lawyers.

Find someone to be creative and have your own story. Otherwise you open yourself up for the customers criticisms of how you missed the scenes. That would be worse.

Also, you may want to start low on pricing and raise it after you have proven your value to your customers over time.

My two pennies,

Brett Molitor
JamBam/Huntington Jaycees Haunted Hotel-13th Floor
www.HauntedHuntington.com
www.MySpace.com/the_haunted_hotel

Transfusion Tom
04-06-2008, 07:12 PM
That's good you are covering your cost bases. The next question is location, have you locked in a location? Considering you are a mobile attraction, outside of fire questions which have been posted in previous threads, you can use your location provider as one of your sponsors, if the location is worth it. If it is a prime location and the owner would like to do some additional advertising via your haunt, then you can get a very reasonable, if not free, site for your haunt. Nonetheless, this is your first year of operations and therefore will be harder to pull off, as you don't have a 'history' for the owner to look back on. Also, for some additional advice on proper costing, financing, and new products go to www.hauntgeeks.com, which is still getting 'ramped' up but its a place to ask questions, much like you have here at HauntWorld, except with a more technical twist.

Cheers

Jim Warfield
04-06-2008, 08:35 PM
"Did you hear about that tent just outside of town?"
"Why, what's going on there?"
"The tent is just covering the graves they discovered so the forensics people can collect evidence, there were lot of bodies there I guess?"

"There, see all the lights over there , that must be the place, do you think we can get in to see it?"
"Somebody has leased the ground and we have to pay a fee , the bodies were all removed a day or two ago."
"Great! This should be something else."

"You better not try to walk too fast the lighting leaves a bit to be desired doesn't it?"
"Look at all the holes! Was there a body in every one of them?"
"Yes, I guess so."
"Were they men, women, kids?"
"They were teenagers I guess, runaways who ended up trusting the wrong guy.."
"Oops, careful."

"Some of these graves don't look very deep."
"They are as deep as they have to be.'
"Have to be?"
"To free them...the Zombies!"
Guess what happens then?

Tent. Shovel. Dirt. Some lighting.Zombies.
Unforgettable!
Send the remainder of the $100,000 to :Jim Warfield You are welcome.

RJT
04-06-2008, 08:57 PM
"Did you hear about that tent just outside of town?"
"Why, what's going on there?"
"The tent is just covering the graves they discovered so the forensics people can collect evidence, there were lot of bodies there I guess?"

"There, see all the lights over there , that must be the place, do you think we can get in to see it?"
"Somebody has leased the ground and we have to pay a fee , the bodies were all removed a day or two ago."
"Great! This should be something else."

"You better not try to walk too fast the lighting leaves a bit to be desired doesn't it?"
"Look at all the holes! Was there a body in every one of them?"
"Yes, I guess so."
"Were they men, women, kids?"
"They were teenagers I guess, runaways who ended up trusting the wrong guy.."
"Oops, careful."

"Some of these graves don't look very deep."
"They are as deep as they have to be.'
"Have to be?"
"To free them...the Zombies!"
Guess what happens then?

Tent. Shovel. Dirt. Some lighting.Zombies.
Unforgettable!
Send the remainder of the $100,000 to :Jim Warfield You are welcome.

Sounds like a good alternative. Thanks for the help.

RJT
04-06-2008, 09:07 PM
Gore Galore has a very good point. You say that you will make your own scenes similar to the movies these "Hollywood" characters are from, yet you still list all the "Hollywood" characters in your room names. Either pay for the licensing ( many could be avail) or be ready to get the letters in the mail from the real "Hollywood" lawyers.

Find someone to be creative and have your own story. Otherwise you open yourself up for the customers criticisms of how you missed the scenes. That would be worse.

Also, you may want to start low on pricing and raise it after you have proven your value to your customers over time.

My two pennies,

Brett Molitor
JamBam/Huntington Jaycees Haunted Hotel-13th Floor
www.HauntedHuntington.com
www.MySpace.com/the_haunted_hotel

Like I said I am not planning on duplicating the exact "Hollywood" scenes. I want to create my own story line and use the Hollywood characters in the theme. I plan on not "stealing" anything from the Hollywood folks no more so than any other haunt using officially licensed costumes and mask. I am a honest guy that believes in strong business ethics. However if I can use the "Hollywood" angel to help promote my event without doing anything illegal then I plan on doing it. I am sure there are plenty of haunts that use the Hollywood characters in their themes. I just plan on using the name I bought along with those chanters as a marketing strategy. If I need to buy any licensing rights I will do that. As far as the list of room names it was just given as an example. I checked out your site and it looks very nice. Thanks for the info and please keep more coming to help out.

Thanks Again, RJT

Greg Chrise
04-06-2008, 11:11 PM
Also, if you think big, you can have say 1,000 SF of walls then 500 SF of an open outdoor scene (indoors) then lather rinse repeat. Even tight passages cna be done with 60 panels per 1000 Sf costing in materials and paint about $30 each. So, New stuff $1800/1000 SF = $1.80 per SF. Then you can go lower than this by collecting surplus materials, buying used materials, finding alternative materials like old metal sheeting and what ever, being creative. You might infact have 1000 SF of dirt and a shovel? Even with the wiring harness, safety gear and semi trailer I might a little over $2 a SF. I have bought used walls and repainted them/ repaired them for as little as $10 each total. They have a history to them already.

you can build a real house for $40/SF but, No ceiling, no floors, no real doors, limited electric runs, no real utilities, no appliances, no pool, If you are planning a payroll, you only need limited amounts of props to start. Lots of flea market furniture and dumpster finds. What industrial finds you may overlook every day like giant saw blades that are no longer re bitable, barrels and drums, All available for scrap weight.

The most expensive part of a haunted house? Off season and build up storage. Pretty much any building material, or device can be found or donated. The storage may cost More than the haunt if not planned for ei go directly to semi trailers on land that does not have additional rent, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Other wise, in 5 years time you will have forked out $20,000 in storage and moving fees and the haunt was cleverly cobbled together for $3500 and it really couldn't be better for what is being done.

To me what is missing in all of your description is where you will be located, generally what town. Many towns just will not support $1000 per night payroll and $500 to charity per night. It just isn't going to happen so make other plans. If you crash 60 people a night using volunteers in some cases that is all there is going to be no matter how much you spent to advertise.

Yet, this isn't bad if it really is a Monster Museum. Hollywood may never find you if you are in a market that doesn't deserve the investment of a web site and any more than local advertising. It could be 100 well dressed mannequins and perhaps only two jump to life? Is it an academic town or where they have redneck games? Trying to get licensing is going to be denied.

Also, where you are might tip off someone who has one sitting in their yard that has no place to go and you could have it for free (no start up costs) or for so much per ticket? Some people already have 10 years of crap left over from themes not being displayed this year.

What would I do with the other $23 per SF? Donuts seem to be popular?

Greg Chrise
04-06-2008, 11:36 PM
I would like to propose the Strategic Haunt Initiative.

Haunts roving the country or North America even, in unmarked semi trailers so as not to be specifically located by Hollywood but, able to spring up in case of Halloween for $2 per ticket.

Of course diesel is now $900 a tank so, we will have to get government trucks and unload what ever crap they have in there then, go about our business.

drfrightner
04-07-2008, 12:42 PM
That is a loaded question for sure...

You can spend unlimited amount of money no doubt about it. You can fit a lot of scenes in 3,600 square feet, by my estimation about 8-10 with some mazes between. You can make the attraction so detailed that it will cost you hundreds of thousands or you can make it bare nothing for several thousand.

Its really hard to say it really depends on the level of detail you want to obtain. Larry

Jim Warfield
04-08-2008, 10:00 AM
Many customers take the easy way to illusions, deceptions of one's perceptions, they use liquid effects as found within a bottle of spirits, maybe that's why it is called "BOOO-ze"! ?

MindWerxKMG
04-09-2008, 07:15 AM
Here's my two cents...

1. Facade - Extremely important! You only get one chance at making a first impression. A really cool facade can be used to build up the patron's apprehension level prior to entering the haunt. It becomes part of your show. It will also give a more professional look to your show will help enhance your patrons willing suspension of disbelief.

2. Hollywood characters - been done to death! Be original and provide something unique to your patrons. Even if you use the movie characters in original scenes, they are still movie characters that most people are used to seeing. Provide new and exciting characters that your patrons will talk about!

3. Detail, detail, detail... Anyone can do black walls. Create a highly detailed, immersive environment for your patrons. Make them forget that they are inside of a tent. Patron's may not notice all of the detail that is there, but they sure will notice what is not there.

4. Safety - The fact that you want a waiver for a sprinkler system concerns me. Patron safety should be a number one concern. What do you plan to do in case a fire breaks out? Are you going to have a fire department pumper truck on-site at all times? Are the tents you plan on using fire retardant treated?

5. What is the competition like in your target area? You need to provide something completely original to set yourself apart from the competition, especially during your first season. Why will a potential patron choose attending your haunt over another one in your area? You want repeat customers. I have many customers that return several times during the season who bring more people with them. In fact, we are going to be offering season passes this year.

MMManiac
04-09-2008, 08:34 AM
Just because you buy a liscensed Freddy Costume doesnt give you the right to use it for commercial use in your haunt. Even if the scene the character is in is different from the movies freddy is still property of the studio. Some haunts do get away with it cause they dont promote or advertise the use, but last year ALOT of huants got notices to stop using them, esp since Universal Studios now do their own haunt. Just becareful. You dont want to be shut down befor you open of worse get sued and lose lots of $$.

Sean

Jim Warfield
04-09-2008, 01:23 PM
It is a little known fact that "Freddie" was modeled from the studio's actual head of their legal department!
He has a very personal interest in coming after you!
Maybe even in your dreams!??