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View Full Version : Best way to get started haunting



robos99
10-29-2008, 01:40 PM
So after I've been lurking around here more than usual lately, I've gotten the itch again to open a haunt. I'm at the point now where I'm tired of standing on the sidelines and I'm setting my sights on opening a haunt next year. So now I'm trying to figure out how best to pull this off. I don't have a yard, or a house, to do this in, so that's out. I don't have a ton of money saved up and with the economy the way it is, I've ruled out the idea of getting a loan. Working in a haunt and working my way up is not really an option since my day job is demanding enough, I wouldn't be able to work a full season at a haunt and work this job at the same time. If I were running the haunt I'd just take a leave of absence for a few months, but that's not something I can do if I'm not getting paid at all.

You're probably thinking I'm insane by now...but aren't we all? haha. And I enjoy a good challenge. I'm not one of those people who thinks this will be easy and I'll make a ton of money. But I do think that despite my limited haunting experience I can pull off something great, and make it a success. I'm not as concerned about keeping the haunt going as I am about opening it in the first place.

So I've managed to come up with two possible scenarios....both are insane. lol. The first idea is to go small and try working with a charity. That should make sponsorships more attractive and I just might be able to come up with enough funding for the haunt. Problem I see with this is that I'm in the Chicagoland market, which does have some big haunts...so that's some tough competition for a little charity haunt.

The other idea is to go all out....which is really more my style. I don't think on a small scale, haha. This would be a professional haunt, and it will have the budget of one. A high marketing budget, not to mention a high quality haunt, will allow me to compete directly with some of the bigger haunts around here. There might still be some money contributed to a charity, but this would be a for-profit venture, whereas the smaller charity haunt would be giving most of the profits to the charity, which should make the charity or potential sponsors more likely to contribute some startup capital. Lacking that in this case, I would be seeking investors to cover most of the cost of startup.

I realize how unlikely either of these ideas are. I'm well aware that charities might not be willing to shell out money for the startup, and that investors are going to want me to both be contributing my own money, but also see that myself and my partners have extensive experience in this industry (which we don't). But I'm willing to work my ass off, and I personally think I've got the design skill to pull off a great haunt. This might not be enough. But that's why I'm asking for the advice from the experts here. So the question is, which of these plans seems most feasible, or what drawbacks might there be that I may not have foreseen with either of these plans? Also feel free to come up with an entirely new plan. I'm open to all constructive criticism, and I'm fully expecting some people to flat out tell me I can't do it. But I'm stubborn and don't give up easily. If all else fails, I'll just rob a bank. And then I can reuse the masks. haha.

HauntedMemphis
10-29-2008, 01:53 PM
I think if you don't have startup capital, and you are against taking out a loan, the 2nd option really isn't likely. Finding investors is going to be tough unless you haver personal relations with possible investors. Sponsors can help with costs, but the odds of finding enough of them, especially competing against more established haunts in your market for those sponsorships, isn't likely to get you anywhere close to enough capital to make it a go. Remember, most haunts lose money for 3-5 years. If you can't afford to take the leave of absense without an income from the haunt, this sounds like a really bad idea.

thehauntedhollows
10-29-2008, 02:19 PM
About 3 weeks ago, I went to 2 Haunted Houses in the same night.

One must've cost $500,000 to make--->> In a warehouse building, animatronics everywhere, incredibly elaborate facades, commercial attraction, props as far as they eye could see.

Next, we went to a CHARITY haunt, probably cost $5,000 to create----->> honestly 5 times better than the first.

One must think, "Wow, those numbers don't add up."

Well thats true, but the difference was the creativity. One was just a warehouse filled with animatronics and such, however, the other had a story. It had a team of creative people trying to make cool effects. It was a very good show.

So, if I were to give you advice, do not waste money on high class animatronics and such. Find a good place, and be creative. Also, I have realized the absolute BEST way to have a haunted house is set in the woods, with 5-10 cabins with live scenes, and tour guides. I have yet to see a for profit haunt that does that. In the mean time, I'll be at the charity haunts!

robos99
10-29-2008, 02:23 PM
I think if you don't have startup capital, and you are against taking out a loan, the 2nd option really isn't likely.

Well it's not so much that I'm against getting a loan as I know it's not too likely to work. I don't really have the credit to get a loan, and I don't really have anything to put up for collateral. So I've mostly ruled out that idea.


Remember, most haunts lose money for 3-5 years. If you can't afford to take the leave of absense without an income from the haunt, this sounds like a really bad idea.

That kinda puts things in a different perspective. I certainly can't afford to make absolutely no money for a few months. Perhaps I need to rethink this entire idea and start even smaller. Even running a charity haunt, it's unlikely I'd get paid anything at all, and I can't take 2 months off work to build and run the haunt. And I know my "team" will say the same thing.

robos99
10-29-2008, 02:48 PM
So, if I were to give you advice, do not waste money on high class animatronics and such. Find a good place, and be creative. Also, I have realized the absolute BEST way to have a haunted house is set in the woods, with 5-10 cabins with live scenes, and tour guides. I have yet to see a for profit haunt that does that. In the mean time, I'll be at the charity haunts!

Actually I'm not one to go for all the expensive animatronics, at least none of the ones commercially available. As I was watching one of the many shows that aired recently featuring a bunch of haunts (not sure which one it was), I noticed the same expensive high end Scarefactory prop in several haunts. And it always stood out, because I kept seeing it. Perhaps customers might not notice those things so well, but I'd rather be unique and build my own. I realize some people don't really have the time to build everything, so I'm not ripping on them by any means. But I'm more the type to build it myself.

Of course, even building most of the haunt and not buying any fancy animatronics and such, opening a pro haunt is still expensive, especially one to compete with all the other high end haunts. Doing a high quality small charity haunt is always an option though.