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backstagemike
04-09-2009, 06:02 PM
My name is Mike Layton, Iím currently in the process of starting a small company that will produce a seasonal haunted attraction in Orlando (I know a year round haunted attraction would never survive as seen by several attempts so far). The past few Halloween seasons I spent visiting the competition in Orlando and some of the top Haunted Houses in the country, Netherworld and the 13th Gate. Iíve even helped build the sets for Halloween Horror Nights. From these experiences, I realize the quality you need to succeed and the standards set by these attractions. I know with this being my first year I could never be at the same level as Netherworld, but they are still my idol.

Hereís a little background about myself. I have a BFA in Design/Tech with an emphasis on Technical Production. I am currently the Assistant Technical Director at University of Central Floridaís Conservatory Theatre. I worked on several haunted houses in the past as the Technical Supervisor. These were smaller attractions in Northern Florida. I have experience using many different materials and techniques including wood, metal, plastic, and foam. I also do all the special effects and automation for the theatre. Additionally, I have created several large animatronic props for use in some of the haunted houses I used to work for.

What I want to do, for some time now, is put all my talents into an amazing professional haunted house of my own. Money has been the leading issue for some time now. But if I start small enough and continue to grow into something better, I hope to overcome my previous challenges. Iíve started by organizing a small group of technical theatre students. I have designers, stage managers, actors, technicians, and costume designers that all want to help out. I plan on opening the Haunted House in North Eastern Orlando somewhere between the large campuses of UCF and Valencia Community College. It is from these area schools that I hope to draw most of my customers.

Iím new to starting a business but have experience in running a smaller haunted attraction. I know I can succeed for several reasons. First, Iím not in it for the money. I think this is an important factor. Few people ever get rich at what they do. You have to do something because you love it, otherwise, youíll lose interest. And I plan on donating a portion of the profits to a local charity. Second, Iím more about quality over quantity. I donít want people standing in line as they go through my haunted house. I know this may be a bad business choice but it brings me to my third point. I have a full time job and do not hope to receive large sums of money from my endeavor. Iím a realistic person and all efforts will focus on breaking even this first year.

Iíve been reading as much as I can from everything I can get my hands on. Iíve spent a lot of time looking through and reading this forum and have found out how close a community the Haunted Industry is. Iíve joined IAHA and hope to one day be able to give back to them all the help they are providing me with.

I guess Iím really posting this because Iím looking for any and all advice to help me in my business venture. Iíd also like to rally any support in the local area. Any and all help will be much appreciated. Itís important to note that Iím not rich and I know I still have a lot to learn. But with support, I am determined to succeed.

nzanesmith
04-09-2009, 07:46 PM
first big step is to get a rough budget for actors, building props, makeup equipment etc.... then double it.... If you can manage this new budget and are still interested then proceed. And don't forget a budget for marketing efforts, a great haunt with no marketing is just that a great haunt that no one knows about. I would also be amazed if you broke even your first year, your safer plan as I see it is to have say a 3-7 year plan and assume the first year flops and a slow increase from there where as you are breaking even at the mid point of your plan. This seems to be the norm for the industry. Good luck, if i were on the other side of the country I'd offer to help more

Nick

Allen H
04-09-2009, 09:08 PM
Nick has a great point about the budget, Im amazed at how much screws and hinges can add to he budget, and almost no one includes them in their budgets.
My other bit of advice is to start small, I think you are on the right track there. If you can, put nothing on credit, challenge yourself to be a frugal as possible and owe nothing at the start of the season.
Your marketing depends on your location, I like to just have a big sign by the highway (which can be free) and all of the free listings in every newspaper within 2 hours drive of you. Thats all I normally do for my first year, depending on location you can see 4,000 + first year. Your cast can also help get the word out, have a school night for sports teams or clubs trying to raise money, give them a $1 of each admission (that mentions that school) You get a week or two worth of free morning announcements at the high school (work two or three a weekend) and they make a couple hundred bucks for doing nothing.
Let your audience tell you how much to spend each year, do not spend and hope they will come.
I know many others will give you completely different advice, but Im giving advice a grandpa would give, and it does not mean both approaches wont work, just less risk my way.
I would also focus on something your competition cant give, a personal show. The good actors that HHN gets are a happy accident, they do not train for squat and they do not spend enough time on the patrons as they get a cattle call going through most of the time.
If you get going in the area let me know because I have a ton of ex Terror on church st. and Skull kingdom friends who are pros and love the work. do not try to match universal for money, beat them with heart.
Much luck and good vibes sent to a new show in my old stomping grounds.
Allen H

Jim Warfield
04-10-2009, 07:12 AM
In the two previous replies. This might sound a bit unusual but my advice would possibly prod you towards looking at the whole haunt as your artistic expression so your end product remains different and personally special, something many customers will realise and appreciate and will also help generate a patronage attitude from your customers.
Give them a special experienceand they will remember it , advertise it for you, for free, and return to keep you growing.
All of this is peculiar advice and is a very personal decision and a singular way to proceed by your statements seem to already be sort of aiming you in such a direction or I would not be saying these things.
I started small and relatively quietly and over the last 20plus years have actually designed and built 99% of what people see and experience after they buy a ticket from me.
Last night one customer told me he has been buying my tickets since 1992 and he enjoys seeing my "works-in-progress" everytime he is here.
You can see some of the evidence at : hauntedravensgrin.com
Good Luck.

theeverydayguy
04-10-2009, 09:15 AM
hay in live in orlando ill come to ur haunted house enven though im a home haunter and only 17 years old if you need some actors im there and some of my friends we dont screw around most importantly we take great pride in how safe we make our home haunt

backstagemike
04-10-2009, 11:06 AM
Nick,

Thanks for your advice Nick. Iíve been working on the budget and have a few questions. I am an experienced builder and have no trouble budgeting materials and equipment, but how much should I budget for marketing, insurance, and business/inspection type stuff? I already have a website for the business/haunt and have designed the logo. The website is still under construction. The majority of my marketing campaign will focus on directing people to this website. I plan on using posters, bumper stickers, and small hand out flyers. If I can spend under a thousand on marketing, that would be great. Itíll be a lot of leg work, but thatís the kind of person I am.

Iíve read that people have obtained insurance for their haunt for under $600. Is this possible? Iíd need at least general liability coverage for a million dollars, but only for one month. I havenít asked for a quote yet because I do not have a location or any of the specific details the insurance company asks for. So I guess Iím looking for an average number small professional haunts spend on these items. My haunt will be around 3,000 to 3,500 sq.ft.

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Allen,

I agree 100% with your advice, especially about giving the audience a personal show. That was ALWAYS part of the plan. I have developed a storyline and plan on communicating that story to the audience as they go through the haunt. There will be audience to actor interaction throughout. Some rooms will have a small speech or skit. I will only allow small groups of no more than 6 people through at a time. I think that this is what will really set me apart from the competition, both with having a smaller more personalized terror and having a strong story that is clearly communicated throughout the haunt. I want people to feel that they understood what happened. Itíll be very similar to a theatre show, just with more audience participation.

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Jim,

You and I have a lot in common. Almost everything Iíve ever created was deigned and built by myself. I am strongly against the idea of buying store props and placing them throughout the haunt and as people go through they say ďIíve seen that at Spencerís or Wal-MartĒ. My stuff is always unique and I think people appreciate that. They want to see something they havenít before. I know sometimes itís not possible to create everything from scrap. I also feel that if you do buy from a store you need to at least change the store props so they become your own.

Iíve looked at your website. I like your unique approach to your haunted house. The amount of creative liberty you use to entertain your guests is something to be admired. Your house is now on the list of must see haunted houses. Did you build that little tank yourself?

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theeverydayguy,

Where about in Orlando are you located? Iíll keep you up to date on the haunt with whatís going on. Actors that donít screw around and respect safety are always needed. Thanks for your support.

nzanesmith
04-10-2009, 03:18 PM
Nick,

Thanks for your advice Nick. Iíve been working on the budget and have a few questions. I am an experienced builder and have no trouble budgeting materials and equipment, but how much should I budget for marketing, insurance, and business/inspection type stuff? I already have a website for the business/haunt and have designed the logo. The website is still under construction. The majority of my marketing campaign will focus on directing people to this website. I plan on using posters, bumper stickers, and small hand out flyers. If I can spend under a thousand on marketing, that would be great. Itíll be a lot of leg work, but thatís the kind of person I am.

Iíve read that people have obtained insurance for their haunt for under $600. Is this possible? Iíd need at least general liability coverage for a million dollars, but only for one month. I havenít asked for a quote yet because I do not have a location or any of the specific details the insurance company asks for. So I guess Iím looking for an average number small professional haunts spend on these items. My haunt will be around 3,000 to 3,500 sq.ft.

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Allen,

I agree 100% with your advice, especially about giving the audience a personal show. That was ALWAYS part of the plan. I have developed a storyline and plan on communicating that story to the audience as they go through the haunt. There will be audience to actor interaction throughout. Some rooms will have a small speech or skit. I will only allow small groups of no more than 6 people through at a time. I think that this is what will really set me apart from the competition, both with having a smaller more personalized terror and having a strong story that is clearly communicated throughout the haunt. I want people to feel that they understood what happened. Itíll be very similar to a theatre show, just with more audience participation.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jim,

You and I have a lot in common. Almost everything Iíve ever created was deigned and built by myself. I am strongly against the idea of buying store props and placing them throughout the haunt and as people go through they say ďIíve seen that at Spencerís or Wal-MartĒ. My stuff is always unique and I think people appreciate that. They want to see something they havenít before. I know sometimes itís not possible to create everything from scrap. I also feel that if you do buy from a store you need to at least change the store props so they become your own.

Iíve looked at your website. I like your unique approach to your haunted house. The amount of creative liberty you use to entertain your guests is something to be admired. Your house is now on the list of must see haunted houses. Did you build that little tank yourself?

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theeverydayguy,

Where about in Orlando are you located? Iíll keep you up to date on the haunt with whatís going on. Actors that donít screw around and respect safety are always needed. Thanks for your support.


Although we are a larger haunt then you are going for, just for reference we have a budget of 12k for marketing.... It really is much more expensive then most would think. Also remember that you need to make 4-5 times as many fliers handouts etc. since only 1 of 5 will actually keep it and or attend. A grand is a very shoe string budget in my opinion, it is doable if you really work it. You need to get in touch with some print shops around you and get them to bid against each other on your account. You also need to find some cooperative advertising partners to help share the costs. As for your other budget questions its really hard to say, I'm not at all familiar with your market, building codes haunt situation etc. Your best bet is to just start calling places and getting ball park numbers, be upfront with them and say your not ready for a quote but your looking for a ball park figure so you can better assess the feasibility of this project. Most places should give you some number.

Allen H
04-10-2009, 03:32 PM
My last independent orlando haunt A local restaurant paid for the printing when I let them print a coupon on the opposite side, If you have an Ihop or Denny's near you try them as they could see immediate returns on a haunt night.
Allen H

nzanesmith
04-10-2009, 03:48 PM
Great idea we always hit up Denny's after we closed lol

Tartarus
04-16-2009, 07:49 AM
Be careful not to treat this like a hobby and not a business. You might not be in this to make millions but you do need to have a midset of making as much money as possible why maintaining your quality and intergrity. Get a good marketing/accouting addition to your team to offset your design/theatrical skills and you should be good.

EX of terror
05-06-2009, 02:29 PM
Im from Orlando and would love to work for your HH. I have many friends who would also help and be good workers.Orlando really needs a HH to compete with Halloween Horror Nights.:D

HauntedMemphis
05-06-2009, 03:36 PM
If you are getting open for this year, also be aware that HauntCon is in orlando for 2010.

Jim Warfield
05-06-2009, 06:45 PM
Next year?
We are in the end times.
Everyone is overly concerned about chewing on some else's rear end, yet somehow not getting their own imprinted with teeth marks.
"Hello, my name is "Mark", Teeth Mark."
Anyone catch Grey Man's Rump-Roast Recipe? Some people will eat anything, or anybody---part.

backstagemike
05-11-2009, 10:57 AM
Ex of Terror
Please email me if you would like to get involved and give me details as to your area of interest. I have already begun construction of some of the larger scenic elements and will continue to build throughout the summer. My email is mlayton@mail.ucf.edu

Haunted Memphis
Why should I be aware that HauntCon is in Orlando next year?

I have constructed the base platform for a train car I will have in the haunt. Hereís the link to the video if youíre interested. Itís much further along now and I will update with more video soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ9m7wLQBhY

theeverydayguy
05-12-2009, 09:00 AM
where in orlando are you?

backstagemike
05-12-2009, 12:28 PM
I'm in Eastern Orlando, near UCF, ten miles north of airport

drfrightner
05-12-2009, 12:33 PM
My first bit of advice is DO NOT DO IT! You'll be killed, slaughtered by Universal and Busch Gardens. It's almost impossible to open a haunted house anywhere in southern Florida and I'm talking Miami, Tampa, and everywhere between.

I have one way you can open and succeed just one... you have to find a location that people already think is haunted, or some place everyone keeps breaking into at night with flashlights, some cave, a real hospital, blah, blah...

What Universal and Tampa offer is clearly just modular haunts they might be very good but still they're NOT real... the people who go KNOW THIS!

If you could find some local urban legend location, something that you can market as being REALLY haunted I think you could do very well, but if you just plan on finding some retail strip location or something you will fail. Don't let me rain on your parade I'm just telling you what I really think here... the marketing these two put on the area is like 50 machine guns all aimed at the same target!

I'm not saying you couldn't build the best haunted house ever seen, or that you couldn't be very successful anywhere else just not Orlando. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe you can, its just food for thought! If their where two area's I would NEVER attempt to open a haunt it would be LA and Orlando area because they are dominated by theme parks. It wouldn't be so bad if there was just say Universal advertising but because they have two theme parks marketing in the same markets they try to kill each other... don't look now another billboard, don't look now another TV commerical, don't look now another radio commercial, don't look now another sponsor promoting them, don't look now (it just never ends).

Larry

drfrightner
05-12-2009, 12:38 PM
One other thing... watched your video on the train car concept thing you have there. Nice work however keep in mind on that the air it takes to run something like that is UNREAL no high end air compressor that runs with a belt can keep up with it. We have something close to that in our haunt called the 'swamp house' and we had to rent a diesel powered air compressor for the whole season just to move the thing. They will run for a while but then your air compressor will run out of steam and it basically stops working. You can't have anything else on the same lines as these air monster or it will drag down everything.

Nice work!

Larry

backstagemike
05-12-2009, 02:20 PM
Larry,

Iíd like to point out that there are several small haunted houses that currently coexist with the larger venues here in central florida. Thereís Hunterís Creep Nights (Hunterís Creek), Face the Fear (Sanford), and a small haunted house in Longwood and the Haunted Grimm House in Old Town. All of these have been operating for several years now. This tells me that the market is large enough to support other haunts, because they have to be at least breaking even or they wouldnít be opening year after year.

I agree that a large haunted house would suffer here, because it couldnít generate the sales needed to equal the capital required to open and operate, but what about a small haunt on a smaller budget? I estimate that I need 3,000 people to break even. Now my target audience will mainly be the college kids and it is at the colleges that I will focus my advertising. To break even, I will only need to convince 3% of the college population that they should visit my haunted house. That percentage goes down depending on how many local people (that live here) I can get through. It might be possible. One advantage I have is that I can make a technically advanced haunted attraction without the price tag. The train car platform you saw only cost me $300. I hope to keep my costs low so I donít need a large audience to break even.

This is my chance to realize my dream. I know I face incredible odds but Iím determined to give it all I have. Iíd love to be the only Haunted House in the area but thatís not the case. Iím still going to try.

Thanks for the input on my train car. I realized that I would need a dedicated compressor for it. And I plan on having a 50 gallon buffer tank as well as the compressor in the same room. (Insulated and ventilator to reduce noise) Along with the air springs, the train car will be equipped with two home-made vibrators that I can vary the speed on, two 12Ē fans mounted to the front also speed controlled, chasing lights mounted outside and above that will increase and change in speed, and a conveyor belt of rocks (painted) that will change in speed as well (seen through two broken slats in the left wall) And the whole thing actually moves as it ďperformsĒ this sequence. It moves about four feet forward so you exit in a different location than you enter. Put all this together and hopefully youíll feel like you went somewhere. Iím using a large PLC to control all the effects and organize the sequence.

Thanks again for you thoughts,
Mike

drfrightner
05-12-2009, 03:19 PM
Couple of things...

1) I guess I was assuming you were going to try some big haunt. I'm sure if you keep your budget low you can do well, but its when you try to go big you would probably suffer in that market.

2) I think we have a 80 or 100 gallon buffer tank on our swamp house and it still isn't enough. Its an air hog no matter how you set it up.

Its cool but hard on the air!

Good luck!

Larry

backstagemike
05-12-2009, 05:23 PM
I'll have to do some testing under operating conditions once I finish it.

Here are some updated videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeMTgckbBb8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTZC-4x7bEo

icandrawem2
05-12-2009, 06:52 PM
If you get yourself a compressor capable of at least 100 CFM, you should have no problem running that train car based on that sequence. As long as your compressor can keep pumping air out, you wont need a buffer tank...Take note that these diesel compressors are running constantly so they can keep up with the high demand of air. I had an elevator on airbags in my former haunt and I also had to rent one of these to handle the amount of air needed, its really incredible how much air they use. Make sure you get the largest air lines and fittings you can flowing to those bags.

drfrightner
05-13-2009, 12:24 PM
Nate,

I can tell you it won't be enough, those things suck air like the wind. We go the biggest diesel powered generator we could rent and they ONLY thing it supplies is that moving floor. If its running all the time like in our haunt it will suck down the air. We also have a reserve tank and if we didn't I dont think it would operate at all.

You have some good advice there about the bigger air lines! I think we need bigger air lines in the Darkness as well. Anyway one of the main points I guess I'm making here is its hard to run tht sucker and a ton of other animstions all on the same lines, same compressor, that will shut down air for almost everything. Just keep in mind you need dedicated air.

Larry

icandrawem2
05-13-2009, 01:01 PM
Yeah on second thought, I agree about the tank, it obviously never hurts to have it there! Ive never seen it, but if your swamp house air bags are going up and down constantly, then yeah you definitely need some serious air. You got any videos of that in operation? Id love to see it.

SomeThingInTheIce
05-13-2009, 01:37 PM
Mike, we go to HHN's every year, give me a address and we will stop by and check out your haunt, thats 4 people that will show up. Also there is a yahoo group called Chainsawwolf it is a HHN's and actor hang out. Around Sept. that board gets real busy because people check in to see whats up with HHN and whats going on in O town. A post on this board and a link in the members links could get you a few people to your haunt some as far a England. Thats right England, I live two hours north of Universal and had a group of people that came from England to my haunted trail. They come every year to HHN's and check the Chainsawwolf board for info, they try and hit lots of haunts here in the states and found me through that board. Hay it's a worth a post, can't hurt. Good luck!

Logerton
05-16-2009, 01:59 PM
I'm also a Mike, and am a recent graduate from UCF.

I'm from Orlando (UCF Area) and I'm really excited to hear that someone has decided to open a haunt here in O-Town. I know that there are other haunts here, like Grimm's in Old Town (I went there a month ago and had a good time). There is also one that may still be in Longwood run by the Police Department. Anyway, I think that Orlando could use a good professional haunt that people dont have to spend an arm and a leg on. I understand that HHN provides big bang for there buck (I go every year as I'm a huge fan), but I believe that there is a customer base (especially students) who would love to go out to a haunt near by, spend 15 bucks and have a good time for an hour or two as opposed to driving the 25 minutes or so (much more with HHN traffic) and spend 40 bucks on a ticket (with coupon) plus another 50 bucks or more on food and drinks. And if you have a date, you can go ahead and double those costs. Most students have to break the bank to go to the theme park haunts. I would definitely say that your marketing should focus on that as I think they are your greatest strengths when drawing a crowd. Plus a kick ass website of course!!!

Another reason I'm excited to hear about your plans is because I'm a haunter myself. I'm working to be a professional haunter in the next 5 to 10 years and have begun the process of learning everything I can about the haunt industry. Have you read "So You Want to Be a Haunt Entrepreneur" by Kelly Allen? It's a great book that will teach you all about the business end of running a haunt. I've been trying to buy every book I can find and reading everything online from whether or not I should buy weather insurance to how to build a flying crank ghost! I've started building props of my own (all static for the time being) but am working on graduating to the more advanced electronic stuff in the near future.

I would love to work with you on your HH. I have a good mind for design and telling stories and have come up with quite a few haunt themes and prop ideas to fit my themes. I agree with you that a haunt should have a good story. It is also my intention to one day open a haunt that is more of an experience that the audience must be a part of. I'm also experience in the construction industry and would love to get my hands dirty. I believe that with a great story, props, actors, and great marketing with an awesome website, a haunt in Orlando can be successful.

I wish you the best of luck and I hope that I will be able to work with you. If you are interested in contacting me, please email me at logerton@gmail.com

I'd love to hear from you!

Michael A. Logsdon

RJ Productions
05-19-2009, 01:13 AM
Couple of safety questions on the train effect... looks like the air bags are near their limit. I don't see any type of limiter.

I also didn't see any kind of safety back up. What happens if a bag blows? There isn't anything to stop the platform from becoming a James Bond ejection seat!!!

You're talking a lot of pressure to move the audinence alone, I assume you are also buildinga a set on top of the platform?

How will they handle this additional load?

Looks like the platform is wood. If so how will it handle all the tweaking from the air bags without ripping itself apart??

I admit you can't see everything, but what is shown does pose a lot of questions!

backstagemike
05-21-2009, 08:52 PM
To answer some of your safety questions...

1) is there an upper limiter for the air springs?
---no, but the air springs are operating on 80psi controlled but normally closed air solenoids. With this set-up, I have full adjustment of the springs and can stop it in whatever position I want. I've programed the springs to stop before they could ever reach their maximum upper limit. So it has an electronic upper limiter so to speak, but not a physical one.

2) what happens if a bag blows?
---hopefully it doesn't happen, but if it does the platform will drop at most 6 inches down onto a steel subframe that does have a limiter

3) is there anything to stop the platform from becoming a james bond ejection seat?
---the force needed to accelerate someone up in the air is well beyond the operating pressures of this unit. Even if the air springs all explode, the unit will go down, not up.

4) does this effect use a lot of pressure?
---no, the operating pressure is only 80psi the same amount of air a normal pneumatic staple gun runs off of. At 80psi these air springs can lift 1500 pounds. Multiple that by two because I never have just one spring lifting at a time and I have 3000 pounds of lift, more than enough to lift the six passengers on the train car.

5) How does the unit handle with the additional load of the building set on top?
---about the same as in the platform only set-up, again because they are rated so high. These springs have a 600 PSI capacity each.

6) How does the airbags attaching to the wooden platform handle all the tweaking without ripping itself apart?
---the air springs are bolted to plywood plates that are then lagged to the 2"x 4" framing of the wooden platform and screwed to the 1"x 3" steel subframe. The amount of force needed to shear these mechanical fasteners is beyond the amount put on them.

Along with these there are other safety concerns I've taken precautions for and maybe some I haven't thought of. So I appreciate the questions. If I can answer any more, let me know.

michaeldavy
05-28-2009, 07:28 AM
I live in Orlando area (DeBary) and have alot of experience with haunts - I was the first make up contractor for HHN's first 4 years and before that I worked on many horror films in Orlando and taught Prosthetics as an Adjunct Professor as well as worked with Ralph Clemente in the Film Program at Valencia. I was also the Make Up Course Director at Full Sail. So I have an academic background too. Scenic as well as make up.

Since you have your masters in Tech Theatre I won't belabor the point but the advice I would offer with regards to Orlando would be to stay on top of your zoning requirements and FIRE prevention. I have seen haunts shut down in Orlando before the opening because the Fire Marshal came through and put a lighter to some wall sections and they failed. Even temporary structures (tents) at Universal failed inspection due to no sprinklers. It's surprizes like that that can bring things back into persppective. Don't forget the exits too. Make friends with the zoning Inspector and fire Marshal as they're both there to help.

Since I'm in the Orlando area let me know if you need staff to help with your make up requirements. This industry is my livliehood as is the film industry, so I need to charge for my make up products, but if you would like to utilize airbrushing in your haunt I can help get you up and running (training) if you would be interested in using my make up. My airbrush was created for the demands of Halloween Horror Nights and is currently used for Frank, Wolfman, Drac, and Beetelgeuse daily in the park. I can offer discounts bringing it in under $3.00 per oz!

Water-Melon is Something to consider as well but you can check that out for yourself below
http://www.michaeldavy.com/

http://www.michaeldavy.com/gallery/1_frankenstein.jpg
Call me at 386 668 0850 if you need any advice or help.

HauntsForHealth
07-31-2009, 02:54 AM
While it may not be the audience you are looking for, do not underestimate the high schools in and around Orlando, especially in the Windermere/Dr. Philips area, and those close to Universal. Kids in this area do get bored often, with the immense amount of theme parks that they have all been to 500 times, and the lack of interesting things to do. Many do not have the money to spend on an event such as Halloween Horror Nights, and a lower costing event that has a decent reputation is a doable thing, and many have too much money that they are constantly spending on things like this (especially Windermere).

I would try to market your event to both the local high school, and college students (even middle school is feasible). As previously said, you can likely get daily school announcements about your event, if you agree to have a night for them where a portion is donated to the school; you can even get volunteer teachers and students.

I would be more than happy, to help you on your project, in fact, absolutely thrilled! I have a feeling I can round up more than a few people who would also be interested. I also know of a very very nice place where you can advertise your event, and get MANY Halloween Horror Nights visitors to come.

Orlando residents, due to the tourism and hospitality industry, from what I have seen, many have connections. These connections include just about anything, and you are going to want to bring people that have these connections into your group, provided they are good for the group.

I also have a ton of time on my hands (even during the school year) and I am more than happy to help and get experience.

You can contact me at hauntsforhealth@hotmail.com ^_^

I hope you know already, your audience is going to have a very fine tuned pre-conception of what a haunted house is. The theme parks fail on a few levels, and one of the main ones is adding a personal feel to the event. Maximize on that, and at all cost, stay safe. Don't compete with that pre-conception, change it!

backstagemike
07-31-2009, 02:59 PM
Itís been awhile since Iíve posted anything. I'm terrible at keeping everyone up-to-date. Anyways, a few things have changed. I spent three months in search of a location with no luck. I didnít think I was asking for muchÖa large open space 3,000 to 5,000 sqft. It needed a sprinkler system, 12í ceiling, and several other small requirements. The first problem I encountered was no one wanted to do a two month lease. Six months was the shortest. Finally found one leasing company out of about thirty that said ok. The next issue was fire sprinklers. The Orlando Fire Marshal requires them for this type of event. Now the only warehouses this company had with sprinklers were at least an hour away from me and not close enough to my target market.

So what to do? It was getting too close to Halloween for me to not have a space. Even if I found one, I donít think I could do a haunt with the quality I want our company to be associated with. Thereís just not enough time. Seeing how this is my first year doing a haunt of my own, Iíve decided to scale it down a bit. After much debate, Iíve decided to do it at my house. It was either at my house, or not at all. I have about 2,000 sqft to play with. I will no longer be able to charge admission but will instead use this year to accomplish the following.

1) A test run to get our feet wet
2) An opportunity to take pictures and video for next year's website
3) A chance to get feedback from people that go through and maybe some quotes for the website
4) Everything we build this year will go into next yearís haunt
5) I will be inviting several investors to show them what we can do and hopefully get them to contribute for next years haunt

It will not run every weekend in October. Instead, it'll only be open four days, friday and saturday of the last two weeks in October. I can't ask people to donate any more time then that because there is no chance of me being able to pay anyone this year. But it will be great experience and great fun. And people can get a lot of pictures for their portfolios.

As soon as the fall semester starts, we'll have weekly meetings and work days. I hope to be able to fashion the work days like how-to seminars. That way, people can learn new things. I've already recruited several students to start some small animatronic projects. I hope to be able to assign more projects to other people. I provide the materials and the supervision, they supply the labor. That's about all I can offer this year. Although, I hope to have some money left over to do a big party and make t-shirts but we'll see.

I will no longer post anything on this section of the forum. If I post anymore, itíll be in Home Haunting 101. Iíve started a facebook profile if anyone wants to follow our build. Just search Scary Studios on facebook. Thanks for all your help and support.

Mike

snowfreak666
08-04-2009, 11:03 AM
Remeber also that you are in Orlando and from what I have seen Universals halloween thing looks crazy and not to mention they have the movie experts to make the coustumes and efx. The plus to your attration however can be that it is cheaper and that perhaps you might look into putting attrations for the younger crowd. It seemed on the site that Universal's attractions ar more geared for 13 and older. So that could be a plus for you and for the locals! Good luck and hope you have fun!