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Thread: Greetings All! Need Advice

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  1. Default Greetings All! Need Advice 
    #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Carbondale, IL
    Posts
    89
    Greetings all! I have been a lurker here for a few years now, as the haunt industry has always been an interest of mine. I was the kid in the neighborhood that organized a haunted house every year in someone's basement during Halloween. I used to tell people when I grew up I wanted to make haunted houses. I have been to a few of the Haunt & Attraction shows in Chicago.

    We desire to make a living being a haunter never happened...really...because I never went after that goal. I am from a small rural area, and I never found the opportunity to make a career out of it here. I would never leave the area.

    I do own a small sign business, and I run two gaming companies. One makes little resin miniature terrain (Dwarven Forge), and the other puts on live-action gaming events at gaming conventions (True Adventures, Ltd.). (And by "gaming" I mean role-playing type conventions.) So...I have managed to carve out a creative career for myself while living in small town world of Southern Illinois -- two hours from St. Louis.

    The reason I am posting here, besides to introduce myself, is to see if there are any other small town haunters out there who have specific advice for me. I am thinking about doing a haunted attraction in 2007, and I would love some advice about running an attraction in a rural area.

    The cool thing is I already have a huge wall system constructed. It is roughly 500 4'x8' panels of hand-carved faux stone which were designed to look like dungeon walls. (And yes...I am insane.) I use this system to construct a 20,000 sq.ft. "dungeon" for my gaming event every August at Gen Con. It is a live-action version of the Dungeons and Dragons game, and I even managed to get Hasbro to sponsor it. I also have some good sound systems, triggers, special effect lighting, fog machines and a few costumes.

    The crazy thing about my gaming event is that I have only two days to build it in a 20,000 s.f. hotel ballroom, and then I run it for 3 days (17 hours a day), and then I have to have it torn down and loaded on two semis in 18 hours. It is a fun crazy time.

    My plan is to try to find a spot somewhere along I-57 and get a 3 month lease. I then will build the haunt, promote the heck out of it, and then see what happens. I hope to make it a success by finding a good location off the Interstate that will draw people from a one hour drive.

    My dream is to provide a cool haunt for rural Southern Illinois, and make some money as well. I come from a gaming background so the haunt will be very heavy on story and continuity. I plan on having 5.1 surround sound systems through out, so that a disembodied voice can provide an unifying theme to the whole experience.

    I have all this stuff just laying around a warehouse, so it would be cool to finally realize my haunted dreams.

    So, if you have any suggestions about running a haunted attraction in a rural area please let me know. I am keen to read about your marketing efforts as my target market is spread out in a large geographical area.

    Thank you for any advice you can offer. And good luck with all your endevours this year. See you at the show in two weeks. (Personally, I hope the Tundra is a little soggy. Brrrr.)

    My websites:

    www.truedungeon.com
    www.dwarvenforge.com
    www.quicksigns.org

    Thanks!
    Jeff Martin

    Owner/CEO
    True Adventures, Ltd.
     

  2. Default  
    #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    270
    I have several friends who run rural haunts. Because I live on a farm in a rural area and have considered doing a haunt here on the property, I have kind of picked their brains about their attractions. The consensus seems to be that you can run a rural haunt and do well if you keep your costs down. The two that I am most familiar with are both quite rural. They built their haunts in pole barns or greenhouses. The haunts were relatively small in terms of square footage, but intense and well done. Both did limited high-budget advertising. In other words, they did not take out radio or TV ads. The march in parades, contact schools etc. The bottom line it that neither of these haunts puts through the kind of numbers that a large haunt in the city might. One of them is steady at about 3000 guests per year, the other has slowly grown to almost 5000. I can't, of course, predict what you might draw in your area, but from those that I have talked to it does seem that a haunt in a rural area can be viable if the limitations of being in the country are kept in mind.

    Good luck,

    Dave
    Lords of Chaos, LLC
    House of Chaos Haunted Attraction
     

  3. Default  
    #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Green Bay, WI
    Posts
    984
    i DO MY HAUNT IN A BARN IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE. MY BEST ADVICE IS PROMOTE, PROMOTE AND PROMOTE. THE BEST PROMOTION IS THE FREE KIND. GET YOUR NAME OUT ON AS MANY HAUNT FORUMS AND WEBSITES AS POSSIBLE. ALSO, LOTS OF SIGNES. THATS MY NUMBER ONE COMPLAINT IS THE LACK OF SIGNAGE, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE THEM EVERY WHERE AND ITS REALLY NOT THAT HARD TO FIND MYPLACE. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR ADVENTURE. STICK WITH IT, IT'LL BE WORTH IT!

    sEAN
    Sean De Wane
    ----------------------------------------------
    The De Wane Asylum
    www.dewaneasylum.com
     

  4. Default  
    #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lexington, Ky.
    Posts
    2,960
    Hey man,
    Since this is your first year/attempt at this... drop me a line. I am more than willing to help out in any way I can for a BIG discounted price. Just let me know... -Tyler

    PS: BUY KELLY ALLENS BOOK!!!!
     

  5. Default  
    #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Carbondale, IL
    Posts
    89
    Thanks for the advice. Good thing I own a sign shop!

    I should clarify that I want my haunt to be in a small town of about 20K population along I-57. There are several small towns around this location from which I hope to draw.

    I goal is to find a high-visibility location along the main highway that intersects with the Interstate.

    So...maybe I should have said "small town" instead of rural.

    Thanks again all!
    Jeff Martin

    Owner/CEO
    True Adventures, Ltd.
     

  6. Default  
    #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lexington, Ky.
    Posts
    2,960
     

  7. Default  
    #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Carbondale, IL
    Posts
    89
    Thanks for the weblinks. I think I have a few good leads.

    What I am really keen to read is how some other small town haunts found success. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks again.
    Jeff Martin

    Owner/CEO
    True Adventures, Ltd.
     

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