I've heard people say that pro-haunting is a young man's business. Maybe. Maybe not. I've known of a lot of people in their older years who love it and could work any younger person under the table, but there is some truth in that statement. It is a visceral business that requires vigor and vitality, no matter what age you are. It is a year round lifestyle that requires a very large commitment; the kind of commitment you don't see on the front end when your local, friendly neighborhood pro-haunt is only open three weekends a year.
Also, there is a major distinction between what I call "home haunters wanting to go pro", and "dream-haunters", who want to own the "haunt of their dreams", but don't really know what they are getting into, or know anything about the industry, or have ever even worked in a pro-haunt before. It's kinda like the yuppies who love spending Sunday Brunch at this lovely little Breakfast Eatery, or a lovely B'n'B that serves Breakfast, and they think of how wonderful and life affirming it would be to own their own Eatery or Café, or B'n'B even, even tho they have never set foot in a restaurant or professional kitchen, don't know a thing about the food or hospitality industry, don't really do a lot of cooking, don't really do a lot of entertaining, aren't really foodies, per se, and have never owned a business or done anything related to customer service. Of course, on the plus side, they do have a lovely place already picked out, and they've already written up a wonderful "business plan" that is sure to impress the local bank manager and secure them a half million dollar loan. They may not even have to mortgage their McMansion to do it.
Second, before advice, we need details . . .
- What was the name?
- What do you want to change it to?
- What was the old theme?
- What will be the new theme?
- What was the old storyline?
- What will be the new storyline?
- What is the square footage of the home haunt?
- What is the square footage of the pro haunt?
- Will the competition in your area allow you to make such a radical change?
All of these things are important, and if you just change them (or the haunt's name) willy-nilly, you can lose your whole business model. The only reason why you buy a preexisting haunt is to either a) lessen the work of creating a new one from scratch, b) capitalize on an already established market and attraction's popularity, name-recognition, and existing clientele or fan-base, or c), ideally, both. Well, if you change everything, then you just basically killed all the advantages of buying the already existing haunt. The only thing you did for yourself was save yourself from making some new wall panels.
As for advertising a change of management or ownership, well, no, you didn't. You didn't change management or ownership because it's not going to be the same haunt with a new manager or owner. It's just going to be a bunch of wall panels and props that used to belong to one haunt, that you now own and will fashion into a completely different haunt.
The biggest advantage you'll lose is owning a haunt that has some life and a history to it. For instance, even if you kept it within the same general theme - a Big Top theme, for instance - it would still be a totally different haunt. If the name was CarnEvil of Death, and you changed it to Mr. Chuckles' Funhouse of Terrors, all the preexisting fans of CarnEvil of Death will simply think COD closed down, as Haunts typically do from time to time, and now Mr. Chuckles' Funhouse of Terrors, having absolutely no name recognition whatsoever, will simple be another first year haunt, which may totally suck in the minds of potential customers, which many first year haunts typically do.
The fact that it used to be a good haunt will mean absolutely nothing to anyone, and wasting valuable advertising dollars and marketing resources to try and make old customers aware of that change is a bad idea. Most people have a hard enough time getting patrons out to their regular, "same name as before" haunts, let alone make the general public aware of something as esoteric as a new name, management, or ownership team. (It's not like a restaurant where you drive by it on a daily basis, and they have an "under new management" banner out front.)
Also, it seems to me that allowing what you did in a home haunt decide what you will do in a pro-haunt is a lot like the tail wagging the dog. I'm not sure how great your home haunt is, and it would be good to see what your pro-haunt looks like, but I have rarely, if ever, seen a home haunt that would be good enough to decide the artistic direction of a pro-haunt, and, believe me, I've seen some really, really good home haunts, some that I thought were better than some pro-haunts.
To wit: if the two entities are compatible enough so that the transition would be fairly seamless, then you should repurpose the home haunt, not the pro-haunt. If they are not compatible, and a lot of changes need to be made, it would again be much easier to repurpose the home haunt materials than completely retheme a pro-haunt. You might also look at keeping the pro-haunt the same for your first year (and the pro-haunt's fifth year), and then let your home haunt be the start of a new element, so you can have a two element (attraction, house, haunt) event, rather than just the one, say for the following year.
Also, if this will be your first pro-haunt experience, what you learn from this will most likely impact your future decisions, and you might consider different approaches to what you think you'll doing anyway, so, you don't want to go changing things willy-nilly.
Ask yourself, "Am I a home haunter who wants to go pro?" or "Do I just want to have 'the haunt of my dreams', whether it's actually worthwhile to go that route or not?"