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Day in the Life of a Haunted House Owner
Tue, October 12, 2021
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HAUNTED HOUSE OWNER 
by Hauntworld.com Staff 


Get Ready to go Behind the Screams - 
Videos below show different behind the screams at haunted houses. 


Have you ever wondered what it’s like in a day of the life of a haunted house owner?   I will detail what it's like to own and operate a haunted house, and what the daily grind is all about.  As you search the web to find your favorite haunted house to visit each Halloween season, haunt owners nationwide are working all day and night with the end goal to make you SCREAM. In fact, most for-profit haunted house owners work on their attractions YEAR ROUND! Haunted House owners attend a full schedule of events throughout the year such as tradeshows, conventions, learning seminars, and more.

 
 
Every year, a company called Transworld holds the annual Halloween & Haunted Attractions Tradeshow and Escape Room Conference.  Haunt owners from around the world gather in St Louis every March to see over 400,000 SCREAM feet of monsters, costumes, masks, animations, props, inflatables and more.  Many haunt owners even start planning new scenes and screams PRIOR to the Transworld Show, then come together with vendors to make the purchases to finalize their vision. After the show is over, haunt owners head back to their attractions and start the construction process to transform their haunt into a bigger and scarier event than the year before. 


 
Haunted Houses have changed drastically over the last decade, as many haunts have put more focus on hauntertainment rather than traditional scares. Many haunted house attractions have added midways, mini escape rooms, a horror mini golf, a horror arcade, massive gift shops, roaming monsters for photo opps, and more. Some haunts have added pumpkin festivals, video mapping shows, and carnival style games to entertain guests. In many markets, serious haunted attraction owners have created spin off companies with year-round Escape Games, and have literally taken over the escape room industry by building very elaborate and fully immersive escape games. The point is...haunted house owners have really branched out from the origins of the haunt industry.  A typical haunted house owner might also own Escape Rooms or Axe Throwing, BUT their core passion remains the Haunted House. 

 
 
After the yearly planning/purchasing phase, Haunted Attractions typically take 5-6+ months to physically get ready for the season.  Haunted Houses take a brutal beating each season from the numbers of haunt guests screaming through the doors. Just to repair a haunted house from one season to the next takes weeks, not to mention developing & building new scenes. When you order new monsters, animations and more from vendors at the Transworld Haunt Show it takes time for these vendors to manufacture the products. In most cases, haunt owners start seeing new props and animations delivered in mid-Summer and these must be installed and fitted into the attractions. Many times these props are bigger than the maze pathways they must travel thru to their new home, so it's never easy. In our own haunts, it's even taken us a couple days sometimes, to move just one prop into scene... cutting down the props, re-welding, then a final install. At The Darkness Haunted House in St Louis, we actually fully renovate before March each year, so we can showcase it during the March Transworld Show. Our team of 10-12 fabricators will work day and night building new scenes to meet the early deadline. Each year at The Darkness we might create 4-5 new scenes, plus scatter new props and animations throughout the attraction too. 

 
 
Haunt owners never stop expanding and creating. It's in our blood. If you ask haunters what's their favorite part...creating & building new scenes OR operating the attraction each October, they will tell you...creating!  Haunted house owners are a group of very passionate creators, do it yourself-ers.  To build a World class haunted house you must have creativity skills, management skills, carpenters, techs, welders, painters and the ability to train people to make you SCREAM!  Beyond the creativity, Haunted House owners wear many other hats too including box office management, line management, concession stand operations, parking lot management, security detail, retail gift shop management, retail buyer, digital marketing, videography, safety manager, and more. The typical day in the life of a haunter during October might typically consist of never sleeping.  

 
 
Even throughout the season, these Haunts need constant updating, constant repair and constant staffing & staff training.  Marketing in the past was a lot easier, but today you must constantly update social media, and monitor all digital marketing.  Haunt owners might also spend a few hours a day replying to customers' questions by email and on social media. Haunted attractions need very large staff to make them operate, parking lot, security and 50-150 actors.  As a haunt owner, you’re constantly hiring more monsters then training them to make people scream!  Haunt owners would also spend part of their day making repairs to sets, animations, or an outdoor haunt might need gravel for areas hit by heavy rain.  As you get closer to the time of the haunt's nightly opening, you must get all actors in character with make up or masks and costumes. (To coordinate and prepare 100 actors in only two hours or less is not easy.)  Simultaneously, you must start walking the haunt turning on air compressors, digital fx, show lights, fog machines filled, microban sanitizing complete, prep the cashiers with start cash, prep security duty with 2-way radios, and on and on. Proper delegation is key, but still you must ensure all tasks delegated to others are complete. Finally, the time to open comes!

 
 
While open, a haunt owner must manage every detail. Maintaining the perfect balance between through-put of guests and wait times is critical. Haunt owners must also manage the parking lot, safety, security, crowd control, cash management, staff management and more. Then, after every operational week, there's time-consuming payroll, constant restocking of both staff-supplies as well as gift shop items and concessions, and of course haunt upkeep or repairs before the next night of operation. As you can see, a haunted house owner wears many hats. Lack of sleep each October is normal for a haunt owner. The best day of the year for a haunt owner is always the last day of the season. And as you get older (as in my case) you need more and more time to recuperate to do it all over again.  People think of Halloween as one month a year, but for a haunted house owner who opens in September, it's actually only 10 months away until another season. The day in the life of haunting never stops!
 
Find a Haunted House Near you here at Hauntworld
Happy Halloween

Our Next article:  Hauntworld Annual Top 13 Best Haunted Attractions list 
  Posted by Larry 9.42 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Violence at Six Flags Fright Fest - Haunted House Security
Wed, September 29, 2021
Violence, riots and absolute chaos breaks out across the country at Theme Parks such as Busch Gardens to multiple Six Flags.  Last year theme parks didn’t open their Halloween attractions due to covid and local haunted house felt the grip of violence with multiple shootings and at least one person dead.  This year a Pittsburgh haunted hayride had a shooting in the ticket line resulting in two people shot and one person dead. 

Violence in America is off the chart, mostly due to the main stream media, and liberal politicians’ vilification of police.  Many cities and national politicians have called for a complete defunding of the police, while rampant crime, violence and complete lawlessness rack our communities. 

Violence at any gathering place seems common now, but what can haunt attractions do to stop the violence at theme parks and local haunted houses.  Haunted attractions are meant to entertain people, a place to go to scream with delight not run-in fear from gunfire.    Let’s be clear haunted attractions aren’t the cause of the violence as this has been happening at all gathering places year around.  Just take five minutes on youtube search for fights at Chuckie Cheese or even your local amusement park.  But now that October has rolled around haunted attractions have to deal with the complete lack of respect for law and order.  

(WATCH VIOLENCE SIX FLAGS FRIGHT FEST) 

 


(WATCH ANOTHER RIOT AT A DIFFERENT SIX FLAGS) 

 

Here is a list of things you should consider to make your haunted attraction SAFER!
 

  1. Hire only local police for security:  You should strongly consider doubling your police.  Not only that but have a meeting with the local police and ask about patrol cars parked in the parking lots with their lights ON!  You need a show of force. 
  2. NO DROP OFFS:  Post on your website you’re NOT allowing teens without a parent or proof of a ride after their event.  Parents have been dumping their kids off and pick them up hours later.  Avoid this problem by not allowing drop offs of teenagers.
  3. ENTRY CHANGE:  As you see teenagers enter your haunt tell them on the spot you need to call for your ride NOW.  You want teenagers GONE off the property immediately.
  4. CLOSE ATTRACTIONS:  Do NOT open most of your midway attractions this year.  Open your haunted house and close anything that keeps people hanging around.  At The Darkness we are not allowing bookings of our 5-minute escape online.  Furthermore, at Creepyworld we have closed our zombie paintball.  We need people to leave after experiencing the haunted house.
  5. METAL DETECTOR:  Wand everyone who enters and check purses you don’t need guns on your property.  Furthermore, post signs telling people no weapons allowed.
  6. Patrol Parking Lots:  This year you need to patrol your parking lots because most of the fighting occurs in the parking lot.
  7. Shorten Hours/Dates:  Do NOT open your haunt past 11 to 11:45 pm.  If you notice the line is super long just SHUT DOWN any additional entries.  Put cops up at the front and turn away all new guests.  In other words, limit the number of guests.  Do NOT be open past midnight it’s simply unsafe. 
  8. Operational Changes:  You want to give guests a great show, however you need to change how you operate the haunted house.  For one you should be running people thru your haunted house faster.  Do not space people out by more than 30 to 45 seconds and send in 10 to 15 people at a time.  You want to get your guests into the haunt as quickly as possible.   To offset the speed, add additional air cannons, and animations and actors if you can find them.
  9. OPEN EARLY:  Who cares if its light outside OPEN EARLY!  We’re opening at 6:45 light or day and we will put people into the haunted house as fast at 6:45 as we would at 9:45.  Do not open slow then go faster later, pace your guests the same at 6:45 as you would at 9:45. 
  10. Put Safety Over Show:  Safety is your #1 objective not scaring people, not putting on a great show, just safety.  If you can’t operate your haunted house safe nothing else matters.  When debating to do something or not to do something pick SAFETY FIRST! 

If I was operating a massive theme park I would strongly consider cutting out at least 1/3 of the park if not half to double the amount of security where people interact with rides and attractions.  Furthermore I would limit the number of people who could enter Fright Fests by at least 50%.  Lastly I would ask the local police to patrol the parking lots with lights flashing one hour prior to closing until everyone has left the parking. 

(WATCH VIOLENCE AT BUSCH GARDENS) 
 

(MORE VIOLENCE AT SIX FLAGS FRIGHT FEST) 



Good luck this season and remember have a SAFE Halloween!

Your Friends at Hauntworld.com

PS:  THIS ARTICLE WAS RUSHED IT WILL BE PROOFED AND EDIT LATER

(Watch Deadly Shooting at Pittsburgh Hayride)

 

  Posted by Larry 9.08 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Haunted Attraction Face Labor Shortage - Make the Future The Present
Tue, September 28, 2021
Haunted Attractions Face Labor Shortage -  Make the Future the Present

The entire country is wrapped in a labor shortage because people simply don’t want to work.  After the government has basically paid people for almost two years NOT to work, clearly some aren’t ready to return.  The government has stopped all pandemic payments and yet business across the country can’t find workers to keep their doors open.  Consider when a fast food establish offering up to $15.00 an hour can’t get enough workers how would a haunt which needs upwards of 100 to staff the attraction?

Consider a fast-food establishment needs maybe 5 to 8 workers, and they can’t staff where does that leave a haunted house?  Haunts typically don’t pay well, some don’t pay at all, and on top of that some need everything from ticket booth, parking lot attendants, security, ushers, and tons of actors.  What do you do?  For starters here at Hauntworld, we warned you over a year ago against operating your haunted houses in your traditional fashion.  Did you make the change?  We hope so because right now you’re facing operation with a subpar experience due to labor shortage.      
Make the future today and start operating your haunted house with 40 to 50% fewer actors.  We’re going to go over how to make your haunted house operate more efficient while at the same time more profitable.  Let’s start with a realty check you started your haunt from a passion for Halloween.  Remember despite the passion this is a business one which can put you six feet under!


I have a friend with a 45,000 square foot haunted house and I explained to him reduce the size of the haunt by 15,000 square feet.  Simply by reducing the size you reduce the dependency on actors.  But what to do with the 15,000 square feet?  Simple answer!  If you can remove the back end of you haunted house and for the sake of the argument, we’ll go removing 10,000 square feet.  What use to be 10,000 square feet of haunt should now be a business that can operate YEAR AROUND!!   The obvious is building escape rooms, axe throwing or even consider a horror themed mini golf with an arcade.  You may also squeeze in a massive gift store for your haunt, haunted photo ops, roaming monsters, food, drinks, whatever but anything but dead space 10 months out of the year.   



The 8,000 or 10,000 or whatever square footage you pinch out of your haunted house is now an attraction which can be open every day of the year.  Furthermore, this new business will get a major boost in October.   Guests don’t pay you based on how long your haunted house is but rather how incredible the experience is!  Whether you want to admit this or not today’s guests want social experiences with their friends, which means places to take tons of photos.  This new space you build will create new revenue, new excitement and new buzz about your venue all while reducing the dependency on staffing.



In 2010 it was all about how long the haunt was today it should be all about how much you’ve diversified your business.  Now your haunt can operate with at least 30 to 40% less actors, hiring just the best of the best actors, while creating new revenue streams.  Haunts need to take other steps to secure better reviews despite lower actors and here are some suggestions.
  1.  Reduce the Size of your haunted house.  If you’re an outdoor screampark eliminate whole entire haunts.  At Creepyworld we’ve removed several haunts to make the experience shorter and less dependent on staffing.  While at the same time we’ve been improving the overall experience adding a midway, pumpkin barn, and even a video mapping show.   Again, focus on the overall experience not on how many haunts you have!
  2. Create Multi Point Scare Boxes:  We learned this creating haunted houses from clients all over the world.  The common theme from clients is they don’t want many actors.  We created these boxes with multiple access points that touch on totally different points of the maze.  You would do yourself a favor by making some of your scenes SMALLER to create a box between two or three scenes with access to all those rooms from one space. 
  3. Air Cannons:  Forgot super expensive animations go after AIR CANNONS because they are just what the doctor ordered.  Air Cannons are CHEAP and are by far the scariest single item you can install into a haunted house.  We have installed 25 air cannons into Creepyworld and Darkness.  Last year we had the fewest actors ever but had better reviews… we thank in part installing more air cannons.
  4. Animations:  If you can afford animations go after animations that actually have sudden movement with sound and light.  The combination of the three get better scares.  You can also install this animation in your all-new scare boxes.  Always try to install jump out animations in area’s where the customers walk right into them! 
  5. Visual FX:  Filming actors and triggering them with motion coupled with loud sound by default adds another actor.  Once inside The Darkness you will encounter at least 20 of such visual fx actors.  Some companies actually sell digital actor animations.  
  6. Noise Makers:  Haunts had the opportunity to buy those cattle rods with light and sound, or loud horns.  We’ve even bought maracas or created rattle cans with tin cans.  Anything that helps your actors create more noise the better.  Lastly on this point at The Darkness we installed several foot pedals with quick scary sounds.  The actors can trigger these with a simple tap of their hand adding to their performance.
  7. Create Midway:  Try creating a midway with 5 minute escape rooms, zombie paintball or a horror themed mini golf.  Basically, add attractions which create a last impression that is positive and Halloween fun. Don’t have your haunt be rated solely on scares but how much fun they had at your event.
  8. Pumpkin Display:  There are attractions popping up around the country where guests walk thru displays of carved pumpkins.  Why can’t you do the same thing just on a smaller scale.  At Creepyworld we added a Pumpkin Barn as the final attraction.  We hired a pumpkin carver to create over 200 famous faces carved into pumpkins.  Guests will leave thru the pumpkin barn giving them the opportunity to take a ton of photos.  What a lastly impression! 
  9. Ultimate Photo Opportunities:  Again, focus on FUN your guests want to take photos and that is hard to do inside the haunted house.  Create photo opportunities prior to and after the attraction. Fill these areas with ICON monsters who scare but also pose for photos.  Some of these photo ops can showcase your logo, Instagram pages and more. Remember don’t’ focus just on scares focus on giving your guests an experience they can share on their social media pages.
  10. Create Actor Less Attractions:  At Creepyworld we replaced our largest haunted house which required 10 to 12 actors with a new que line featuring an 8 minute video mapping show.  Again, think outside the box its not all about haunted houses and actors its about giving your guests the ultimate Halloween experience. 


 
The future is NOW and the days of having the longest haunt, way too many actors is over.  You’re living in the social era and people want memorable experience they can capture on camera to share on social media.  Create those magical Halloween moments at your attraction by thinking outside just the scare.  Next year you don’t need to buy tons of new props, or building new scenes and screams you need to focus on creating a more profitable and successful attraction.

Have a great season and keep checking back to Hauntworld.com for all the latest haunted house news and happenings.

Happy Hauntings
Hauntworld.com
  Posted by Larry 5.57 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
Total Records: 193   Total Pages: 65
 
 

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