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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Howdy. Hope everyone's Halloween was great!

Here at Carnival of Souls, we had our first walkthrough haunted house this year, and it was a huge hit with the kids. It was a design challenge, since the demographics for our haunt has us designing for younger kids, about six to ten. We had to come up with something cool and creepy without traumatizing them, and something which would still please the older kids and stay consistent with the haunt's mythology we're building year over year. And we also wanted to continue our tradition of making our haunt really interactive, so we had our work cut out for us.

The premise is that the visitors are tagging along on the filming of a reality show called "Haunt Hunters" as they enter the Blackwood Cemetery to look for a set of rumored artifacts. What they don't know is that there is a plot to set free the "Dark Powers of the Earth" from their captivity, and the children must use the artifacts they find to keep this from happening.

I've put up a full walkthrough video of our haunt on YouTube (see below). The cool stuff is at the end, especially the fight with the "big bad," so be sure to keep watching. It's shot in night-vision, so the quality is a little low, especially in the beginning. Apologies for that.

YouTube - Carnival of Souls Halloween 2008

Here are some pics, too. First, is the cool "spider queen" puppet:


Next, a couple of screenshots from the "Dark Powers of the Earth" attack sequence:


I'd say that the big hit of the evening was letting the kids cast spells at the bad guys. Some kids would come out absolutely quivering with excitement and energy, and gushed about how they were able to fight off the bad guys.

A more subtle success of the evening was a system we set up to communicate, via in-character dialogue, to the haunt workers whether the kids have chosen a "scary" or "not-so-scary" option for the haunt. By letting kids choose up front how scary they wanted the haunt to be, we were able to both reassure parents about letting their kids in, and also accommodate younger kids than we might otherwise have. If you listen closely, you'll hear the guide cueing the haunt workers about how scary to make the effect that's about to happen.

Anyway, we all had a blast, all the kids seemed to enjoy it, and we got a good number of "That was AWESOME!" exclamations out of the kids, so we're happy. Exhausted from days of setup and takedown, but happy.
 

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HELLoween Ubber Lord
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WAY to cool !! love the end were the kids "fought off" the evil henchmen & defeated "the dark one" ........
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the responses! Yeah, it was pretty fun, and the part where the kids were fighting off the evil cultists at the end while trying to restore the Guardian Altar ended up being the highlight of the show for many kids (although the spider queen was a close second).

And I really have to hand it to my volunteers this year. Not only did they do a fantastic acting job, but they worked tirelessly for days before the show, and even showed up at 9am the day after and worked for several hours to get everything back in my garage. Saints among mortals, the lot of them.
 

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Imperial Hybrid (7)
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Saints among mortals, the lot of them.

I am completely blown away ! What a wonderful concept for the Younger TOT's
The interaction, education and confidence building ! The haunt itself, I am sure was a major understaking ( props, sets, design, storyboard, computer programing , actors, costumes etc.) But wow, I get it.....what it REALLY is all about ! Just blows me away. My grandkids would just love to have gone through something like that !
Kudos to you and your workers....you all a truely saints among mortals...

Curious tho.... how long of line (wait) for your haunt? I would imagine once
word is out you'll have tons of little haunters.

Nice job on everything including the filming. I am in awe. This was no rinky dink thrown together thing. Took alot and I appreciate what I am seeing.
How long on the "storyboard and creating end' ?

Spider puppet awesome. LOL ! thanks for posting.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow, thanks for your kind words!

Curious tho.... how long of line (wait) for your haunt? I would imagine once
word is out you'll have tons of little haunters.
I think the wait was up to about 45 minutes to an hour at one point. As you can see from the video, it took about 10 minutes to go through the show, and we could run 2-3 groups through at a time. We ran nonstop shows from dusk until about 10:30.

How long on the "storyboard and creating end' ?
Well, we've been meeting semi-regularly since, oh, mid-August I think, but in terms of mythology, haunt philosophy, and construction, we're building on what we had built over the last five years or so. For instance, the crypt doors in the first room are repurposed from our Blackwood Mausoleum attraction from the last three years, and the characters of Madame Sarita and the "Dark Powers of the Earth" are reprises of characters from our earlier black light puppet shows.

But to answer your question, we were doing construction every weekend for several months, and then it took about three full days to get everything set up before Halloween, with anywhere between two and six people working at a time.

Visit our haunt site to see what we did in previous years. (I'm working on a page for the 2008 haunt, but it's not up yet.)
 
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