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Kid-friendly or scary haunt

  • Kid-friendly

    Votes: 22 44.9%
  • Scary

    Votes: 16 32.7%
  • Other (give me ideas)

    Votes: 11 22.4%

  • Total voters
    49
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Discussion Starter #1
1st - sorry if this is in the wrong place.

We've decided to do a full-blown haunt for charity. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month so we're going to take donations and give them to a local women's shelter or ALIVE (Alternative to Living in Violent Environments). Now we're trying to decide if we want to do a scary haunt geared for teens/adults or doa kid friendly haunt.

St. Louis has, arguably, two of the best haunts in the country so they have the scare factor (and money) on their sides. That's leading me to think about doing something different. Maybe a walk through geared toward the kids - more whimsical I guess.

There's a lot of kids in the area and most of our friends have little ones (how we ended up being the oldest ones in the group is beyond me). So I'm trying to decide what theme to use - fast - so I can get started.
 

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I play with dead people
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The haunt I do at my house is geared towards younger kids. Its a little scary but not too bad. I only have a few kids in the neighborhood that refuse to go through and that is usually before they even go in. Its enough to scare some adults but nothing bad. I dont do a lot of gore and plan on keeping it that way. I have done it now for three years and this will be my fourth so I am hoping on adding a lot to it.

I think you can go scary enough for older people but toned down enough for the little ones.

Of course you will always have those that say it is not scary enough.
 

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jester girl
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i've done my haunt 13 years now, and that's how i do mine. lots of older people don't like to be scared either, and you will find you got a hit for them as well. we have a rule of thumb, if kids are showing to much fear, we tone it down even more. go with it and good luck. and, 2 great causes, i wish you the best, and make lots of money

oh, and i agree with the non gore too
 

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I think that a tad scary is the way to go; as hallo said, it could always be toned down more if needed. Good luck with the haunt, trgtgd, regardless of which direction you choose to take it;)
 

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We go very scary and we get tons of tots. 1 out of 10 didn't want to go in. But this was the same with teenagers too (L). When the tots didn't want to go, the parents would go instead to get the candy. Sometimes, it was the parents that didn't want to go too!
 

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I think a kid friendly haunt with just a few small scares would be great. You don't want the kids so scared so that they would never go to another haunt again, and you don't want it so tame that they don't get an idea of what a haunt is about. Because of the charities you have chosen, if you go with a 13+ haunt, I would definitely tame down the gore and violent scenes.

Our garage haunt has been geared toward the younger kids but still have enough scares and gore for the older kids. I seem to have kept the scarier or gorey stuff above the eye level of the average 5 year old without even thinking about it. Our spotters announce if it is a scare or non scare TOT or group coming.

Just curious...
Has anyone who has run a pro haunt ever had pictures available of the inside of the haunt so that parents could decide if it's too scary for their young teens or themselves? I have never been to a pro haunt simply because I don't like to be scared. Someone jumping out at or chasing me in the dark would be too much for me.
 

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Super Moderator
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Our goal has always been
"we want them clinging to their parent's leg, but not up all night with nightmares"


But, each child is individual. What scares one is funny to the next. I've had tears, candy sack abandoned, and kids just plain refuse at times (including my own niece). But, we always get a smile at the end.
 

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The Ravens Grin Method

1) We advise parents of smaller kids to come here on Sat. Or Sunday afternoon. More natural light coming into the house makes it seem more friendly.
2) When looking at their group and we see nervous children we get a conversation started as to the "things" that we will not be inflicting upon them inside the house (because they are timid children) These promises are Kept. Easily done since we don't chase anyone here.
3) when going through we have any employees leading the group to place the timid ones in the last position in the line so any startling scares are turned off-not done.
4) we turn on and turn up more lights for these groups and talk very kindly to those affected individuals gaining their trust if at all possible (and sometimes this is not possible)
5) We use humor and odd things rather than horrific stand-bys commonly thought of in the haunt field.
6) We make the small timid person a part of the scaring, and most of them love doing this!
This creates a whole new little person, one with enthusiasm to be here!
7) We often succeed in creating such positive enthusiasm by allowing the child to scare the rest of their family! "Just push this button and see what happens."

Anything can scare anybody, any age. When they decide to be extremely scared there is usually almost no solution for this. Just give them your sympathy, don't allow others to make fun of them if possible. "Everybody is afraid of something, after all!"
12 people show up for a celebration, Birthday, two adults+ 10 kids ages 7 to 12, odds are at least one of those kids will be too afraid to remain with the group unless someone can gain their trust and modify the experience for them.
when selling the tickets I ask if they have ever been here before? When all of them have, it usually means clear sailing= no problem.
The original paralyzing fear comes from their imagination if they have never been to your place before, and kids are heavilly into imagination, aren't they?
 

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Ghouls Rule
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I voted for other- :)

Im new to the open my home to the masses, Ive done it once so far and before it was always decor out front for TOTs.

I never do anything gory or put up kiddie decor unless its whimsical outside or in my haunt, and usually thats just for the inside for the fam to view.

What I did last year and will continue to do is a play on fears. Most of the kids who came into my haunt made a beeline for the candy, never looking at the decor, they seemed too afraid to try looking, with the exception of maybe 8 random kids who seemed to enjoy the decor and actually looked but were apprehensive at first.

The parents all mentioned how much they liked the displays and a fair bit stayed behind to take pics as some of their kids waited outside.

I designed my displays to be like what you would see at an amusement park, like Universal or MGM.

I relied on making the scenes as detailed as possible, with interesting bits I wanted to stand out with lights and light effects. (I bought those mini blinking LEDs from Pottery Barn for $1 each and ripped off the covers and put the lights in and around my display. Along with flood lights. I need to invest in strong pin lights tho).

Also, have your people who are participating dress the part. If they have quality costumes and makeup it really helps out with the immersion. Its a good opportunity to have a bit of humor injected in your haunt if you wanted. My fiance dressed as the bobble head reaper last year and he moved around like one of my animated props until people went by then came up and walked behind them till they noticed.

Lots of screams then laughter for the most part, many pictures were taken. Some kids were absolutely terrified of even just him, and his costume was borderline cartoony, I think the height of him really added to the scary effect of it though.

If you can invest in some decent costumes and makeup(maybe even makeup effects) it will really add to your haunt because people will definitely notice you more than the decor. Especially if your roleplay your characters well and have some interaction it can go a long way to a great experience for the patrons.

My mom was a gypsy and roleplayed in the carnival theme area. Im going to have her pass out some "rotton candy" (cotton candy) this year with my new prop standing nearby with a fake batch of it he will be stirring. I got the rotton candy idea from another member and Im so excited to put this in my haunt this year.

This is pretty much my point, a play on fears. This prop will be a sinister looking clown stirring a huge barrel of cotton candy. In which there will be cotton candy that you will be given nearby if you dare to eat it (prepackaged stuff). Because it allegedly came from the sinister clown, hehe. :)
 

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The Minister of Macabre
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As I say; "Go Scary or Go Home!"

On the other had, I have seen some very impressive haunts that are Kid Friendly:)
 

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Myself personally do a kid friendly haunt due to how many toddlers we get on our street. Bout 300 on Halloween night and they're almost all between 3 and 6. So I do traditional looking stuff like jack o lanterns and purple lights and things like that.:) But to each his own. Do what works for you. You may not have the scariest haunt but you could certainly have the most talked about.:) Btw I love that you do a charity. That's so awesome. Keep up the good work!
 

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Hauntless
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I voted for 'other'.

At the end of each season for three years, we decided that it needed to be more scary. This last year we think may have have gone just a wee bit too far in the scary department. So, in the end, I've found what I think is a good balance.

It is both kid friendly and scary. But, there is never gore. To me, that seems to be an adult level scare for a haunt.

The kid-friendly part of the haunt is the ChromaDepth 3D. It's not scary but it is fascinating and disorientating. The younger ones love it. The scary part of the haunt are the pneumatic props and distraction scares used. Plus, we try to hit them at all levels of scary. The walls, ceilings and floors are decorated so that helps immerse them into the scare environment. There's accent decor to even carry that further. Then, there's prop sound, ambient sound and lighting effects. To finish off the assault on their senses, we add touch and smell. Even though all of this sounds very scary I still consider it somewhat kid friendly because there are no violent death scenes or gore. It's all environmental. So, younger kids seem to be okay and the older ones still do get pretty scared.

What pushed it a little too much this year was me playing with their minds in the middle of the haunt. I play acted that the zombies broke free and they need to keep pushing forward. Well, that freaked a lot of kids and some busted out into tears. Goodness, I felt bad. Now these were the younger ones so in the future I will hold off my acting gig for them. I think what really did it was here was an adult telling them that it was now time to panic. And they did :eek:
 

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I voted for 'other'.

At the end of each season for three years, we decided that it needed to be more scary. This last year we think may have have gone just a wee bit too far in the scary department. So, in the end, I've found what I think is a good balance.

It is both kid friendly and scary. But, there is never gore. To me, that seems to be an adult level scare for a haunt.

The kid-friendly part of the haunt is the ChromaDepth 3D. It's not scary but it is fascinating and disorientating. The younger ones love it. The scary part of the haunt are the pneumatic props and distraction scares used. Plus, we try to hit them at all levels of scary. The walls, ceilings and floors are decorated so that helps immerse them into the scare environment. There's accent decor to even carry that further. Then, there's prop sound, ambient sound and lighting effects. To finish off the assault on their senses, we add touch and smell. Even though all of this sounds very scary I still consider it somewhat kid friendly because there are no violent death scenes or gore. It's all environmental. So, younger kids seem to be okay and the older ones still do get pretty scared.

What pushed it a little too much this year was me playing with their minds in the middle of the haunt. I play acted that the zombies broke free and they need to keep pushing forward. Well, that freaked a lot of kids and some busted out into tears. Goodness, I felt bad. Now these were the younger ones so in the future I will hold off my acting gig for them. I think what really did it was here was an adult telling them that it was now time to panic. And they did :eek:
Yeah, more or less the level we shoot for.

I think my wife captured it best in this shot from our preview party:

The kid wasn't going to go in without his dad...and you can see him looking down saying "it's ok, son". And that was after they helped carve and light the things. But that sun goes down, the lights and fog come on, it's a different beast all together.

 

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The Minister of Macabre
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I have found that many on this forum stay away from gore. I was actually suprised by this, seeing as how much things have changed in today's world (movies, internet, etc...). I have a style that is very ethreal and traditional.
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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My preference is for the scary, creepy Halloween style, our is certainly not over the top scary at all, although ours seems to be trending that way. We found quite a few TOT's did not come up to our front door, but most did linger at the sidewalk taking it all in. There were also quite a few parents that refused to come up to the door as well, some people do not like to be scared.

My personal taste is not to mix the more cartoonish, kid friendly Halloween themes with a spooky, eerie style. I understand it is a choice that means some people may not want to partipate in our Haunt. In this case I would opt for "other" and try to achieve a good balance for all TOT's. You are emphasizing Family Violence Awareness, which is a great such a great cause, have a bit of both for all family members can enjoy it!
 

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Remember, gory doesn't equal scary! I never do gory myself (much). I prefer the supernatural way for scaring kids. But Halloween can be anything to anyone. UFO, plane crash, Pirates, etc. (I think this is one aspect that I love from Halloween, you can really personefy it (is that how you say it?) a lot and make it very unique.

I would see teens or younger adults haunters going for the gore. Also depends who is your victims? Full of teens, kids, tots?
 

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Ghouls Rule
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Remember, gory doesn't equal scary! I never do gory myself (much). I prefer the supernatural way for scaring kids. But Halloween can be anything to anyone. UFO, plane crash, Pirates, etc. (I think this is one aspect that I love from Halloween, you can really personefy it (is that how you say it?) a lot and make it very unique.

I would see teens or younger adults haunters going for the gore. Also depends who is your victims? Full of teens, kids, tots?

I agree, I feel like I like the supernatural stuff the best, its most creepy to me. The gory stuff is just ick and not scary to me, disturbing, but not scary. It doesnt get my blood pumping, hehe. :)

Im gonna be 31 this year, but consider myself a young haunter. I never was into the SAW movies or anything like that, but the first Jeepers Creepers movie? The creature wasnt revealed until the end and my imagination was what drove my heart to pound during that movie.

Sure there was some gore in it, but it was all aftermath stuff. Seeing that the creature might be after you because it has your scent and knowing what it is capable of is pretty scary to me, :)

A play on your imagination.
 

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Emperor of Candlewood
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I only vote kid-friendly because that is what you originally wanted to target in patrons. This is true as well that st louis has the scary haunts available.. So with that said you sould go with what your gut tells you!

If it were myself planing this, I would do the same and lean toward a kid-friendly with an optional scare zone for those willing to raise their blood pressure and heart rates! ;)
 
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