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Discussion Starter #1
I just got back from a meeting with a lady who owns the farm I buy my pumpkins from....she has multiple building, animals and acres. She wants me to design a haunt for All of it! We went on a tour of her land and buildings, I'm actually going to take my video camera next time to start plotting scenes and such. She has tractors and trailers also for making it a ride. I'm sitting here like "Woah, this is a lot of space". We plan to make a building for each Freddy, Jason, Mike character. I'm gonna do a Blair Witch idea for one of her fields. She also have a black horse I'm gonna find a headless horseman for.
She is going Balls to the wall with it but wants me to do it because shes never done a haunt before whereas I've done one since 2007 (yeah I'm still young).
What thoughts, concerns do I look for? I'm gonna need a Lot more stuff also.
 

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Might even need event insurance depending on the specifics. Definitely talk about insurance is first.

Next would be fire/safety code for a professional haunt.

Get the fire marshal on board in the design and decisions early so you don't put too much effort towards something that has to be completely retooled later.

Your maze is GOING to need emergency exits. Certain materials are a no go from the get go. Even hay bales have limits to size and height. All usually controlled by local city/state ordnances so hard for us to say exactly what to expect specific to your situation.
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Yep, I was going to recommend the same thing others have recommended, check with your local fire marshal & insurance agent (hers & yours) because you'll need both.

Once you go pro there are those hoops to jump through. There will be rules & regulations from the fire marshal for safety. You'll probably need some permits from the city/county/state for the event too.

Here's an info page from the National Fire Protection Association:

Some of those codes are more for a haunt in a building, maybe more of a typical "haunted house", but it's a bit of an overview of what sort of rules & regs you'll have to get into.

Start getting all that in order right now because if you go through with it you don't wanna get shut down by the fire marshal the first nite. If it seems like too much to take on by yourself ask for help or scale back then, but go through the proper channels either way.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Actually we havent talked about doing a maze at all but more of a tractor ride with big open fields and stuff/actors/actresses in those fields. The safety talks have already started but I hadn't thought of the fire marshal yet. I did speak up about an on-site nurse and having access to all areas of the facilities. The owner brought up the idea of adult concessions but I'm pretty against the alchy idea, just too many "what ifs". She also brought up the idea of having just beverages and grilling dogs and boogers so....would the FDA have to get involved? This is ALL part of step 1 and she wants to do a trial run by this year, I think it's possible if it's done right.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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She would need to get the insurance thing figured out. She will also need building permits and have things approved by the fire marshal. You'll need to contact the county for how to proceed most likely.

Also definitely need to get a food handler's license and sales license if she's selling food or beverages (not even counting the liquor license if she sold adult beverages). May want to look into inviting food trucks (they should already be licensed for reselling food from their trucks) for a fee to allow them to set up at the location. That's how its done in my area for those that don't want to deal with the hassles of getting state/county approval for food/drink but still want it on site. Otherwise, would need the health department's approval for setup, equipment that is cleaned and food kept at safe food temps... and train people to serve and clean up and all that jazz.

Might could do canned/bottles of water/soda/etc, and bags of cookies/chips for snacks at a concession stand (they are sealed and safe even at room temp), but things you have to prepare, and especially anything cooked or liquids... that's a serious venture you will definitely need to follow the law. All it takes is someone getting food poisoning (or reporting the location for unsafe food handling/sales) and the fines and lawsuits could be terrible.

Also need security of some kind, technical/maintenance for any lights, fog, tractor stuff (and someone to inspect that anything the patrons come into contact with is in good working order), ticket sales/concessions/parking, people to pick up trash and clean the common areas, concessions, payroll, training, scheduling, advertising/marketing... all stuff that is not the fun parts.

Another potential issue: you are proposing using licensed, copyrighted characters like Freddy or Jason in a pro haunt? You may fly under the radar if you're small and don't advertise much, but you also could get in hot water for doing an advertised, professional venture using copyrighted characters without permission. That's why most pro haunts have characters that are created by them, with unique storylines, so they have to worry about advertising it and somehow getting sued - or getting a cease and desist order and getting shut down.


I am definitely not trying to sound discouraging, but this is one of those things that can't be thrown together without attention to the boring detail stuff as well as the fun stuff - safety is paramount., but the close secondary issue is protect yourselves! SO CYA should be the rule - do things by the book for your county/state and you should be golden!
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Oh I'd totally stay away from alcohol sales, that's a whole 'nother level of approval, permitting, having an approved alcoholic beverage person, someone checking IDs, etc., but most of all there's just too many shenanigans that could go wrong with the people that imbibe.

And as Frankie's Girl said, if you're selling food to the public that isn't pre-packaged things like bags of chips or cookies you gotta have at least ONE person that's a certified food service manager on premises for the entire time you're selling that food. You have to go by the health department's food handling codes like keeping things at certain temps & checking those temps every hour & keeping a log of them, there's hand washing protocols (there's gotta be running water for hand washing, hand sanitizer won't do in that situation), there's hair & clothing protocols (no sandals, hair pulled back if it's long, etc.) & that food has to be prepared in a licensed food service facility too. And even if you have all that you still gotta order all the food stuffs, pay for it, decide pricing, make a sign for all that stuff, have someone to take orders & payment, someone to run the food to customers, it's just a process that may not be worth it your first year out, especially if you've never done any of the above before.

It's just a hassle unless she's already got all that stuff food trucks really are the way to go because they're a licensed kitchen/food service manager/restaurant on wheels.

You'll have enough on your hands with the actual haunt so leave the food to the pros. They could probably use the exposure & money too.
 

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Caretaker of Eerie Manor
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Sounds fun but also a BIG undertaking. Something that hasn't been mentioned is manpower. Unless you plan to have a bunch of static displays, you'll need to enlist helpers to assist with not only the work involved in setting up and tearing down, but also helping with scares, etc on the nights you're open. Doubtful many people will commit to this if you want them to volunteer their time so you'll need to discuss with the owner about possibly paying them. We've used as many as 30 helpers alone for one night at our home haunt. While many will want to do it for a night (Halloween), few may be willing to commit to working an event that runs for more than a couple days. With a space that big, I'd suggest having some security personnel for crowd control and managing any problems that might arise. Factor in what she expects of you in terms of your own time, setting up, etc. I guess knowing your limitations is an important consideration so there isn't conflict between you and her. She's no doubt enamored with the idea of having a big haunted attraction at her place however be sure she is willing to offer help/finances as needed. As mentioned, definitely have approval and input from local fire inspectors. When she is presented with all of these matters, she might change her plan. In any event, have fun.
 

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IowaGuy - Sounds like a great opportunity but listen to what everyone is saying. It's not as simple as creating and displaying a bunch of props. I've had many opportunities to "partner-up" with various haunts but have declined do to the legal risks involved (I like my house and want to keep it). Talk to Eric Lowther the creator of Haunted Overload. Back-in-the-day he was a crazy home haunter just like us. Then he outgrew his home haunt and had a unique opportunity to go pro. He now "successfully" runs one of the best pro haunts in the country, if not the world.

Don't overlook the liability, that is one of the main reasons I only do a "walk-up" Halloween display and not a "walk-thru" or "haunted house". With that said you could post signs and sell tickets with a legal hold-harmless clause that may provide you some protection from legal action.

If you really want to do it, don't let all this scare you just make a plan and figure all this stuff out.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
None of it scares me. During the off season shes already started a new program she came up with called crop share that costs the costumer either $225 or $500 in which cars drive up, stay in their car and hired hands load their vehicle with farm grown produce, while other cars weight she has a drive around zoo (her farm animals). Each car takes about 7 min to load. The program is every tuesday and friday (groceries twice a week) and lasts 3 months. I guess it's been successful already. I said I could help on the weekends in exchange for land use growing my pumpkins. BTW please dont steal this idea...I guess she has had multiple ideas folks have taken from her
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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I like the idea of a drive through haunt, that sounds kinda cool & doable, especially if there's still quarantine restrictions going on & it might help on some liability issues. It's sorta like those drive-thru Christmas lights.

I love her crop share idea too. A few places around here in DC/MD/VA do something similar. You pay a fee & get your locally grown fresh fruits & veggies every so often with whatever is in season.

You could also check with other folks who do pro haunts in your area, they'd know more about local permitting & restrictions.

Good luck with all this & keep us posted on the progress!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Your first paragraph, exactly the idea! Down in Des Moines (or DSM to the locals) the Make a Wish foundation does a drive thru Christmas lights so....make the connection there. We switched to tractor rides because people would be driving in possibly muddy fields
 
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What they all said... Insurance is sooo important... remember anyone can sue you for anything even if they sign a waiver. We've become a sue happy nation. Worked one year as part of a local Nile Shriners haunt. The parking was quite a distance down a steep hill to the haunt lines. They used their parade buses to take people from parking to the haunt line. It was rainy and someone slipped on the bus steps fell all the way to the pavement and had to have an ambulance called. Scary in a WHOLE new way. Second nope adult beverages NOPE ... they did adult beverages too... Humm lubed workers and guests do NOT make for a good mix. Hard enough to police gangs of teen boys without adding lubed up adults and the possiblity of underage drinking. ...

YES get all the correct permits again someone for years has a major home haunt no problems then one year just before opening city council came in and shut them down for No Permits. They had built the usual pallet "rooms" on the front lawn... Nope not even temp building without a permit

YES get the Fire Marshal on board and checking checking checking. Had another friend's charity haunt that she ran for nearly 20 years almost shut down because the new Fire Marshal wasn't happy with the flammability of stuff.

Just because the land owner says everything is peachy doesn't make it so, do your homework check for yourself with the right officials if things are peachy. Don't leave yourself hung out to dry should anything happen. Good luck and I hope it's as much fun as you think it will be.
 

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Check agriculture use or activities since it's a farm which can limit liability in some states. At least that's what they use in NW Florida.
 

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Your first paragraph, exactly the idea! Down in Des Moines (or DSM to the locals) the Make a Wish foundation does a drive thru Christmas lights so....make the connection there. We switched to tractor rides because people would be driving in possibly muddy fields
Oh, I've done a drive through before, sorta. It was completely geared to be family friendly rather than scary. More or less halloween themed christmas lights...but that was, lord, 10+ years ago.

I'd be vary wary of making such a thing scary at all, for the simple fact people are often unpredictable. It just takes one person to get startled and stomp on the gas to have a huge disaster. Even hayrides with a driver as part of the haunt regularly have problems running over actors or getting off path and into trouble.
 

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I just got back from a meeting with a lady who owns the farm I buy my pumpkins from....she has multiple building, animals and acres. She wants me to design a haunt for All of it! We went on a tour of her land and buildings, I'm actually going to take my video camera next time to start plotting scenes and such. She has tractors and trailers also for making it a ride. I'm sitting here like "Woah, this is a lot of space". We plan to make a building for each Freddy, Jason, Mike character. I'm gonna do a Blair Witch idea for one of her fields. She also have a black horse I'm gonna find a headless horseman for.
She is going Balls to the wall with it but wants me to do it because shes never done a haunt before whereas I've done one since 2007 (yeah I'm still young).
What thoughts, concerns do I look for? I'm gonna need a Lot more stuff also.
What a treat!!!! I am sure you'll get a boat load of great ideas on this thread.
My two cents.....
Since there is so much land to work with...human characters (which I am sure you'll have plenty of) is a must. And a lot of them!
Also...lighting!
Nothing is scarier then the perfect lighting!
 

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Haven't been on here in a long time, I got an alert about a discussion, off topic but it warms my heart to see all these replies by these Halloween Forum royalty, good to see you came back Iowa guy, hope everything works out with this new and amb ambitious opportunity.
 

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I know insurance has been mention here multiple times.....Make sure you get coverage for yourself. A spectator at my home haunt slipped on the sidewalk, I was lucky enough that my insurance agent recommended extra liability coverage, the BS lasted for more than 6 months.

Also don't forget local inspectors, both fire and building, my 3rd year I got a visit...Yes even for a home haunt! Being a small town, and a volunteer 1st responder helped, but their ideas made things a lot better.

Post pictures!

Good luck....You'll find a lot of help on this site
 
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