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Display vs. Experience- Opinions?

2463 Views 17 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  thenightmarefamily
If you had to choose... Which is better? A big display with lots of classic elements or a smaller more personal, interactive display?

It's just me setting up and tearing down every year. Still, I manage to put up a fairly large yard display with all the bells and whistles- animatronics, fog, SFX, projections, a cemmie, 7' spider, etc. Plus, since I give out a variety of treats, there is always some unique distribution method. This year, it was Pumpkin Plinko. TOTs dropped their pumpkin disks through a plinko board to determine from which bin-,1-6, their treat would come.

Since I have to put so much energy into TOT with no help, I am thinking where to best spend effort. Next year, I'm thinking of doing a fortune teller set-up and a card draw to distribute treats, I have that Big Scream TV Crystal ball and would dress as a old-school gypsy.

So I am thinking, what's more important,? Doing up the fortune teller area with a haunted gypsy camp theme (no big spider, ghouls, or classic cemmie) in a smaller area , but really concentrating on the fortune teller experience? Or keeping the large classic display and having the crystal ball/card draw be the distribution gag?

Only had 55 TOTs this year.
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I feel what you're saying about the large set up. I wouldn't do half of what I do if it were not for the help of my wife. If you go full on gypsy/fortune teller, it may bring in more ToT's because it IS interactive. The way the mind works its like: "Hey, they want me to do something, I bet there's a payoff at the end".

I would put out some of your smaller/easier set ups that may coininside with your new theme just to round it out. Maybe a sign that says "palms read", "fortunes told", etc.

As far as the distribution of treats I think I got a pretty good idea that ties in with your gypsy set up. How about have ToT's spin "The Wheel Of Misfortune"! Treat include bag of candy, single DumDum with spider ring attached, any number of dollar store items, etc.just make sure the wheel is balanced so it won't land on the same spot every spin.
Good luck, Marc V.
Happily, I do have a wheel of fortune already! Never thought of using it with the gypsy tie-in. That's brilliant! Thanks!

With not that many kids, I figure I could bust out the tarot cards and maybe do some palm reading and fortune telling.

Trying not to make it too carnival-esque, but I think there might be some overlapping elements. I am thinking of setting up one of those patio tents that can play rain or shine. The footprint of the whole thing would be scaled way back. I just wonder if that would be a major disappointment to TOTs that come to see tha big cemmie display every year.
Definitely safer just looking at something.. maybe quicker to be boring too? Some will always enjoy just seeing...
It can become somewhat scary for people when you ask them to commit to actually doing something beyond just focusing their eyes.
THE most memorable reactions will always be from inter-acting with people.
Draw them in, peak their latent curiosity,make them need to do. Make them need to risk, then the reactions will be More.
I do have a house full of just displays people just see. When I ask them to look into a small container, or hold a cup, or whisper in Nosferatu's ear, or to," Please be seated." Are all moments remembered as what happened just before the fun-stuff happened!
IF reading Tarot cards, make a silly set of them just for kids. Maybe someone already does?
I always have a bin of "Don't Wanna" at hand- usually just candy bars or chips. All but one TOT wanted to play plinko this year. Even parents with babes-in-arms dropped a disc for their child- even though there really wasn't any choice since I set aside about 8-10 "baby" treats each year. It'll be fun to do something different- but I'd dread to hear, "It's not as nice as last year."
You could still put up a couple of the easier to set up animatronics (the most popular from years past) and a fogger on the way to the fortune teller's tent. That could save you a lot of work, but still make an impression from back on the sidewalk. I think once you get the kids up close, and then involved, you won't have to worry about whether the ToTs will find it as exciting as last year. Interactive is good, and most kids love to have their 15 seconds in the spotlight :)
Well, you could always combine both elements: A gypsy fortune-teller whose caravan has set up its tent(s) on the edge of the old graveyard, and warn TOTs of the many dangers they'll face tonight . . .
it sounds like your emphasis and what you like best is the treats and how they are handed out. So it sounds like that is the way you should go. I agree with Saruman that you should build your display around that. I think it really comes down to personal preference. FOlks across the street did fundriveway games this year, while my walkthru far more scary and timeconsuming when it comes to setting up and tearing down. Tots seemed to have a good time doing both and the neighbors and I had a good time doing what we like to do...win win win. So really, it comes down to what YOU like to do
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From "Day-One" I have always had and done inter-active little things with customers .
One little act I was always doing got to be a routine that always got results, but it seemed to just suck a ton of energy out of me doing it, so I stopped doing it.
I started doing the routine again last Fall. Somehow my energy didn't all become invested so heavily any more?
I even began doing the second room myself again, just to make the customer's experience a bit More.
Since I had quit it for a period of time, it was suddenly a new thing for many!
The first time I was on a computer (at our local Library) I typed in my name and a conversation came up in which haunters I had never heard of before (and that was the majority of them) we all talking about my house The Ravens Grin Inn!
Someone had asked the question: Is there anyway to elicit real fear of bodily harm , safely in a haunted house without using a chainsaw?"
Several came back saying:"YES! This guy , Jim Warfield in Mount Carroll, Ill, knows how to do that!"
This was what I re-stated last Fall with noteworthy success.
The act requires reading your audience and balancing "Silly" with "Serious", alternating between them to make it possible for the routine to even begin to ever happen, which was not something I figured out, right away.
Without doing this balancing act, it will not work because many people ARE afraid and the Macho boyfriend just might punch you-out!
Nuff said. (I have never gotten punched! Am I just "Lucky"? or Skilled?)
The Risk is worth it for the memorys it can create (and reputation!)
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Using a ouija board instead of tarot cards would allow you to retain use of your cemetery props.
I like the way you think. I have questioned scaling back but never seem to do it. The main reason is I like the build. I also like the WOW factor from returning TOTs and their families.

I have had gypsy fortune tellers twice. The first time was 2011. I convinced a friend to dress up and tell fortunes in my garage. She was a huge hit! She had a line for 3 hours and told hundreds of fortunately. Unfortunately she didn't get a break all night.

2 years later, I revamped the Idea and moved it to a tent in the driveway. This time I had 3 fortune tellers that rotated so that all could enjoy the evening without feeling like it was a job. That was my biggest year ever and we also had a line for over 3 hours. The line went down the drive way and down the block to the stop sign. It was truly amazing! People waited for up to an hour to see her. We walked up and down the line giving out candy and bead necklaces. Everyone had a great time but it was my biggest crowd to date.

If you do a Gypsy fortune teller, get help! I probably had 10 helpers that night just on entertainment and crowd control.

I am including some pics of the Gypsy Tent. Its just a Pop-up tent with some simple 4' x 6.5' theater flats in the corners. I then decorated with thrift store finds. I also included a crowd shots and yard shot for perspective. I gave out candy from the front tent so that anyone who didn't want to wait for the fortune teller could still get some candy.

Good luck and have fun, thats what its all about. If its not fun, don't do it.



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WOW! That's a great display/tent interior, Eblore. I like all the detail in the tent. With only me doing things, the allure of a small tent (with some larger decorations) is becoming more appealing by the second! Your pics have really inspired me. Thank you! Muuuaah!
"Ahhh.. yes, the cards tell me.. that you love standing in long lines, sometimes for hours at a time...' (Insert evil laugh here~)
Nah- with less than 70 TOTs in 2 hours, it'll work. If too many kids show up at once- they can just spin the wheel, grab-n-go.
Just love the ideas flowing through this thread! I just shared them with Rose, and we are definitely incorporating some of them into Rose's Haunted Graveyard IV! Thanks to all for the continued creativity!
I'll probably be in the minority here, but I go for "Experience" every time. Big, grandiose displays are great, but they are now rivalling that of Christmas. Not that that's a bad thing. Hey, I love to see it. But I think something that really impacts people (kids) is harder to pull off, and will stay with them a lot longer.

BTW, I almost went with a Gypsy Fortune Teller back in the '90's. We had a Hungarian girl who worked in a local Pet Shop all geared up, and she had an AMAZING accent. We were going to do a Werewolf transformation skit involving the Gypsy, but it proved just too hard to pull off. We also had a 60 minute line-up, and you have to consider that...
Another sort of a negative thing concerning mere displays is that so many people have no idea of what went into it, so it is appreciated less.
Unless they work with tools for their living or have to be constantly planing and getting things to make it possible for something important to happen, they might just shrug if off and assume a whole yard -worth of incredible machinery, displays , art work was just a 30 minute task.
I love an audience of people who have also struggled and worked then accomplished.
I always go for quality and quantity, but then again i run a big walkthrough haunt every year and like my name says, the Nightmare Family all works on it together.
if you are going it alone maybe quality would be better.

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