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I am at a crossroads with our home haunt. This year we have exhausted our space for our home haunt. Every year we have been adding to our haunt with both quantity and more sophisticated props. I had a five year plan that would find my self leaving the confines of my house and moving the haunt to a more permanent,(albeit seasonal) home after the fifth year. This may have come a year earlier then expected, with our room exhausted this year.

I am wondering if other fellow members have been in a similar situation in wanting to graduate from home haunting into the "pro" realm. If so, did you encounter much difficulty in your transition? And were there many hurdles encountered (insurance/liability risk, finding appropriate space etc). I still haven't made up my mind to commit for next year for a full scale haunted attraction. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
 

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The guys I know who did it, all say the same thing. "The business side took the fun out of it". So I'd recommend finding a partner that wants to be responsible for the hiring/firing/scheduling/inspections/bookkeeping...etc if your goal is to build it and haunt it
 

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We've never really had a home haunt. Just some a small yard cemetery. All our efforts were done at a theater... but doing some type of commercial haunt was a dream of some day. Over the years I've met a number of haunters, some pro and some home. I've been told the same thing over and over like Scatterbrains says going pro can take the fun outta of it. A rather famous pro haunter Leonard Pickle, who I've heard speak a few times at the West Coast Haunters Convention, point blank tell you don't.

A lot of the things us home haunters don't really worry about is insurance, fire marshals, advertising, sponsors, actors, rent, building codes, security, permits... the list is almost endless of things to worry about when you go pro. Rules vary from town to town, heck even a fire marshal this year will have a different "rule" the next. Just spoke to a pro haunter in a new space who's inspector wanted EVERY inch of wood fire proofed and emergency lights in every corner. The expense was overwhelming.

Frog and I managed this year to hook up with a group of home haunters that are using their talents to help the local Nile Shriners with their commercial haunt. We very new to this group and I don't know how things work but from what I can tell the Shriners deal with the business end of things. We only have to design, build, staff the haunt, to "be scary and have fun".

I'll tell you even without worrying about where to park all the cars, where the rent money is coming from, how much and what kind of insurance we need yad yad yad.... it is a LOT of work . We spent three weekends building our space and furnishing it. Endless evenings after the real life jobs to tweak, fix or add things. The weekend nights (3 so far) at the space working as actors and fixing things on the fly. Since opening at least 2 nights during the week after work to make better repairs, more tweaking or more adding. I can't imagine also dealing with inspectors, contracts, vendors, sponsors, advertisers, police and fire then worrying about money for rent, utilities, security, ... where's the fun in that.

The dog feels abandoned, the fast food joints are making a small fortune on us, haven't done the grocery shopping in 3 weeks, the laundry only to wash the costumes, forget mowing the lawn or putting the garden to bed for the season. When your have a home haunt it's at home and little things like eating dinner at home with the family, walking the dog, catching the walking dead on a quiet lazy evening or tossing in a load of dishes or laundry is pretty easy. When you go pro and the space is cross town these simple tasks and joys fall to the side. We never thought of that when we sure we're in.

As nice as it is to make a grown man scream like a girl....There are a LOT of things to consider. before going pro.
 

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Go semi-pro first. Work with a charitable organization that has a nice chunk of land and just do it for a single night or weekend at first. Get a cut of the revenues to improve your budget for next year. work this through a multi-year plan where maybe you add a few extra nights or weekends. A charity haunt has all the same issues you'll have to deal with for a full on pro haunt, except the soul-draining doldrum of managing it for days and weeks on end.
 

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Did it last year, was pure Hell, forget about having fun and time for anything else. Was a real learning experience. Might do it next year, but totally different format. Will try alone maybe next year, as we did it with the city and was a big pain in the ***.

It's LLLOOTSS of work, stay up late every night, lots of driving everywhere too, at the end, we were sick of it.

Also, try to do it INDOOR, as weather is such a factor for us.
 
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