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Discussion Starter #1
I made a couple of observations this year that I wanted to share with the group assembled here and hear your feedback.

This year was a high-water mark for my family. We had a dozen major props, we had seven actors, we had a maze for the first time, and we had a very organized, professional, event from start to finish. We had people start coming to our house at 4:30 because they were going to work and wanted to see everything they had watched being set up all month. We had officers from three different agencies come through after a deputy sheriff brought her kids through before she went on watch and she spread the word to everyone on patrol to sneak by and go through the maze. And we didn't get the last visitors through until almost midnight. By all accounts we scored big, but we scored big last year as well, and received loads of support, congratulations, and appreciation from our neighbors, but I didn't see all those good feelings translate into more families decorating or even being home Saturday night. Our neighbors across the street decorated, but only about half as much as last year.

So what I'm wondering is if some of us are pursuing a self-defeating proposition? It seems to me the more we improve our houses and haunts, the more we may be intimidating or deterring others from doing the same. How many of my neighbors are saying "I would love to decorate, but how can I possibly compete with that? My feeble efforts would look like crap compared to those, so why bother?", and what we've been hoping would encourage others is actually deterring them?

The other observation I made is we had about 25% of our visitors arrive by foot. The other 75% would pull up in vehicles, a bunch of kids and adults would get out, they would go through the maze and do their thing, then they all got back into their vehicle and left even though there were five houses within sight that had their porch lights lit. I had a couple of folks ask me how good our neighborhood was for trick or treating, and told them all our neighbors appear to be participating, but I did take a drive through about 7:45 and saw only about a third of houses were lit.

So I'm wondering if trick or treating is moving away from being a neighborhood event and becoming more of a destination thing? Who wants to walk a couple miles through a neighborhood to get 25-33% results when you can throw the kids in a car, drive around and look for house like ours that are all decked out and entertaining, and stop there, have a great time, get some candy, and then drive around to the next house? This reminds me of how my folks liked to go look at Christmas lights. They had no problem driving around for hours looking for the really nice houses, and I'm wondering if that same mindset is becoming more prevalent at Halloween?

Lastly, relating to both previous observations, we got contact information from a lot of people, including several neighbors, who asked to participate in our efforts next year, either helping with funding, setup, or serving as actors or guides. So this made me wonder if maybe there's a if you can't beat em join em mentality raising its head? Instead of setting up your own decorations, align with someone else and eventually create a community haunted house where everyone congregates instead of doing things on an individual basis.
 

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My thoughts exactly.

My idea regarding intimidating the neighbors is asking if they want to collaborate somehow. I felt bad to look down the street and see our friend on his porch waiting while the cars stopped at our house and then packed up and moved on. He decorates but he doesn't light it up like we do. I may ask him if he would like to go in on some led floods with me... and if we get his house lit then maybe the kids will move around a bit more.

I agree that kids don't just walk the neighborhood anymore. It seems to be all car traffic, at least around here.
 

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With a low participation rate in my 'hood - a lot of nearby folks who are fans of my display, take their kids to "greener pastures" on Halloween.
Of course that worsens the participation rate further still.
Conversely, I had a fair percentage of "shuttled" TOTs drop by from parts unknown.
Also -Now there's a lot more school sponsored parties and "trunk or treat" gatherings.
Might that lessen the need for a big candy haul on the 31st?

Bruzilla - Do you have a thread that shows your complete haunt? I can't seem to find one.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
No, I didn't do a thread detailing our haunt this year. I'm still trying to recover from Saturday night. :) I just wanted to get this string up because my kids, their friends, and I were up until almost 3:00AM discussing what we had seen and how we, read they, were going to make things better and bigger next year. It was a similar discussion to the one we had last year, when the talk of the maze started, and I really thought they would let the matter drop and just repeat what they did last year, but they surprised me by following through 100% with what they had planned so I now have to expect they are going to do what they plan to do. :)

But as a human performance analyst by trade, I'm bound to always assess what impacts our efforts are having and see if they are the impacts we want or ones that we don't.
 

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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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Bruz, nobody wants to intimidate the neighbours out of decorating because anything they put out will look lame compared to ours.... But that's the reality of it. My advice? Get over it and do what you do.
 

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It seems to me the more we improve our houses and haunts, the more we may be intimidating or deterring others from doing the same. How many of my neighbors are saying "I would love to decorate, but how can I possibly compete with that? My feeble efforts would look like crap compared to those, so why bother?", and what we've been hoping would encourage others is actually deterring them?
I've come to the conclusion the majority of people don't have a passion for Halloween so they aren't going to decorate no matter how much or little we personally do...They have other passions - cars, music, RC cars, guns, etc....They fill their thoughts with those passions instead....I'm OK with that and it's what makes this forum so special....ZR
 

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Thank you Bruzilla for bringing up some very interesting points here. First let me send a big congratulations your way for all the efforts put into making your haunt what it was this season....takes a lot of patience for sure, but then when everything is nearly that perfect what a great payoff.

On my road which is in a rural area there is still a ton of houses. This season about 10% of them had any type of decoration to show and this road of mine runs about 4 miles. I have heard over the years a small handful tell me that its no use decorating because the kids all bring up my house, but who of these houses on this road decorated before I moved in? Remember me mentioning that 1st year I moved in (9 yrs. ago) that my neighbor said don't worry about buying candy we never get tot's. That year it all started when we had 147. 2012 we had a full page write up in the local paper and had 1000 come.

I'm very lucky that my neighbors don't say anything about the crowds and we have no parking here. They park down 2 streets a little ways up & a little ways down from my house and they walk in. It has gotten pretty crazy some of these years. My neighbors on one side have not spoke to us about anything.....ever! She is a middle school teacher. They just don't talk to us. On the other side is a family that has taught their children to hate Halloween, when their son was little he would help us build props and put up the decorations but these last several years the only pleasure he gets is telling us what idiots we are putting the haunt up and buying candy. One year his Mom came over here crying standing in my kitchen with all these people going through and just.....well they manage somehow to ruin every Halloween for us somehow.

This families relatives live in all the houses surrounding me with the exception of these 2 next door. Still no one says a thing. They buy candy>>sometimes...hand it out and when its gone its gone. So we can't get any help from any neighbors. Plus nobody is gonna do what we do. It would take a fortune to put up a haunt like ours and I don't even have fancy $$$$ props, but I got a lot. I just do it cause I love it and I'm nuts buying stuff all year round. Last year we did not open the house part of the haunt & this year I found out how many people were talking about that. Won't happen again. I want people to enjoy Halloween as much as I do. No way around it folks, we are the examples of all that Halloween can be.

The haunters of tomorrow are gonna learn the possibilities from us. We are the extreme.

Good luck to you getting your neighbors involved, I wish you the best. For me I got serious this year about asking for help due to our health issues. I got a lot of response so we'll see if that works out. As far as people coming to our haunts and visiting surrounding houses.....the kids do go to other houses after visiting mine cause they have to walk back to where they parked their cars......but if people stop giving candy that may change. One lady told me that neighbors next door and across the street did not give candy this year. We're far enough out that its not worth it to just drive all the way out here just to see my place. We do get folks that come every year from quite a few miles away, they were not happy campers last year when the house was closed. Still I think people will continue to frequent houses that go over the top and those that build them have to just be concerned about the groves of fans that come.

May the Force Be With You
 

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#1, 400 pieces of candy is not enough. Better go for 800
#2, kids are greedy and go through without looking at 90% of my haunted garage straight for the end to get candy. Next year I'm putting up a maze they have to walk through to slow them down.
#3, even after testing be prepared for several items to not work as planned. I need a couple of back up fog machines and also setting up my Animatronics to remote on/off switch instead of relying on motion sensors that dont work in the dark. Some I will point lights at for a fix but I found a 5 section remote on/off that should work.
 

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Blue Pill? or Red Pill?
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I remember when I was young, not every house had kids, but all the houses gave out candy. Some even had walk thrus and booby traps in the trees, and there kids were high school age. So they set up decor and really had no kids. But everyone participated. Everyone stayed in their neighborhood to tot.
Now, it depends on how many kids live around you whether people decorate and hand out candy. We went to another neighborhood because our neighbors are very seasonal (don't live year round) except for 2 houses.
I think our haunts do intimidate, and maybe giving them some of our props that we won't use again might help. Maybe having your older kids set it up for them. Sometimes you don't need a plethora of props to be spooky. Just a couple of good ones, and some great lighting.
 

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#2, kids are greedy and go through without looking at 90% of my haunted garage straight for the end to get candy. Next year I'm putting up a maze they have to walk through to slow them down.
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I combat tha issue by putting the candy in the middle or even in the fromt of the haunt. Plus it keeps them guessing where the end is. This year, i put a laser over top of candy dish and when they went to get the candy, a air blast would hit them in the ankles. Was funny to watch them try to get some candy and then they thought it was over but they were only about half way through it.
 

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So what I'm wondering is if some of us are pursuing a self-defeating proposition? It seems to me the more we improve our houses and haunts, the more we may be intimidating or deterring others from doing the same. How many of my neighbors are saying "I would love to decorate, but how can I possibly compete with that? My feeble efforts would look like crap compared to those, so why bother?", and what we've been hoping would encourage others is actually deterring them?
I think this is a truism. In a way we see it reflected here on the forum. I am surprised at the lack of comments and support that people receive when they post pics of their haunt on this forum. The handful that are over the top pro looking get 8 pages of comments.

But medium and smaller haunts that still take dozens of hours of work just get glossed over with only 4 or 5 comments. On the first three pages there are about dozen haunts with pics posted that have less than ten comments and half of those comments are from the op.

If we skip over nice looking smaller haunts posted on this forum, why should we expect people to stop a car to visit a house with a scarecrow and a few spiders?
 

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Col. Fryght.......could it be to early perhaps? During the years I have been on this forum I know a lot of us sit down on Halloween night and come to the forum to read. Most are so pooped they leave their comments to threads at a later time. I've seen this. I do it. When I sit down to look at a haunts pictures or video I like to take my time with a good drink in hand and actually its my favorite after Halloween activity. So even tho I have been posting some comments on the board, I always wait till I'm well rested and stuff is put away, then I sit here to comment on ALL the wonderful haunts small & big. I appreciate them all.


I use to be a small haunt with a lot of dreams that I am finally attaining>>>>it takes time to make these haunts grow!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I remember when I was young, not every house had kids, but all the houses gave out candy. Some even had walk thrus and booby traps in the trees, and there kids were high school age. So they set up decor and really had no kids. But everyone participated. Everyone stayed in their neighborhood to tot.
I suspect there's a myriad of reasons why less and less people participate. The days when Dad worked 9-5 and Mom stayed home are gone, replaced by people working all sorts of weird shifts. The Boomer generation is now dead or becoming grandparents and there are far fewer kids to justify the event. Then you have churches and social groups pushing the trunk-or-treat nonsense... which I find highly ironic when the same people who get made about Christmas not being called Christmas don't mind calling Halloween trick-or-treating a Fall festival and trunk-or-treating. :)

What I don't think is debatable is that there is a severe, sustained, and ongoing decrease in the numbers of trick-or-treaters and folks participating in Halloween and that's not going to change. So we all need to look at how we're going to move forward with the holiday given that the old approaches are becoming obsolete. I keep seeing more and more "is it worth it?" posts on here, and responses such as more advertising, social media, etc., help. I think we need to start really looking hard at migrating our behaviors to a new environment instead of trying to find ways to cope with an environment that's slowly dying off and is more and more unsustainable every year.
 

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In our neighborhood or our street it is a tradition to decorate and most of us do but no one is really intimidated and everyone sets up
their yard they way they want. We all have our themes. My direct neighbor to the left has all blow up wal-mart decorations. One guys does
tombstones with freddy kruger all the time. I change themes every 2-3 years. I did haunted corn maze for 3 years and this year changed to giant
spiders with 35 foot spiderweb. I will improve on the spiders for next year and might add 2 giant ants as im motivated by one of my all time movie as
a kid "THEM" We get tons of kids trucked in mostly as we usually get 500-600 kids in 2 1/2 hours. It is crazy. It is worth it. People tell us they wait all year
just to come to our house and our street, that is worth the effort when you know people enjoy your hard work. Im working on props now. Working on new audio tracks..... the planning never ends :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So my gut feeling is that more and more folks who put up bigger and better home haunts each year are attracting more "destination" type visitors than they are locals? Anyone else agree with that assumption? And if that's the case, the way forward may likely be ignoring the rest of the neighborhood and maximizing the use of advertising (signs, articles, social media, etc.) to maximize the return on your efforts.
 

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So what I'm wondering is if some of us are pursuing a self-defeating proposition? It seems to me the more we improve our houses and haunts, the more we may be intimidating or deterring others from doing the same. How many of my neighbors are saying "I would love to decorate, but how can I possibly compete with that? My feeble efforts would look like crap compared to those, so why bother?", and what we've been hoping would encourage others is actually deterring them?

(snip snip snip)

So I'm wondering if trick or treating is moving away from being a neighborhood event and becoming more of a destination thing? Who wants to walk a couple miles through a neighborhood to get 25-33% results when you can throw the kids in a car, drive around and look for house like ours that are all decked out and entertaining, and stop there, have a great time, get some candy, and then drive around to the next house? This reminds me of how my folks liked to go look at Christmas lights. They had no problem driving around for hours looking for the really nice houses, and I'm wondering if that same mindset is becoming more prevalent at Halloween?

Lastly, relating to both previous observations, we got contact information from a lot of people, including several neighbors, who asked to participate in our efforts next year, either helping with funding, setup, or serving as actors or guides. So this made me wonder if maybe there's a if you can't beat em join em mentality raising its head? Instead of setting up your own decorations, align with someone else and eventually create a community haunted house where everyone congregates instead of doing things on an individual basis.
Here are my thoughts ~

1. For my area, I don't think we're intimidating others out of decorating. The houses here didn't really decorate when DH & I first started out quite small, and they don't do much now either. Like others have stated - it's just not their thing. Plus, our neighborhood is in a bit of transition - most people have older kids or no kids at home. Those of us with smaller kids are in the minority, and I think that plays a big part of whether people decorate more.

2. I do think TOTing is becoming more of a destination thing, rather than a neighborhood thing. I think it's a combination of not as many houses participating in neighborhoods, kids wanting to do so many things in large groups rather than their families & therefore getting out of their own neighborhoods to go someplace else, as well as parents perceiving a greater threat of the unknown than ever before (helicopter parenting) and wanting their kids to do sleepovers, parties or trunk or treats instead. Then add in the social media obsession of tweens & teens posting where they are & what they're doing, and they all wanna look cool by going to the best places.

3. Most of our neighbors are supportive & offer compliments on our setup. We're not nearly as large as some of you though, so I have a feeling a couple would speak out if we started to get "too crowded". I don't think we're ever gonna be looking at a group haunt - not even some of the younger kids around ask to help out or approach us as we're setting up, really. One neighbor MIGHT take us up on an offer to loan them some decorations or put up a few things in their yard ourselves, but none others.

We got a lot of feedback from local family & friends who stopped by our yard that their neighborhoods were really slow too. Again, I agree this goes back to the actual lack of most TOTers going through a whole neighborhood - they pop in or out of cars that their parents drive them in, or they just walk down one or two streets in their own neighborhood and then head for greener pastures. Or, they go to a party because they already went to a trunk or treat or other "fall" party. Sigh...
 
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