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I usually just let people walk thru my yard as they come and wish to at their own pace. Haven't had any issues with this, but this year I am planning a walk thru in the garage also which will require more actors and probably better timing.
With a normal pro haunt it is normal to wait in a line and go in groups timed. Not sure that I really want to sit in front of my haunt all night.
Do you control the pace? have actors help with that in the haunt?
Wondering what everyone else does and what works best for you?
 

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I hope more people with better experience answer this, because I could use the advice myself.

Last year was our first year with a backyard haunt. I let people in in groups (usually based on whatever group they came with), and waited until the last group came running out so there was only 1 group in the haunt at a time. I also only got about 30 ToT's over the course of the whole evening, so I never had a long line.

I yelled at the backyard to alert the actors that a new group was coming through, but this year I definitely want to be more professional. I'm actually going to spend some money on walkie-talkies. That way the actors can let me know if they are ready or not. Also, I want a better way to alert the actors as to what level of scary they should be. We get some pretty little guys that come through, and there's no point in coming at them 100% with the scariest stuff. The actors could basically stand still and it would scare the crap outa them. I am planning to come up with some code-words...like..The Great Pumpkin for less scary and Freddy Krueger for more scary.
 

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Also would like some feedback. I have done what psox16 has for our garage haunt. Let them go in groups (if large groups 5 or more split them up). Usually only takes about 2-3 minutes to go through so not too long of a wait. I'll be outside letting them in this year and working the line. We would announce "big scare" or "little scare" if they were really jumpy. Tried to use cell phones to communicate but WAY too much of a hassle - DON'T go that way - try the walkie talkies imo.
 

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The come and go as you please method worked well till we hit about the 300 folks mark. Now that we get anywhere from 500-600 TOTs (and about a thousand people counting parents), that's just too much.

Since then, I've been relegated to the gatekeeper role, and I personally manage the flow to let the volunteers have the fun inside the haunt. It's fun in a different way. I don't get the scares like I used to be able to, but I get to interact with people a LOT more.

Tried walkies, they don't work well.

We've got one o them video baby monitors that the actors can watch to set up when people are coming. We DO NOT use jump scares, but a nice loud one would alert people kids are coming as well.

My pacing is fairly simple, as I'm basically split into 4 "rooms". The front yard being the first "room", followed by the corn tunnel down the side of the house, scare area in back, and candy drop on the porch. I don't count the exit, which really could be it's own room as patrons decorate our sidewalk down the side of the house with fluorescent chalk.

Anyhow, as soon as a group gets through the front yard (no actors there, ever), I send the next. This works VERY well.

Groups are cut into no more than 4 teens. If there's parents taking kids, I try to keep it to 4 kids for the folks working the candy drop to be able to keep an eye on everyone (though I've had problems back there with PARENTS in the past).

Also, I want a better way to alert the actors as to what level of scary they should be. We get some pretty little guys that come through, and there's no point in coming at them 100% with the scariest stuff. The actors could basically stand still and it would scare the crap outa them. I am planning to come up with some code-words...like..The Great Pumpkin for less scary and Freddy Krueger for more scary.
I have employed "THE MAGIC ITEM" format for years, and it works fabulously. Typically we use glow bracelets. But I leave them as a stick. Little kids out front, or anyone acting especially nervous, is given a glow stick (by me) and told that if they hold it up REALLLLLY high over their heads, it will scare the monsters away. It never gets old watching that kid clinging to their parent teetering down the path and scared to enter the corn tunnel, then come out the other side THRILLED and asking to go fight the monsters again. See, the actors are coached TO ACT AFRAID of those glow sticks. Kids remember and ASK for the glowsticks these days.

I've seen this done with flashlights, and blinking rings in professional haunts as well.
 

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I usually end up controlling the line so I can easily tell by the sounds where the last group that went in is. I use pneumatics so we like to keep groups spaced enough that they don't see others getting scared. Since they are all manually controlled, we don't go after little kids...but if mom or dad is carrying the kid...well that's the choice they made.
 

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I have a garage walk through, all props no actors. Space is limited inside for groups. The first year I let everyone go through on their own accord and it was a disaster some kids got rowdy and started pushing - I feared for my props. After that I became a gate keeper and let groups of ~5 at a time that really calmed everyone down. Last year I had ~200 TOTs and the ones that waited in line were able to check out the yard stuff that usually barely gets a glance on the way to the garage. The line was never long wait time under 5minutes tops. I also live fairly rural so my TOTs come on tractors so it's normal for 20+ to pull up at once. I wasn't sure about sitting in front of my haunt doing crown control either, but I also like to talk to the kids (as they are on the 2nd or 3rd pass through) what they liked better his year vs last, what scared them, etc.

I've been to pro haunts that use the glow bracelet/necklace method for the scared ones or ones that don't like to be touched.
 

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I have employed "THE MAGIC ITEM" format for years, and it works fabulously. Typically we use glow bracelets. But I leave them as a stick. Little kids out front, or anyone acting especially nervous, is given a glow stick (by me) and told that if they hold it up REALLLLLY high over their heads, it will scare the monsters away. It never gets old watching that kid clinging to their parent teetering down the path and scared to enter the corn tunnel, then come out the other side THRILLED and asking to go fight the monsters again. See, the actors are coached TO ACT AFRAID of those glow sticks. Kids remember and ASK for the glowsticks these days.

I've seen this done with flashlights, and blinking rings in professional haunts as well.
What great idea! I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have never seen the magic item at a haunt or heard of that. Glad you mentioned it, what a great idea. May have to steal it also.
Thanks
 

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We have had the same "gate keeper" for about 5 years, he is very good at kid/crowd wrangling! We typically let in groups of 4-5 at most. He knows to send the the next group in when the nursery room MIB goes off. It works out to be about 2 minutes between groups. We also use walkies to send a kids name up the line so actors can use it in scares ahead of them. We also leave one hidden and an actor uses it from a distance to scare.
 
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