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Discussion Starter #1
We haven't even made it to Halloween but I'm already thinking about next year! lol

My wife and I are thinking about doing some sort of walk through in our yard for the visitors to our yard haunt but I am not sure if we should or not. I keep thinking about the liability issues with regard to someone getting hurt while on our property. My first thought is to put the money toward making some more stuff for the cemetery such as a mausoleum with FCG, monster in a coffin, etc. The main goal is to attract more people because we are collecting food for a local food bank and more people = more food.

I know a lot of you do have walk throughs for guests at your haunts and I was hoping to get your opinions about it. I want to hear it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. What issues have you run into, if any. Was there any trouble from the local authroities (police, fire, etc).

Thank you in advance for your opinions, advice and any other comments.

Happy Haunting!!!
 

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Caretaker of Eerie Manor
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We've done a walk through haunt for the past 15 years. It goes down our driveway, past a covered patio where we have a scene of some sort, past or into the garage and then through our back yard, exiting out a gate to our neighbors driveway. When we started, it was an offshoot of our front yard display. We wanted to give the TOT's and their parents something more. It grew each year and has maxed out in terms of potential and growth. It is a lot of fun but a LOT of work. Depending on how you set it up, you'll need helpers, maybe a lot of them. This year (our last), we're using 13 people to manage crowds and keep extra eyes on things. You're almost assured of drawing big numbers once the word gets out. People generally love this kind of thing. check with your home owners insurance to see what, if anything is covered in the event of an accident. If you're erecting structures or enclosures that people will be inside of, be sure there are no code restrictions. Check with your zoning or fire department. I can't stress enough having enough help to watch people at every area. Here is a thread I started a couple years ago when we ran into a kid and his mother who were bent on getting something from us.


http://www.halloweenforum.com/general-halloween/112172-potential-legal-problem-brewing.html?highlight=

A few pics of our walk through from various years. We average 6-700 visitors so crowd control is a main focus.

This year is a corn maze in the back portion





The entrance to the walk through for the past several years.



back patio made over as a cell




garage scenes





a 20 foot long canopy we use as a cave or tunnel.



Be overly cautious keeping safety first; no trip hazards, sharp corners, adequate lighting so people can see where they are going. Safety always comes first. I just scratched the surface but these are some things we've encountered over the years. Remember when I said it was our last year. Well it is and it's a simple matter of burn out. As much fun as the walk through is, it is a huge undertaking. After so many years, I'm looking forward to scaling back. Hope this was somewhat helpful. I'm sure others will chime in as well. Good luck with the plans!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks jdubbya, I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I read the story of the kid that claimed he was bitten in your haunt, that's the kind of thing that scares me to death. I guess the situation ended with no law suit, which is good. The wife and I have a lot to consider.
 

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First, a word on liability.

Check with your own first. But generally:

If you are not charging, generally, you are covered. There can be some local variances with this depending on how you advertise, however. And, unfortunately for your situation, "collecting donations" is sometimes one of those problem areas. But, that doesn't matter if you are a display OR a walkthrough. Either way, your coverage would be the same, what you change by making it a walkthrough is potentially more opportunity for problems.

We do a walkthrough. We have a 'preview party' on the 30th each year, where there's no actors, but folks are welcome to come over, look, carve a pumpkin, and/or take pics. We only really operate on the 31st.

Presently, it's me and my 2 boys running it, started with just me. Now in our 9th year, we get ~600 ON Halloween. At least 100 on the 30th (though I don't really even try to count that night).

As Jdubbya says, crowd control is a big concern.

I used to have a much more open design, but people running rampant all over creates problems. Had kids (ok, invariably teens) trip on things because they wouldn't stay on the path. Fortunately, it was my stuff that suffered, not kids.

Key to the crowd control for us is the queu line up front. Since I started pacing them through, we've had very few problems at all.

Also: WELL DEFINED entrance and path.
NO tripping hazards. No matter how much you try to tape that cord down...someone will trip. I take mine up and over these days.
Break up the teenagers.
Train your actors to let Jerks just move along, don't engage.
Make sure people have room to jump near startle scares...



 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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You could just put your money towards the food and be done with it.

Reiterating what everyone else has said...Safety First and get enough help so that you can control the crowd and that there's no place in your haunt where a ToT can't be seen.

Things to consider...do you have enough stuff for a bigger haunt? Are they going to walk on grass....foot traffic kills grass and rain and foot traffic turn your yard into a muddy mess.

Control everything. When I was having haunters go around my house, I laid out the path with orange rope light. Surprise, everyone walked on the path I made with the lights. All my pneumatics are manually controlled to make sure that someone doesn't wander into the BAM!! zone.

Like UnOrthoDox mentioned, I run all wires that cross paths up and over to avoid tripping hazards

Don't do anything that blocks the flow of traffic

Make sure the folks waiting out front have something to see

Don't use chainsaws.

This is supposed to be fun....if getting too big starts stressing you out, scale back.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A big "thank you" to everyone that has posted so far. Your words of wisdom are giving me a lot to think about. I think I'm going to work on making my static graveyard display as awesome as I can over the next couple of years. Then, who knows, maybe I'll feel up to doing a walk through of some sort. Thanks again!
 
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