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My name is Mike Layton, I’m currently in the process of starting a small company that will produce a seasonal haunted attraction in Orlando (I know a year round haunted attraction would never survive as seen by several attempts so far). The past few Halloween seasons I spent visiting the competition in Orlando and some of the top Haunted Houses in the country, Netherworld and the 13th Gate. I’ve even helped build the sets for Halloween Horror Nights. From these experiences, I realize the quality you need to succeed and the standards set by these attractions. I know with this being my first year I could never be at the same level as Netherworld, but they are still my idol.

Here’s a little background about myself. I have a BFA in Design/Tech with an emphasis on Technical Production. I am currently the Assistant Technical Director at University of Central Florida’s Conservatory Theatre. I worked on several haunted houses in the past as the Technical Supervisor. These were smaller attractions in Northern Florida. I have experience using many different materials and techniques including wood, metal, plastic, and foam. I also do all the special effects and automation for the theatre. Additionally, I have created several large animatronic props for use in some of the haunted houses I used to work for.

What I want to do, for some time now, is put all my talents into an amazing professional haunted house of my own. Money has been the leading issue for some time now. But if I start small enough and continue to grow into something better, I hope to overcome my previous challenges. I’ve started by organizing a small group of technical theatre students. I have designers, stage managers, actors, technicians, and costume designers that all want to help out. I plan on opening the Haunted House in North Eastern Orlando somewhere between the large campuses of UCF and Valencia Community College. It is from these area schools that I hope to draw most of my customers.

I’m new to starting a business but have experience in running a smaller haunted attraction. I know I can succeed for several reasons. First, I’m not in it for the money. I think this is an important factor. Few people ever get rich at what they do. You have to do something because you love it, otherwise, you’ll lose interest. And I plan on donating a portion of the profits to a local charity. Second, I’m more about quality over quantity. I don’t want people standing in line as they go through my haunted house. I know this may be a bad business choice but it brings me to my third point. I have a full time job and do not hope to receive large sums of money from my endeavor. I’m a realistic person and all efforts will focus on breaking even this first year.

I’ve been reading as much as I can from everything I can get my hands on. I’ve spent a lot of time looking through and reading this forum and have found out how close a community the Haunted Industry is. I’ve joined IAHA and hope to one day be able to give back to them all the help they are providing me with.

I guess I’m really posting this because I’m looking for any and all advice to help me in my business venture. I’d also like to rally any support in the local area. Any and all help will be much appreciated. It’s important to note that I’m not rich and I know I still have a lot to learn. But with support, I am determined to succeed.
 

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Going bump in the night..
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Well, on a note unrelated to the haunting aspect, if you're looking to start a business, and don't have a clue where to begin, this book is used at quite a few universities in their business dept's:
Business Plan Software and Books - Business-plan.com
It's pretty comprehensive for putting your business together.
(after all, a haunt is an entertainment-based business)
 

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Yes, best of luck! If you haven't already, browse these forums too-

Haunted House Forums - Powered by vBulletin

There's a lot of folks in the business of haunted attractions there and offer a lot of good reading. This place is WONDERFUL, but we're for the most part home haunters. You need to be talking with professionals too- even more so. The best of intentions is wonderful, but without a proper business plan, it becomes the worst of intentions. Very best of luck to you. I hope you make whatever you're planning a huge success!

Dan
 
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