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Discussion Starter #1
I have a bunch of questions for you guys who do full yard walkthrus. I've been contemplating one since our yard got redone and some themes would lend themselves well to it; but hubby's not in favor of it so far.

Weather is one issue he has since you really do have to set up days in advance and we live in an area where the weather can fluctuate between nice and windy/rainy. So did a lot of your stuff get ruined by the rain or wind and need to get tossed?

Supervision is another. Did you have people situated around the yard to see if anyone was messing with stuff or pretty much let them go thru unattended? It's just the two of us so hard to be everywhere.

General set up questions. Did you give out candy first or at the end after kids went through it? Did you have anyone who didn't want to walk through it? Did you find kids and/or parents apprehensive about wandering in your backyard out of view from the street? What challenges did you have setting up and what did you do to overcome them, ie. lighting, etc.?

Thanks. Thinking about next year already.
 

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I'll give this a bump. I haven't done one because of weather and also because I'm not inspired enough with my turnout to go through the work. If my rather elaborate display pulled in a hundred or more consistently, I'd consider taking it to the next level. But that just doesn't seem to be happening. My back yard is large enough that I would consider a large professional party tent to at least assure the weather couldn't ruin everything. Anyway, I'll let the veterans take it from here!
 

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Hauntless
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Wind.

Yeah, that 'fricken wind is what drove me into the garage. BUT, with a garage haunt you are amping up your liability. Pluses and minuses.... If you want to have an outdoor haunt - it's just better to design everything with wind in mind. I'm talking 40 mph sustained. 3pm had that wind hit and shredded the haunt back in 2007. It was horrifying...
 

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That's the inherent problem with halloween decor compared to christmas. Christmas is plastics and lights. Halloween is a lot of cloth and delecate set decor, not to mention whatever walls you would put up. Even a 10-15 mph wind bluster can do damage. Tough enough for a display. A walk through with an even larger expanse...can't even imagine.
 

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What Hump?
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We do a 5,000 square foot walkthrough.

Weather:
Our's is windy. We've ended up building 4'x8' wooden panels out of 2"x4" frames and OSB (very heavy, to withstand the wind better).
These panels are bolted together to create several 12'x12' rooms that we decorate with weather-resistant props and decorations.
The walls help protect the scenery and props inside from being blown away.
Each room has at least on 4x4 post, buried 2 feet into the ground and bolted to a panel to anchor it in place.
For maze sections, we place 2x4 posts, buried 2 feet into the ground, with pegboard walls (the holes in the pegboard allow the wind to blow through without turning the walls into sails).

Supervision:
We use video cameras in strategic places and publicize our use of video cameras with several signs.

Setup:
It takes us a month to set up. We leave it up for a month. It takes us a month to take down.
We have "chicken" exits throughout.
We give out candy and hot cocoa at the end to avoid getting candy wrappers and styro-foam cups littered throughout the walk-through.
Those that don't want to go through can sit at the exit (with candy and cocoa) to wait for those in their group that do go through.
 

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I attempted the walkthrough last year in my backyard. I liked it because I felt I could work on it in somewhat privacy with no one rubbernecking as they drove past. It was a grueling month of work because it was just me doing it. Unfortunetely it rained from sun up to sun down on Halloween and I couldn't open it. It was just too muddy. So it meant that absolutely no one got to see what I built. I'd like to try it again next year and hopefully I'll have better luck with it. It was a haunted forest theme as my backyard is a bit wooded. I did worry about liabilty issues though. I kept forseeing some tall dude gouging out an eye on a tree branch or someone just tripping over the uneven ground.
 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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I've done different versions. I've gone all the way around the house and now I have a walkthru on one side that goes into the garage.

I'd say the biggest issue is volunteers. I don't have a spot in my haunt that a ToTer can't be seen. I'm not worried about theft and vandalism...it's more safety and just a gut feeling.

Wind...yep, it sucks...build accordingly. If you have a structure then you need to make sure that it won't turn into a kite when the wind blows. Like Abunai, I use 2x4a and OSB and use 6 mil black plastic for the roof. I built a 2x4 roof to support the plastic if it rains, then laid old wood on the plastic to minimize the effects of the wind.. Doing it right creates two issues, storage and cost.

Another reason I don't go around my house anymore is that the current setup is all on concrete. If it rains, your grass will get trashed. I highly recommend not mowing the grass in october if you are going to have folks walk on it. Or, buld a boardwalk like Unorthodox uses.

Candy is handed out at the end.

Early setup can be a huge benefit if you are concerned about vandalism, because you can take your time and don't have to rush like a lot of folks due who have last minute setups.

If I had 5 more people I could count on to show up, I would go around the house again.
 

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I'd love to do a walk through in a few years time, but I'd have to cut another gate into the opposite side yard fence. Not keen on the idea of people walking through the house. It would be a dang tight fit to get people coming into and out of the same gate, but I guess it could be done.
 

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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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Like anything worth doing, a walk-thru is worth doing right. In fact, its a must. We've done internal walk-thrus in the past. Outside? No way, Jose. Too little control, unless you go Abdunai's way, which is a ton of expense. Indoors, you're in charge. Outside, anything goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the feedback. Always interesting to hear what situations people have encountered. All food for thought.

SaltwaterServr when we re-landscaped I added gates on both side yards fenced areas and planned for either patio area or a walkway cement/pavers all the way around the house kind of with this possibility in mind. We have a few structures like a BBQ island, dining pergola, fireplace that I've been thinking about using as "framework" for creating my various scene settings around. For example I thought I could add tarps to the sides of our dining pergola for a "walled in" type setting.

Has anyone incorporate your haunts scenes around structures in your yard? I won't be doing panels, don't have the money or construction ability to do that, so was thinking of "attaching" facades to like the BBQ island for example to create a circus wagon. The countertop would be the cage interior. Wagon wheels added to the lower portion. The island has a pergola over it so I'd have a top to the cage. I have lighting, LED spots, on the overhead beams so have the ability to light the interior of the cage. Plus we have electrical run to the island. Our family room window is a decent size picture window and I thought I could use it as a projection area, running video from inside the family room onto the window area creating another setting. The kids would kind of just walk around the yard encountering all these different scenery areas. Not sure if any of this makes sense to people but I hope so.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. Always interesting to hear what situations people have encountered. All food for thought.

SaltwaterServr when we re-landscaped I added gates on both side yards fenced areas and planned for either patio area or a walkway cement/pavers all the way around the house kind of with this possibility in mind. We have a few structures like a BBQ island, dining pergola, fireplace that I've been thinking about using as "framework" for creating my various scene settings around. For example I thought I could add tarps to the sides of our dining pergola for a "walled in" type setting.

Has anyone incorporate your haunts scenes around structures in your yard? I won't be doing panels, don't have the money or construction ability to do that, so was thinking of "attaching" facades to like the BBQ island for example to create a circus wagon. The countertop would be the cage interior. Wagon wheels added to the lower portion. The island has a pergola over it so I'd have a top to the cage. I have lighting, LED spots, on the overhead beams so have the ability to light the interior of the cage. Plus we have electrical run to the island. Our family room window is a decent size picture window and I thought I could use it as a projection area, running video from inside the family room onto the window area creating another setting. The kids would kind of just walk around the yard encountering all these different scenery areas. Not sure if any of this makes sense to people but I hope so.
makes sense to me.

In a nutshell, it is a bit like I want to do next year by making a path through my scenes rather than just looking at things from the street. My front yard isn't nearly as big as I'd like for this, but with my Barney/Hippo love child taking up so much space this year, I figure I can do more if I budget space.
 

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Weather is one issue:
You build for it. Everything that goes out early is ok to get wet. I'm setting things out all month long. My fences and tombstones are supported by steel rebar pounded into the ground. I put out the delicate things and electronics on H day.

Supervision is another.
I've always limited my haunt to the front yard just for that reason. I don't want people out of my sight. I don't enclose anything. Yes, it does tend to "give away" the scares, but I'd rather that than have people doing stupid things.

Did you give out candy first or at the end after kids went through it?
We give out candy right in the middle. You walk halfway through, get your candy and walk out.

Did you have anyone who didn't want to walk through it?
I've always had smaller kids too scared to come in. My wife goes out and walks them through, telling them where all the scary things are. Actors will back off. If they're little ones, she just gives them candy if their too afraid to come in.

Did you find kids and/or parents apprehensive about wandering in your backyard out of view from the street?
I've always had mine in the front yard. My son has tried several times to talk me into extending around to the back. I just don't want the risk. I do have some that don't want to even walk in the yard, but not many. Also, by putting my haunt in the front yard, it's Halloween all month long. Cars slow down as they pass my house. People walk by just to see what I've put up this week. The local kids ride by everyday to look. It becomes an event in itself, which is a little bit of insurance. What if the weather on H day sucks and nobody comes? It's happened to me and others here. This way I'm not going through all the work for nothing.

What challenges did you have setting up and what did you do to overcome them, ie. lighting, etc.?
It's different than having a haunted house. People walking through can see what happens to those ahead of them. I try to space things out so it's harder to see what's going on in the dark, but they're still going to hear the noises/see lights and know something is over there. Controlling the direction people walk through can be tough too unless you station someone at the exit. They'll walk in the exit and screw up the timing and flow of things. Some kids will just run in, get candy and run out never seeing much of anything.
 

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What challenges did you have setting up and what did you do to overcome them, ie. lighting, etc.?
It's different than having a haunted house. People walking through can see what happens to those ahead of them. I try to space things out so it's harder to see what's going on in the dark, but they're still going to hear the noises/see lights and know something is over there. Controlling the direction people walk through can be tough too unless you station someone at the exit. They'll walk in the exit and screw up the timing and flow of things. Some kids will just run in, get candy and run out never seeing much of anything.
Yep...have clearly marked enter and exit. Mine merge at the bottom of the driveway, so I stand there telling people which way to go.

I've mentioned it other places, but lining the path you want the ToTs to use works really well. People just seem to follow it even if I don't tell them to stay between the lights. Here's a pic from a few years ago in my badk yard.

 

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Im thankful that I live in San Diego and not much weather fluctuation happens here...although we did have rain this year. Sad. But I usually make sure every frame is secured to something. Whether it be the frames be secured to my house, or to each other I tend to have all the walls connected together overhead so nothing is freestanding. That being said, I do use support jacks that I make our of wood to help the sturdiness of the walls. When it rained this year, I just went around covering all of the electronics and such. I put a roof on my haunt this year made of a thick fabric so it helped in deterring the rain away from inside the outside yard portion of my haunt.

When the wind comes through, you just hope and pray that the fabric you use as walls stays together. If I see that the weather is going to be a little shift, I will throw a few more staples into the frame for the fabric stays on. I also try to use plywood panels as much as possible.

As for security, I dont have any cameras, even though I should probably just in case. I don't live in a high crime neighborhood so I rely on the eyes and ears or my neighbors to tell me whats going on and if they see anything. But all in all, my community respects what I do and they look forward to it. Why would someone want to ruin the magic?? If you are in a shady neighborhood, it might behoove you to go buy some cameras or motion censor lights.

Also, I dont put any of my high end props, or favorite stuff out until maybe a day or two before Halloween. That way if someone were to walk into the haunt before it was truly finished, they would be discouraged of doing anything. Where I am worrysome is my lighting. I take pride in my lighting and effects so I am very cautious about them being taken. So I try to get them up high, out of sight, or even securing them down so no happy lookerby can stop and take my expensive equipment.

For candy, we give it to them first...making sure everyone gets a piece. For the little ones who are maybe too timid to enter or it may be their first haunted house, we offer a "not scary" version where we allow them to go with a flashlight and we have al the happy haunts out in the open so they can see them. Its not that bad of a deal because it allows the parents with those kids to go slowly and appreciate all the detail that I put into the haunt and appreciate it and they usually want to go back in when its the scary version, then we can scare the crap out of them.

I think challenges that I have is only my imagination. I draw up these elaborate plans for everything and am wanting to make everything so finely details that it ends up shooting me int he foot because I get behind.

We also had a person who complained it was "too scary" and that we went overboard when scaring his family and didn't stop when they were scared. I kindly had a conversation with the gentleman, and pointed out the numerous warnings that we post before entering the haunt, explaining how the "haunt uses strobes, theatrical lighting, fog and multiple scares that may be too intense for some people. If you can not handle these conditions, simply say "not scary" and we wont be upset that you chickened out. Enter at your own risk." He was still a little angry so I just apologized and moved on.

Good luck on your future haunt ventures! :)

-Tom
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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We have a maze that starts in our garage and goes through our back yard. We cover all of the areas with tarps, this helps with wind and blocks out a lot of the ambient light from the green space and near by street. We also anchor black coroplast on 2x4s frames for stability and structure in some areas of the maze. Our set up sounds similar to Abunai, we have cameras in 2 areas, we also have actors throughout who keep an eye on things. We have one chicken exit after the garage maze which leads to the driveway by-passing the outdoor maze areas. We provide treats at the end of the driveway, or the door for small kids and people that do not go through. It takes us about 2 weeks to set up, and at least a week to tear down. In fact finishing the yard maze tear down is our project for this weekend! :)
 

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Hungry For Death
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This year was the first year I was able to make my own garage maze. It was completely built with 3/4" PVC. Each "Room" section measured at about 4ft by 4ft by 6'6" high. Total was 12ft by 12ft

It was a great turnout and I will definitely do it again. My only issue was when a couple of teens came through and had gotten scared and bumped into the "Wall" and knocked down a couple of props and wall coverings. The walls were a mixture of Weed Block fabric, Tarp, and Discounted fabric from Joann's ziptied to the PVC ;) . Yup was on a tight budget. The babe wasn't sure how well it would go so she had me do a test year lol

Next year I should have a bigger budget to allow me to create the 4x6'6" OSB Walls that mazes need for the reason of stability and strength.

As far as monitoring. My Haunt actor were the ones who basically kept an eye out. Like CSUSB44 had stated, I live in a neihborhood that watches out for eachother (During the rest of october for vandelism) and they also help out keeping the peace/ line control for my maze.

It's really all about how you feel about your current neighborhood.

Honestly, I would develop a plan and even post it for consideration on the forum. A lot of us will be helpful and give you insight of our very own. Both containing approval and some containing "Don't do this because in my experience....."

One thing I can ultimately suggest is that inside the maze, if you are putting in a prop that you are concered about it being tampered with. Just add a scare actor by that prop to deter ToTs from getting to close to it. Like have them scare the ToTs away from it and forward through the maze.
 

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AAhhh Ghost of Spookie....beware.... this level of haunting becomes addictive & you may find yourself glued to the Projects threads here at the Forum! Be ready to put aside more money for treats cause for sure more people will eventually come. These are my words of wisdom from my experience in taking a traditional approach to Halloween by just handing out candy & a few decorations outside & then graduating to a .....lets say...."much more responsive approach" to the holiday.

It all started with Ghostess & Britta, showing the insides of their houses for Halloween. Yup I had to do it. At my house the inside was always more fabulous then the outside but no one saw the inside.....till I got brave at 2 years here in the Forum. That next Halloween I opened the front door & we have never looked back! Oh its just blows you away! I remember how afraid they were even the parents to come inside the house, they never met an experience like this before.

Now granted even if the haunt is just outside, you have to have a passionate partner, because this is truly a unique experience than just handing candies out at the door. I march over 600 people through my house, carpet is cream colored, gets shampooed after each season. Now I may not do this if I get new carpeting. Well its pretty addictive. Anyways.....haunt starts in the front yard, cemetery & little decorations, up the steps ......(mmmm. insurance. Every year I call my insurance man to see if I need extra coverage for Halloween w/ this size crowd.....he always says no) (For the record this was our 9th season doing this in this house, even tho this year we did not do the go-thru the house thing cause I was sick, but next year we are planning bigger things & adding scenes. Oh yes....as I was saying....there has never been an accident here!) ( Like to mention tho ....its not if you have an accident....its WHEN!) please keep that in mind>>>I do!

Ok they walk thru a foyer decorated, there is a scene down the hall, the bathroom is decorated, someone always has to use the bathroom ( make sure meds are put away). Then theres the dining room known as the "Spell & Potion Room". My spot, I am a witch & I do the taking of the Family Photo's which are posted online. This year I had business cards made that had links to our web site & picturetrail where the pics are. Last year I forgot about them & I ended up talking all night telling people where to go. Be prepared for these things ahead of time. Then they move onto the kitchen where they are given their treats, a bag of popcorn & a brownie. People take food at our house cause they know us. They exit out the back door ( trust me for 2 years they came in & went out the front door>>>>ABSOLUTELY did not work) gotta keep that crowd moving in one direction. They stop before going out the door to view the living rooms funeral parlor. Out the door into the garage where there is a scene we change every year.

2012 we started the tents, when you decorate like this believe me you are buying all year long....props, props & more props. So it grows, kinda like that "Red Rose" house that keeps growing. That year Sandy blew the tent into another county & broke some things we though we had attached pretty good. MY stuff is all outdoor proof. Valuables stay in the house. ( seasons with 100's of decorations...nothing ever stolen). Last year added a huge scene on our back deck. This season we didn't open but next year we are talking about adding more tents...pop-ups. I have enough stuff to do 3 extra scenes. Our yard is plenty big to add more. We discussed watching things at night if we set up tents in the front yard......put up basics & all little stuff store in totes and deliver to each tent Halloween morning & set up.

I use pop-ups & cover sides with bolts of material I pick up all year at auctions & flea markets. The biggest problem is trying to find help. I tried every trick in the book this year & still we could not open halloween night. The one person that helped us every year passed away last Feb.. So it was just me & Jer. We knew with the way the haunt has grown that the 2 of us could not handle it alone. So we just handed out candy this year. I will never let this happen again....but thats another story. I already have help lined up for next season>>>RELIABLE help! Now if we move onto the lawn we are still gonna have to have help cause you just can't watch everything. Even if you are in a good neighborhood, people let the kids get fiesty & when no one is in sight, your props can take a beating.

Plus you need to be available to walk the perimeter. Fuses blow, music gets stuck, fog machines need a boost. Ya gotta pee!! For us Halloween night was always like a 5 hour high intensity aerobic workout. When we're done....we're tired & starving. At my place when the screen door opens it stays open for hours, I can see the top of it from where I stand, but it is shoulder to shoulder crowds. ( One year I couldn't even get to the telephone.)

So you ask>>>is it all worth it?

My reply>>>>It took Halloween to a whole new level for me! And it all started when I found this forum....the ideas....you can make stuff the rest of your life. Great people that keep you motivated & appreciate your passion for this special holiday.

So go ahead & dive in, and enjoy the ride!!

the Muffster


P.S. One more thought>>>>the neighbors! Friendly neighbors can turn into werewolves from doing a feat like this. My house is a mad house on Halloween with lines waiting to get in & oh the parking thing....so go ahead at Xmas and buy them a cheesecake or something...it can't hurt.
Look forward to seeing how much damage we did this year by not having the house open. You can't start something like this & then just not do it. I know better. So many disappointed kids & adults. Gotta make up for it Halloween 2015! I'm already on it!
 

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Hungry For Death
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Oh My God.....I'm sorry I didn't realize I said that much!!
And here I though I wrote alot. LOL!!

Mine is a short story compared to your novel!.

Do you have pics of this somewhere?

So you ask>>>is it all worth it?

My reply>>>>It took Halloween to a whole new level for me! And it all started when I found this forum....the ideas....you can make stuff the rest of your life. Great people that keep you motivated & appreciate your passion for this special holiday.
Amazingly well said right there. I haven't quite made big things... yet... but ever since I joined this forum in 2012... I have not stopped thinking about Halloween and all the setups I will be doing. It's amazing how well you can be addicted to this... This Haunt bug knows no bounderies xD
 
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