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Discussion Starter #1
Go easy on this Halloween virgin and I dive head first into trouble as I tackle my first haunted house. It's actually the third year of being involved, but my first on designing the layout, which is the most important. It's being done for a Harvest Carnival at my son's elementary school and I have another buddy who is working with me.

I have spent the better part of 4 days drawing and designing the layout. I actually measured and paced out the space I have to use yesterday, which required me to modify the design as I was 6' too long on the width of the area. Sometimes more doesn't mean better, especially when it comes to the decorations and props we already have and those we need to create or buy. Budget...yeah, it's in there somewhere and I am already going past what I expected to spend on black plastic alone.

I didn't find any fast and hard rules on the Internet about a layout, took some basic ideas and started drawing and this is what I came up with. The haunted house will actually be housed on a 24' x 45' stage in the school's auditorium. Exits are kitty corner to each other with plans for 6 rooms/areas that include

1. Hallway of Faces
2. Dot Room
3. Graveyard
4. Labyrinth
5. Spider Lair
6. Inkblot Room

Without actually working with any of these sort of rooms/areas before I have no idea if they will work or not. The flow of the house starts in the top right and finishes in the bottom left. My main concern is I won't have enough props to fill up areas. That leads me to think I should downsize the overall scope of the project. So I am open to suggestions before I start in on fabrication of what it will take to accomplish this.

Thanks,

Steve
 

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It's a trick. Get an axe.
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Hey there, Oswald, welcome! This plan sure beats the crap out of anything I've done...have never had the available space. I like the way you've planned for the guests to keep weaving back and forth. What kind of vision do you have for the Dot Room?
 

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Hello Oswald. I am not here to rain on your parade. I wish you the best of luck this Halloween season. I only have your best interests in mind.
That being said you wrote that your main concern is not having enough props. Your main concern should be safety. You are creating a maze in an area over 1000 sq. ft. As it happens, this is the threshold in most jurisdictions to require a fire sprinkler system (which I assume the school has). You must concern yourself with safety exits, fire proofing everything you can, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, etc. If this was (or is) a commercial haunt the fire marshal would have a lot of things required to make sure it is a safe event. Consideration should be given to the building materials you are using. Black plastic is very flammable. There is a flame retardant plastic available if you choose to go that route. Wood framing also burns. There are flame retardants that can be sprayed on to help with that. Again, I do not want to discourage you from having a great Halloween but an accident could make things very bad. The layout is very cool and well thought out. But I implore you , please think about the safety of the guests. Safety first, then scare the heck out of them. Take care and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
horrorman, you are absolutely correct when it comes to safety, it's something that has not been overlooked. Since this is for a school function, the school is overseeing our design and we have guidelines to follow. The stage area is equipped with fire alarms and sprinklers. There is also an emergency exit on the opposite wall of the entrance. Nothing is going to be spray with any flame retardant, as black plastic has been the choice for walls since before I started working on this project, mainly because of cost. Still the focus (with the exception of the haunt itself) is safety and it's not being overlooked.

So while I appreciate the information you provided, which does give me additional things to think upon, what I want to know is, is this too much to undertake on a first haunt?

Steve
 

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What are you going to make the framework out of? Some of the winding passageways may be a little flimsy without plywood covering them. I've done a school haunted house before and you have to keep an eye on some of the bigger kids. They could wipe out that whole right aisle in a few seconds.

Generally speaking, you might want to go with fewer passageways and more scenes/rooms.
 

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Soccer and Lacrosse Dad
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The cemetery seems a little out of place to me in the middle. I think ti would seem more of a natural progression to do faces, inkblots, dot room, labyrinth, spiders and end with a cemetery.
 

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Mad Monster Maker
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So while I appreciate the information you provided, which does give me additional things to think upon, what I want to know is, is this too much to undertake on a first haunt?

Steve
This depends on a lot of things. Are you doing this yourself or do you have help? What resources do you have? How much time can you commit to this project?

I'd say, to start with, take inventory of what resources, props, and supplies you have. Next, figure out what, if any, props or supplies you'll need for your haunt. Then, if you need to build any props, walls, etc., calculate how long they will take to build, and how much time and manpower you have to do it.
 

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A suggestion that might help stretch the budget. Could you replace the plastic walls in any spots with large cardboard?
I've never done what you are doing... But I have done sets and things for school plays/shows. We used cardboard over wood frames for big panels. Talk to appliance stores, glass shops, etc and get them to donate the cardboard. It just goes in the dumpster otherwise.
 

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Man I wish I could do my haunt that big. I think you should definitely go crazy with spray painting scary stuff on the walls ( arrows, redrum, zombies ahead, etc.).
Incorporate some strobe lights, black lights, make some dummies. Hang some stuff down in the hallways such as shredded plastic.
That's what I do when I have a hallway with not much in it. It helps obstruct the view down the hall adding suspense imo.
 

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Human Candy Shovel
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Okay.

1. Near the entrance on the right side of the map, you have a section that zigzags. Make a few of those dividing walls out of plexiglass, so people going through bump into them without realizing they're there. This is a sort of play on the house of mirrors concept. It was also a feature of the Haunted Castle at Great Adventure between 1976 and 1984, the year it burned down.

2. You're presenting on a stage. Make the stage side wall SOLID! last thing you want is something weak. Bad enough people can fall through a weak wall, but you don't want them crashing through and tumbling down an extra 3-4 feet down into the band pit or front row seating. This would be a starting point for eventually converting to an entire haunt with sturdier walls.

3. Bottleneck. Take a section of corridor and make it constrict to provide an impression of claustrophobic space. This could be done as simply and bowed pipe insulation mounted on the walls, or inflated pool inner tubes mounted behind curtains of scrap fabric (or even scraps of the plastic you use for the walls). I see one bottleneck area in your labyrinth where you have two feet between corners on opposite walls. Its better to have them in a straightaway; people tend to hurt themselves on corners in the dark.

4. If there is an admission price involved, demand a piece of the action to expand the budget for whomever does it next year.
 

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Hello Oswald. I'm glad to hear safety is a priority. Pumpkinhead nailed it. Anything can be done if you have the money and the manpower. I still wish you could get away from the black plastic. Best of luck to you this season!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wow, appreciate the feedback.

@doto, I agree the flow didn't seem right with a graveyard in the middle of the haunt. I didn't like it from when I initially designed it and have contemplated taking it out, but we seem to be acquiring enough props (loans and donations) that a graveyard might still be a possibility.

@pumpkinhead, yes there will be 2 of us doing the majority of the work, but will have a few people who might pop in to help during the 2-3 weeks we will have full access to the stage area of the auditorium.

There is a hardsided curtain that closes, so falls off the stage aren't a concern. We do not accept donations, as it's a school function, so all props used will either be built, bought, loaned or donated. Not really how I would like to do it, but we must work with what we have, right now the haunt pile is growing. While I would love to use wood, it's just not in the budget. Maybe a few wood frames and walls will be, but overall it's going to be PVC and black plastic.

@Zombastic, one of my concerns is the 24'x45' area we have to work with is TOO big, being my first haunt and all. I am not as confident as I should be, maybe if knew we had more props to work with I would be so worried about this coming off as a good haunt for the kids and their families. Maybe it's not something I need concern myself with at this point.

If I were to downsize the layout, where should I look first? The Labryinth? Remove an entire room out of the layout?

Thank, Steve
 

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What about something like this: Put the graveyard at the beginning, "outside" the maze. Then you could use up a lot of the space without it looking empty. You could make a cheap fence, maybe an old tree, a big crypt. Then have the haunt itself. You could do a façade/entryway so everyone knows they are going "inside." If no one hits the front too bad you could paint stone or something on the plastic so it looks more like they are going inside a separate haunted building.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Screaming Demons, thanks. I like that idea. It would require me to play with the layout a bit but nothing that can't be accomplished.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have started to redesign the layout in order to use the space better. I believe the original plans are just too ambitious to accomplish given what I currently have. The labyrinth will probably be removed or reduced in size. I do however like the order Hall of Faces, Inkblot Room, Dot Room, Graveyard/Crypt and Spider Lair.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Okay, version 2 of my haunt is done. This layout seems to flow much better than the previous version thanks in part to feedback from a few on HF. I was able to include another labyrinth, which is not as big or complex as the first, but something that should be functional. We will be using 5th graders as the "scarers" thus the need for the actor corridors (greyed out). I would be interested as to where some of you would place these people for best effect. Thanks.

Steve

hauntedhouse2013_v2.jpg
 
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