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Discussion Starter #1
Ok i am going to just jump into it.. i want to start a pro haunt of my own with my wife, we are tired of working.for pep at their own.. yea i know its a big jump, but we r ready to build it up through the years. So what i want to know is how did you guys get the funding to start, and how much am i looking to invest for start up. Should i look for partners, sponsors, or what? If you guys can help cause i know i will have more questions coming.. thanks!
 

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What's up Doc? (sorry, couldn't resist) There are so many things to consider.The list is a mile long. Location is paramount. Will you be an indoor haunt or outdoor? This will have a huge impact on total money to start. If you own a farm you could start a haunt on your property without a lot of money. If you are going to build an indoor haunt in a building or warehouse you can jump into six figures before you blink. I highly recommend a book by Kelly Allen. It is packed with info to start a haunt and how to operate it. Here is a link to it. http://hauntbook.com/products.html
How much competition in your area will also make a difference. How you round up the money is up to you but most new haunts take a couple of years before they break even. There is no substitute for doing a ton of research to get as much info as you can before diving in. Best of luck in your new venture!
 

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We almost did it again this year, but we decided not to go pro this year as I am going to list the cons.

Kiss your life goodbye for Septermber/October. No time into seeing other haunts, no seeing other anything actually, no life, as you will be busy concentrating all your time on the haunt, and you will be exhausted, tired and near the end, wanting to end it so badly, you don't give a crap anymore. Tons of work, if you have multiples peoples, rehearsing, makeup, repairs, costumes, traning, fighting, wanting to kill people, food, driving, leaving home early, coming home late, Mother Nature smashing everything, forget about doing your home haunt too!

We decided, we are just too tired this year and we want to see other haunts and such. And the weather this year been horrible, summer was a bust, so, I am guessing October weather will be verty cold and wet...

JM
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I hear what u all are saying and i am use to not haveing a sept/oct life u already am part of another haunt... and as far as other haunts in the ny area their are verry few.. in lower ny at least. And breaking even i am up front with pep that i am looking for the bucks from.... i know i am going.to make this happen one way or the other
 

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Most of the pro haunts I know started with no outside money. It's just not something investors will take a chance on. Instead of saying you need $10,000 for this particular thing, figure out how to do it for almost nothing. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Something else to consider is that most communities will require fire sprinklers and extensive fireproofing of everything inside. That's one of the main reasons many haunts decide to build outdoors. It's also tough getting someone to rent you a building for only a couple of months.
 

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Check out the JB Corn haunt book and videos.
http://www.chillisintheair.com/jb-corn/

Lots of information, including a lot of practical stuff about running a business, managing and marketing/promo. Doing a pro haunt is really starting up a small business, and there's a lot of behind the scenes detail and paperwork and work-work that has to go on or, like any small business, it becomes a nightmare of disorganization and mismanagement (the bad, non-Halloween fun kind of nightmare).
 

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Dr Z. What type of haunt do you want to create? Indoor or outdoor? How big are you thinking? Single attraction or multi? How long do you want the walk thru to last? How much 'Halloween inventory' do you currently own? How many actors do you want to employ? How many nights do you want to operate?
I am guessing at this point in the season that you are making preparations for a 2014 opening. If you can give a little background info on your plans I will try to help with any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
At this point i would take a indoor or out door spot.. and yes we are looking for next yr i know this yr is out of the question. Looking for a single walk.through that last about 20- 30 mind to get through not rushed. Want the pep that come through to get the full effect, learned this by universal and how the push everyone through so fast(it sucked). Not shure on.the actors and as far as props and stuff my wife and i are verry crafty and we know how to shop good will and my fav foam borads and pallets. My location.is just outside of new york city and we dont have much haunts around and the ones we have no one goes to cause they dont put the time and details into.them. as far a size i would like 10,000s/f but that my be just a dream. Actors are still in the air cause in my head some rooms can work themself... i would say a min of 20 actors to start and i also know i need security, insurance (have no clue who to go.to for that) and all that fun stuff
 

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Hello Dr. Z. I understand what you are saying about pushing people through quickly. It is a dilemma that haunts (large) must deal with especially later in the season. It is tough to give a truly personal experience. For example, if you send a group of 4 ( to keep it 'personalized') every minute that is 240 people in an hour. If you get 750-1000 people in line then they are waiting 3-4 hours to get in. The large pro haunted houses do 4000-5000 in a night so it is a trade off to accommodate the volume of people. Starting with a single haunt is a good way to go. If the event grows in the coming years you can add attractions. Not having a lot of competition is a benefit. To have a 20-30 minute experience you should have approximately 2000-2600 LINEAR feet. That is a trail 1/3 to 1/2 mile in length or a building to accommodate that kind of length plus enough size to accommodate rooms and actor passages, make up room, some storage, bathroom?. At this length you may need to bump your actors to 25-30 minimum.
When designing, think about what people want to see when they attend a haunted house. Many of haunt goers are after the eye candy. A smaller haunt can be very entertaining but ticket prices should reflect that. Most haunts with the $20 and up ticket prices have large scale pneumatic and motorized commercial props and video effects. People do not want to pay good money to see stuff they can find in their own neighborhoods at home haunts. Masks and props that are on everyone's retail shelves or front yards are no-no's.

Thoughts and recommendations:
If you want to run your own show you might pursue a fund raising option. Check with fire houses and churches to see if they will let you run a haunted event to help them raise money. They can provide a location, sometimes labor to help with the build out, operations, etc., and maybe materials (or money for some).
The fund raising aspect makes it easier to get sponsors and helps with advertising. You can have creative control, someone else has the property responsibilities, and a good cause it benefitted in the end. Everybody wins.

I still recommend the book I mentioned in the earlier post

Attend a tradeshow or two. I recommend the Midwest Haunters Convention because the class prices are more affordable. TW is good but the classes are $50-$60 per class hour.

Website - everything in the industry is based on getting people to your website. If you go cheap here it will hurt you.
Advertising - very market specific. Flyers for sure. Billboards would be next. And of course any free avenues (social media)
Staff - Managers, actors, ticket sales, security, parking, make up and costume crew, concessions just to operate the show. Business wise you need AR,AP, payroll, legal, taxes, etc.
Site - If indoor you will want to check with city/county building officials and the fire marshal. Building and fire codes must be followed or it may not ever get opened. An outdoor event has a lot fewer requirements. Less cost and easier to execute make it an attractive option except for inclement weather.

Insurance - I highly recommend Ken Donat. He specializes in event insurance. http://www.donatinsurance.com/

Online ticketing - I would recommend Ticket Leap. Ease of use, flexibility and great customer service. http://www.ticketleap.com/

I hope this helps a little and please feel free to post more questions if you have them. I do not have all of the answers but I will try to help where I can.
 
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