HAUNTED HOUSE / ATTRACTION
From decorating your home, to a haunted house to raise funds,
to a haunted house for profit certain things pertain to all and
can help whatever you do be more successfull. In a series of articles
I will attempt to help you design and build whatever you desire
for halloween and make it more successfull, and more exciting.
Remember you do not have to spend alot of money, but it will take
time, imagination, and hard work.
Everyone who has a home haunt always works on the outside the
most, as the outside is what most people see. However a haunted
house as a fundraiser or for profit haunted attraction often spends
more time on the inside then they do on the part of the attraction
people will see first. We are always told that first impressions
mean the most, and that applies in a big way to haunted attractions.
You need to set the stage for your visitors, and you need to prepare
them for what is inside.
The facade is so important as they are what people see first,
and it is what sets the stage and starts the frightning of the
guest. Part of scaring people is the anticipation that something
is going to happen. So your facade and queline should give your
visitors the feeling that something dangerous and ominous is going
to happen. Visitors will be prepared for your first scare before
they ever enter your attraction.
For home haunts most visitors will not enter your house. They
will simply walk up to get there treats so the outside of our
home and the areas leading up to the door is so very important
so that trick or treaters get the feeling that this is the house
they want to visit time and time again.
First you should pick a theme for this halloween year. Between
haunted houses if I am going to be home for halloween I always
pick a theme. And of course if I am designing and building a haunted
house the theme is so very important. In a home haunt you are
decorating for the season, in a haunted house to raise money or
for profit you are telling a story. Without the story your visitors
will be more confused then scared as to what is going on in your
WALKING UP TO THE HOME HAUNT OR HAUNTED ATTRACTION
Your planning and decorating should go from the road up to your
home or attraction. Everyone should be in costume and the costume
should fit the theme in one way or another.
The first thing to remember in planing the walk from the road
to the entrance / door of your house or attraction is lighting.
While our tendency is to make things dark and scary the walk to
the entrance should be well lighted for safety sake. Depending
on your theme you can use pumpkins, tiki torches, luminares, or
alternative forms of lighting so that visitors to your home or
attraction can get to the door without tripping or falling. Make
sure walkways are at least 40 inches wide to accomodate wheelchairs
or small children clinging to a parent.
Refrain from using strobe lights on the outside of your home or
haunted attraction close to the walkway or where the lights will
hit those walking towards your home / haunted attraction. Strobe
lights can trigger seizures, migraines, or other physical problems
in some individuals. If strobes are used at all they should be
used in a way that they do not directly point to, or in the view
Also ensure the walkway is clear of debris or props that may trip
someone or cause them to fall. And I will make the point now and
later. Never let an actor touch someone ! Touching a guest is
a liability especially if the person falls. Also I want to mention
that some people coming to your home / haunted attraction may
suffer from panic attacks, and / or anxiety attacks so we want
to make sure they get to the door without having to call an ambulance.
In the case of haunted attractions warnings usually are posted
only at the entrance, and waivers are signed until a person gets
ready to enter. So if a person " freaks out " and has
a medical emergency, or falls, you will be liable for any injury.
The facade is the outside of your home or haunted attraction and
in the case of the haunted attraction most likely will include
your ticketbooth and your warnings for visitors who should not
enter the attraction.
The first thing to consider is our windows. A cheap simply approach
is to use the plastic window clings you can buy in most stores.
A more expensive but better approach is to set up a Peppers Ghost
Illussion in your windows so it appears there are ghost awaiting
the guests walking up. You can check out my website www.pendragonscastle.com/hauntmasters
for more on this illussion and how best to use it.
Next are the walls which you won't want to mess up with nails
or adhesive. Scene setters which are available from my party store
is a good alternative for this. Scene Setters can be held up with
tape so you won't damage your home or building. Scene setters
come in many wall designs and also include decorations that attach
to the scene setter to complete the affect.
If you want to build a frame you can use styrofoam to make a fake
brick look to the outside with a little trimming and paint. Add
a few old boards and you have a great look. Be sure that all the
items you use on the outside of your home or building are firmly
attached so they won't fall on someone. Many times over the years
a scared visitor made their own exit which included tearing down
part of the facade that I forgot to firmly attach.
Once you have the walkway lighted, you have covered windows, walls.
You can add smoke, specialty lighting ( caution on the strobes
) and spread a few bones, chains, skulls and whatever you can
get to add to the effect.
Halloween has evolved to the point that many stores sell motion
activated props that you can use outside your home or haunted
attraction. Use these when you can but remember. Most motion activated
props work on the principal that when a person walks in front
the light level changes setting off the prop. If the area where
you use this prop is to dark then it won't work. Some of the props
are sound activated. This solves the light problem but one prop
can set off another prop atc. so you loose the effect you want.
Make sure you test all of your props and effects prior to the
opening of your attraction, or in the case of the home haunt halloween
night so you get the maximuim scare value you need.
You can find more articles on Halloween at my website at www.pendragonsncastle.com
you can also find more articles, tips, etc at www.pendragonscastle.com/hauntmasters.
On both sites you will find articles, tips, ideas, and a great
merchandise section where you can buy all the great stuff you
will need for this halloween season.
About the Author
Paul " DragonMaster' Sharp is owner of DragonMaster
Inc. and DME Hauntmasters www.pendragonsncastle.com
he is co-designer of The Fright Factory, House of Pain and Horror
Hollow haunted attraction and has been designing Haunted Attractions
and Home Haunts for 35 years.
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