This is the strategy we use to build our haunts. We talk about each step throughout the podcast, but here is the whole method in one place. It is broken down into three phases, with several steps in each.
1. Planning Phase
Taking the time to plan what you're going to do will help guide your actions and decisions as you move forward.
This is the start of your planning process. What do you want to accomplish with your haunt? Impress the neighbors? Collect food for a charity? Raise money?
Identify Your Audience
How scary is your haunt going to be? It depends on who is coming. Whether you're expecting trick-or-treaters or adults that will drastically change the design of your scares. Hear more in Episode 12: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-12-know-your-audience/
Identify Your Theme
Choosing a single theme will help you ground your ideas and keep from creating a chaotic haunt that constantly takes people out of the suspension of disbelief that is so critical to getting a good scare. Hear more in Episode 2: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-2-theme-backstory/
Create a Backstory
A good backstory helps sell the haunt to you guests. The story serves as the basis for every detail in your haunt and every detail should be chosen to support your story. We all want to throw in every scary idea, but a clown has no place in an 18th century asylum, and by sticking to your story, you'll transport your guests and maximize the opportunities to scare. Hear more about your backstory in Episode 11: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-11-patient-zero/
Create a Budget
No matter what your goal, you don't want to build yourself into the poorhouse. Building a realistic budget, and sticking to it, will help ensure your success next year. Hear about our budgeting in Episode 20: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-20-building-a-budget/
Market Your Haunt
Once you've built something epic, people need to know about it or they won't come. See how we built our marketing strategy in Episodes 5 and 17:
Design a Layout
Where will the people go? Where will the scares be? How do you plan the scares into your layout design? Hear how we do it in Episodes 13:
2. Production Phase
Now that you've got a plan, its time to start building!
Lay Out the Layout
This is your first opportunity to see how everything will fit together. Maybe you do it on paper, maybe you do it with a 3D model, or maybe your chalk it out on your driveway. Either way, modeling your layout helps you envision what your guests will see and identify challenges early. Hear about how we do it in Episode 3: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-3-layout/
Now its time to start building. How are you controlling your environment? How are guiding the guests? Constructing a safe haunt takes time and effort. Hear our tips in Episode 4: https://hauntingu.podbean.com/e/episode-4-construction-techniques/
How do you set the mood and get your guests in the right mindframe for a scare? Your soundscape can make all the difference. Hear how we designed our soundscape in Episodes 7 and 23:
How do you transform your actors into characters that tell your story and scare the ever living day lights out of your guests? Hear about our costumes in Episodes 6 and 30:
3. Presentation Phase:
Your haunt is ready, its showtime!
Get those finishing touches that add a bit of realism to your costume.
Once your actors are ready, add the right makeup to tell something about them.
Get your props in place. Projectors, fog machines, lighting. Make sure everything is on and ready to go.
Dress the Set
Add the finishing touches to your display: cobwebs, a candle stick, a journal. The details that tell your story.
Open the Haunt
It's showtime! How are you handling crowd control, parking, disruptive guests? Check out Episode 63 where we talk about how the Candle Lighters Ghost House in Fremont, CA handle these issues: https://www.hauntingu.com/e/episode-63-operating-your-haunt/
What a great season! Time to clean up and start planning for next year.