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Is the building the main character?

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  • Is the building the main character?

    Great locations are not always scary. How important is it to have a scary location versus a good location for a business? For example a strip mall unit on a high traffic road or a old hospital a little out of town...

    Is it what's on the inside that counts? How big of a role does the building play? Can you rent out one of these empty box store buildings and do just as good as the guy with the old hospital?

    Everybody knows how to say location location location... But what are the best haunt locations???


  • #2
    Over these many years of reading so many posts concerning a haunt business location it seems strip malls really don't usually do that well for some reason.(I always thought that they would be great!)
    Of course as with any business or haunt there might be 50 reasons why(not) and some of those reasons might be on your payroll! (hahahah!)
    Adam Drendel wrote a reveiw of my house pointing out that just looking at the outside of the Ravens Grin Inn builds anticipation and could qualify as "wait entertainment" for many standing there.
    Right around the corner from my place is downtown Mount Carroll which resembles a Hollywood set of 1880 brick buildings,(a cold-blooded, calculated murder happened upstairs in the corner building) then next to those are the Civil War cannons in the County courtyard(where the hanging was ) and the 1858 courthouse, and the brick streets. My house sits alone behind all of this on a dead end street with the cliff,surrounded by parking lots, river and thick woods behind all of that, AND the city graveyard looks down on the downtown and my house from the next hill.
    My house has had a haunted reputation since at least 1925.
    Do all of these things help a potential haunt patron to get excited?
    I am pretty sure they do.
    It helps fire up their imagination which makes my job alot easier, usually.
    All of this also scares some people away before they buy their ticket.


    • #3
      You can make any building look/feel scary... get the best building you can for BUSINESS!!! -Tyler
      Chris Riehl


      • #4
        I believe that you can have a successful haunt in either a strip type mall or in a old abandoned hospital, but the main thing is, you need to maintain your reputation as a good quality haunt. Some haunts in a great location try to skimp on quality or are mismanaged and they don't last. Others are in an OK location but are amazing, look at Netherworld. Driving by it looks like an OK location but inside its amazing, making it an ideal location because they make it that way. So yes, it's what's on the inside that counts.

        One of the best location for a haunt that I've seen so far is Eastern States Penitentiary.



        • #5
          I was told by the guy that I bought this haunt business from.
          And I quote "The Building is the Main character! so find a scary place and open your new haunt..."

          I think he was right but... scary places are not the safest or the most visible for business.

          right now you can get great rental rates on prime property. There is so many big buildings out there for lease, and the ones I have called about are ok with a short term lease. and these locations are in the heart of the commercial districts.

          I do have a great location right now...
          It is a old abandon school grounds, very scary and it is the main reason for our school of mayhem theme. Its honestly in real bad shape, real bad... It needs a large investment to be up to par, and I am tempted to just move.

          I have a few questions tho,
          Are the areas where poeple are in "retail" mode good locations for haunts?

          Or is it better to be in a residential, and commercial mix?

          I have spent tons of money on searchlights to attract people to my haunt just outside of town. But it would cost the same as the light to just use the old box store. what do you guys think...



          • #6
            It depends on the feel your going for and your demographic for your Location.

            If your in a major city you can do the strip mall building and do great with it. How ever in smaller towns like the one I live in the cost to rent a location in a strip mall is kind of steep. When you go into one of those places you do not know if the owners may decide not to renew your lease. However if you own a Spooky location it remains a stable location and will allow you to build a consistent reputation. Another Advantage is older buildings tend to already have a reputation or urban legends about it. If they don't it is easier to build a believable legend for the location.

            Both have advantages and disadvantages but these things change depending on the region, community, population, and current economic situation of the region.
            I would suggest doing some price comparison's and going to the locations you are thinking about building in a few days sit and observe standard traffic. keep in mind how complicated is it to get to.

            Most customers in this region are not gonna be pass bys who saw the haunted house and decided to go to it right then. Most have seen advertising and gather freinds and family to go in a groups so it is a planned trip. Basically will having to increase marketing cost be more than the cost savings for a location with a decreased lease cost. Just some thoughts on it.
            Proud to be able to work at


            • #7
              Think about...

              -Building codes: Most old, "spooky" looking buildings are most likely not up to code.
              -Fire codes: Most old, "spooky" looking buildings are most likely not up to code.
              -ADA: Most old, "spooky" looking buildings are most likely not up to code.

              ... I'm seeing a theme.

              Nowadays it's a REQUIREMENT to have the building sprinkled... and have a 24/7 monitored fire alarm system with voice/strobe evacuation. Also, you'll be required to have a minimum amount of parking spaces based on the capacity/square footage of your building... so... FIND A BUILDING THAT'S GOOD FOR BUSINESS!!! Then make it look and feel scary with theming, facades, details, etc. etc.

              You'll end up paying more just to open (by bringing the building up to code) than you will actually building/operating the haunt! So minimize your expenses by getting a building that's ready for you to move in!

              Or do a trail... woods are naturally scary and there's no codes to worry about at all... or at least not in KY. -Tyler
              Chris Riehl


              • #8
                I really like a good scary location. Just like all the other haunters I know, I can see the scare value in a old crappy site.

                but I am just talking business, and trying to understand why the fair grounds and other box store haunts i have seen do so good.

                I might be to proud of my old school and I will need you guys to help me let it go... haha



                • #9
                  The difference is time. A scary building normally does not have a good drive by factor for marketing, but if you are there several years then doing a good show then thats how you get good business.
                  I will say that older shows on a scary site have a better perception to the audience (not haunters) than older shows in a non scary location. Many of the haunts I see in strip malls do not last more than a few years. Does that tell us anything? Maybe they just found a scary location somewhere else.
                  I would keep the school, make sure you have a good quality show, and stay put for 10 years till you are doing 30 to 40,000 people a season.
                  Allen H