How To

Secrets to Designing a Professional Haunted House Attraction

Professional haunted house attractions all have the same features: buzzing chainsaws, scary clowns, creepy things touching you in the dark when you least expect it.

But while a haunted house may only be open for six weeks a year, DESIGNING a haunted house is a year-round activity. It takes a lot of work to build and create scare mazes that continue to deliver the screams year after year.

So what’s their secret?

The Art of Fear: Theories of a Dark Entertainer
The Art of Fear: Theories of a Dark Entertainer
(An in-depth look at the haunted attraction industry)

It’s actually quite simple, and can be boiled down to A FEW BASIC DESIGN PHILOSOPHIES OF CROWD CONTROL AND SCARE TACTICS:

  • Have a suitably scary facility. Preferably already haunted… or at least with the pretense possibility of being haunted.  A mall storefront? Not so much.
  • Tight, confined places tend to disorient people
  • Design your haunt with these three things in mind:  Scare, Spectacle, and Story.   Without a story, you just have a maze of scenes.  WIthout spectacle, people won’t rank you as being the best of the best.  And without a scare — well, scaring people is why you’re running a haunted house, isn’t it?
  • Pace your scares to keep groups of people away from each other so the startle effects aren’t prematurely broadcast… but make them often enough to keep the groups always moving forward. In a haunted house, time is money – and the more people you can pump through the attraction, the more money you’ll make before the evening is over
  • Fog is your friend
  • And the lastest trend…. TOUCHING YOUR GUESTS (with their permission, of course)