Every year i take all the notes that were given to me throughout the run and I try and improve the house. There are several areas that i feel we can always improve upon. I listen to the patrons as well as myself and i constantly try and raise the bar not just against my own expectations, but also against other haunted houses throughout the world. Some of these are general haunted house conundrums, but i am striving to figure it all out to someday create the perfect haunted house! I think Nightmare: Vampires could potentially reinvent what a haunted house can be. so in my next three blog postings i am going to break down the three things i focused on when conceptualizing this years house: length of tour, making the design look as amazing as the money we spend on it, and creating wholly unique and realistic ways to scare people that go well beyond boogiemen hiding behind walls and then jumping out at you. Today I will address one of them.
LENGTH: One complaint we always get, and as i read up on criticisms from other haunted houses elsewhere so do they, is how long it takes to go through. Unless you are in a football stadium, length of the tour is always an issue. People pay good money and they want it to last forever. I understand this. I, too, get disappointed when i am enjoying a decent haunted house and then it is over in like 10 minutes. I understand the want for this, but you have nooooo idea how hard it is to actually accomplish. The roadblocks to creating a truly long haunted house are the following:
space. If you are going to have people keep on moving, especially on truly busy days, there is just not enough square footage in 99% of venues to keep you walking in circles for much longer than 15 minutes.
Second, size of groups. often what happens in a haunted house is that groups catch up to one another because the event that happened in one room didn't have enough time to reset and do it for another group so the group that has caught up with the one in front of them doesn't get to see anything and thus the house becomes a much shorter experience. they end up walking through rooms with no event. this is especially true on really busy nights when the intervals between groups grow shorter and shorter in order to get everyone in.
Third, actors getting tired and pushing groups through instead of performing their bits. I am not impugning my actors when i say this. My actors are brilliant, and we have some amazing performers, but i understand it is a hard job to do something over and over again and sometimes it is tough to keep it up every 4 minutes. i get that, but the patrons don't, nor should they, so i have to figure out away to transcend that. in fact, i had to figure out a way to transcend it all if i want to improve this house and make it longer!
So how am i gonna do it? well, for starters we actually have more square footage. we have changed venues for the first time in 6 years and it is considerably larger. we have taken over two floors of an old crunch gym, and this alone will make the house larger and thus longer to literally walk-through. secondly, because the house is larger i can make the rooms much larger; large enough to fit more people into if it came to that. so instead of speeding up the intervals between groups we can make the groups slightly larger instead and it have little to no impact on the experience. finally, because we are not jamming patrons down our actors throats at a sound-breaking speed, they will not be as inclined to phone any groups in. Every night should feel like a a regular night and thus preserve their energy to scare the crap out of you. No pushing people though.
That is how i plan on addressing the length of the house. Next I will address the elevated design.