Cultivating an atmosphere of anticipation and fear is no mean feat. The effect can easily fall flat if executed without taking some key considerations into account. The last thing you want is for visitors to laugh their way through your efforts instead of cowering in terror.
With around 1,200 haunted house attractions in America, a lackluster experience isn’t going to cut it. Repeat business and word of mouth are the lifelines of businesses relying on high attendance. If you can’t deliver on spooking your guests, it won’t be long before you go under.
If you’re designing a haunted house, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out the six tips that’ll ensure your guests have an experience they’ll never forget.
1. To Create a Haunted House, Hire Good Actors
No haunted house is complete without some flesh and blood actors for your guests to interact with. Actors help shape the story and guide your guests through the house from start to finish. Letting people aimlessly walk around themselves doesn’t allow for an effective narrative.
Finding good actors to this end isn’t hard. Acting students will jump at the chance to test their abilities in a real-world environment. Working in a haunted house looks great on an acting resume!
Treat them right, and you’ll always have a stock of dependable staff waiting to scare the pants off your guests.
2. Pay Attention to Narration
Leading guests through an effective haunted house requires an ability to suspend disbelief. Everyone goes into a haunted house feeling somewhat skeptical of the experience. This is to be expected, as, for the most part, people don’t believe in the supernatural.
Guests are going to scrutinize your haunted house design to varying degrees. Everything fails under scrutiny, but with a little narrative magic, they’ll be swept up in the story eventually. The trick is to make them want to believe and join in with the fun rather than resist it.
This can be done through careful attention to the story you want to tell and how you tell it. This also ties in with hiring talented actors who’ll tell the story and act their part convincingly.
3. Props and Designing a Haunted House
Effective haunted house design hinges on an amalgamation of different factors. Narration and good acting are key, but they’re nothing without convincing props. Good prop work sets the scene in which acting and narration come to life.
For this reason, cheaply constructed plastic skeletons dropping from the ceiling aren’t going to help much in the way of suspending disbelief. When it comes to constructing a convincing haunted house interior, attention to detail goes a long way.
Remember that your guests are going to be looking for ways to poke holes in the story. Looking and failing to find reasons not to be scared inches them closer to falling for the big fright. Conversely, when they’re continuously unimpressed by a series of unconvincing props, they’re hardly going to scream the house down when it finally arrives.
4. Building Tension
To build a haunted house, you have to understand the importance of building tension. As soon as they step through the door, try to imagine their state of mind. Cultivating tension is essential to keep them on edge, ripe for a fright.
Guests must feel as if they’re unable to breathe easily, ready to act at a moment’s notice in preparation for the inevitable shock. Keep them guessing and on their toes by utilizing corridors with winding passageways.
Avoid open spaces where nothing can hide. Every dark corner should be a potential hiding space not to be trusted!
5. Ambient Sounds
A decent haunted house is a feast for the senses. Auditory cues for specific parts of the story are the bread and butter of convincing atmospheric craftsmanship. Sensory overload isn’t necessary; instead, use sounds and noises at precise moments to guide your guests toward a building unease.
This doesn’t mean unexpected loud noises. Be careful not to cheapen the experience with too many jump-scares. Before long, your guests will lose any feelings of subtle unease if you go down that route.
Music also plays a crucial role, depending on the type of story you’re telling. It’s incredibly effective at setting the scene and can be used at the start to get the ball rolling. Once guests are in the thick of things, they’ll find a sudden absence of music deliciously unnerving.
6. Invest in Proper Insurance
The decision to design a haunted house promises a future of creative expression and a lot of fun. So it’s best to make sure you have all the boring legal stuff squared away before getting stuck into it. Red tape isn’t exciting or glamorous, but neither is being sued for negligent practices.
Amusement and entertainment insurance is of paramount importance for any business dealing with the public on a day-to-day basis. There’s no telling what can go wrong in the confusion and fear so commonplace in a haunted house.
Make sure you’re in close communication with professionals who understand these things. They’ll steer you away from making any potentially ruinous decisions, leaving you to rest easy!
A Fright to Remember
Once you’ve got your insurance out of the way, you’re free to focus on the interesting side of things. Just make sure you’ve got someone with a decent understanding of entertainment coverage on hand. If you’re ever unsure about an idea, run it past them first.
The idea is to scare your guests, not for them to scare you with legal claims!
If this article helped you with designing a haunted house, why not check out the rest of the blog? There are loads more great articles where this came from!