Explanation of ”Haunted House Type” field in the directory.
Currently, all but one of the haunted houses we have had in the area follow the same style, so the field won’t be visible unless it is different.
A group is let in at some interval (usually based on the preceeding group getting to a certain spot in the haunt, but some haunts use a set time regardless of where the previous group is). These haunts almost always have groups catching up with each other as one group rushes through the haunt, or a group slows down when they are too scared to move forward.
While this is the most traditional form of a haunt, it’s also the style that generates one of the biggest complaints haunt visitors have.
Folks are let in continually, with no gap between groups. This creates a continual, non stop line of people shuffling through the haunt. Since everyone is packed together, there is no running or halting, which greatly improves throughput for the haunt operator.
From the visitor’s standpoint, many scares are spoiled since you see everything that is happening in front of you. To make this style work, the big haunts have many many more scenes. The actors do their scare, then hide or freeze and let all those that were able to see the room go through, before scaring again. The end result is you always have places where you ”see” a scare ahead of you and thus are not scared, and also go through rooms where ”nothing happens” because they are waiting to get the next batch of shufflers.
This is the approach used at large haunts like Universal Halloween Horror Nights as well as regional offerings like those at Worlds of Fun and Vally Fair.
To my knowledge, there have not been any scene based haunts in the area. A scene based haunt is where each room is a complete scare. You cannot rush through them, nor can you avoid them. You get 100% of every room, by design.
They work by letting a group in to the first room, where the group stops. There may be a railing they are told to hold on to, or a bench they are instructed to sit on. They could enter a room with loud blaring music and someone screaming at them through a megaphone telling them what to do, or they enter a dimly lit spooky scene and look around wondering what is going on.
Then a ”show” happens, such as music changing, jump scares, dropping ceilings, moving walls, actors bursting out from a couch in front of them, etc.
Each scene is very short, so you can cycle groups through much faster and give them many more scares. On the downside, the haunt must have each room staffed and make use of crowd control positions.
Where I grew up, there were two groups of Jaycees that did haunted houses in the area. One of them turned all the cattle queue railings in to a route through a large covered animal barn. They made use of run-through like most haunts around here do.
The other Jaycees were entirely scene based. Each scene was done by a different group of actors who were responsible for designing and operating their room. At the end of the haunt, someone would ask the groups to vote on which room the liked the best. Those rooms would get an award/prize at the end of the season.
Scene One example: Bedroom
The takes place in about 15 seconds, but it feels much longer.
We enter a room. Creepy music is playing. To the right is a railing, and chain link fencing from the ceiling, separating you from a set. A girl is sitting on a bed. She picks up the phone and quickly dials a number, getting a busy signal. She hangs the phone up and says ”Glen, don’t fall asleep!” The phone rings, she picks it up and says ”Glen!?” A sound like metal scraping is heard. She “rips” the phone cord out of the wall and slams it on the desk. The phone rings again. She picks it up and says ”Hello?”
Freddy Krueger’s voice is heard: ”I’m your boyfriend now!” and suddenly Freddy pops up behind the girl and kills here. He looks towards the guests, then the lights change. We can’t see Freddy, but a second Freddy pops up right behind the chain link fence, causing an instant jump scare because everyone just spent the last few seconds watching the girl across the room.
As a final scare, Freddy ”rips” the chainlink back, which we didn’t notice was separated and now he can get to us —- as the exit door is opened for us to head to the next room.
Scene Two example: Livingroom
We walk in to another dimly lit room and see a cough, bookshelves and normal livingroom stuff. As soon as the guests stop, the music changes and we hear the Halloween theme. A moment later, we see Michael Myers through a window on the back wall, with his knife. He stares a few seconds, then walks away as if heading to get inside. The music changes to loud metal and Michael Meyers pops up from below the seat cushions right in front of us. Another jump scare that everyone in the room saw, because we were all looking at the window.
Scene Three example: woods
We enter a dark room with crickets and nighttime nature sounds. Hanging from the ceiling are many tree branches, like downturned limbs from a forest. The eerie must plays for a few moments, then abruptly changes to Crazy Train as stroble lights hit and several chainsaws start and rush towards us through the trees.
Scene Four example: workshop
We enter a room that looks like a toolshed or workshop. Eerie music is playing. A grizzly guy with overalls stands in the corner, cutting with some kind of power tool. It’s clearly real, as its throwing sparks and debris.
The lights go out and the eerie music abrutply stops, leaving us in complete darkness for a few seconds. A moment later, the lights come on and metal plays and the grizzly guy is right in front of us scraping the power tool along the posts.
Scene Five example: wall
You enter a room. Across the room is a wall with doll head and other random stuff attached to it. A few seconds after we are in the center of the room at a railing, the music changes to metal and the lights change as the wall come sliding quickly towards us, with spikes now protruding through various dark holes we didn’t notice. It slams to a stop just at the railing in front of us. (Some haunts around here have had props like this you walk by, so often folks in a larger group never see it happen.)
The following year, they repeated this type of room, but the group was instructed to sit on a bench. A similar scene happened, but this time, the bench itself was pushed towards the ”blades” and other sharp instruments protruding from the wall. (Probably the same group from the previous year, changing it up again because it had been voted best scene.)
Scene Six example: electric chair
(This one is similar to a pre-show that has been done at two area haunts; in fact, they did it almost example like this, but it was just being done to space groups out rather than as a scene.)
You enter a room and are instructed to sit on a bench. In front, someone is tied to an electric chair, with a bag over their face. Music and lighting begin, and the executioner pops out with a jump scare (typical) and then ends up at the big switch on the wall. As he pulls the switch, the lights go out, the music changes, and a strobe light above the guests comes on as the bench vibrates along with the sound of electricity. (The haunts that have done this didn’t change the lights or put any effects on the guests other than a vibrating bench/floor, but still basically the same.)
Scene Seven example: