Before we slam the platform away from under your feet and let the noose snap tight around your neck. Prior to the rope splintering and unwinding, plunging you into the lower levels of the netherworld where we will dance back on forth on the rusty razored edge of topics that exist in conjunction with the haunted house industry, there is one design feature I want to talk about. Wait for it……..wait for it………not just yet…...
First impressions are everything and attractions of any sort have queue lines, an area where patrons must wait to experience what they came for. Regardless of how entertaining your haunt is, the tone set in the waiting line will be one of anticipation or regret, making or breaking a customer’s attitude toward your creation.
Haunts have employed several tactics over the years in an effort to entertain the audience and subdue the possibility of them turning into an angry mob of villagers with torches and pitch forks. With an ever increasing world of now, now, now, you have to put some thought and creativity into hypnotizing the masses. (There is a new idea, mass hypnoses. Note to self!) You must find a way to focus attention away from their deferral and the days of just sending an actor or two in to interact doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.
Mutating the basic queue line strategy, The Corpse Barn has extended the mechanics behind waiting back to when you first pull into the parking lot. Before parked, everyone is greeted and told an approximate wait time to enter the queue line (which has been fashioned into a mini haunt) and told about our speed pass option. We have lost a minute amount of business through this process but have found it a valuable tool weeding out troublemakers. Most everyone appreciates the up front honesty and almost all of those who have chosen not to wait, return on another date.
Once parked, guests purchase tickets and are again reminded of their approximate wait time. If the waiting section is full, patrons are informed they can hang out by the bonfire or with their vehicle until it is time for their group to enter. Each individual in a group gets a ticket with their group number on it and are encouraged to refer to the large Now Serving sign mounted high above the ticket booth window. We do however keep tabs on groups and call out group numbers in an effort to keep things moving at a smooth and steady pace. I have heard multiple times form people how blown away they are by the personal touch we offer coming to get them when it is their time. Eventually we will probably switch to using restaurant style paging devices.
Expanding on the personal touch experience, we have taken our waiting line from a straight hallway where everyone was herded together and routinely accosted by one of our scare artists, which gets old after a while when the people in the front of the line have already endured your dark taunts while in the back and middle of the line. Now our staging area has been re-designed into several sections. Each section hosts a different theme and scare. Only one group occupies one section at a time. Approx. every five minutes or so (we are making changes and aiming for 2 to 3 minutes without loosing quality) the group is ushered into the next section by our “Wizard of Oz” behind the curtain who controls everything. Calculating the general time in each section, we made it so the section located close to a half hour in line has access to the concession stand again, and a fenced in outside area for smokers and people who may need to use the bathroom.
Another important aspect to this whole process is we have assembled an environment that allows us more than ample time to gather information about our soon to be victims that we can use on them during the actual haunt.
Some of the many ways haunts attempt to entertain their audience include:
-Unleashing characters into the crowd.
-Showcasing sideshow performers
-Viewing videos on monitors or old horror films on projector screen
(make sure you have a bright projector, not just a department store brand)
-Hosting genre related celebrities.
-Photo prop areas
In addition to offering our mobile haunt BReaking SCared this fall to waiting customers and currently having live real time scare spot viewing, we plan on implementing some more high tech entertainment in the future such as a Scream Booth photo booth and or a Scream Machine where customers can control real time scares on people inside of the haunt. http://www.queuerevenue.com/
These are both great ideas that can occupy and engage your audience while creating additional revenue.
Surging customers through should be no excuse for wait or crowd control. Being rushed through a haunt is the number one complaint I hear about from fans of our type of entertainment. I myself find it a huge disappointment when herded into the group in front of me or one being slammed into mine from behind. As a haunt owner I would rather have someone give us a bad word of mouth review because the wait was so long they decided not stick around then opposed to that their experience suffered (not in the good way) because of being hurried along. Because of this, keeping our waiting public entertained and happy has become a major focus with appreciated results. Ongoing research and efforts will be made to continue offering service on an equal level with scare quality.