Haunted House Ideas
Halloween has become a very popular holiday, and haunted houses have emerged as an industry all their own. A haunted house can be a fun and profitable attraction. We've assembled a few ideas here, check out the Resources section at the bottom of the page for more detailed information.
Create a "dark" carnival to mimic attractions at your real carnival. Have a scary clown character. Feature creepy games like an eyeball toss. Instead of a duck pond, fill a pool with slime and use snakes or warty frogs. Give out prizes like glow in the dark bugs or stretchy skeletons. Have a tattoo booth with bug or monster tattoos. Have a hair painting booth with black and purple hair spray.
Mad Scientist lab
A laboratory set up is perfect for those fake body parts in jars. The props available for this scene can get pretty gory, so use your best judgment as to what is appropriate for your audience. The scientist could have a "subject" caged in a cell with rubber tubing bars to allow for convenient escape. The subject could be in a gorilla suit, alien costume, or even a giant rat costume.
An alternative to the mad science lab is to have an explorer character cutting up mummies. One of the mummies would of course be not quite ready for the knife.
The setting is an accident scene where an alien spaceship has crash landed. Use flashing beacons as emergency lights. A fog machine could add the effect of a smoking spaceship. Characters would be lying on the ground next to the "crash" dressed as aliens and as the kids approach, "wake up" and spray silly string from ray guns.
Set the graveyard scene with some bare branches, fallen leaves and an old picket fence. For props, add tombstones and corpse or skeleton props that look like they are coming out of the ground. A costumed character could be a zombie, skeleton, or ghost coming out of a coffin or a pile of leaves.
Invisible Man (or Woman!)
This is an illusion where a room is set up with all the walls covered with a regular pattern, such as dots. A character is costumed in a matching pattern, and the room is lit with strobe lights. When motionless, the character will be virtually invisible.
An additional trick would be to have the walls be fabric, and have characters behind the walls press hands and faces out.
A costumed fortune teller sits at a table with a crystal ball. She can "summon" a spirit that is rigged to zip down a line. Spooky shadows can be projected on the walls. Another idea is to have her shout that she's said the wrong incantation, make the lights go dark, and while it's dark, have her put on a corpse mask. When the lights come back, she asks the group if they would like their fortune told. Lots of cackling should be involved.
Set up a festive "party" scene with a person with head on plate, their body hidden under the table. An arm (real or a prop) could be popping up through bowl of candy. A "Bob for Eyeballs" game could be displayed with fake eyeballs floating in a tub. Lots of giant bugs could be placed on the fake food. A crazy chef would make a good party host, offering to cut the "cake" with a rubber knife (the head on the plate, who would of course scream).
The scene is a coffin on a table, surrounded by dead flowers. Funeral music plays in the background. A ghostly undertaker character can be in attendance. The "deceased" can be a zombie or skeleton who turns out to be not quite dead enough.
Forest of Fear
The scene is a haunted forest, with characters disguised as rocks, bushes, and trees. Decorate with lots of spiders, bats, and giant bugs. Spiders can drop from the ceiling, and lots of plastic bugs can be tossed about.
Great Pumpkin Scare
A variation on the Forest of Fear would be a haunted pumpkin patch, complete with a crazed scarecrow and evil pumpkins.
Safety should be a primary concern when setting up your haunted house. Children have widely varying tolerances for scary scenes, so monitoring them and providing escape routes is important. Providing a guide for each group that goes through can help ensure that each guest stays safe. An excellent resources for haunted house safety concerns can be found at http://www.hauntedhouse.com/safety/ .
Also consider the safety of your performers or characters. You should provide a secure backstage area where they can retreat from overly aggressive patrons. Instruct your characters on what is expected of them and what their limits are. Do not allow your characters to touch your patrons.
While political correctness and haunted houses may be conflicting concepts, do be aware that some scenes have the potential to offend. Any scenes depicting violence towards women or animals should be avoided, along with the depiction of witches as warty crones. As far as I know, vampires, skeletons, and zombies do not have an active political lobby and are still fair game.