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Start Planning Your Haunted House Early

Start Planning Your Haunted House Early

We’ve all likely heard of Christmas in July—but Halloween? While it does seem like Mr. and Mrs. Claus have a way of popping up in department store windows earlier and earlier every year, the ghouls and goblins of October have remained pretty firmly out of sight until at least after Labor Day, no?

In an opinion that may be unpopular among premature holiday naysayers, we at Americover are here for Halloween in July—that is, if you’re planning on hosting a scream-worthy haunted attraction come October. Whether for fun, profit or fundraising purposes, haunted attractions are as much a staple of Halloween as the late-night, too-much-candy stomach ache. But you can’t exactly decide you want to build a DIY haunted house attraction in October and—poof—one appears (unless, of course, you’re actually a sorcerer and that’s not just your costume).

If you want to build a legitimate haunted operation, the earlier you plan, the better the outcome. Here are three reasons to grab the Halloween decorations as you’re putting away the ones from the Fourth of July.

1. Designing the Ultimate Haunted Experience Takes Planning

When it comes to distinguishing a true haunted house experience from a popup tent with some decorations, the difference is in the details. Before even purchasing your materials, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself that will help ensure your attraction is what you envision it to be and, more importantly, that it goes above and beyond the expectations of your visitors.

  • How will you control the visitor experience? How do you want people to feel when they’re inside?
  • What will the layout of your haunted house be? Will it be a haunted maze or set up more like an actual house?
  • What will the theme of your haunted house be? Is it based on a scary story or a horror movie?

Creating a great haunted attraction takes careful thought and detailed planning before, during and after the building process. These steps include:

  • Finding a suitable location
  • Choosing and sourcing your building materials
  • Designing your costumes and haunted house props
  • Casting characters
  • Creating special effects
  • Building your site plan, floor plan, safety plan and evacuation plan for the permit process

2. Permits Take Time

Whether you plan to lease your site for a one-time event or purchase a location to start a haunted attraction business, you are responsible for obtaining the authority to do so in order to avoid liability and potential lawsuits. And just as building a haunted house doesn’t happen overnight, neither does filing for the necessary permits.

Every city has its own regulations and guidelines for temporary haunted house attractions—also commonly referred to as amusement buildings—and you may even require multiple permits from different agencies. Common operational requirements include:

  • Zoning
  • Safety
  • Maintenance
  • Parking
  • Sound
  • Sewage Disposal (if applicable)

Before breaking ground on your structure, it is essential that you check your city’s website for information on the necessary permits to ensure you’re in compliance from the start.

3. If You Build It, They Will Come…The Fire Marshal, That Is

Haunted attractions have sadly seen multiple fatalities over the years—among them, the devastating haunted mansion fire of 1984, which influenced stricter regulations for haunted house attractions. Prior to opening your haunted attraction to the public, you’ll need to first complete a fire inspection and, in the event of a failure, be prepared to address any concerns the fire inspector might have before rescheduling. If a life safety violation is discovered, the fire marshal can—and will—shut down your event.

While there are a number of fire safety precautions you’ll need to take to ensure your structure is up to code, using fire marshal-approved Halloween plastic sheeting can help to minimize some of the headache associated with the fire inspection process, as flame retardance is inherent to the material.

Bring Your (Scary) Dreams to Life with a Little Help from Americover

Building a haunted attraction—especially one that becomes the talk of the town—takes a lot of planning and hard work. After all the time and money you’ve invested in your event, the last thing you (and we!) want is to discover you’ve missed a critical step in the process when you’re ready to start welcoming visitors.

When it comes to haunted houses, we can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead. And while breaking out the Halloween décor in the dog days of summer may seem extreme, now’s the time to start thinking about these things so that you’re not up against the clock in October.

Once you’ve got your plans in place, let Americover be your source of certified fire-retardant haunted house plastic sheeting. We’ve been supplying the haunted house industry for over 20 years—in fact, chances are you’ve seen our material at the last haunted house you visited! Order your fire-retardant materials now, or give us a call at 800-747-6095 to discuss the best solution for your event.