How To Start A Haunted House Business

So you have a great idea that will scare the life right out of your victims. Rather it be clowns, zombies or monsters whatever your idea is will take a lot of work to bring to life. In this series we will cover the steps that will have to be completed and the hurdles you will have to overcome to get your haunt off the ground and to run a haunted house business successfully. We will start off with some basic planning then go into business plans, layouts, licensing, fire and building codes, insurance, safety and many other topics.


To start off I am sure you have this image of some sort of haunt that will scare your victims and make you a fortune and your ready to run with it now. Well I am going to tell you to take a step back and do a little planning and layout. This idea probably consists of much more than you are thinking about right now and if you do not plan for it all it can come back and bite ya in the butt. So here is what I want you to do to start with, grab a pad of paper and a pen. Now below I will make a list of some of the basic things that need to be considered and dealt with prior to opening. With each of these topics think and write down anything you can think of that is related to a specific area and what it will cost and how much time you will need to implement it.

Building layout
Haunt Construction
Safety
Actors
Prop Construction
Building & Fire Code
Marketing & Advertising
Payroll
Security
Parking & Traffic

As you can see I have listed some of the larger broader categories here. I will dig into each and several others even further as this series continues each week. Each one of these categories covers a lot of smaller items, take actors for example. Will your actors be volunteers or paid, will they provide their own costumes or will you, who will do their makeup, where will they take their breaks, how will you work rotation to give each a break throughout the night, if paying them how will you run and record payroll. So now that one topic has grown into a giant category with a new list just as big as the initial set of categories. There is a lot of work involved in running and starting a successful haunted house.

If this is something that grew out of a hobby and you have no business experience or management experience then you want to consider hiring some people to help you and this brings in the next issue of financing a business which will be covered after I dive into the business plan and the importance of doing one. For now take that list and just keep writing, put everything that crosses your mind that may be a concern and then put everything you do not think you have to worry about because this is a business and it all makes a difference in the end.






Get Your Copy Of “How To Make Money With Your Haunt” Now!

In next weeks article in the series How To Start A Haunted House Part 2 I will go into the business plan and this will cover several weeks because in doing the business plan you will have to work through all the items mentioned so far and in detail. If you work through this with me and do one and refine it as we go then you will have an awesome tool that will be a road map, finance tool and guide for the journey you are embarking on.

52 thoughts on “How To Start A Haunted House Business

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  • July 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm
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    I have been in the haunted house business for over 10 years as a make up artist. I started in Omaha, Nebraska at 18 years of age working at Fright Zone. One of the best haunts in the midwest. Then started to help creat Scary Acres with the artwork out there as well. Then tried to help out another haunt called Haunted Hollow. Ive done tons of work and paid my dues without so much of a thank you or awesome job or even money just for the love of it i guess. Damn fool I am. Now i am ready to run them into the ground and need the guidance to do so. So thank you so much for this website and will use every resource i can. God i need partners. LOL!!!! Thanks again.

    future scream team leader of the midwest

    Jordan W. McGuire.

  • July 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm
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    Hey Jordan,
    Glad you like the site and looks like you have a great foundation for going out on your own. Be cautious of partners, make sure who ever you team up with is as passionate and trust worthy as you or things can go terribly wrong, I have heard of many businesses and haunts going under due to conflicts of interest between partners.

  • August 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm
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    Jordan,
    Where are you located in the midwest?

  • August 27, 2011 at 8:12 am
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    Thank you – exactly what I was looking for!

  • August 29, 2011 at 11:37 am
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    hey anyone in the san antonio area looking to really get ppl scared i got great ideas and would love to be part of a team my goal is to be part of the most brutal haunted attraction in the nation would love to start from scratch but unfortunatly i do not have the finances to back up my insane ideas……this is my first time reaching out to anyone and i truly believe my ideas trump all others email me for more info would love to get this stuff into action

  • August 29, 2011 at 11:40 am
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    hey jordan looking to get my ideas into action msg me back to see if u like what i got to say and maybe we can work together

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm
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    We live in san Antonio msg me

  • October 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm
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    I am in the same Boat Ive worked haunted houses in Ohio for years one was the clown house at land of illusion where i learned alot from the makeup artists and helped with the makeup… I am in collage for fine arts takeing classes such as makeup and ceramics plaster molds and i am currently working at the haunted hollow…ware i helped set scenes this year…. i have come to 3 great attractions i have thought of on my own this website is helping me tramendosly :)

  • October 8, 2011 at 9:27 am
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    Thats great sounds like your on the right track with working other haunts, thats the number one piece of advice for anyone looking to start their own attraction, if you have not worked a haunt before you need to and it needs to be a pro haunt. Glad the site is helping out and let me know if there is something you want to learn more about that we have not written about yet and I will get it on the editorial list to get something out for you.

  • October 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm
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    Hi. My names Krystal and I’m 19. I am in love with haunted houses and have been ever since I got to volunteer at hangmans house of horrors last year. A group of friends and I have been going to haunted houses every weekend this month and I realized that I would really enjoy running my own haunted house. It might be a few years but this is something I really want to do. If u have ANY tips at all please please help me out!! Thanks:)

  • October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm
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    The number one piece of advice any good pro out there will tell someone looking to get into this business is to go volunteer and work at a haunted house. Go in and talk with the owner/operator of several of the pro haunts you have visited and make sure they know this is something you want to get experience in because you would like to run your own in a couple years. Some will say no cause your competition and others may just be rude or too busy but give it a shot. If nothing comes of it then contact them again after Halloween is over and go volunteer to see what goes on after and then stick with it throughout the year if they have work you can help out with. I got in with a local haunt here and worked with them from March through to Halloween and that is where I learned most of what I know from construction and planning to promotion and marketing. Let me know if you have any other questions and make sure to follow the site and our facebook page for updates as I will be putting a lot of information and learning products out once Halloween is over and I have time to focus on the website again.

  • October 21, 2011 at 7:00 am
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    Jordan, I am from Colorado have worked at major haunts just like yourself. I am currently researching to build in 2012. Message me and lets talk.

    Tyler Sautter

  • October 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm
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    Looking to open a haunt in or near
    Louisville,ky and really need a guideline
    into fire codes, zoning, rules and regulations
    , mareketing and so on.

  • October 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm
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    Marketing

  • October 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm
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    All the haunted houses here in Ky suck and charge so much. You come out like really thats it, I paid twelve bucks for this.

  • October 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm
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    Hey maybe we can all have a meeting put all Ideas on the table and create the best haunt in the world.

  • November 3, 2011 at 10:27 am
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    I am out in California so can not give you direct links or docs that would pertain to your location. I would recommend calling or going into see your local fire marshal, building inspector and zoning official to see what regulations they have for a haunted house as from my experience so far it is somewhat different everywhere you go.

  • November 28, 2011 at 8:48 am
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    Jordon,

    I have been thinking of starting a haunted house, I don’t have any experience in it but have run 3 successful businesses for the last 12 years.

  • November 30, 2011 at 2:26 am
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    Have you worked in the haunt industry at all? If not I recommend volunteering at a haunt near you to get a feel for it.

  • January 18, 2012 at 7:15 am
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    I own a historical mansion just above The Waterfront, Pittsburgh’s premiere retail/entertainment center, and want to turn it into a fantastic haunted house. We are looking for partners, associates, etc.

  • February 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm
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    Jordan, I am moving to Colorado in the next month or 2… I have been working at a local haunted house, Gravestone Manor for 13 years… Part of the management team for the past 5 years. I do plan on looking for a place to work upon moving out there… And eventually plan on opening my own Haunted House. Thinking maybe we could help each other out…

    ~B~

  • February 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm
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    I have worked at different huants in Virgina and Texas. I live in Grand Junction, Co. and want to start my own haunt so if anyone wants to be a part let me know. E-mail me at redneckdadof4aol.com or call 817-477-7493

  • February 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm
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    im 18 yrs old and am really interested in the haunted house business, if i was to make my own from scratch, like designs and actors and makeup or w/e roll i want to take part in, what kind of schooling does it take?

  • February 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm
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    I would recommend finding a local haunt that would allow you to come work at or volunteer at to get some hands on experience that is the best way to learn this business. As far as formal training goes there is nothing haunt specific except the various seminars and training sessions you will find at haunt conventions. I would recommend some basic business classes from a local college to get yourself some business experience and keep reading our blog as we post new topics related to owning and operating a haunted house every week and have several new e-books in the works that will be released throughout the year on finance, operation, safety and more. If you have any questions or want to chat sometime feel free to email me or hit me up on Skype.

  • February 21, 2012 at 11:44 am
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    I am actually looking to produce a haunt out in southern cali. this is helping me greatly.

  • February 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm
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    Glad to be of help. Let me know if you come across any questions or have any topics you would like to see us write about. Also once you start getting things rolling would love to do an interview for the site.

  • April 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm
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    What is the square footage and address? Does it have fire sprinklers and/or a fire evac system in place (horn strobes, fire panel etc)? How many parking stalls?

    I have 3 successful, professional haunts and my partners and I are considering franchising. Pittsburgh is one of the considered locations as I travel there frequently.

    James

  • August 7, 2012 at 11:13 am
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    Jordan, Koolaid, and the other midwestern haunters. Any updates? I’ve worked in multiple big time haunts over the past few years, and I’m looking into scaring the hell out of people on my own terms now. I’d love to discuss partnering for an Ohio haunt if any of you guys looking to get started on your own would be interested.

    Comment with an email address or Facebook profile, and I’ll try to get back with you. With each other’s help we can make 2013…the year of fear. Well you know. If we don’t all die this year…lol

  • August 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm
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    I have been a home haunter for 15 years and have gotten to the point that my build is too big for my home location. In Michigan area north of Detroit by 80 miles, and in prime areas according to my research. Any suggestions on launching an actual full-out haunted house aside from what I have done already (home haunts, research, etc.), or even teaming up here locally? Check out my website and see what can be done to help, been looking at real estate for prospects the last 7 months, and building business plans, network grouping, and self-advertising. Thank you for the informative site, and your time in advance.

    Paul

  • August 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm
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    I have been in the hunted interested since 1999 I help with rocky point I know it in and out I like start a hunt but i do not have the funds is any I’m interested plz gate a hold of me

  • September 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm
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    My family has been creating a haunted barn for about 3 or 4 years for our church. We do the fall festival with the hay ride, games, food, fellowship & a trip thru the haunted barn as a finale. We have opened it up to friends and family for the last 2 years. Everyone says we should open to the public and charge for it. We have been thinking about it, but looked into insurance and not sure we can do it. What would be your advice?

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm
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    I am located in Omaha, Nebrask Wendy.

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm
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    Hey Jacob I have been away from this site for awhile. Sorry took this long to get back to you. Would like to here from you when you can thanks.

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm
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    Sounds good to me. Let’s chat.

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm
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    Man that does sound awesome. A mansion would be fantastic. I live in Omaha, Nebraska and am a make up artist by trade, now I do themed room designs I don’t think im in the market for partner’s as of yet but associates maybe…Chat with you soon.

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm
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    I love that idea.

  • October 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm
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    Now that does sound like the experience I need.

  • October 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm
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    Look up Ken Donat, he does haunt insurance and is very affordable compared to other companies that do not specialize in haunted houses and do not know how to handle these types of events. http://www.donatinsurance.com/

  • October 3, 2012 at 12:46 am
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    Ok so I just moved to Las Cruces NM with my girlfriend and she is going to college here at new Mexico state, I have always had a passion for Halloween and getting into the spirit iv worked a few low end haunts but nothing big. However growin up in North Texas and being a haunted house fanatic it was only natural I visi The Cutting Edge in Dallas/ Fort Worth every year and o course that only fueled my fire! now I’d like to mention to everyone that I am far from any haunted houses much less a major one making Las Cruces in my mind a perfect spot I mean think about it you start a major house in an area where there are none your bound to bring in victims right? Now I’m hoping I can get sponsored from the college but that’s iffy.. My poin is it’s a passion not a want and I really want this to happen and yes I’m 20 years young witha head full of ideas and a pocket full of dust but after thoroughly reading all of these articles I have the basis of what I need. Is there anyone who can possibly help? Any advice? Tips? Suggestions?

  • October 3, 2012 at 9:23 am
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    Hi Tyler, I tell everyone who asks for tips or advice to start with a business plan even if you have no money or plans yet it gets you thinking and writing and researching and really gets you involved in the process. Go find out what the building codes are, what the fire codes are, whats your demographics? Are there really enough people in Las Cruces that would attend a haunted house? Go through the business plan and you can get a better feel for all this and meet some of the people you will have to deal with later in the process.

    You can get the haunted house business plan ebook on Amazon Kindle for your phone or tablet now.

  • October 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm
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    i was born and raised 5min from downtown pittsburgh! my biggest dream is to start a actual scary haunted house around here.. need partners! i have so many visions!! let me know.

  • October 6, 2012 at 10:38 am
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    i grew up in homestead in i know exactly where your at. if you are still looking for any partners or extra hands give me a call at 412 452 3134. names josh. or txt me.

  • October 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm
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    I’ve been doing home haunts for 2 years now, but my new apartment is way too small and high up to be any fun… So I was thinking of finding a plot or space around here, and it would probably be the first true haunted house in this country, so I figure it could be a big hit. I just don’t know anything about running stuff like that and I don’t have a huge amount of money… So IDK, any advice?

  • November 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm
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    Business Plan. That is my first piece of advice for anyone looking to start a haunt. In doing the business plan you will do the research to find out how much your location will cost, rather there is a market there for a haunt and what kind of overhead and supply costs you will encounter among dozens of other things like safety and fire inspections and codes.

  • December 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm
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    Hi Grant, i tried to get your book from Amazon, but it says that it’s not available to my country :( maybe its because its a Kindle version… is there a way i can get a pdf or word version from you?

    thanks

  • May 18, 2016 at 10:35 pm
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    hi there my fire dept I’m on are going to try and do a haunted house to raise money for well needed fire gear and tools any tips would be helpful and how to get lumber donated

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