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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I couldn't think of any good titles. Figure I'll make my own little post here, for my own remembrance sake more than anything but feel free to chime in with suggestions or whatnot!

I grew up rural, in Southern Central NY state (an hour and a half South of Syracuse), but because of my desire to not be around people, I've never been in a position where I could enjoy kids coming around for candy and enjoying decorations. This year, that changed with a purchase of an old 1838 house at an auction. Abandoned and neglected, it does have a bit of a creepy vibe to it. So much so, in fact, that I decided against a paint refresh this summer, because it'll look a lot more Halloween-esque with dingy paint! To be fair, there's a ton of work to be done but in the meantime it's right in the middle of town, great visibility and certainly looks the part. So the long and short of it is that I get to decorate and host trick-or-treaters!

So here's the house as I purchased it:

Plant Sky Property Building Window



I did clean up the bushes on the front of the house and all that, but you can see the Gothic Revival porch that was added on in the mid-1800s.Experimenting with a green light gives us...

Leaf Branch Building Natural landscape Vegetation


So, that's the starting point.

Onwards to the plan:

Obviously we need to have some outside decorations, so the plan is to create a simple PVC fence using many of the great DIY tutorials out there. Tombstones, and a few props. But given that I don't live in the house and there's no power or wifi available, I can't really do a lot of outdoor decorations ahead of time for fear of something getting ruined. While the neighbors and people in general have been very receptive of my purchasing the house and intending to fix it, it IS a major walkway for kids. So, planning first before deployment.

DIY PVC fence, tombstones, and then trying to decide where to load props into. I have a Jack Stalker, Cauldron Creeper with fog to hopefully spill down the yard a bit (might need a separate machine/chiller for that, or to Y off some tubing to get both), Mr Dark, maybe a jumping spider or two in there, and an HD Inferno Scarecrow to fit amongst the fence.

Inside:

This is an on-the-fence thing, in that I'm waiting for the final green light from Code Enforcement - will detail that below. IF all goes well though, when the victi--guests come up to the front porch for candy, I'll be there waiting with <costume> adorned. They will then have the option of walking through the house (down the first hallway, into a room, into a second room, and out the side door) to get some bonus candy. You can see the path they'll take here:


You can see how there's definitely a creepy old house vibe inside being continued. Before you scream out all the things you see wrong, as I said, will outline those below. So, inside, there's going to be another handful of animatronics, static props, and at least one other helper. The idea is that they'll walk into the hallway, with a prop or something in the room immediately to the right. Room will be chained off but can look in and see it. Don't know anything about decorating so that'll be something to figure out. It'll be a small space, since I'll have a hanging divider in that room with a projector in the other side playing on a front window, hopefully. Down the hallway, something else under the steps. Into the first room, a little scene of sorts, with another prop. Old Philco radio playing...sounds? Still also deciding on ambient music for the two main rooms too. Possibly another projector projecting into a doorway (on the far left as you walk into the room in the video). Barry hanging in the right, perhaps? Then another room to the right to walk into, with another scene in there, coffin maybe, etc. We've got a lunging reaper, witch, Harvester of souls, Hauntress, spirit twins, Barry, the Lowes girl, and who knows what else I'll end up with to try to fit in.

Vibe of the 2nd room:

Candle Table Candle holder Interior design Tableware


When you leave out the side door, you go down some steps to the driveway and then have to make your way back along the fence to get back front to the sidewalk so some of the things will be waiting there versus being front and center at the beginning. It's also why I'll have at least one other person - to hand out the 2nd handful of candy at the end, but also to keep people safe going out the stairs at the back.

Anyway, that's the plan in a nutshell so far. Next post will outline more details and such on the code guy, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I know there will be people screaming at their monitors in hopes I hear, about safety this, and regulations that. So, to address what I'm sure will be brought up:

There is no live power in the house. All props will be run off battery adapters, and all lighting will be battery operated LED lights/candles with no live flame. Projectors in the house will also be run off a battery box directly for each. All this minimizes as much fire risk as can be done from my side of the spectrum. Fire extinguishers front, rear, and center also, because I can't control if some 8 year old drops his cigarette.

There will be emergency LED floodlights in the corners of the rooms on a remote switch, charged and ready to be activated in the event that something happens and people need to get out.

Speaking of, 4 exits available through this short walk - front and side that are the entrance and exit of the walkthrough, as well as a rear door and a basement door that leads down and outside in case of emergency. While the rooms people will not be allowed in will be chained off, we will have access to get through those to exits if need be.

Still in the process of cleaning everything up, but there will be no exposed nails left in the walls, or anything like that. Floors also will be cleaned with some low-lying lighting to light up the path. Walls that are open, will have coverings on them, one side or the other to keep people from sticking their hands through, or worse trying to walk through to where they shouldn't be. In the video above, also is evident that there are still places on ceilings and walls with debris that will be removed (drywall/plaster/paint). No loose paint will remain or be accessible for anyone to think should be eaten.

A second person to help if not a third, will be stationed in the house to direct guests into the rooms, and caution them on their way out about watching the steps. Kids like to jump down stairs, we need to minimize that. Likewise, any "scare" props outside on the side of the house will be positioned AFTER they have reached the bottom of the steps safely.

Guests will only be going in a few at a time, and will be given the 'standard' warnings and rules before entering (no running, no touching, no smoking, no functional particle accelerators, etc). Should only take a couple minutes to go through.

I will also extend an invitation out to any parents or others that want to come walk through ahead of time, at least on the inside, for peace of mind when it comes to letting their kids and loved ones walk through. The floors and joists have been in some places, or will be in others, reinforced and I have no problem taking folks down to see for themselves that it's perfectly safe (though I WILL leave a couple of the warped floorboards as they are, because if you don't know better, it does feel a tiny bit unsettling if you think the floor could cave in - they won't, but it'll feel that way)

I had e-mailed the mayor who forwarded my plan and message to the Fire, Police, and Code Enforcement offices. Fire Department just reiterated having extinguishers due to guests being out of my own control, despite above mentioned rules. Police I expect will be equally as receptive, since I can't think of any laws to be broken, unless kids disappear... Code is the outlier right now, and not sure how that'll go. On one hand, it's my own private property, and I'm not charging admission so on the surface it should be no different than the people that have come up while I've been working on the house and asking if I'd show them around (lots of people interested and curious to how bad it had been in the decade+ since anyone had lived in it before my purchase). On the other hand though, because strangers - and more importantly KIDS - will be involved, they may have other things they want to worry about. My biggest guess is just worry over if any exposed paint is lead or not, or maybe having more exit signs. To that, I'm hesitant to put exit signs on the other two extra ways out, to avoid people seeing it and deciding to go THAT way through chained off areas instead of following the path. I do want to make my own lighted spooky exit sign for the intended exit though. We'll see if Code wants other stuff that way. Again, I'm speculating since I've never done it before, and don't know for sure what could come about.


For now, I'm kind of in that spot of wondering do I continue going full plan for the inside and hope that all goes well and no one takes issue? Or do I pause and wait and then end up rushing to get things done if I get the green light later? Continue with the inside even if red-lighted, and just do private friends and family walkthroughs after? Try to relocate things to outside and not make a jumbled mess? I've opted to continue with the plan of fitting out the inside, and keeping my fingers crossed.
 

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First of all, congratulations on your purchase! I love old homes. I had a 1876 Folk Victorian myself. I think everyone here will be excited to see what you come up with, and probably a little bit jealous of the awesome opportunity you have ahead of you.

I think you'll want the green light, but it sounds like that may not be a problem. I personally would keep props to a minimum and use more sound and shadow to create the ambiance of an actual haunted house. If you could rig up doors to move on their own, cabinets to open and close, lights to flicker, that would creep me out more than animated props. This is something I've thought about a lot, but will probably never have an old house in this PERFECT condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you could rig up doors to move on their own, cabinets to open and close, lights to flicker, that would creep me out more than animated props. This is something I've thought about a lot, but will probably never have an old house in this PERFECT condition.
That's a great idea! Where the rooms are this year won't pass through any rooms with cabinets or anything but if things go well this year, I can definitely expand next years walkthrough to the rest of the downstairs area where there are, and can be more!
 

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That is a fabulous house that will definitely be a long term labor of love. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought into your approach and anticipated a lot of the potential issues.
 
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Oh man I would love to have that house. I would turn it into a haunted attraction for sure. You’ve got the look you’ve got the Age… all you need to backstory. You know something along the lines of: baron von XYZ built this house for his beautiful wife in 18 whatever. They soon had a son… Here’s where you’re add in your story… grows up to be a mass murder Or wife and child leave him he’s so depressed he commit suicide haunts the house forever… You get the idea. And you start spreading that story around in the neighborhood believe me it’ll spread like wildfire.

I know someone who did exactly what I’m describing except for the house actually already came with that story when he bought it. True or not I don’t know but He turned it into a haunted attraction charge $25 a ticket and did very well.

Please post updates as you go, would love to follow your progress
 

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Wow! What an incredible house! Love it! Wish we could all do a field trip!

I would agree with what’s been said, have a creepy story and DarkOne nailed what I was thinking. If you have tons of store bought props, it kills the vibe because people will recognize them and some of the magic will be lost plus you would need a ton of batteries unless you can run a generator out back. Noises that can’t be explained, flickering lights, distant human or animal sounds periodically, fog and general atmosphere type things like chairs moving, doors creaking and that type of thing are key. People are more frightened by what they come up with in their heads with you leading them down the path because they will imagine what scares them the most. Let their imaginations help out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That is true.. I do have an entire second story that I can have things making sounds in, even if I have to bribe someone to just sit in the dark and drop things on the floor once in a while.

It's funny you mention the batteries, I've been doing testing with that now. So I have a couple dozen battery operated LED flicker candles, and have been purchasing rechargeable batteries to use. Since rechargeable don't always pack the same punch as an alkaline (Lithium rechargeable batteries probably are closest but pricy for small batteries), I wanted to make sure I test duration. The last thing I want to happen is to have something shut down halfway into the night.

The candles are easily going to last even with two little AAA batteries. I've tested those to 10 hours before I said that should be fine, and turned them off. I didn't test voltage but by the relatively short time it took to charge back to full, I'm sure there's plenty more beyond that. I don't anticipate needing more than 6 hours worth anyway.

I do have a generator that will be out behind the house. I've already tested for noise and there is minimal. Can barely hear it even 50' away, which is well out of earshot of the main sidewalk and even if people were walking behind the driveway, almost not noticeable unless you're listening for it. Inside the house, nothing. That will power outdoor lighting and props, and some positioned lights at the exit to make sure people can exit safely (before Mr Dark catches them halfway down the path to the sidewalk again). It's a small genny, rated for 1700 watts continuous, but the props draw very little, LED floodlights aren't bad. Main draw will be the fog machine out front. I have to do some testing, to see if I can get a little 400 watter to handle the cauldron creeper's cauldron fill as well as spilling down the front yard (not big, only about 10x20'). I also have a 2nd machine for the Harvester inside, so that might take some creative placement to makework. Lots of testing for those to come though.

As far as the inside goes, I have...5? I think? So I have a bunch of the Spirit battery adapters that take 4 D batteries per. Not the cheapest way to go, but for reference, I've had the cauldron creeper here in my office with me running non-stop off a fresh set of batteries in one, and I'm currently coming up on the 6 hour mark. He'll actually be the only one that'll be run continuously outside the house just because he'll be placed higher up on the yard away from motion distance (unless I get around to extending a trigger to the fence before then). And he'll have generator power anyway. Every other prop will run off a battery pack. There are a couple that have built in AA compartments, that'll be the next test, seeing how long those smaller sizes run. I figure if I can get 3-4 hours continuous, then intermittent triggering for guests should easily extend that life outwards. Or, again, I know the D battery holders will last at least 6 hours non-stop (so far), so I can always just run those instead). I have enough adapters for the inside props, and the outside ones will run off the generator. Logistics, I tell ya.

The biggest obstacle I have right now I think, is just the lighting. LED Candles, while neat and safe, don't exactly put off a ton of light. I have plenty for spookiness, but I also need fill lighting for the rooms and things like that. So currently still trying out different LED/RGB lighting options that I might enjoy (I did pick up a few solar-powered flood lights that have a remote as emergency lighting. Basically to fully charge them in the days leading up, take the lights over and just put the lights up without the panels, and if need be, we can trigger the lights with the remote to light up a room in case it's needed.

Still need some lighting for floor level, and the overall room lights. I have some smaller RGB flood lights that are normally AC powered, but I'm going to do a draw test to see how long they'd last off a battery box instead. They're smaller, I think the 15 watt versions that are popular, so my 500 watt battery station should easily hold those up for long enough.

It all seems simple and easy enough but I know that time is going to sneak away a lot faster than expected, so that's why I'm trying to test what I can during work hours in the meantime.

Stir, Stir, Stirrrr the pot... all the live-long day... lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Since you'll have power, I think a dim ghost projection down a hallway or across an inaccessible room would be a nice touch.
I do have a doorway with a projector cloth to do a rear projection onto it with a Sprite player for a trigger with AtmosFX Manor scenes. My battery box will handle powering that for the evening. I just have to figure out what I want to dress the room behind it in, with lighting to give a good hollusion effect. But, definitely can be tweaked with different variations.

I spent today over there trying to do some more logistics. I have a couple pairs of BT speakers that I like the sound of, but singly they don't put out enough volume for a single room's ambient sound. Sadly, I can't get them to run as a pair unless I'm using Bluetooth, and rather than having multiple phones/devices running the BT tracks, I decided to test out using an SD card in each instead, and just start the track together on each. Surprisingly, it works well, and having each pair in each different room should be a lot better. Now to find another pair (or three) for the outside sounds, and some in between effects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
What is your long term plan with the house? Fix it up to live in it or haunted attraction?
The plan is to fix it over time, but I really don't know what the end goal is going to be. I already have a house, and I really don't know if I want to get into the renting game, at least not having a lot in place in regards to a maintenance guy available (if I were to rent it, I'd be traveling a lot more and would need someone to take care of issues).

Another option was to finish off all the rooms and rent out space for creators - photographers, etc. But, I have entertained the idea of making it into a more full-time attraction, something that could encompass both floors and all the rooms. There aren't a lot around my area that I've run into, so maybe this year is what sparks that interest and I go more into that. A lot more involved but could be very rewarding too. Who knows!
 

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Maybe this year will help you decide. I watched the walkthrough again and I think light coming through the lath walls, or if a projection could be seen between the lath would be a nice touch. I couldn't tell if a lath wall opened up to a doorway where maybe a ghost could walk from behind the lath and be seen through the doorway. A shadow coming down the stairs as they walk in could be a creepy beginning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Lots of recent rains have kept me stuck not doing much, but I've been slowly plotting courses. I did manage to sell my boat over the weekend (not much, but saves me having to pay for winter storage), and treated myself to a few extra goodies. I ordered a Chauvet 1200. I have two currently - one from Spirit which will be used for my Harvester of Souls since it's only for a small space, and a short duration - no point having anything larger for that. I also had a cheap Walmart one I bought a couple years ago that I never ended up using. But since that one has no good triggering options (it's their cheap one with a built-in wireless remote that's just a push button), I decided that I would just buy another larger one to handle my cauldron and yard coverage. Still need to build a chiller, but at least the big part is coming tomorrow. Also ordered another round of batteries for candle use, and stopped and found our Home Depot had some pitted and decayed skellies so grabbed a couple there too.

I also managed to score these hanging lamps at a local store, kind of digging them. They do work, in spite of the spliced wiring, but I'm going to find some bright tea lights, and make a little shelf to sit in the bottom of the frame to hold. Will probably need a few per lamp to be bright enough to shine through the glass but I could also test using some clear plexi instead, with a single candle.

Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive design Wood Art


Wood Gas Art Audio equipment Metal


If the weather holds, tomorrow I'll pull out the generator and fire up everything that I'm anticipating having plugged in, to make sure I'm not somehow over my wattage limit, even if everything fired off at once. Pretty sure I'll be good, but don't want surprises on the big night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My Chauvet Hurricane 1200 came today, so I took the generator outside, hooked almost all of the stuff that I'm anticipating having plugged in, and made sure it would handle everything. Unfortunately the 1200 means that I'm a little over budget power-wise for one other thing I had planned to run off it, so I'm going to keep my eye out for a slightly larger genny. This one is a nice little inverter unit that can handle 1700 watts continuous and isn't so loud that it can be heard. But I also didn't have my projectors hooked up, which draw about 90 watts each. My genny can peak to 2000 watts, so in theory it will be bouncing up and down between that when the fog machines re-heat but I much prefer not being at the limit. Plus, a larger unit would be able to put out the same output at less effort, so-to-speak which could also decrease noise and fuel consumption, in theory. We'll see what I end up with I guess. But at least the big pieces are in place and workable it seems.

Oh, and the JW want to stop by on Thurs for a chat. Not sure what they're going to think about having to share the couch with a few skeletons while all the props in the corner are leering out over the room. It might be a short stay...
 
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