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Haunted House design - Designing the Facade

Title: Haunted House design - Designing the Facade

Author: Paul " DragonMaster " Pendragon


From decorating your home, to a haunted house to raise funds, to
a haunted house for profit certain things pertain to all and can
help whatever you do be more successfull. In a series of
articles I will attempt to help you design and build whatever
you desire for halloween and make it more successfull, and more
exciting. Remember you do not have to spend alot of money, but
it will take time, imagination, and hard work.

Everyone who has a home haunt always works on the outside the
most, as the outside is what most people see. However a haunted
house as a fundraiser or for profit haunted attraction often
spends more time on the inside then they do on the part of the
attraction people will see first. We are always told that first
impressions mean the most, and that applies in a big way to
haunted attractions. You need to set the stage for your
visitors, and you need to prepare them for what is inside..

The facade is so important as they are what people see first,
and it is what sets the stage and starts the frightning of the
guest. Part of scaring people is the anticipation that something
is going to happen. So your facade and queline should give your
visitors the feeling that something dangerous and ominous is
going to happen. Visitors will be prepared for your first scare
before they ever enter your attraction.

For home haunts most visitors will not enter your house. They
will simply walk up to get there treats so the outside of our
home and the areas leading up to the door is so very important
so that trick or treaters get the feeling that this is the house
they want to visit time and time again.

First you should pick a theme for this halloween year. Between
haunted houses if I am going to be home for halloween I always
pick a theme. And of course if I am designing and building a
haunted house the theme is so very important. In a home haunt
you are decorating for the season, in a haunted house to raise
money or for profit you are telling a story. Without the story
your visitors will be more confused then scared as to what is
going on in your attraction.


Your planning and decorating should go from the road up to your
home or attraction. Everyone should be in costume and the
costume should fit the theme in one way or another.

The first thing to remember in planing the walk from the road to
the entrance / door of your house or attraction is lighting.
While our tendency is to make things dark and scary the walk to
the entrance should be well lighted for safety sake. Depending
on your theme you can use pumpkins, tiki torches, luminares, or
alternative forms of lighting so that visitors to your home or
attraction can get to the door without tripping or falling. Make
sure walkways are at least 40 inches wide to accomodate
wheelchairs or small children clinging to a parent.

Refrain from using strobe lights on the outside of your home or
haunted attraction close to the walkway or where the lights will
hit those walking towards your home / haunted attraction. Strobe
lights can trigger seizures, migraines, or other physical
problems in some individuals. If strobes are used at all they
should be used in a way that they do not directly point to, or
in the view of visitors.

Also ensure the walkway is clear of debris or props that may
trip someone or cause them to fall. And I will make the point
now and later. Never let an actor touch someone ! Touching a
guest is a liability especially if the person falls. Also I want
to mention that some people coming to your home / haunted
attraction may suffer from panic attacks, and / or anxiety
attacks so we want to make sure they get to the door without
having to call an ambulance. In the case of haunted attractions
warnings usually are posted only at the entrance, and waivers
are signed until a person gets ready to enter. So if a person "
freaks out " and has a medical emergency, or falls, you will be
liable for any injury.


The facade is the outside of your home or haunted attraction and
in the case of the haunted attraction most likely will include
your ticketbooth and your warnings for visitors who should not
enter the attraction.

The first thing to consider is our windows. A cheap simply
approach is to use the plastic window clings you can buy in most
stores. A more expensive but better approach is to set up a
Peppers Ghost Illussion in your windows so it appears there are
ghost awaiting the guests walking up. You can check out my
website for more on this
illussion and how best to use it.

Next are the walls which you won't want to mess up with nails or
adhesive. Scene setters which are available from my party store
is a good alternative for this. Scene Setters can be held up
with tape so you won't damage your home or building. Scene
setters come in many wall designs and also include decorations
that attach to the scene setter to complete the affect.

If you want to build a frame you can use styrofoam to make a
fake brick look to the outside with a little trimming and paint.
Add a few old boards and you have a great look. Be sure that all
the items you use on the outside of your home or building are
firmly attached so they won't fall on someone. Many times over
the years a scared visitor made their own exit which included
tearing down part of the facade that I forgot to firmly attach.

Once you have the walkway lighted, you have covered windows,
walls. You can add smoke, specialty lighting ( caution on the
strobes ) and spread a few bones, chains, skulls and whatever
you can get to add to the effect.

Halloween has evolved to the point that many stores sell motion
activated props that you can use outside your home or haunted
attraction. Use these when you can but remember. Most motion
activated props work on the principal that when a person walks
in front the light level changes setting off the prop. If the
area where you use this prop is to dark then it won't work. Some
of the props are sound activated. This solves the light problem
but one prop can set off another prop atc. so you loose the
effect you want. Make sure you test all of your props and
effects prior to the opening of your attraction, or in the case
of the home haunt halloween night so you get the maximuim scare
value you need

You can find more articles on Halloween at my website at you can also find more articles, tips,
etc at On both sites you
will find articles, tips, ideas, and a great merchandise section
where you can buy all the great stuff you will need for this
halloween season.

Paul Pendragon has been designing home haunts and haunted
attractions for twenty seven years and is co-founder of The
House of Pain Haunted House in Middle Tennessee. He is also
founder of Pendragons Castle a Halloween / Entertainment site.

About the Author: About the author:
Paul Pendragon is founder of Pendragons Castle and DragonMaster
Entertainment. He is co-founder of the highly successfull House
of Pain Haunted House. He has been designing Haunted House for
30- years you can visit his site at

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