woman holding ball of fire

Haunted House Ideas: The 5 Best Places for Inspiration

How many hours, even days or weeks, have you spent mindlessly scouring the internet for inspiration? Waiting for an idea to take hold and looking for a theme or prop or idea that you haven’t done before. We understand the challenge that comes with designing a haunted house or keeping your haunt fresh. We’re here to offer help with 5 resources that may help ignite new haunted house ideas and new terrifying experiences.

1. TV Shows and Movies

The silver screen has always been a treasure trove of inspiration for haunted house owners designing a haunted house. TV shows like American Horror Story, Stranger Things, or The Haunting of Hill House are great resources for atmospheric settings, immersive storytelling, and frightful twists. Classic horror films such as Psycho, The Shining, or Halloween can be studied for their suspense-building techniques, intricate set designs, and psychological horror.

When designing a haunted house based on a TV show or film, start by identifying scenes, moments, or particular items that fit with your vision for your haunt. This could be an eerie atmosphere, a memorable scare tactic, or just a bone-chilling set. Remember, it’s not about direct replication but capturing the essence and translating it into your unique haunt.

Note: some TV shows and films may have copyright and trademark laws in place preventing exact replications of the characters so don’t forget to do your research.

man in a robe holding a book and antlers

2. Horror/Thriller Books

As a fan of horror, you’ve probably read classics like Frankenstein, The Exorcist, or The Woman in Black. Aside from TV shows and movies, horror and thriller books can be a great source of inspiration for haunted house ideas. The written word can offer some more subtle scare tactics and allow you into the characters head (monster or hero) better than film. 

As with our last suggestion, when diving into horror novels, it is often more about the fear that certain elements inspire in the reader. You may not be able to construct set pieces based on a horror novel alone, but you could apply some of the scare tactics used. When designing a haunted house based on literature, you’ll have to use your own imagination for the finer details.

3. Local Ghost Stories and Urban Legends

Look no further than your own backyard for creepy tales of the supernatural and haunted house ideas. Every region has its own collection of urban legends and ghost stories, passed down through generations. You could go out and interview locals or dig into historical archives to uncover hidden ghost stories or tales of the supernatural or terrifying. You can use these true (or perhaps not) stories to inspire your own story or directly incorporate urban legends into your design.

This is also a great way to get locals involved in your haunt and can make it a more memorable experience. It’s important to remember to be respectful of the histories of these stories and locations, however.

interior of a building in disrepair

4. Real-Life Haunted Locations

There’s nothing quite like visiting the truly haunted and disturbing landmarks in your area to inspire you as you’re designing a haunted house. These real-life haunted and scary places have untold secrets and are rich sources of inspiration. There’s nothing like wandering through an abandoned mental institution in the dark, being haunted by ghosts to inspire new terrors. Studying these creepy landmarks will give you a better idea of the atmosphere, historical context, setting, and feelings that could elevate your haunt’s authenticity.

5. Haunted House Conventions and Trade Shows

Connect with fellow haunted house enthusiasts, owners, and industry professionals at haunted house conventions and trade shows. These events offer opportunities to network, learn from experts, and discover cutting-edge techniques in the haunting industry. Not to mention plenty of haunted house ideas to take home with you.
Share ideas, gain insights, and attend workshops on prop creation, scare techniques, and immersive storytelling. Prominent conventions like TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show and Midwest Haunters Con are some great options. For tips on how to get the most out of a trade show and what to focus on, read our recent blog post.

More Ideas

  1. Keep a haunting journal or mood board to collect and organize your inspirations, ideas, and sketches.
  2. Interact in online haunted house forums or Facebook groups to exchange ideas, seek advice, and collaborate with fellow haunters.
  3. Experiment with different themes and subgenres to keep your haunt fresh and exciting year after year.
  4. Continue to educate yourself on emerging technologies, special effects, and scare tactics.
  5. Survey your visitors and take their feedback into account, their experiences will provide valuable insights for improving and refining your haunt.
collection of creepy masks hanging on a wall

Wrapping Up

As haunted house owners, finding inspiration is an ongoing process that fuels your passion and drives the evolution of your haunted attractions. Resources like TV shows, movies, books, local ghost stories, and real-life haunted locations can offer haunted house ideas.

If you aren’t already using an online ticketing system, this can be another valuable resource for inspiration. The data that can be collected can help you create a full picture of how guests feel about your haunt. It also makes it easier to send our surveys to guests to ask what went well and what went wrong.

HauntPay is here to help you take advantage of the potential of online ticketing so you can reach more fans and sell more tickets. Sign up for a demo to see just how easy it is.

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