This has a lot of Kernels.
A cornfield offers opportunities to create many different looks and setups. With some creativity, and some planning, you can shape a world of experiences for your guests. Who says that the field has to be one style of path all the way through? Why not mix up the look and feel of your field? Keep Reading to learn more….
© Alexis Abare and Benjamin Selecky, Haunted Farms of America
This article will cover some of the basic microdesigns, and some notes on how to effectively use each of the setups for successful scares. These designs can be implemented in your field very easily, with very little change to the current way you do things, and can have a dramatic impact on your cornfield.
There are also a couple of things to keep in mind as you are designing that will pay huge dividends during your season. First is the buffer zone between paths. We recommend approximately a 10 foot minimum. Anything less than 10 feet will look very sparse as the corn dies. Second is how the actors use the corn for their scares and hideaway zones. If you make your actor cutouts at a 90 degree angle from the path, the guests eye has a higher likelihood of registering that as a corner and being ready for a scare. However, if you make the scare path approach the main path at an angle from behind, this changes the appearance and functionality of it.
This micro-design element looks and feels really cool. The basic idea is that you create a long, very narrow path in the corn. When the corn reaches full height, it will ‘curve’ around the top of the path, creating an overhead ‘archway’ that will brush your guest’s heads the whole way. It also creates a stunning visual effect, as the patron looks down the length of the path and sees shadows and movement abound. This is an area, depending on the length, that you can get away with little or no actors. The effect and cool visual can carry the corridor.
Wide open space can put people in an uncomfortable position. They don’t often encounter spaces like this in haunts, and are forced to process a large area very quickly. This creates a challenge for the guest, as they try to determine where the potential threats could come from. This micro-design can be used to set up a choreographed scene, works great with team scares, and also offers a chance for your actors to hunt in packs. Since people scan left to right, it creates a point of attack from back left, after the guest has already ‘cleared’ the area for threats. You can also make cool aerial pictures with the corn.
This micro-design uses a very traditional turn left, turn right approach. It is often used for high traffic, as it is full of twists and turns, and hides the scare actors from the patrons until it is their turn to get hit. This area of the corn can help actors scare on heavy flow nights. Indoor haunts build in lots of little turns to limit visibility. This is the outdoor version of this technique. This tight design also can help actors cover a lot of ground if necessary. Just make sure your actors don’t destroy this pattern, as it can really fall apart quickly as the season goes on.
This micro-design is just as the name suggests: shaped like a funnel. It takes guests from a wide path into a very narrow space. This builds suspense for the guests, and also creates a feeling of unease…particularly when the path gets so narrow that they can no longer walk side by side. This setup presents a great chance to scare the Rock with a hand flash, while the other actor can scare from the back; creating a scare sandwich. The visual of this also plays a role in the guest’s head, since they can see that a squeeze is coming (if it is lit or highlighted properly.)
The fan is the exact opposite of the funnel. It take the guests from a narrow corn path into a gradually widening opening. This is a great micro-design to use when revealing a facade or a major scene. Combining the fan with 2 other microdesigns can magnify the effect. For instance, the funnel can be used to feed into a squeeze corridor, then into a fan, for an hourglass effect. This effect can take the customer on a roller coaster and have a huge impact on their psyche and ultimately the reveal you are building up to. When they step into the fan, it feels massive.
Scream Go Round.
This micro-design is hard to put into words…refer to the picture to help. The basic idea of this is that you either start with a small circular path or a large one. And you work your way out, or in, respectively. But you can’t actually go all the way around. You have to always leave yourself an exit route. One large advantage to this micro-design is quick access paths for a small group of actors to cover a large area. Another benefit of this micro-design is that the continuous curve limits the guest’s ability to see too far ahead…or too far behind. A great ‘stalking’ opportunity.
This is literally what the name suggests. A zigzag pattern that can have varying lengths to each leg, and to the overall micro-design itself. This pattern also has the effect of a palate cleanser for your patrons. Several of these patterns, placed strategically throughout the field, could serve the purpose that a “hallway” would serve for an indoor haunt. It serves as a bit of a break between more intense, elaborate scares.These could be low intensity scare areas that help to prepare them for what is ahead, or you could use this area as a way to get them to lower their guard…with a ‘goofy’ character or dialogue.
No matter how well flow is managed, there always seems to be backup at the exit. This can lead to flat finishes or the last chase to just simply not live up to original expectations. This micro-design has multiple paths to ‘flush’ the guests out. This design has many variations, but in the end, all of the paths meet up at the same point…OR the exit. This pattern could be used for FINALE actors to regulate the flow of guests into the last leg of the haunt. The actors can push the crowd into the path where they need to be, or use lighting to highlight the way out for them.
This is done by using a row of corn to create the illusion of a dead end…only for the exit to be revealed…by leading, or by lighting. This tool can be used for many reasons. A couple that come to mind are to build suspense, to create a feeling of being trapped, or to create a chase point to either lead into another scene, or the exit. Use of proper lighting in this design is key, or the illusion won’t read like a dead end at all. The exit in this design does not have to be straight ahead either. It can be to the side, or behind the guests as they walk through. Placement is up to you.