In 2013, Misery Haunted House was opened as a fundraiser for the Haven of Hope daycare, a daycare/respite center for children and adults with special needs in Little Chute WI. Unfortunately, in 2014 the daycares board of directors shut down the daycare and Misery was forced to find a new home for 2015 if we wanted to stay open. We looked into buying or renting a building but, since we were just starting out we did not have the funds. One of our actors told us about The Berlin Tannery, which was already the home of Hallowed Chambers Haunted House. After meeting with the landlord, he was willing to rent us space, but instead of a typical rental lease with a fixed rate, he would collect 60% of ALL of our admissions. This was extremely expensive. but this was our only option and we had to be out of our old building we accepted this deal. We did not get any kind of written agreement from our new landlord, who stated "I don't think lawyers need to get involved" which would lead to a lot of issues down the road with him not following through with things he said he would take care of, and also changing the terms of our "agreement".
Misery Haunted House opened at the Berlin Tannery in 2015, along with Hallowed Chambers, and World's Edge laser tag. Most of the tannery was being used as storage by our landlord, and he would not clear anymore room for the three of us, so the laser tag was running inside Hallowed Chambers all summer, this created many problems as Hallowed Chambers could not work on their attraction if Laser Tag was open and laser tag couldn't build up their area, as it was part of the haunted house. Eventually the operator of the laser tag threw up his hands and left, since our landlord loaned him the money for the equipment, the laser tag was left and it sat unused. Once October rolled around and Misery opened alongside Hallowed Chambers, we were contacted by the owner of Hallowed Chambers asking if we would be interested in buying his attraction, he could not afford to drive back and forth from Milwaukee area, pay his actors, and maintain the attraction, we worked out a deal and purchased Hallowed Chambers. We also agreed to re-open and run the laser tag area under the condition that it got it's own space and not part of a Haunt. It was our understanding that the whole building was to be eventually used for haunted attractions as we grew, which was fine with us, however it came with a lot of restrictions. The Hallowed Chambers area had to leave huge isles in the haunt so our landlord could work on the building, this made it very difficult to design an attraction that flowed well given where we could and couldn't build. Customers also complained that there was a long blank area between Misery Haunted House and Hallowed Chambers, because they were on opposite sides of the building and on two different floors, so we added a large pallet maze between them! This seemed to improve our ratings. Now operating two full sized haunts, an escape room, laser tag arena, a burial simulator and a paint ball shooting gallery, we had invested $30,000 in our new areas! At the end of 2016, our attendance was the lowest it has ever been, but with so many attractions our revenue was still comparable to past years and higher! At the end of the year we got a letter in the mail from the landlord saying that our laser tag arena didn't make enough money, and he wanted to know how we were going to make it better, the equipment was extremely outdated and didn't work half the time. We had even spent money trying to fix his laser tag equipment so it would work. We explained the problems were too great and it just was not going to make money. We came to the agreement that it would be closed down and equipment returned to him to do with as he pleased. We were also informed that he had plans to rent the area we built pallet maze in, to another Haunted House and we needed to tear down everything we had just built. Apparently we would not be able to use that space next year. He told us he was under the impression that each haunt was going to generate $30,000 a season and that the space was worth that much if he could rent it out. He wanted to put a separate business in between our two attractions and when we asked how we would run our customers around he told us through the basement and up two flights of stairs. This was a long way through the building, on top of the fact that our haunt was already on the other side of the building from each other. After much debating, we decided to close Hallowed Chambers due to logistics of running two haunts with someone else's in between. The letter also said we must provide an itemized receipt of register transactions at the end of each night. We had been paying once at the end of the season, now he wanted weekly payments with transaction receipts. Well, 2017 came and we obliged to these and some other small things and we opened, after the first weekend we sent him his receipts as required and he didn't understand them. "admission" under his definition was 60% of our escape room, tickets, burial simulator, and anything customers paid to do, This was divided on the receipt to show each coupon and each sale. Escape rooms, coupons, and general admission were all separate with totals. 2017 we decided to raise money for the Oshkosh Area Humane Society, and there was a separate category for that donation, we chose to charge $13 admission this season and a $1 donation to the humane society, so customers paid $14 in total. This was our best, and biggest season yet and we had our highest attendance! At the end of the 2017 season our landlord said our number didn't match what he counted on the security camera he installed in Haunted House to count our customers. He even went as far as to suggest that our ticket salespersons were slipping money under the table. On our end, everything came out and I assure you we have never had an issue with our ticket salesperson. The real kicker is that he said he never authorized us to give the donation to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society, and he demanded 60% of the donation paid to him. THIS was straw that broke our backs, after all the back and forth, and taking a higher percentage then we even got, he demanded more! The other attraction never opened on his side of the building and he blames us for taking away the revenue he would have had from Hallowed Chambers. He made more money off our business then we did. We never even covered expenses like advertising, insurance, and other things needed to run the attraction. After investing in attractions that we no longer were able to run due to his constantly changing terms, we are still $20,000 in debt. So at the end of 2017 we are leaving Berlin behind, we have sold off most of our attraction to help pay down and because we have nowhere else to go with it, but we have kept a few things.
In 2018 we are working on buying our own building, so we won't ever have to move again, and we can work on continually bringing you the best haunted attraction year after year!
We are asking for your support in helping get us back on our feet as one of the top Haunted Houses in Wisconsin! Help us get out of debt and put a down payment on our very own property! We are asking for donations to help us get back on solid ground and build an amazing future with no more landlords, no more moving, just one great Haunted House!
What's in it for you? Every donation here is logged, and when we open up at our new location, every donation of $10 or more will get a FREE Ticket!
Every donation of $50 or more will get a 2 Free Tickets AND a FREE T-shirt!
and if your a business or want to be a sponsor we have a $1000 level for you as well!
Thank you all so much, and we hope to see you again real soon, Because Misery Loves Company!