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Haunted House Attendance 2022 Up or Down ?

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  • Haunted House Attendance 2022 Up or Down ?

    I've been talking to a lot of haunt owners telling me so far attendance is way down. Love to hear from other haunted house owners and operators. Causes are clear the economy is tanking. Secondly, haunted houses might be charging way to much. We raised our prices past a threshold of what people are willing to pay. Who knows.

    I also think haunted house ticket buyers don't want TIMED TICKETS. I think buying a haunted house ticket is a SPUR of the moment thing. Buying a ticket in advance is not something they want to risk... for a major concert yes its a one night only event. I also think there is just way to much competition now not only from other haunts, theme parks but local entertainment that didn't exist several years ago from Top Golf, Pickle Ball to Axe Throwing, escape rooms, bar mini golf to just about everything you can think.

    Be interesting to see how the meat of the season plays out.
    Larry Kirchner

  • #2
    Hopefully your earlier post from 4 weeks ago (Oct. 17th?) was premature and things picked up for you. Here in Tallahassee, it was a solid season. It didn't rain any of the nights and we had four premium nights in a row (Friday Oct 29 through Monday Oct. 31st). We lowered our prices early in the season (to attract the regulars who were not accustomed to the higher prices) and raised them as we closed in on Halloween. Every (Friday/ Saturday) night was pretty solid.

    Yes, we are in a recession-- but the students don't seem to know that. (Only their parents who pay the bills do.) Or if they do know, the don't care since it's "free money" to them. But I expect most of them are confused and have a "wait and see" attitude. The media is still parroting the Whitehouse claim that everything is dandy, most customers probably believe it, and it behoves us to play along. But it will become much more obvious after the election and during the cold winter, when the stock market traditionally drops if Christmas orders (which drive the market and make or break the economy) look lackluster. Fuel prices are the fastest cause for more inflation, because energy effects the production and transportation of all goods-- even the internet (which relies on electric power). And with fuel prices going up (which they will, especially since we're already short diesel fuel (which trucking and trains rely on) and the Strategic Oil Reserve is practically used up (to lower prices before the election), the future is not particularly bright. Yes, massive government spending also causes inflation, so we have TWO reasons to worry, since both causes show no likely hood of improvement anytime soon. (Regardless of who wins the elections, the current House will still pass whatever they want before they are replaced in January, and you expect that will be another record breaking spending bill.)

    Regarding timed tickets: Those are working very well for us. They moderate the crowd flow and even it out during the evening. We take people inside in small groups at 5 minute intervals. A lot of the bigger haunts disdain this approach, because it restricts the flow (especially the cash flow), but it allows us to interact with the audience, perform illusions, provide story telling, build up the atmosphere, and scare the living crap out of them. (I had to lead a college football player out by the hand in the first room Friday night-- he was down on the floor praying and wouldn't otherwise get up.) So the timed ticketing is a God send. However, we also offer tickets at the window for those who want to impulse buy. They are $5 more. If the crowd is too big, we shut down the window (so only on-line tickets assure you can get in any giving night.)

    We have to emphasize that the timed tickets do not skip the line or the wait, which can sometimes exceed an hour. Only the Fast Pass does that (which is $15 more). Some people still don't get it, but we underline it several different places on the website. At least now the typical wait is 20 to 45 minutes on a busy night, compared to the 2 hours we had before. So I suggest all three options: Time tickets, window tickets ($5 more) and Fast Pass. We alternate the Fast Pass line with the regular line so it can never slow it down more than 50% (which is very rare).

    Top Gold, Pickle Ball, Axe throwing, and escape rooms all sound pretty boring to me-- but I guess if they are a lot cheaper and money is tight, I can see guys willing to be more bored in order to have something left over in their wallet. But none of those options scream Halloween like Haunted Houses do. So I don't think they are a big problem.

    We raised our prices for weekends close to Halloween , starting last year. We did this during 2020 Covid because we cut the group size in half (from 15 to 8), to reduce Covid risk. Then we realized the fear impact was much better as a result, so we nearly doubled our prices in 2021 to allow us to permanently cut our group size to 8 or 10. The prices start out cheaper early in October. We begin at $20 online, and $25 at the window, then gradually raise it to $30 online and $35 at the window as we close in on Halloween. (Fast Pass is always $15 more.) They are typically inside the haunt for a good 20 minutes of solid shocks, so compliments about the value far exceed any complaints about price. I am always amused how people who are forced to walk (never run) through a cool building, come outside all out of breath and dripping in sweat. It's a hell of weird business, that's for sure.