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View Full Version : The good days and the bad days?



Frightfactory UK
07-04-2006, 12:44 PM
Hi all,

Just wondering how long you have all been in business with your haunts etc.

Who started first?

How long you been going in business?

Have you succeded in what you wanted to do with your haunt?

Just interests me to see how long the haunt business goes back in the states?

Cheers

Mark

Jim Warfield
07-04-2006, 06:34 PM
About 35 years ago the national JC's put out a handbook telling how to make money doing an October haunt, I was told they stole most of the ideas from a charity haunt in Texas that was open all year round, maybe in San Antonio?
They had live animals, bats, snakes, rats, a castle-looking building to use and they used many of the gags later used by the JC's and many others.
This could all be wrong, I'm just saying what I was told by a self-appointed haunt expert who took his little daughter through such a place long before the JCs were doing it.
I think it is interesting that there seemingly first has to be a sort of national confidence, in general, to see large numbers of it's citizens patronizing a business that is trying to scare them. I have seen alot of people come through my house during the 20 years that I have owned it and certain countrys, in general, do not do well in such an unpredictable setting.
If anyone reading this thinks my theory is all wrong, then why did almost everyone's haunt-scary business take a dip after 9-11?

Greg Chrise
07-04-2006, 08:13 PM
From what I have been hearing, every luxury or entertainment business even down to larger prosperous flea markets and trades days have not done the business they did prior 911. The Public radio and other media have done many articles recently on the well to do, building homes wth more rooms so every family member has their own space and their own batrhroom and their own entertainment center. The dangers of the world need not be experienced any longer. As simple as going to a sporting event is no longer considered safe as a family activity. Hooligans at best, a terrorist action on a mass of people has been played up as being a potential reality to fear.

Families of the past were content with several children to a room and a single bathroom and TV room. Entertainment was sought outside the home. Thirty years ago it seems a few dollars could buy enough gas to drive around continuously for days.

As the story goes this how to raise money with a haunted house event book by the Jaycees instantly sprang up into 500 haunted house dotted across the country and spin offs from those Jaycees haunts took maybe another 5 years to take hold. In Texas combined boyscout troup events that still exist today are 25 years old and still growing. Many volunteer fire stations took on the idea as a fund raiser. Most larger attractions, many now gone or flatlined in patronage are roughly 20 years old.

A second wind into intrest about having a haunted event occured 10 years ago because of Transworld events and the internet acting like the Jaycees book 30 years ago. Ultimately it lead to Hauntworld and the past few years have seen the addition of quite a few new attraction owners across the country despite fear of terrorism or people not coming out of their homes. What is faced now is wether an event seems worthy enough to cause patrons to leave their homes?

Prior to the walk thru haunted houses there were dark rides the patrns would get into a two seated car and experience a short bump through the doors into a weird world in the dar on tracks. The old timers say it lost popularity in the late 50s as anyone could afford a car and riding in some kind of little car became something more on the lines of a kiddy ride. Typically a dark ride tour was no longer than 3 minutes. This didn't stop Walt Disney from making really elaborate dark rides of all themes and nature lasting 15 to 20 minutes in the late 60s. Hence the 70s began everyone creating a walk trough version of their own Disney land on the scary side.

Ironically, now most families have experienced surround sound and many are getting home theaters and what becomes an experience not gotten anywhere else is being locked in a dark wine cellar in the middle of nowhere. Venturing into a dark maze and live unpredictable sound rather than recordings return to what registers best with customers on one hand or an event must have above and beyond production values to compete with what is or could be at home.

mindtumor
07-05-2006, 08:05 AM
This is my third year doing a haunted hayride, I am 25. We do everything by committee. Even though I do quite a large chunk of the hayride, my main partner and I have been trying to quit this group and find another partner and start a different haunt. We would even be willing to just go to another haunt that wanted help as long as the duties included more than acting, but we can't ever seem to find one. I tried to convince my wife to help but she is not really interested. So anyway I keep chugging along where I am. Anyway the hayride is in Columbiaville, Michigan.

Chris
07-05-2006, 10:12 AM
From what I have been hearing, every luxury or entertainment business even down to larger prosperous flea markets and trades days have not done the business they did prior 911. The Public radio and other media have done many articles recently on the well to do, building homes wth more rooms so every family member has their own space and their own batrhroom and their own entertainment center. The dangers of the world need not be experienced any longer. As simple as going to a sporting event is no longer considered safe as a family activity. Hooligans at best, a terrorist action on a mass of people has been played up as being a potential reality to fear.

Families of the past were content with several children to a room and a single bathroom and TV room. Entertainment was sought outside the home. Thirty years ago it seems a few dollars could buy enough gas to drive around continuously for days.

As the story goes this how to raise money with a haunted house event book by the Jaycees instantly sprang up into 500 haunted house dotted across the country and spin offs from those Jaycees haunts took maybe another 5 years to take hold. In Texas combined boyscout troup events that still exist today are 25 years old and still growing. Many volunteer fire stations took on the idea as a fund raiser. Most larger attractions, many now gone or flatlined in patronage are roughly 20 years old.

A second wind into intrest about having a haunted event occured 10 years ago because of Transworld events and the internet acting like the Jaycees book 30 years ago. Ultimately it lead to Hauntworld and the past few years have seen the addition of quite a few new attraction owners across the country despite fear of terrorism or people not coming out of their homes. What is faced now is wether an event seems worthy enough to cause patrons to leave their homes?

Prior to the walk thru haunted houses there were dark rides the patrns would get into a two seated car and experience a short bump through the doors into a weird world in the dar on tracks. The old timers say it lost popularity in the late 50s as anyone could afford a car and riding in some kind of little car became something more on the lines of a kiddy ride. Typically a dark ride tour was no longer than 3 minutes. This didn't stop Walt Disney from making really elaborate dark rides of all themes and nature lasting 15 to 20 minutes in the late 60s. Hence the 70s began everyone creating a walk trough version of their own Disney land on the scary side.

Ironically, now most families have experienced surround sound and many are getting home theaters and what becomes an experience not gotten anywhere else is being locked in a dark wine cellar in the middle of nowhere. Venturing into a dark maze and live unpredictable sound rather than recordings return to what registers best with customers on one hand or an event must have above and beyond production values to compete with what is or could be at home.

(Note that this is not a critcism of you analysis, but rather just my thoughts)

I read a lot of doom and gloom, and for good reason. As far as the economy goes, there is a whole lot of deception happening with the official numbers, and the bottom line is that the amount of discretionary income families have keeps falling while (despite offically zero inflation) prices keep going up. This trend will only continue to get worse. Sadly, this is a mathematical certainty.

However, despite this, or perhaps even because of it, I believe that the future for haunted attractions is very good. The reason I say this is that haunted attractions are a unique and AFFORDABLE entertainment option. However, this does not mean that I don't think the industry is about to go through a rough time. The entire country is.

At-home electronic entertainment is not just hitting the haunt industry. It is hammering every out-of-home entertainment provider. From Theatres to Bowling alleys, the number of regular customers is down, and the more serious the commitment the activity requires, the greater the decline in participation. This is where haunted attractions shine. We offer the highest intensity and most unique experience of any entertainment source, and do so for the price of the latest Hollywood remake. More, we offer LIVE entertainment that is, depending on the haunt, suitable for the entire family.

I believe that the secret to success for haunt owners remains the same: deliver a fun, professional, entertaining, and high production value experience at a reasonable price. The shows that do this will succeed. Those that do not will fail.

Greg Chrise
07-05-2006, 12:59 PM
I agree completely. The hard part is getting out the word on how enjoyable a haunted house can be (in some smaller markets)

Jim Warfield
07-06-2006, 01:55 AM
I just re-read the question:"Have you accomplished what you started out to accomplish with your business?"

No.

20 years ago as I knew what the haunt business was at that time I could see little future for continuing to do such a thing.
I bought this house to make it into a haunted house only for a few short seasons, THEN it was going to become a haunted bed & breakfast and deal only with adults and on a very smaller headcount number.(but at a much higher ticket!)
Along the way I began developing my own different style and attitude and began having so much fun doing tours, the live stimulation,the creativity needed to supplant the next tour, the extremely humorous situations involving customers, the large amounts of interaction and fun became too adictive to ever think of giving it up.
This is why I have always been amazed that more of you are not out haunting more than just October!????
Is heroin addictive? Not as much as the other "H" word, "HAUNTING!"

ScarlettP
07-09-2006, 07:34 AM
Hopefully - this will be the 3rd year for the Little House of Horrors (See "Light at the end of Tunnel for current tales of woe).

(Abreviated version) I started working for Charity haunts back in 1980 when my Circle K group did a fund raising haunt for The March of Dimes. The bug bite me HARD! After that, hubby Gristle and I started working for "The House" to benifit TC Thompson's - the local children's hospital. That's where we 'met' JoeDog. JoeDog actually turned out to be related to me in one of those Southern kind of ways. His sister was married to my brother and we 'share' a niece even though our siblings have been divorced for a very long time. Hubby, JoeDog, myself and several of the old "House" gang just can't seem to get enough of eachother. We haunted our yard for three years then made this crazy jump into a location which charged admission and gave money to another charity. (Can't say 'profits' because we haven't had any of that problem yet! - but we still gave a percentage of the GATE to our charity even when we lost money last year.)

So - technically, I've been haunting for 25 years - but never made any money at it. :lol:

Joedog
07-09-2006, 08:04 AM
His sister was married to my brother and we 'share' a niece even though our siblings have been divorced for a very long time.
Can you believe nearly 20 years now? Donna (my wife) was said neice's Nanny. We met at her 7th Birthday party. Today is the 19th anniversary of the day we met and again, said neice's 26th birthday..


Ugggghhhhh I am getting OLD!!!!

Xeverity
08-25-2006, 08:54 AM
I have been running my haunt in England for over 8 years now but before that I was running and working in haunts for 15 years now. Started as wee kid.


:D Love it!

BoneDaddy
09-09-2006, 01:37 PM
This will be year 30! Started in 1976 as a builder/actor/fx guy with the local CYO. Actually prior to that I did the Boy Scouts halloween house every year for 3 years. My first haunt was in my basement of my house, I got a Pac-o-Fun book from my mother who was a Den mother for the local cub scouts, and it featured a do it yourself haunt for Pack meetings. I carried that book around everywhere! I was totally enthralled with the concept. Now at 45 , I still cant get enough! Interestingly though I recently found a copy of that Pac-oFun book on Ebay and won.
I am not where I want to be haunt wise, I dont think i ever will be. Things are always changing and Ideas always flowing.