View Full Version : How was your 2009 Season?

11-06-2009, 08:23 AM
How was your 2009 Season?

Many haunts have reported decreases and some others have reported increases. Many of the high end, big market haunts with higher ticket prices seem to have been hit harder.

We had a record year last year with a good increase. We were up some and down some through the season depending on the weekend. One weekend we had a great night despite rain that was blowing sideways. Our covered waiting line was not advertised, but must have been known to those that came.

We ended the year actually breaking several records, including paid attendance, average patrons per night, and gross receipts. This was despite a price increase from $ 9 to $ 10 and not accepting coupons on Saturdays, but having a buy one get one coupon offer for Thursdays. Our radio ads started late and some other promotion not getting done due to preemie twins my wife delivered ten weeks early and the girls being in NICU at the hospital. One was released Nov 2 and the other is about to come home. (They were due in November) My work schedule was brutal with mostly 12 hour days and going to college one night a week. It was by far the busiest October of my life!!

Remember you can vote without leaving a comment.

By market size means total population within 30 miles of your location.

Large Metro 800,000+
Medium Market 100,000-799,999
Small Market 1-99,999

Large Metro Market– Better than last year (+4% or more increase)
Large Metro Market– Same as last year (+- 0-3%)
Large Metro Market– Worse than last year (-4% or more decrease)

Medium Market- Better than last year (+4% or more increase)
Medium Market– Same as last year (+- 3%)
Medium Market– Worse than last year (-4% or more decrease)

Small Market- Better than last year (+4% or more increase)
Small Market– Same as last year (+- 3%)
Small Market– Worse than last year (-4% or more decrease)

Increase or decrese was more than 10 %

The last option of increase or decrease of more than ten percent can be selected with one of the others if it applies.

11-06-2009, 11:53 PM
Congrats on the twins! While no one wants the worry of premature deliveries, at least you have the benefit of not one, but TWO October birthdays! I have seven other siblings (I was #7, and there was one after me) but two of siblings were born on Halloween. And yet, I'm the one in the haunt biz... go figure!

I've already commented on our numbers in other threads (about the same as last year) but one thing I haven't mentioned until you did, is that our numbers were 20 to 30% down until the very last weekend. Then they shot up and caught us up to last year's levels. Just before the last weekend, we had two newspaper articles (http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200991028024) about us (one a mainstream paper, the other, the college paper). In both of them, I emphasized that we expected to benefit from people who wanted to celebrate Halloween without spending the $70 on Halloween Horror tickets at Universal, and save on the drive and hotel required to go there. I'm not sure if it was this argument that increased the numbers, or the newspaper publicity in general, or the effect of positive word of mouth making the rounds from the earlier weekends. (It was probably all three, but which had the most impact is uncertain.)

We actually raised our prices $3 on Halloween to reduce the Oct 31 line and move cost conscious customers to other nights. It seemed to help. Friday had more people, Saturday made more money. We received zero complaints about the show or the ticket hike, but our prices are cheap to begin with, considering the 12,000 foot haunt is just $10 (now $13 on Halloween) and takes 20 to 30 minutes to traverse. When compared to Orlando, our prices are a fantastic bargain. Universal has six or seven haunts, but each takes just 5 minutes to go through, so customers spend over $100 to do a similar sized (overall) haunt that is three hours away. They do have better makeup and fancier props there, but every one who has gone to both (that we've interviewed) says we are scarier, and I believe them. I know breaking up the line into small groups helps a lot to achieve this effect, but so does the fact that most people can retain their courage for five minutes, whereas it is much more difficult to do so after 10, 15, 20, and even 25 minutes in the dark while getting stalked!

11-08-2009, 02:12 AM
We had our best year ever as you did, Brett. There were two days that were about 2% lower than 2008, but the others that were up were generally way up. All of this with crappy weather and a price increase.

Our price has been way low in our market for several years now and rather than inching it up over the last 4-5 years, we went ahead and made the jump to $15 ($10 12 and under or with any student ID)

Outstanding year for us overall. It does seem that those who had already peaked in their markets declined while those of us still on a growth curve continued to grow.

I do have to wonder what we could have done with some good weather, though... it rained every weekend.

11-09-2009, 07:17 AM
This is a great post. I hope more haunt owners reply with how their season went. I'm working with an investor right now and one of his major concerns is the economy and what it will do to a haunt business.

Jim Warfield
11-10-2009, 12:18 AM
2009 officially ends December 31st for my house, then the 2010 season begins the next night!
I'm working long hours getting ready for "The Season"...everyday!
No wonder I'm tired.

11-12-2009, 12:02 PM
This was our haunts first year so we have nothing to compare it to. We were planning on being open only 6 nights in addition to 7 weeks of daytime Fall Festival activity. We had rain every single night we were open. We closed the first 2 nights, but Oct 30th we had 1600 people come! The demand is there, even in this economy. I cant wait till next season to blow it out of the water.

11-13-2009, 08:07 AM
My haunt consulting business did much better than expected. I had the Ghost Ship hire me back for the 2010 season, I trained actors in several haunts, and had a few radio commercials scaring the airwaves. In addition, I visited haunts in KC, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta for RFR...

I made some great contacts and hope to go nowhere but up from here...

The Asylum House
11-13-2009, 05:13 PM
Asylum House did not fare so well.

We spent the entire season 30% down from a record year last year, and finished 25% off for the season. The only nights we were up were our $13 specials celebrating our 13th year and Halloween.

We are normally $19 for about 35-45 min. with a $2 coupon in the papers and online. We also ran a combo ticket with another haunt a couple miles up the road.
Our price did not increase this year and we are up the middle for the Indy haunt scene with two local haunts in the $27 range and the rest of the smaller ones in the $10-15 range.

Although it rained every Friday night in October, we were off pretty much every night except the specials and on Halloween. This was odd since Halloween is normally not a busy night for us.

The one area we were up in was online ticket sales which doubles from last year.

A couple of interesting notes: our high school crowd was significantly down, and the bulk of our customers came from further away than in the past.

I have heard through our cc and ticketing providers that the east coast took a pretty hard hit. Hopefully next year will bounce back

Asylum House

12-01-2009, 09:37 PM
This was our 1st year open as a professional haunt and its in a different market than where we were in before.

We originally set our attendance goals at 5000, based on demographics and advertising budgets. We had rain on the majority of nights we were open, and we were completely shut down on Thursday of the last week because of weather.

All-in-all, we ran thru 5,200 patrons this year. I consider it a success, although I know we could've done much better because of the weather.

12-02-2009, 06:53 AM
Congrats Brad!! There is always next year. The rain would not stop this season at all. We and most other haunts outside city limits ended up spending money on more rock to park people. It rained so much that our rock that was there before started sinking into the ground. All and all with jumping the ticket price up $10 to $15, we had a 15 % increase in attendance. Like most other haunters, the last weekend set us above. As I said, there is always next year!

Raycliff Manor
12-02-2009, 02:42 PM
We wound up with just under a 12% increase this year. Considering the economy and the weather, we're not complaining! We invested a great deal into the Raycliff Manor attraction and the construction of the new Carriage House attraction and the attendance was far below our target projections. We're able to keep the business "alive" so to speak and we're thankful for it! Life is good and the passion keeps pushing us onward and upward!;)


P.S. Brett, congratulations on the twins! Being a twin myself, I can tell you my prayers are with you my friend! LOL

12-28-2009, 01:45 AM
This was our first year opening professionally and we consider it a success this year especially despite the economy and the fact that we opened a week late. We brought through 8000+ patrons in the two and a half weeks we were open. We also learned a whole lot! We are now trying to expand it three fold.