View Full Version : Pricing Your Haunt....

02-10-2007, 05:34 PM
Is there a formula that you use to determine the price for your haunt? Is it based on how long your walkthrough is? Or Do you take how much you spend on your haunt and divide by how many customers you think you'll get?

Example, say you spend $100,000 for your first haunt and say you think 8000 people will come by and see your haunt. That would make your ticket price $12.50. Is that a good formula on how to figure your haunt price or is there another way?

Thanks for any and all the info you share
aka The NightMare

Jim Warfield
02-10-2007, 06:14 PM
20 years ago my admission was a lowly $2.00.
All I had to show people was a big, empty old 1880 Italianate house with a wine cellar and a haunted reputation and some pictures on the wall that I had drawn.
Alot of that early tour was simply me walking them through and telling them what I was going to make happen here, someday. For $2.00 people accepted this "tour".
I made enough money to stay barely "afloat" and keep building.
Some people still got scared or creeped-out from this lights on walk-through.
Recently raising admission to $12.oo, the price has really not kept up with inflation when I consider what comprises a tour here now, in 2007 and the tremendous amount of non-stop work and expensive materials that have gone into here.
Your customers will cast their "Vote" as far as if your place is priced right or too high, the ballot box will have or not have those green papers crammed into it, the first two years usually don't trully reflect their feelings, when they stop returning, they have given you a try, then you will know for sure.

02-10-2007, 06:33 PM
A combination of your expected expenses, expected turnout... consideration of how much you think your own haunt is worth. I would figure it's a lot of well thoughtout planning and time on your business plan, which includes everything *cough*Kels book*cough*

I know a lot of people consider 15 bucks for one attraction to be too much, which is why the thing to do is sell combo tickets

02-10-2007, 06:52 PM
LoL! I know about Kels book. Its a work of art. I just wanted to see how y'all figured out your pricing.

And with Jim only going up $0.50 a year for his rate. $12.00 seems cheap, but is reasonable for a haunt, I suppose. Sounds like you have a nice house Jim. Must have very nice detail throughout the house.

I understand if you have more than one haunt you can charge multiple discounted pricing for your haunts. I was just curious, we have haunts near me that charges $20.00 for their single haunt and their walkthrough is ONLY15-20minutes. I think I read somewhere that Jims tour is 90minutes for $12.00. Maybe Jim was kidding when he said 90 minute, but I dont know.


15-20 minutes - $20(not a good haunt)lol
90 minutes - $12

Doesnt make sense to me, but maybe I'm looking into it too much and realize different locations have different feelings regarding the community that surrounds your haunt.

Jim Warfield
02-10-2007, 07:04 PM
Some of the unenlightened come here expecting a 15 minute walk(or Run) through and sometimes I would be guilty of not providing what they needed here, 90 minutes does not always fit their plans.
My signage asks them to tell me what they want, as far as style of show and time considerations.
Many years ago if someone ran through my house and had been here before, it still took them 45 minutes and this was making it a real heavy-breathing track meet too!
I'm not trying to make anyone else look "bad", I'm just trying to make this a trully unique, unforgettable experience so they are impressed enough to return and keep me in business and suffer the long drive to get here.
After a 2 1/2 hour drive from Chicago I really don't think a 15 minute run-through would impress anyone enough to bring them back.
But of course there is no 15 minute run-through here at all.
If someone really needs to see the house yet is very pressed for time I will take them through touching base with the certain aspects of the house and tour to satisfy their timetable but I still get full admission to do this because it's alot of work for me to do this this way.

02-10-2007, 07:14 PM
From everything I've heard, a 15-20 minute haunt for 20 bucks is way overpriced. Maybe there is something about it though that raised the price, but I doubt it. Above it all, I think the patrons view the length of the attraction as the determinant for if the ticket price is worth it. 20 bucks for a 20 minute amazing quality disney high special effects pyro high-intensity stunt show? ...maybe, but the first impression to all is that it wasn't long enough and not worth it. Quality, according to my friends, would come second. You drive out to an attraction, pay for food and gas for everyone you are with, then pay the 10-20 bucks per person, you expect to be entertained for a good deal of your night.

Headless Horseman, for example, was about a 2 and a half hour trip for me, for dinner, the 28 dollar ticket per person, for 2 hours of quality entertainment, well worth it.

You could follow the formulas and come up with a ticket price of 30 dollars, but that doesn't mean that it's a good price. Will you exceed the demand?

Jim Warfield
02-10-2007, 07:24 PM
Since most figure out that the guy selling them the ticket is also the owner I have had some feeble minds want to barter over the ticket price at a busy October ticket window with a mob of others waiting behind them!
Many years ago I encountered some young people who were doing this whinning and pleading and bartering, I finally asked him if he had ever been in my house before?
I have spent alot of time over the years selling the tour outside the house , re-educating them as to what I define as a "Haunted House Experience" and a hint of what will and will not be happening inside of it.
Everything is work, physical, mental, verbal. Most of the time I enjoy it all.

02-10-2007, 07:28 PM
Nope the haunt over here sucks, but they get people to go through it every year. Its amazing actually. I guess if you dont want to travel to a haunt you will probably end up at the closest haunt even though you know it sucks. Some people dont like to travel and will always revisit the one haunt they know even if it sucks. The haunt around here stays the same each year, doesnt really change any of the design work inside. Its a shame, but they get the people to come. I guess it shows what advertising can do for you. lol Cause even though their haunt isnt that good, they do advertise a lot and it shows by all the attendance they receive.

W0W! $28.00 for a haunt and its worth it? Sounds like a haunt I want to go to. And Jims place sounds interesting.

02-10-2007, 07:45 PM
There is a Big Haunt in Southern California that has a couple smaller "sister" Haunts , I payed $13 to go to one of these haunts and felt really ripped off... Basically it was a 10 minute walkthrough of 3 rooms ( two of which you doubled back through ... twice ... ( MY HAUNT IS BIGGER AND I DON'T CHARGE!!!!! )
The haunt had about 3 actors inside ... the understaffing issue was explained at the end of the haunt ( you exit behind a restaurant ... god the smell was bad... ) there were about 10 haunt actors with their masks off talking to each other... out of character...)
most of the props in the haunt were either ones who had seen a better day at the mother haunt or some really cheap ones I have seen at Party City *GASP* ...
Needless to say , I was not pleased.

I think the best way to price your haunt would be to invite me to come for free and tell you how much it is worth ;).

But seriously ... maybe a good idea would be to invite some people from this industry to give some imput on what it is worth , it all depends on where you are and how good your haunt is. You could post pics before your season and set up a poll on the forum... I don't know, anything to prevent pissed off customers.


02-10-2007, 07:47 PM
Most haunts around here (the closest city being Erie, Pa 44 miles away) charge at most 7-8 bucks. A local Jaycee's group about 30 miles away has a yearly haunt that is very popular and from the early 90's until this year has only gone from 4 bucks to 6 bucks. They usually have 3-4 hour waits under the tent outside too every night!
My business partner and I have Kel's book and have both read it...we are thinking first year of going 5-6 bucks a head. The former Lion's Club owned the haunt (props/walls/etc.) and we bought it and at the present location we've secured (they moved around a few years here, a few there) they had their best turnouts. They could raise 8,000 bucks at 2-3 bucks a person...and they had minimal advertising. We plan on doing much more advertising/publicity stunts and hoping for 3000-4000 people.
We shall see...
Also, we'll take into consideration the haunt we've built and raise or lower depending on that...
Our location is big enough to house two or three shows (approx. 9000 sq. ft total) so in the upcoming years we hope to make another attraction or two and upcharge! :)

Kirk :twisted:

02-10-2007, 07:56 PM
LMAO!!!! @ the sister haunt in Cali...doesnt sound like a pleasant expierence.

I like the idea of a poll on the forum, but instead of pics wouldnt a video be better? But, if a video isn't possible b/c of lack of knowledge on how to upload or put one up, I guess pics would be a lot easier. lol

Hey Kirk, sounds like a good plan you got there. Good Luck to you in the 2007 season. Publicity stunts, sounds like fun.

02-10-2007, 08:50 PM
I don't think video or pics will do anything justice. Take a handheld through disney and it won't look anything like what you know it was. And also video and pictures can be tampered with to impress. I've done video editing for a number of years, and I know the art of making some pretty crappy things look really good...

If you had to though, see if you have any friends or anyone that knows of anyone who has high-end equiptment. Whenever I see a peice of video that shows blacklight or dimly lit events, such as when the local news station goes to a haunted attraction, it's always impressive, and more "true" to anything.

Duke of Darkness
02-10-2007, 09:14 PM
There are a lot of factors that can go into pricing, but to me the key is perceived value. Are their other haunts in the area? What do they charge? How to they compare in terms of size, quality, length of show, etc.

I am not saying that you should let your competition set your prices for you, but be aware that your customers will compare what they believe they received for their dollar at each show.

Unless you do something amazing, in my opinion, if you want to charge premium prices you should have multiple attractions. 4 smaller attractions for $20 is a much easier sell than one longer one.

This year, our first year for a new attraction, we plan to price ourselves slightly below must of the competition and try to offer a very high quality show for the dollar.

The bigger multi-attractions haunts here seem to put on three to four different attractions at about $8.00 per attraction, with discounts that bring it to about $5.00 - $6.00 per attraction when all are purchased.

I am kind of using the one of the formulas that you listed in reverse. In other words, I figure that I am charging $X and expect Y customers, so if I budget X * Y for the haunt I should break even.

I don't think that there is any "right" way to approach it, but as I said, a lot of factors to take into consideration.


Greg Chrise
02-10-2007, 10:55 PM
The Raven's Grin is indeed detailed. He has been cobbling things together for 20 years straight where the normal haunt might only spend a month or a few months per year. There are 7 physical levels and at least 3 wild methods of transversing between those levels.

In comparison, one large Texas Scream park has 7 haunts that are the smallest being 2,000 SF and most of them being 5,000 to 6,000 SF. Each haunt still really only requires about 10 to 15 minutes to transverse with each one a long line with as much as an hour and a half wait. One is a hayride event.

The comparison would be as well that Jim is an artist and this is the museum of his personal largest ball of twine Guiness Book of World Records. The scream park has hired out like a home builder and accepted the lowest bidders to be so big.

The scream park goes for $18.99 plus tax, it is on 56 acres and close to a permanent set up for most of the park as it is also a Ren Festival venue. Raven's Grin not only has things uncommon anywhere else but, the physical time is an intimate tour of 90 minutes aka an hour and a half. This scream park offers the same exact amount of time actually inside of a haunt.

Alas Jim's Raven's Grin Inn is billed as ONe attraction and does require some travel, the customer involvement and engagement is 3 times better than anything that happens in Texas with large physical sized haunts. The scream park offers tours unguided of props that don't work and static room displays, large fence mazes with 3 actors total per haunt. They have not spent every day detailing their haunts as many do not.

Yet the reality is the larger haunt seeing over 60,000 customers per year has to budget what improvements will be made and keeps the crew together and employed. No matter how big and successful and no matter how many bodies could be packed into a large expance and entertained in one evening, you can still require all the money you made to just keep it together and be limited on how detailed it can be made and kept maintained.

The larger is two large families owning something amazing. The smaller is Jim just being amazing. Just like on here there are 6,000 posts in a little over 2 years he has done this level of input physically in the real world on his haunt usually using steel to make things for nearly 20 years.

You could go through the Raven's Grin Inn over and over and not obsorb everything let alone know where in the facilities you are. The scream park is good for one visit, been there done that. I wonder if the $150,000 advertisng campaigne doesn't bring in a new set of customers every year or if the patrons just haven't seen all the haunts because of the long lines.

Jim is seeing a high level of return customers bringing more with them in the same year to every three years.

A friend of mine is now a Chiropractor doing great work for $20 and $30 a pop with a high rate of referals where in comparison those Chiropractors refered by lawyers are getting $150 per visit with no pop untill they reach about the $3,000 level.

Do you want to make 1 million in a year and deal with the potential of having to spend it all because you are at risk or would you rather slowly build up that million and have a long term sustainable venue.

There's one humongous detailed haunt with a personal tour any time of the year or a seasonal spectacle with a limited time to see it having relative expenses.

There is a bigger philosophy to making money. I would offer that the stress level of the fewest mouths to feed and least partners to satisfy is better.

Also on these forums I have seen it made that you are going to be open 16 nights right? For smaller numbers there is perhaps the reason to only be open on weekends. The bigger picture then becomes how much can you or will you make in say only 40 hours of being open to customers. A good show only has a through put of about 400 people per night per haunt. So if you are going to see 500 people per hour, you better have 6 seperate haunted attractions perhaps divided into a few locations rather than having 20,000 people all in one place at one time.

So in the area of this scream park others have opened two attractions for $18.99 with a side museum and little advertising. It became a short lived location.

If you determined it will be $6 you have back figured even a loss just to have a great long term venue. It may be a loss for a few years and the price rises as the haunt develops. Or customer responce will be such that more people equals more money. Then the limitation is hit of howm many people a haunt can see in one night and a second venue is added. This might be years rather than the next year. Not how much you can spend but, how well the customers respond to your type of entertainment.

The real thing then becomes from a customers perspective what do you get for this or that. This unfortunately becomes what the service is worth wether it makes a profit or not or ever does. You have to keep adding services until it is in such a demand that it can draw enough intrest to make a profit. It isn't necessarily a formula of how many square foot but you can surmise this as this is how your expenses will be.

Jim Warfield
02-11-2007, 12:37 AM
1) Three "Rooms" made out of cardboard boxes, masks that can be bought anywhere= admision? $

2) Thirty "Rooms" but very little if anything in the rooms or affecting or involving the customers= $$?

3) A small haunt but the actors tell a story that makes you think, your mind is engaged you can't believe that 25 minutes just went by!= $$??

4) A haunt of displays, displays cost alot of money, so admission reflects this reality, but you found yourself yawning....=$$?

Consider the haunting styles when pricing your event and at least for the first couple of seasons keep yourself from spending every dollar on expensive props that mostly impress haunters, not necesarrily the average customer, you can always compensate for not having them or when they decide not to work, but it is harder to compensate or fake it when bills come due and you still haven't won the Lottery.

Raycliff Manor
02-11-2007, 07:44 AM
Dave hit the nail on the head with two words, "perceived value". We've been working hard to increase perceived value each year. We charge $13.00 for general admission and we do offer $2 off coupons for early season dates and weeknights. We maintain a crew of approx. 30 people per night and they are all paid. This has proven to be a big challenge for us. The positive side is accountability on the part of the Fright Team, the downside is our customers commonly believe that our Fright Team members are all volunteers and we're raking in the cash. Because we have a large payroll, much less of the money coming in is able to be given to charity, re-invested into attraction upgrades and used for paying ourselves. Technically, we've been operating as a non-profit even though our intention is to be a for-profit. :lol: We understand though that in business you invest in your team members, your community and your company first and plan for the long-term. We have high goals and we're still in teh sacrificial years. We've overcome incredible obstacles in our 3 seasons and we've still managed to improve the attraction significantly each year. We've stayed on course and most importantly on budget. Have we raised our ticket price? Yes, when we started we charged $12.00 for general admission. Last year and this year, we're charging $13.00. We didn't hear one complaint about the price. We feel it's because we significantly increased the "perceived value". :wink:

Wow! That was a long winded answer, wasn't it? Thanks for bearing with me! :lol:


11-10-2007, 12:38 AM
It is worth as much as you can squeeze out of them and they still keep coming. If you can get $50 per head and still put through enough to be happy then great. People will always bitch when the price goes up, but if they come anyways then there you go. There are too many factors involved to really track it. Do what the rest of us do. If you aren't making enough money shove the price up and pray like hell it doesn't scare people off. When it doesn't and you need more money shove it up again. Continue this trend until you die and the next poor sap takes over, or you close.