View Full Version : Money Making

04-18-2007, 12:42 PM
I'm kind of new to this buisness and was wondering how you haunt owners can afford all of these professinal animations and props selling for hundreds of dollars when you only have a short time during Halloween season where you actually bring in money. Do you guys have other jobs or do you just make so much during the haunt season that your set for the rest of the year. But then again, how do you make a living if you spend a lot of your profits on buying more stuff for next year? How much do you make during the Halloween season anyways. On the NBC news report, it said you guys raked in millions of dollars. That's not for just one haunt though, is it? How much do you sell your tickets for? Another thing that I found interesting in the NBC video was that guy who owned Scream Park. From what I saw, it didn't look like the average trailer haunt, it was a permenent settlement. Does he have to pay rent on that year-round? How could he possibly afford that if he only opens it during Halloween season? What happens to it when the seasons over, it just sits there? Thanks for your time.

04-18-2007, 01:51 PM



04-18-2007, 02:25 PM
How much of that profit will go into hiring actors, engineers, workers, buying new props and advertising?

Duke of Darkness
04-18-2007, 02:59 PM
The fact is that haunts, like most small businesses, fail as often as they succeed. Most make little to no profit in the early years of their existence. Running a haunt, as you yourself pointed out, is an expensive proposition. Rent, storage, advertising (often as much as $2 for every person you attract), insurance, props, payroll, and more. It adds up in a very big hurry.

Often times people see the long lines outside of seasonal haunts and think it is a quick path to wealth, and the truth is, it simply ain't so.

That said, every dollar put into the haunt is an investment. Some people put their money into stocks and bonds, but professional haunters put their money into their business. We by those expensive props with the hope of ensuring that people will enjoy our show, spread the word, and eventually we will be successful.

While there are some haunts that do make a great deal of money, the vast majority make a modest profit and allow us to "pay to play." It is my goal to make a living in this industry, but I have not yet reached that point. Someday, God willing.

Every situation is different and no one ever has a guarantee of success in this, or any other business. That said, what can be better than making a living (or part of one) doing what you love?


04-18-2007, 03:14 PM
And I second that!.. Do I here a Third??


04-18-2007, 03:37 PM
i wonder who are those people that do not have to have that 9-5 job only because their haunt is that successful. it's probably those who do not give away their tips..they sell them through video and books (which is just another way to play your cards right!!)

04-18-2007, 03:39 PM
I concur....so I be the THIRD!!!! lol

04-18-2007, 09:47 PM
Are there advantages of having a permenent haunt like Scream Park? My ultimate goal is to own my own permenent haunt park.

04-18-2007, 10:24 PM
It becomes a business as a full permanent location.

I am for for a perm location myself, as I purchased a 2 acre farm in Riverside County, California to run my show at. (ok, here is a main area picture)

Upcoming cornfield set

The BIGGEST advantage of having a permanent location is the avoiding of renting.

1. You are paying rent to the tune of several thousand dollars per MONTH., And THIS is money the haunt has to recoup before it even shows a profit.

2. Even if profitable, the rug can be pulled out from under your haunt if the landlord kicks you out to redo the property. The Haunted Vineyard just suffered that fate but will rebirth at a later time.

So work on getting rural real estate in an unincorporated area, if possible. Makes life much easier.

Jim Warfield
04-18-2007, 11:21 PM
Right out of Project BlueBook , Tony! See how the greenery all died in a circle?
Them darn UFoz!
How much should my haunted house charge for UFO parking?
Do they have to actually touch the ground to effect a needed charge?
If I rubbed my sneakers on the bottom of the UFO would my shoes provide me with enough anti-gravity influences to establish me as a leading rebounder in the NBA?

Well boogers and Snotz, this was my 6,666 post, the Devil said I couldn't do it. Alright! where did he run off to? Pay up you Hotwheelz cheapskate.

04-18-2007, 11:48 PM
Isn't there some kind of payment that you have to make if you own a permanet haunt? Don't you have to pay rent or something? And what do you do with it during the off season?

04-19-2007, 12:18 AM
If you own the property, its all about paying the mortgage every month. During the off season, you work on it and give it upgrades and reworking scenery and stuff.


04-19-2007, 12:35 AM
Dangit Jim, did you HAVE to reveal the secret UFO set to everyone on here? That was the only bummer about buying cheap out of Roswell, the durned crop circles. Means I only move the ships VERY carefully 'cause I get the circles all over and my fields begin looking like giant Spirographs!

04-19-2007, 12:37 AM
If you own the property, its all about paying the mortgage every month. During the off season, you work on it and give it upgrades and reworking scenery and stuff.

Is paying the mortage expensive?

04-19-2007, 12:45 AM
Depends on how much you buy the property for. My mortgage for example is less than what I would pay for renting a tiny apartment. I won't say how much, but it is slightly under $1,000 per month.

04-19-2007, 01:04 AM
Before buying land or a building, you need to count your pennies, do your homework, and see if its feasable for you to do. You cant just jump into something like this and think you'll be successful.

04-19-2007, 06:29 AM
We purchased a 23 acre track of land,in the off season (Halloween)
we run a small campground too. this year, after halloween we'll
start working on a christmas light show tour, anything to get
people to your location" Help's !"
(if I could only find a cheap roller coster) well that's next year.. :D


Ken Spriggs
04-19-2007, 07:47 AM
Depends where your place is.
You want high traffic in a decent town....EXPENSIVE

We pay HUGE $$$ to have an 18000 square foot facility year round
About $10,000 a month...in other states you can get a building 3 times the size and pay less......

There are a few of us that do the haunt thing year round......I may join that elite crowd soon....but until then....I will continue to work a normal job like I have for the last 14 years.

04-19-2007, 10:21 AM
Campdoc: Contact me if you are seriously looking for a rollercoaster. I do some sales and I have a new design which already has a customer lined up. It also takes up very little space, 8 feet by 40 feet and I think we can get it to run off regular 120 instead of 3 phase 480.

A kiddie coaster used will run you about 11 grand. Figure about 80 grand for a used Zyklon (they are about 40 feet tall)

Jim Warfield
04-19-2007, 11:53 AM
But Tony makes his $1,000 a month so easy giving nocturnal rides in the UFO guy's saucer when they go into town to have a beer and watch mud wrestling. Most mud around here is pretty docile.

04-19-2007, 11:59 AM
Yes, but the problem is that after the anal probe, the LAST thing you want to think about is beer and wrestling!

Not selling my rides, but think of the circus or clown rooms you can do with those! :)


04-19-2007, 12:51 PM
Campdoc: Contact me if you are seriously looking for a rollercoaster. I do some sales and I have a new design which already has a customer lined up. It also takes up very little space, 8 feet by 40 feet and I think we can get it to run off regular 120 instead of 3 phase 480.

A kiddie coaster used will run you about 11 grand. Figure about 80 grand for a used Zyklon (they are about 40 feet tall)

Thank's, I'll need a Rain check on the coaster,for now..
I'm a big lurker at usedrides.com, lot's of toy's...

04-19-2007, 01:53 PM
I do some reselling for another sales company, won't say which but there is one giant rollercoaster with 4 other rides together as a giant package. You can best OBO but it is about 1.8 million and comes with 200 storage trailers. Basically, you would be purchasing an amusement park called the MGM Grand which used to be in Las Vegas.

There is a log flume, a rapids ride, the coaster and bumper cars and the 2nd tallest Skycoaster in the world. If you REALLY REALLY want to put your scream park on the map, you can't do much better than that.

If you are interested, PM me.

04-19-2007, 05:06 PM
:) Back to the question of owning a perminant location vs. temporary. I have acted in over 20 different haunts, 2 of which for multiple years in a row. One was a perminent haunt, and the other was a put-up-tear down haunt. I built 3 sets in the perminant haunt, and there was a level of pride that went along with the actors being able to put their creative mark on the building in which they entertained thousands of customers. Also, an actor can develop a strong sense of familiarity with the layout of the building (even if new rooms are added each year). This helps in getting around very quickly for rooming actors or traveling actors (myself) in catching up with that "hot customer". On the other hand, the experience I had as the acting/makeup coordinator at the haunt with the temporary haunt watching the crew put up enough walls to fill 5 attractions in just five weeks was exhaustive (just watching them while I trained actors). Plus, then the design team came in to decorate the sets after the electical outlets were put in, etc. Every year they were there the last week every night up until opening day until 3 or 4 a.m. screwing pictures to walls, hanging lights, and moving furniture around and putting in props. Then, at 10:00 pm. the last night of the season, they were waiting for the last customers to walk out the back door of the haunt so they could start the tear down process that took at least a week and a half. When starting out, if you don't have a lot of money, then a temporary haunt is probably the only solution feasible, but as soon as you can , I strongly suggest getting a perminant location. Like I said before, I have acted in over 20 haunted attractions, and it seems to me that the crowds tend to be more loyal to the haunts that have perminant locations. Why, because they are "bigger" and more "spectacular". For one, you can detail a lot more to the sets, and second, you have a lot more time to put in "Spectacle" (ie., large 15 foot animatronics/creatures). Also, another aspect of "Spectacle" is very large sets (ie., flights of stairs going up to a second level, or big building facades,etc.). Like another person siad earlier, to be a lucrative operation, you have to be in it for the long hall. It seems that to really be able to pull in large numers like 40-50 thousand per year, you have to invest a lot of your profits from the first 5-6 years back into your show. If you have the idea that you'll come in and in a year or two you'll have a quarter of a million in the bank, it won't happen. And from my observation, the only people who have accompished that goal either ripped off their actors or other staff and were talked about on the local news channel, or they made such a bad name/reputation for themselves that they were driven out of the market (or both of the above). There are no shortcuts to building a strong successful haunted attraction. It takes a lot of hard work, creativity, and talented and dedicated actors, makeup artists, and staff.

Geoff Beck
Performer/Makeup Artist/Video Producer

Jim Warfield
04-20-2007, 01:59 AM
If some "Newbie" reading this starts their own haunt and rakes in millions of bucks in a year or two, let me keep your money here safe with me, I will dole it out in small amounts to you keeping you from going broke.
"Here you go, here's a $1,000.oo to spend at Transworld, that's all you get."
...and the rest of your money will be right here waiting for you when you mature.

04-20-2007, 01:49 PM
What's the best way to get started in the haunt buisness? I was thinking that once I'm older I can run a haunt at the fair. However, having no money or expierience on running a haunt, this would be extremely difficult. Maybe just getting a job acting or maybe helping build the set would give me some experience points and some connections with other haunt owners. Any suggestions?

04-20-2007, 02:47 PM
I would volunteer or work for a haunt that you like. Get some knowledge under your belt.

Another way is start a home haunt, build an audience, get some local coverage, then take that and springboard to a small pro haunt. Then lather, rinse, repeat.


04-20-2007, 07:33 PM
Should I advertise my home haunt? I don't think I really have enough stuff to make good haunt yet.

04-20-2007, 07:52 PM
Get Kelly Allen's book “So You Want to be a Haunt Entrepreneur”. It'll teach you and give insight.

04-20-2007, 07:58 PM
\ here's a $1,000.oo to spend at Transworld, that's all you get."
...and the rest of your money will be right here waiting for you when you mature.

LOL....$1,000 to spend at Transworld....What could you do with that? Oh yea, you can get yourself a sandwich, drink and chips. lol

Duke of Darkness
04-20-2007, 11:08 PM
If I were your age and my goal was to run my own haunt down the road, here is what I would do....

I would approach the owner of the best haunt in the area and tell them what your dream is. Volunteer to do whatever is needed in order to learn. Act. Build scenes. Make store runs. Run the box office if you get a chance. Ask questions and learn. Pay attention to what is going on around you. What scares people? What irritates them? What are they impressed by? What safety precautions does management take? How could they do it better? How does management handle problem customers? How do they deal with security? Note what they do right and what you would do differently.

Don't just to this in your head. Write notes. At the end of the season divide your thoughts into categories and organize them. You are basically writing your own handbook on how to run a haunt.

As time goes on and you make yourself more valuable, ask the owner/manager to let you sit in on meetings on haunt planning, actor training, marketing, etc. Learn the behind the scenes part of the business that actors never get to see.

In the mean time, hang out on these forums and ask questions. Buy haunt videos and subscribe to haunt industry magazines. Ask questions, make suggestions, brainstorm. Accept honest feedback.

Write some more and expand your notes. Eventually, and I am not talking after one season, you will see that you have the basic knowledge that you need not only to get started, but to be successful.

I know that this is not a short-cut, easy, do it overnight type of approach that many are looking for. It is called paying your dues. It is also, in my opinion, the surest way to success.


Jim Warfield
04-21-2007, 12:29 AM
HEY! After going to Transworld for about eight years I finally got up to spending about a $1,000 total for all of those years!
Almost each March I would be counting pennys , waiting for the end of May when the business picks up and becomes viable again. Blowing any noticable , large amount of money for me was almost always out of the question, unless I wanted some utilitys shut off or went on the Celebrity Dachau Diet.