View Full Version : 2011 Haunt Season - Final Results - Looking Forward 2012

01-03-2012, 05:22 PM
Okay this thread hasn't really been address so I thought I would bring it up. These kinds of comments have an impact on everyone from the tradeshow, vendors, marketing you name it. How did your season end up and what are you projecting going forward. Was your season up or down, flat and do you expect a growth going forward or a decline? I'm interested in comments for an article I'm working on for my magazine.

Let me go first... I'm not ashamed to say last season was a bust for us. Collectively our attendance was down nearly 30,000 guests and I heard that all the other haunts did horrible or where way down. We had about 5 or 6 other haunts open around here including Six Flags, and some didn't make it to Halloween while others won't re-open next year. Our Lemp haunted house was down the most, Darkness was way down, and Creepyworld was down as well but not as much as the other two. We had a lot of things working against us this year starting with the St. Louis Cardinals making the World Series ... they played 18 out of 19 possible games all in October. That was a KILLER... we had nights where attendance was down OVER 50%. Additionally I was told from other haunts in Missouri they also saw numbers decrease even in Kansas City. Missouri is a show me state the economy is bad here and its not a place where people go out on weekdays so overall people here just spend less money than before. I was talking with the retail people they also did worse. Overall not great for us.

Next year I see more of the same because the media will focus on the election and when that rolls around they will discuss the economy over and over again and about no jobs, or people living in their cars or whatever spreading fear throughout the country. Additionally I'm afraid for us anyway the St. Louis Cardinals will make the World Series again... yes despite the fact we lost Pujols I expect the Cardinals to make the WS again. Their best pitcher Wainwright will be back one of the top 5 pitcher in baseball, they picked up Beltran and now that Freese is a superstar plus they are signing Roy Oswalt I expect them to be right back in it again!

I'm planning for another bad season because of the Cardinals and the election...

I think if your cities baseball team makes the WS it causes you some issues but here in St. Louis this is a BASEBALL TOWN the whole city shuts down. If they make the WS again I don't know what I'll do ... LOL.

I heard in the east you got hit with a ton of snow... I heard mixed reviews some up and some down. I don't think your issues of a bad season are the same as ours but all the same I'm personally expecting things to go down for us again and maybe the year after going back up.

I heard most haunts around the country overall had great years in most states and some states like ours got ravaged.

So how did you guys end up and what do you expect next year?


01-03-2012, 06:14 PM
Unlike some I seem to be in a different boat as the Haunt is more of a fun thing as I really don't care about the money! HOWEVER I was blessed with a good season. We were up 4,000 people from last year. Disturbia is still new in Huntsville and continues to grow. I can only think that we will be up again in 2012 as were still growing in the city. If not it's fine and if we are thats it's fine. Either way I guess we all have to look at it as it is what it is. I was open and extra weekend and that was pretty much a bust though because Alabama played Auburn! Had I realized that I would have not opened anyway but we did have several haunters come by so we had to open! Shane and it's I wish everyone the best in 2012! Shane

Jim Warfield
01-03-2012, 06:18 PM
.. as they have been for several years now. Business might have increased slightly, our year-end tabulations are just about to begin in a day or two.
Being open almost every night of the year sees some definate financial advantages and disadvantages. I think more people would come here in October when we have our hired help here if we were not open the rest of the year, so they go to the haunts around here who will not be open in a week or two and sometimes our hired help are left not nearly as busy as they could be.
This last December was a really unseasonably warm and weather-predictable month, yet we saw "0" customers for almost that whole month but ended up stronger than usual during the last few nights and may have had our best December since 2002!? (Not enough to make my monthly Ferrarri payment though)
Sometimes October gets a little hectic or nasty but then afterwards I have smaller groups of some very true blue fans come here and I have a lot of fun with them.
I too have been trying to figure this business out for 25 years and it remains somewhat mysterious...

Karl Fields
01-03-2012, 06:27 PM
Our attendance was up about 18%, but with our new ticket cost structure, income was up over 30%!
I attribute it to several factors.
First the additional advertising we did. Mostly same old thing but more of it.
Noteworthy was a huge campaign from Monster. Hope to expand on this next year.
With our move a few years ago, we are still being 'discovered' by many.
Next was our corporate party business. I only wish that we could book out every night for these. Ain't gonna happen but I can wish :)
Then we had the effect of fewer local haunts open this year. Seems we lose a couple of big ones every year and next year will probably see the dropping of Cedar Park's 'the haunt' from Great America. The Park is for sale and the 49ers will soon be building a new stadium in their parking lot.
Lastly is the Giants DIDN'T (thankfully) make the WS!. In 2010 those WS games really had a negative impact on us.
We had a team of guys hitting FB with ticket givaways and on location upgrades. Worked out great.

And can't forget our new 3 acre corn maze. Small by midwest standards but it was Sick!

Allen H
01-03-2012, 06:56 PM
We here in DFW area of TX we felt the other end of the world series. A little down was the norm, closer to Arlington TX (the stadium) the worse it was- much further east (1HR drive from Arlington) was better and they seemed to be up.
We could definitely tell when game nights were.

Bradenton Haunted Trail
01-03-2012, 08:14 PM
This was our first year going pro but we did fairly well, just over 7,500 guest. Last year at our home haunt we did just over 1800. We are very happy to have made our expenses back. This coming season we plan on adding a second haunt and a lot of other side attractions. We will also do a lot more gorilla style marketing this year we did just the norm TV and Radio this year. Plus we bought out our only local competition (we bought there walls and props). So we are looking forward to a much better year next year!


01-03-2012, 08:17 PM
Allen the problem is that the Rangers are still probably the best team in the AL especially after adding that Japanese pitcher, the hitting guys got is unreal ... you guys are probably going back to the WS as well. I'm sure the WS hurt you guys but here it was unreal... the St. Louis Cardinals have the best baseball fans period! Every baseball player will tell ya St. Louis has the best fans. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series that is second most to only the Yanks... the traditionally draw 3 million plus fans in one of the smaller markets.

This whole town shuts down for that team... I'm afraid here in St. Louis the Cardinals will make the World Series again. They have the best team... They have NO competition in their division the brewers have lost everyone, the Astros suck, Cubs suck, Pirates are just okay, the Reds are alright, the Cardinals will be back in the playoffs no doubt and pitching wins, the Cards of unreal pitching with Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia and now they are supposedly signing Roy Oswalt. The Cards added Beltran, Allen Craig is turning into a superstar, Freese is a superstar, you've got Matt Holiday, its just not fair to us... LOL

I'm bracing for another horrible year in 2012 along with the election coming up. The economy is bad here in Missouri and if the Cardinals make another WS I don't know what I'll do ... it will be another disaster for us. I'm sure you guys got hit as well because Texas in general are big sports fans. I'm sure you'll be seeing another run by the Rangers in 2012.


01-03-2012, 09:12 PM
You could always tell when the rangers were playing at any haunt in the DFW area! As Allen was saying it hurt the haunts in Arlington, Tx. the most. However with the Rangers making the WS again this past season we had a 44% increase in attendance and a 58% increase in revenue.

01-04-2012, 06:30 AM

No Pujols=No world series take a deep breath and relax!


01-04-2012, 11:35 AM

Trust me Pujols or no Pujols the Cardinals are one of the top 5 best teams in baseball ... their best player Adam Wainwright will be back he's a CY YOUNG winner... he was out all of last year. They signed Beltran and now Oswalt is coming here trust me I'm more worried about them making it again this coming year than last year.

Either way... off subject. How did everyone else do?


01-04-2012, 03:13 PM
It is sad to hear the haunt industry suffered this year while on the retail side this year has been the strongest by far.

01-04-2012, 03:40 PM
All the haunts in our area were up. Two minor ones in the area didn't open. We were up single digit percent in paid customers and down in comps (radio & sponsor tix). Made more money than ever. Our little pile may be a lot smaller than your pile, but it is ours just the same. LOL

Also, at the Legends Tour in Philly, the question was asked during a roundtable of who was up, same, or down. Most were up, a few the same, and only a couple were down (slightly according to the next question).

Sorry to hear anyone loses business, though.

Planning on a bigger 2012!

Jim Warfield
01-04-2012, 06:13 PM
Hire a couple of the Cards to make a celebrity appearance at your place during a week night. There. Problem solved.

01-04-2012, 06:38 PM
Larry, ever thought about trying to market with the stadium or with the cardinals. Just a suggestion, since so many people seem to be watching their games.

01-04-2012, 07:32 PM
I just posted a similar post in the other section. I'll copy and paste most of it here and add much more regarding District of the Dead's first professional season.

I'll admit, haven't been on the forums in quite some time. Moved back home (Buffalo, NY) this past summer from July-early November to launch District of the Dead, WNY's Newest & Most Frightening Haunted Attraction! with family and friends who wanted to see my dream become a reality.

In a nutshell it was the wildest learning curve I've ever experienced. August 1st began the official building from scratch and everything from then until the final weekend of October was a motion blur. Many aspects of the haunting business will be refined for us to be more effective next season. Grand opening night was nerve rattling, but after the first weekend all the kinks were worked out.

Weather was up and down in Buffalo this past October. No snow, some excellent fall weekends, and other nights were very cold/rainy which effected the turnout. And as Larry first mentioned the sports teams impact attendance too. Buffalo is full of DIE HARD Bills and Sabres fan no matter how bad either team is doing each year. Many Friday and Saturday nights had home games for the Sabres, which greatly impacted the crowds.

However, couldn't have asked for a better crew and phenomenal group of actors as a first season haunt. Our location was excellent, only pro haunt in the city limits of Buffalo surrounded by local colleges, universities, and schools.

The mass amount of positive feedback we received in 5 weekends as a first season haunt was unreal in comparison to local veteran haunts. Although we used no animatronics this season (and probably won't next season either) we took no shortcuts as a first pro season haunt due to the fact there are 3 other amazing veteran haunted attractions in Buffalo. We had a very strong consistent "Resident Evil" theme from start to finish in our attraction. My father and I had the pleasure to meet with many of the owners, cross promote, and visit their excellent shows this past season too.

At the end of the 5 full weekends we were open this past season (including last 2 Thursdays & Halloween night) we had an approximate attendance of 2,700 screaming patrons! :grin:

Since then I have returned to Phoenix, AZ where I reside and continue my mobile auto detailing business.

Modifications and classified information thus far are 100% complete for the upcoming 2012 District of the Dead season in Buffalo when I return next summer.

The passion and excitement for next season can not be explained in words. I'll once again be meeting my father in St. Louis for TransWorld and hope to see many of you there!

A huge thank you also goes out to vendors we worked with this past season such as Fright Props (absolutely amazing customer service), Rogue Hollow, Scare Products, Dark Raven Design, and Unit 70. All of which who have excellent products and services. As well as all the owners around the country on the forums or whom I got the opportunity to speak with, who guided me with advice and direction as a first year pro attraction.

My father and I have optimistic forecasts for next season now that we have a better handle on marketing. We expect a minimum 4,000 attendance for 2012.

Mike Goff
01-05-2012, 06:00 AM
This thread has me reflecting on past seasons and looking at the books. I have always thought that the elections screw up the short term economy, and they may, but the numbers donít support this theory as it applies to my haunts attendance. While it is true that an election year can be stressful, they make media buying a pain, and they get the locals all wound up, the numbers donít lie.
If you remember, the majority of the stimulus money is scheduled to be spent this year. While I hate the idea of the whole stimulus thing, I believe that we will see a very short term improvement in the economy. I also believe that the majority of the mainstream media will do all that they can to support the current administration, and will not be talking down the economy over the summer. Whether the public believes it or not, is another story, and is yet to be seen.
The wild card is Iran, and ultimately Russia. Typically the American people rally around a war time president, this could mean war with Iran in Sept. or October. If we donít go to war with Iran by then, I think that it is a safe bet that we will go to war with them before the end of the year.
Other possibilities are an economic collapse or a ďterrorist attackĒ. I think that we should plan for business as usual, but do not take huge financial risk. I think that the whole model of business as it relates to haunting has changed, and those who understand this will probably see growth, those who donít will not. Iím going to go out on a limb and predict that as a whole, this will be the best season yet for haunting. That is the up side; the downside is what 2013 will look like.

Mad Wax Sculptor
01-06-2012, 01:24 AM
You didn't even touch on a wet la Nina. This yr it is predicted to be very wet for the mid west in OCT with possible hurricanes and sever thunder storms. TX saw a warm dry Oct in 2011 so Im expecting rain!!! Thank god im indoors this yr

01-10-2012, 08:24 PM
Well Horror Fields in sawmills nc Had a GREAT year. This was our First year open in this location. In a small town of a pop of 4,931 people in the whole town, We had around 2700-2800 guest. I have never done so much advertising in my life as I did this year. We hit all areas of the board. I think 2012 will be just as good or better. We got LOTS of good feedback and was told by Most we were the best haunt around (But there isnt any haunts around us lol) and the best ticket price around. We flooded the market area with 15,000 $3off coupons. so 2011 we were just trying to get people to our door So that they could see our haunt and know were we were at. 2012 Should be a Great year too.

01-11-2012, 01:28 AM
First off, definately understand the pain with the world series. In New England we really feel the pinch with Red Sox getting in the playoffs. With a couple world series wins the hit has been a little less drastic on game nights over the past years, but if the Yankees and Red Sox square off in the ALCS we expect low numbers on game nights.

The upside is that it shows sports fans are a big part of your market, and lets you focus advertising dollars that way. While it's tough to get partnership with major leauge teams even if you are a huge haunt, there are always oppertunities to tap into sports with minor leauge teams, highschool sports, and even amature leuages like the afterwork softball, kickball, and roller derby.

Trails To Terror faired well this season. Weather was a complication at each end of the season. The tropical storm that came through caused some real issues, especially to the haunts in the area that are dependent on corn mazes. The high winds at the end of September limited the size of corn fields and one haunt was even unable to open because the crop got hit. The Rain / snow event at the end of the month cost most outdoor haunts a couple nights, and posed big challenges to make sure the paths were safe enough to open at all. All in all at Trails we feature outdoor attractions and weather impacted attendence, but not too significantly. We were still close to the record numbers of last year with about a 15% increase from our average attendence. Parking issues on our busiest nights will be the challenge again next year.