View Full Version : Parking issues

02-13-2012, 01:45 PM
I know this is going to be different all over the country, but I wanted to ask opinions anyway. As of right now we do not charge to park your car at our haunt, keep in mind that we are in a very rural area where there are no parking meters, parking garages etc. and people are not used to paying to park anywhere. We have a big grass field that does not have gravel or pavement and it is hard to get customers to understand how to park with no lines. My dilema is that I am having to pay 3 staff just to flag people into parking spots so that the cars will compact enough to fit all of them in our space. If nobody is out there they just park all over the place blocking people in and taking up way too much room. My first question is......has anyone else who parks in a field found a good way to make "spaces" so that you dont have to pay staff to stand out there and park cars all night? I know most everyone charges for parking......I know that when we go to other haunted houses it kind of irritates me to pay for parking in a field and even more it irritates me to pay a dollar when usually all anyone carries is 20 dollar bills from the ATM.....and I've heard a lot of my customers mention that they liked not having to pay for parking. However, it is costing me money to keep it lit, pay 3 people to park the cars and now I've got to pave my entrance into the field because the state wants it paved. SO my questions are.....do you ever lose customers over charging for parking? Do you ever hear complaints? If you get a volunteer organization to handle parking for you and they keep the profits does that make it better in the public's eye? I am running all of this through my head and trying to save some up front costs and parking keeps coming up. If any of you have good ideas please let me know! Thanks!


Dr Spooktakular
02-13-2012, 02:01 PM
Hey Matt,
We use the local Volunteer Fire Dept. peeps to run our parking. They charge like $3-$5, it's a donation to the VFD. They get money and you get a tax write off at tax time. They do a great job for us, it's a win win for all. I've heard of other haunts that use school organizations or Boy Scouts to run the parking area. You also save $$ because you don't have to pay them, they take home the parking donation.

02-13-2012, 02:06 PM
"My first question is......has anyone else who parks in a field found a good way to make "spaces" so that you dont have to pay staff to stand out there and park cars all night?"

To make the spaces you could spray paint lines


02-13-2012, 02:32 PM
Rain, grass, and darkness make the spray paint so that you really can't see it. Even if you could thats 800 parking spots to paint....I could prob. pay my staff to park cars cheaper than use that many cans of paint. I've thought about that option though and tried it on a few spots last year.

Yeah the Fire Dept. is another idea that I had. I am a firefighter full time and know some of the volunteer firemen in the area and they said last year that they are willing to do it. It also has the fire dept. on scene the whole time in case of an emergency. I was just concerned over guests not being happy that they had to pay to park. They would gladly come do it to keep the profit and it would save me from having to pay 3 people, but do you think that you would lose any guests over having to pay to park? Not necc. this year.....but next year when they are considering coming do you think anybody would NOT come over having to pay to park? I am also concerned that if the fire dept. gets a call during our busy Saturdays that they would just disappear. Keep suggestions coming.

Thanks so far!

02-13-2012, 06:22 PM
I would NOT charge for parking. If anything add a dollar onto the ticket price.
Costumers will be grumbling in the cue line for the haunt after paying for parking.
Plus it just adds to the hassle factor making change breaking $20's.
I bet $.50 a ticket would cover your cost for that right?
"I'm just saying"

Scary Harry
02-13-2012, 07:03 PM
Thats exactly what I would do, raise the ticket price to offset the cost. We park in field and it is a must to have parking attendents otherwise people will take upon themselves to park anywhere. A volunteer staff is good as long as they are willing to work when you need them. Hope this helps.

02-13-2012, 07:07 PM
I think parking is one of the most underrated aspects of the haunt business. I know its cliche, but the customer's experience starts when they pull into your lot. Finding a parking spot fast means that you're not creating any back-ups coming into your event. The last thing that you want is for customers to have to turn around because the line to get into your parking lot is too long, or worse, the police shut your lot down because you're causing traffic issues. A great parking lot starts with ingress and egress (making sure they're not backwards), followed by a well-defined layout, and ends with parking attendants who know what they're doing.

In our experience it is very important for there to be parking attendants at a public event such as a haunt. We have a 1200-car grass parking lot, and for many events we have to pack our lot extremely tight. We use a three person system. We hire the local "explorers" which are police dept. cadets that are accompanied by a sheriff's deputy with his police cruiser. They accept a donation for their services, and there is no charge for the supervising officer.

We have established a system using a rectangular lot layering a series of roads and parking strips. The first row starts against a straight edge, parking cars side by side in a 20' deep spot. Next, we leave 15' for the driving lane, then we allot 40' for nose-to-tail parking. Then another driving lane, followed by another 40' spot, and so-on. Our flaggers just waive the cars into the first 20' row of spots, but they more specifically place the vehicles in the 40' spots. Each car is pulled forward until their bumper meets the line, leaving enough room behind for the next vehicle. Both rows in the 40' parking strips are parked at the same time for the best efficiency.

Hiring professional or at least training parking staff to efficiently park a lot can do a lot for your haunt. First, it makes your haunt look more professional. Second, staff managing the parking lot will help limit alcohol and drug use in your lot. Finally, it will prevent your issues of cars blocking each-other in your field.

We don't charge for parking, and we will only when we need to limit the amount of cars in the lot. I have heard of haunts offering car-pool incentives such as "free parking for more than 4 passengers per car." I think that charging for parking is a great devise to have people car-pool rather than meeting at your haunt.

Hope this helps!

02-13-2012, 07:18 PM
I agree with all of you.....thats exactly how I feel as a customer of a haunt and owner and I was planning on taking the cost of combo ticket up $1 and then advertising FREE PARKING. So, I think we're all on the same page. I just wanted to poll the crowd.....I know I paid $5 at one haunt I visited this year and if I didn't have free tickets, I would have probably turned around and left. I agree Legends......parking is very important because even though we put out signs EVERYWHERE had very clear directions on the website and marketing materials we still had people frustrated because "we were hard to find" and I wouldnt want them to be frustrated finding it, frustrated to pay for parking, and then frustrated as to how to park all before they even get to the ticket booth.

George Maser
02-13-2012, 10:02 PM
I've always hated paying for parking. So much so that sometimes I won't go to the event. If it's that big of a deal, raise the ticket price and pay somebody to park the cars.

02-16-2012, 05:20 PM
Our event has grown much faster than expected, now I to have a parking problem. Staffing the p-lot is not the problem, the issue is the lot itself. We use a large open field but last year with all the rain we could never use it. We had people parking all down the street and in the church parking lot accross the street. For those that use large open fields for parking, is there any tricks?

02-17-2012, 04:10 PM
Volunteers is the only way we can do it. The local volunteer fire departments team up and provide staffing not only for the parking, but they also will be bringing in a food concession this year. 100% of the proceeds are given to the fire department so this is definitely a win-win. We don't charge for the parking so we kick a little donation to the fire department on top of what they make selling food.