View Full Version : Why do haunted attractions fail?

04-03-2012, 11:04 AM
I have read and heard a lot of stories regarding former "successful" haunted houses that were going great for a few years and then something happened and they closed, sold their equipment, and disappeared or joined someone else's haunt.

Yes, most small business ventures fail. But knowing WHY our industry startups failed could be invaluable for the rest of us. Couldn't it? You might be safe now but I've seen other industries where business was going great for 15 years and then small cracks emerged. Little things that had they been addressed earlier wouldn't have been a big deal. Like a crack in a windsheild, over time these small cracks grew into big ones.

Some of the reasons I've seen are:

* There is more to the business than just setting up cool props and scares.

* The main operator just got tired of the effort or bored.

* The haunt management didn't rely enough on hiring help and delegation, leading to being way to involved in the nightly action itself. They litterally wore themselves out acting in the haunt itself so when operational or customer issues came up, they were overloaded. Over time the stress took them out.

What have you heard or been through? And how do you keep them from happening to you?

04-03-2012, 11:37 AM
I think some haunt owners get "content" with the business they are doing and stop changing their haunt year to year. The people are not going to keep coming back to the exact same show year after year with no changes especially if each year you charge more and more for it. I also think that some people think since they are established they can cut their advertising budget and then they dont get the crowd it takes to pay the bills. It really only takes one season of rain or snow etc. for small shows to fold because all of the bills have to get paid regardless and if they have to spend out everything on bills and dont make anything back then they don't have the money to pay the startup bills for the next year. Also, anybody who borrows a ton of money and has to pay a monthly lease and monthly loan payment etc. is much more likely to close the doors than someone who starts out small without having to borrow money.

04-03-2012, 12:21 PM
Space! Lets face it, we are a seasonal business for the most part. No Realtors want to help us out unless you sign a two year lease or more. And no haunt can spend thousands in the off season. So unless you own a building you are almost screwed, and if youre ooutdoors and tthe weather iis bad one or two nights you are essentially SOL. Money is everything.

04-03-2012, 01:23 PM
Money management!!! imo should be up there.

I've recently learned that's why 1 or 2 of our haunts locally stopped. They just kept blowing the money and were broke by the time the next year came around and couldn't pay anything to get started.

Some guys try to stretch the money and some just flat out blow it!

I know one of them has an addiction to well, everything. Drugs, Alcohol, ... women, possessions.

I don't know for sure what a good overall set of reasons would be, but I'd sure like to think we'll survive! All we need is our first year done. We're selling our house, selling our show car, etc. We're moving. This is a huge life changing time for my family, so it HAS to work! Even if we break even, we'll be doing fine.

There's too many stories of guys starting out with very little, with just a few friends in a field or a barn for me to believe it's terribly hard. Plus, I've been around businesses and helping others, so I'd like to say I'm smart enough to see what needs to be seen before getting wet. The less you know before, the more overwhelmed you'll be when everything you DON'T see slaps you in the face.

04-03-2012, 05:25 PM
I think *one* reason is starting out too big too soon...
A lot of people get in over their heads and aren't willing to start small and grow!
You never know how many people are going to show up and pay to go through.
If you take 150,000.00 to start and don't have a solid plan to pay it while you grow, that isn't good.
We have taken the past 2 years to start what we could afford (we both were in the business for a few years prior and had a
good idea of attendance we could expect) and are growing from there. This year we are buying a building...it's not HUGE but
it will work and we won't have to move each year!
We can also afford it if we didn't make a dime out of pocket (IF WE HAD TO!)-the bank liked this!
I was told my my good friend Kelly Allen to "enjoy the ride and appreciate NOW because once you get where you want to be, you'll look back and it'll be worth it!" (or something to that effect-LOL)


04-03-2012, 05:44 PM
Starting to big
Not understanding your market
An not treating it like a business

These are all reasons it will fail.

Haunted Prints (EOM)
04-03-2012, 07:01 PM
Treating it like a hobby rather than a real business!

04-03-2012, 08:33 PM
They go in thinking they'll be rich and that it's easy, where neither is true.



04-04-2012, 05:31 AM
I can tell ya a haunt in the business for 27 years closed up because of two reasons.
Not "listening" to the fire marshal on updating the haunt to current codes.
Not "paying" to upgrade.
He owns the building and yet he is too lazy and too tight with his money to upgrade a building housing the haunt that has been around for 27 years.
The stupidist thing I've heard of. And I know he has the money.
With all this in mind, he just didn't have the love for the haunt like his father did (who started the haunt way back then) and didn't care.
He also would NOT do major changes to the haunt which people notice over time.

If I only had his money......
Gawd what a dumb ass.

Keep up with the codes or it will bite you hard.