View Full Version : America Haunts 2013 question

07-25-2013, 04:41 AM
The new list of Scariest Haunts for 2013 is out. I recall being on the list for the inaugural City Blood Visitors Choice. Fans voted, we promoted the poll and won the first year. It was real and we were proud of it and Noah is a pretty good dude. However, America Haunts comes out in JULY. Some real nice haunts on the list and I hate to sound jealous or disrespectful of those listed, but, Ive heard this is bought and paid for. That, in my mind is a crock! I've heard the same with Top Haunts. Being on these list is and should be an honor. No else will say it on here so I will. My question is how much does a Haunt have to pay for this "honor"?

07-25-2013, 07:05 AM
America Haunts is not a list. It is an organization, or association if you will of major professional Haunted Attractions. Membership is difficult to achieve, based on many factors and years often go by without any new members being added. This group and its members have been working for the good of the industry for years, and have originated or supported a huge amount of the positive media, television, events and education that have helped this industry.

Lists pop up every year from a number of sources and like a critics list of movies they are the opinions of the lists originator and often have voting components, are localized, etc. Some have been around for years and are from major media sources and thus carry more weight and some pop up overnight from nowhere.

Hope that clears up your question.

07-25-2013, 12:25 PM
Good idea would be to form a similar loose association of haunts in your own state. I and some other haunt owners have been doing this in Virginia with Screamfreak.com. We have kept it very inclusive, and it has worked out pretty well so far.

Jim Warfield
07-25-2013, 04:26 PM
This has been tested often.
A newspaper article says a new haunt will be opening this October and the same story might also say that it was voted the Scariest Haunt!?
Who voted? Supernatural entites? Forecasters of trends in fashions and colors?
Maybe the only vote came from the Grandmother who just wrote Little "Billie" the check to rent the abandoned chicken coop from the neighbor?
The serious part of this is basically, as I see it, the general public is NOT sTuPiD! But when they notice such stupid attempts coming from a "Business" I believe bad vibes, PR set up a field of negativity and phoney hype that hurts most of us, coming across seeming to be the First Cousin of a smake oil salesman who is prepared to gladly take their money for very little in return.. "What!? Again?"
I do not try to ever make my haunt the scariest, even though it may terrify some unintentionally, since my house is open every night of the year and weekend afternoons my customers are many times tourists, curiosity seekers, sometimes with timid children and maybe even Grandma along.
I really do love being referred to as someone's "Favorite" Haunt, and I have never paid anyone to print this or say it , either.. but it is for many.

07-25-2013, 05:28 PM
Just a thought...but the America Haunts campaigns say "America's BEST haunted houses"...now, I'm not arguing that point because I do think those are the best haunt. However, your statement that it's not a list is false if this is what the AH marketing does. So, just splitting hairs here...but America Haunts IS in fact a list. And the one with the most money always calls the shots.


07-25-2013, 05:38 PM
Remember the golden rule. He with the most gold makes all the rules.

BUT, it's hard to argue that those are not the best haunts and as long as they lead the industry in a positive light, ultimately we all win.


07-25-2013, 06:01 PM
We were sponsor of Michigan Screams (or something similar last year) with local radio promotion. Then came the assinine "vote for the best" contest. Before I even knew it was going on facebook was already lit up with "vote for my sisters, husbands, friends haunt as the best". AND VOTES WERE CAST BY PEOPLE WHO Had NEVER BEEN TO THE HAUNT THEY VOTED FOR!!!! But hey; they were voting for a friend of a friend though they never went. We posted on our website and facebook page we wanted no part of this nonsense and even though we were the main funder (read as sucker) for this radio promotion demanded our haunt was pulled from the contest. Checking out other haunts online there was the 'tell your friends to vote for us". One at least did say something along the lines of 'We hope you vote for us"

Maybe the old farmer in me is just too damn down to earth for bullshit contests like that. The response we got from people who liked that we puled out of the nonsense was quite surprising! I even had people tell me when web surfing haunt websites; reading that we pulled out of that nonsense was what made them come try us. They are coming back this year they said...with lots of friends.

Wicked Farmer

07-25-2013, 08:17 PM
I hate these online vote polls, especially off season... No one is voting unless it is an owner or actors, and if you don't happen to notice they will vote against you for months. But you have to pay attention and it is just a drag. The only poll that really matters in the long run however is the line out your door, and as long as it grows every year you are doing something right!

07-25-2013, 08:29 PM
Tyler we do not rank haunts within our group in numerical order, but we do market our group just as anyone might market a haunted house, and why not? For years we were very modest in fact, and have only begun to show a little more pride of late largely because of the fact that there are so many lists, and we have done quite a bit of work over many long years.. I think perhaps you may be mistaking us for some other lists..


07-25-2013, 08:57 PM
Speaking as an owner/operator, not as a vendor, NO haunt should care about this list. It isn't necessarily about money, (although it helps) its about making sure the RIGHT people are on the list, with the professional looking shows who have the right connections and abilities to keep haunted houses in the thoughts of the public. As an industry, we need to respect and admire the people who make these "lists" happen. Each haunt on that list is something we want the public to view, we want the public to realize how much work, thought, creativity and passion goes into this business to put on a good show. It makes this niche seasonal industry stay ahead of the game and grows everyone as a whole. And at the end of the day, if that line keeps growing year after year the work each individual haunt owner along with the efforts of the group who puts out these massive PR publications we ALL win.

I will never complain. I will only continue to try to achieve the level of quality and production value that these spotlighted attractions put out. We should all continue to push ourselves to the next level. None of us should settle for less and we all need to put out the quality shows it takes to make the public continue to love and show up for our events each and every year. :) WE ARE AN INDUSTRY. YOU ALONE ARE NOT THE INDUSTRY. THEY ALONE ARE NOT THE INDUSTRY. If we don't all strive to reach perfection in the public eyes we can never all succeed and reach our fullest potential!

So a good season to all! :)

07-26-2013, 02:23 PM
Well said Bobby, and I think each haunt in the country feels the same way. Very true on the haunts that are on these lists. Places like Netherworld, Darkness, Hoochie, Hundred Acres Manor...These places set a standard and deserve every accolade they get as do many others, and, make us ALL look good in the process. I'm ridiculously stoked to be in this industry and, I am truly honored when my place gets complimented and attended. HOWEVER, what stops some wealthy fella with a first year haunt with black plastic and cardboard walls from buying into a well known "list".

07-26-2013, 03:26 PM
A wealthy fella would not have black plastic and cardboard. At the very least they would have a very lovely Scarefactory/Unit 70 show room. That will usually pass as standard.

07-26-2013, 03:31 PM
Lurker LOL@ the showroom comment!

Jim Warfield
07-26-2013, 07:02 PM
Had just paid three or ten times for that black plastic and cardboard because a "Good Friend" was advising him?
You never know?
Maybe THAT Black Plastic is really Haunted because it was recycled from second-hand body bags?
Maybe the cardboard was made from a haunted sacred forrest cut down because someone's religion had changed?
Every Haunt can be truthful saying theirs is "The Best!" just qualify it in the small type at the bottom of the poster or ad.
I know one that all they need to add is "Best Haunt in the "only open 6 hours a year "catagory.
I had a local Farmer tell me I had "The Best Haunted House By a Dam Site!" The Dam was very close to my house as is the river.
The dam only lasted from 1838 to 1911.

07-26-2013, 07:46 PM
A wealthy fella would not have black plastic and cardboard. At the very least they would have a very lovely Scarefactory/Unit 70 show room. That will usually pass as standard.

I wouldn't consider a haunt that can afford a Unit 70 or Scarefactory showroom as standard, because the ones able to do that are the ones on the top list because they are. I think everyone would love to have the props you see at the Darkness or Netherworld. It's a sign of a truly successful haunt. The ones you hear complaining about haunts with a ton of cool props are the cheesy do it yourself haunts that can't afford to buy the great props. That's why Transworld exist, for people to buy props. They don't have whole conventions based on those guys working out in a garage sculpting their own masks that look like crap because they can't afford CFX ETC.

When I look at haunts like The Darkness, Haunted Hotel, Netherworld and the others on that level I stand back and appreciate that they are the best out there and the ones who complain are just not up to par. If you question why you're not on these lists, whether its free or paid for, you should ask yourself if you are on the level of the Darkness, if not, then you won't be in the lists it's that simple.
Celebrate those haunters leading the way and the fact that they support industry vendors by being big time buyers every year.


07-26-2013, 08:07 PM
I'll never amount to anything. I don't have a Scarefactory/Unit 70 showroom. I have a Scarefactory, Distortions, Poision walkway and going to be "Getting me some Gore"! Sorry...couldn't resist.

Wicked Farmer

Jim Warfield
07-26-2013, 08:32 PM
Stand back in awe of huge amounts of money spent. This has always been a country all about money, hasn't it? We all want more and more of it to prove .. something? to ourselves...?
My satisfaction from the haunting I do springs from the words , compliments and reactions of the people who are my customers and patrons as they are in absolute awe of how I just scared them with an item that sells nationaly in almost any store for a few mere cents! And I do this over and over again all during the 90 minutes they are under my roof (and under my dirt)
This style of entertainment not only scares them first but intriegues them secondly which places a marker of the experience within their psyche which will never become obscured as they keep exclaiming to their friends and relatives how amazing this whole experience was.
When I began I had no money to advertise so I HAD to work extra hard to impress my first few customers, hoping they would indeed be impressed enough to freely promote my house.
OF my first ten paying customers, one was a Doctor who loves Haunted Houses. This man brought, sent and even paid admission for probably at least a 100 people during my first year open. He did not come here to make a list of the props I had bought at Transworld.(There were none.)
Late last night a young man brought his new girlfriend here from 1,000 miles away. All she kept saying with every new thing she noticed was "Crazy!" "Crazy!!" "Crazy!!!"
I finally confessed to her:"I can "sell" "Crazy" very easily (all night long) but "Normal , that would be a much tougher sell (for me).
I have very little in common with any other haunt as far as I know. I do have a huge number of fans of the show I put on here though, and it didn't come from a book or someone's web site or trade show, maybe that's why it's so "interesting" to so many people?
But, what do I know? I'm probably all wrong about everything and just highly delusional, awaiting my next dry, haunted wet dream.??

Jolly Pumpkin
07-26-2013, 10:27 PM
Why is Dream Reapers on the list since 2012 was their final year? Also, on the site it says 7 Floors of Terror when its name is 7 Floors of Hell. A lot of the videos for America Haunts feature Ryan Dunn of Jackass who's been dead for 2 years. Maybe America Haunts should think about updating the videos on their site.

Jim Warfield
07-27-2013, 12:44 AM
To apear on your videos is quite a coooo!
Somebody must know some Black Magic to accomplish this?
Or would such knowledge be found at a Trans World seminar? I betcha!

07-27-2013, 11:18 AM
Membership and/or mention by any well known association should be difficult to obtain, which, as Ben stated, is what America Haunts is. So part of my question was answered/corrected. Earned, not bought. I had a similar conversation with a few attraction owners at MHC. Whether is America's Haunts or other well known list, my only point has been that reputations should be earned, not bought. That's all

Gore Galore
07-27-2013, 11:36 AM
I am glad our marketing works.
"Getcha Some Gore" LOL

and happy to be on the list with Unit 70 and other big names.

07-27-2013, 05:40 PM
Here it is in a nut shell. I could care less about who is on a list or who's not. I mean don't get me wrong when your on one of these and you get to vote yeah it's fun but sadly and the truth of the matter is most of the ones voting are the owners ( yes me too), actors, and staff we all do this and everyone knows I am shooting the shit straight so what they are doing is no different than a list where you vote for yourself. If it gives some attention to the Industry then hey that's GREAT! and if the same ones get all the attention that's GREAT too but as for me I need not to keep up with the Joneses and maybe it's just me but for me it's not about a list it's about the fun you have with your customers and staff, friends and family at the end of the day that's all that matters for me not what X,Y or Z haunt is ranked or how they are ranked.

Hell I have had people say my haunt sucked and I have had them say I was better than NetherWorld! do I think I am? Hell NO! but if someone thinks I am then cool but I rather hear that from them than see my haunt in a group or list I paid to be on! My point is everyone looks at shows and scares all different and I think that holds true to all these list. I been asked to be on different list and pay to be on them but I don't care to spend the money for it I rather have a cool toy. But hey don't knock them because they want to do it it's just part of their advertising .There is NO one stopping ANYONE from starting their own paid list there can be more than one you know! So lets not all get all down and out because the same ones are on there remember they are spending their own money to do it and hey it's their club and their rules if you don't like it start your own! AND LASTLY BEING ON A NATIONAL LEVEL DOES NOTHING FOR ME! I RATHER BE RANKED TOP IN MY AREA BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE HOPPING ON A PLANE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON A LIST THAT'S SEEN FUTHER THAN 100 MILES OUT! Now lets chill! Again I have nothing but respect for the ones on that list and many are my friends and I think the world of them but IT'S THEIR LIST! Oh I might add I have been asked more times than I can count to join my local country club and I don't care to do that either lol! Shane and it's guess I am just the odd ball of the bunch as to how I see things!

07-27-2013, 09:19 PM
Very Much agreed, Shane. I never looked at it from an advertising angle only that someone was paying for their kid to play quarterback ;)

07-28-2013, 06:04 AM
Very Much agreed, Shane. I never looked at it from an advertising angle only that someone was paying for their kid to play quarterback ;)

Paying or not you can still look at the list and its the who's who of the top haunts and haunters from coast to coast. Of course not every top haunt can be on the list because if there is already one in Boston for example on the list they probably can't take another even if its great since its marketing. But the point is if you look at the haunts included and look at their individual markets they seem to be the top dogs in their region. It's not like they are just adding anyone out there willing to pay to be included, you HAVE to earn your way on and pay to be included so its deserved.


Jim Warfield
07-28-2013, 10:35 PM
Lives in a rural area. He's somewhat different but nothing has really impeaded his attracting all kinds of free attention, maybe this has happened so many times , because my kid is different?
A huge number of those who have played with him or even against him have found his style to be quite interesting and even .. fun.
As a Quarterback, his arm is not overly large or impressively strong, no 100 yard passes coming from this arm, but he will nickle and dime a defence to it's death, picking apart the defense with an unheard of variety of "looks" and tricky formations that often catch the defense reacting to things that are just not even there.
Will I be paying to get my kid a quarterback spot?
No. He's doing more than "fine" right where he is. Who knows? Maybe someday his players card will be the most valuable one ever made?
Rare things can excite many of us, you know.

07-29-2013, 12:00 AM
Keep in mind it doesn't take a Unit 70 or Scarefactory or any other kind of showroom to have a WORLD CLASS haunted house not at all... whomever says that remember that is why you don't have a WORLD class haunt. The scariest haunts out there are the ones you feel are real and they don't have one fake prop or animation.

Anyone can build a WORLD class haunt if you are creative enough to realize you don't need any animations or any latex props at all... you need great detail work, with natural lighting, and natural style props, but most importantly a great naturally haunted location. I want to build a haunted house with no props from any company you guys will walk through and your jaw will drop...

However I'm a sucker for cool props just like the rest of you I like cool animations and props but that doesn't mean you need them because you DO NOT!


Jim Warfield
07-29-2013, 07:49 PM
Several of the elderly people I had approached trying to get financing later all told me this house was "Haunted". They also told me to Not buy it.
People would sometimes see a ghostly woman appear from the Northeast corner of the wine cellar and think she was a special effect!
I have scared quite a few Haunters who came here, some of them told me that they had never been scared in a "Haunted House"!
They can't truthfully claim that anymore!
One young man who was posting here,maybe 13 years ago drove hundreds of miles and went through my house alone. I may have actually scared him right out of this business? He kind of just vanished from everywhere as far as I could tell (without hiring a Private Detective.)
We have kept the answering machine tape from a man from Florida who is swearing at my front room furniture and then saying it was the Scariest thing that had ever happened to him! (Then he had the rest of the whole house to see!)
Yesterday my fun came from showing the house to a former classmate of mine. I hadn't seen her in 45? years?
We used to be Lab Partners and cringe back and forth at one another as we each had personal habits that the other one could not stand!
I wrote in my school text books. ("Books are Holy!") She doodled all over her hands and arms with a Bic pen! ("Messy!")
A now local guy a few years behind me in school was bemoaning the loss of one of my text books he had owned, his Mother sold it at a Yard Sale! It was full of goofy, funny stuff that I had added to the pictures and text.

07-29-2013, 08:02 PM
I'm not implying that you have to have an animation showroom to prove you're a good haunt. BUT, the good haunts all have the showroom and the sets and actors etc. the best haunts have it all I think. They have the great animations and sets but tons and tons of good actors in good costumes.

Larry you talked about building realistic haunts thats great but is that really what customers want? They know its a haunted house and they know its fake so no matter joe real you make it its not very effective they want that stuff with movies, and scares and cool props in haunted houses. Maybe we should stop trying to be like the movies and more about what people want in a haunted house??


07-29-2013, 11:39 PM
I think people want a realistic experience... I think there are some haunts out there that have way to much stuff that pops up, jumps out, and to me anyway the more of that you have the more fake your haunt is. I have bought tons upon tons of animations that DO NOT SCARE YOU that say something, or do something that enhances the room or theme. The actors do the scaring... video fx don't scare anyone, they are merely eye candy, props don't scare anyone they are again eye candy nothing more.

The best haunts will always be the ones that seem the most realistic...


07-30-2013, 07:09 AM
Keep in mind it doesn't take a Unit 70 or Scarefactory or any other kind of showroom to have a WORLD CLASS haunted house not at all... whomever says that remember that is why you don't have a WORLD class haunt. The scariest haunts out there are the ones you feel are real and they don't have one fake prop or animation.

Anyone can build a WORLD class haunt if you are creative enough to realize you don't need any animations or any latex props at all... you need great detail work, with natural lighting, and natural style props, but most importantly a great naturally haunted location. I want to build a haunted house with no props from any company you guys will walk through and your jaw will drop...

However I'm a sucker for cool props just like the rest of you I like cool animations and props but that doesn't mean you need them because you DO NOT!


I like this. Yes I use eye candy and biggest baddest elements to give a little wow on all levels. But when it gets the most intense is when you are walking along the 1/4 mile 5 foot wide winding trail throught that rustling corn. That 10 foot tall wall of swaying..... rustling.... living stuff. And Every.....EVERY spot along there can be hiding something or someone. And what did they say about the old burial site for livestock and the guy who shot himself out there in the swamp in 1912. They found him several days later only after the buzzards were circling.

Wicked Farmer

Jim Warfield
07-30-2013, 08:32 AM
Since it was an 1870 INN & Tavern, Boarding House,School House, Apartment building,an Oldsmobile dealership, a great many things have happened here, and yes the original owner/builder did die in this house we recently discovered as we found some on-line newspaper accounts of his illness and subsequent death here(1880)
A wandering psychic told me 12 years ago there was one "Bad Ghost" in this house and he was called "Evil " Frank.
We recently discovered the original owner/builder had a Son named "Frank". Frank ran his own tavern named "The Ark" here after his Father died, then Frank dies about 10 years later,maybe in this house.
I was also told by some 85-90 yr. old citizens here that this was also a house of ill repute. (Whore House) which sure could also have created some very personal angst, in my opinion.
You want a ' haunted house '? (Original definition) I can talk a long time about about very odd and supernateral things that have actually happened here.

08-02-2013, 11:06 AM