View Full Version : Opening an attraction next door to an established one...

10-16-2008, 08:46 AM
How would all of you feel about opening an attraction about 15 miles from an already established haunted attraction? I would love to hear both sides to this, consider if you owned the attraction and heard about another opening next door, or if you were the one opening it... would you feel comfortable going up against a giant?

I have heard both positive and negative, one being that haunts aren't really in true competition, if customers go to one they will likely go to others, and I have heard going up against an established place will be hard because they will instantly compare you to the other event.

What does everyone think? Thanks in advance!

10-16-2008, 09:02 AM
From an attendee standpoint, I would love that. I could, if scheduled right, attend both in the same night and really enjoy myself (hopefully). It would put both in competition, with one breathing a fresh breath to the scene (if they are serious enough). If I was the new haunt, the idea of going against a giant would make this business venture truly do or die; either they have something great up their sleeves or they have a death wish.

If this new one is terrible, maybe it would drag down the area. But if haunt 1 is established enough it wouldn't matter.

I.... really don't know, 15 miles seems like enough distance to give the part of town a good haunt vibe but not have much interference. It's enough distance, I feel, to separate the two events completely but keep them together in feel. The area is already known for having a well established haunt, in a way they'd be building off a general hype that was already built by haunt 1, .... but I don't think there would be a problem?

I'm sorry, that wasn't much of anything besides rambling.

10-16-2008, 10:32 AM
We are opening up with 3 or so attractions already in town, and others within a 30 min. drive!!! We are a little nervous, BUT... I say, do your research... go to these haunts and TAKE NOTES! When you open, have a BETTER show..

-Better scenes/perfect detail
-Better actors/scares
-BETTER ticket price

It may not happen the first year, but people will see the value you offer compared to the others. Make it so that you RAISE THE BAR for the other haunts, make where they have to "keep up".


10-16-2008, 10:37 AM
Thank you both for your comments. Luke, I really appreciate your insight as a patron who would want to hit up both events in one night... I guess I am concerned with the economy being the way it is, if a couple would spend $30 on one event, and then turn around, drive a few minutes, and spend another $20-25 on another event, making your whole night around $100 dollars.

Tyler - I agree with you, make the event better than the other, but with the established haunt I am referring to, this might be easier said then done. They offer a lot... and we are looking to compete, perhaps the way to go is with a completely different and unique theme.

Thanks again.

Raycliff Manor
10-16-2008, 10:56 AM
If you plan to charge a comparable price for your attraction, be prepared to provide a comparable show, in quality and value. If you haven't already done so, contact the other attraction/s and see about cross-promoting! We have posters up in our cue line building for every attraction in the area willing to provide us with their print materials! We also have flyers for people to pick up for any haunts that request we distribute them. People do the circuit! Most people who will attend one attraction will also attend two, three or more. We have people driving over 100 miles who tell us they made the trip because of the number of haunted houses in the area.

We've all heard the old saying, "A rising tide lifts all boats." We hope that by working together for the benefit of all hants in our area, we can all raise the level of quality of our shows and thereby improve the value to our customers. We are striving for the end result being a "hot-spot" for haunt enthusiasts to visit during season! Strive to be unique in your market and you should be a welcomed addition. Of course, knowing your market should be something you've researched long before beginning to build. ; )

Good luck to you and your crew Bill! I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress!


10-16-2008, 01:20 PM
The only thing I'm going to disagree with Kelly about is the "comparible price"... I would suggest offering a "comparible price" BUT A BETTER SHOW!!! You've just got to work it into your business structure that your offering a high quality product at a reduced price, and just accept that you won't see a return (profit) until year 2, 3, or maybe 4!

This is exactly what we are doing here in KY. We are dumping MAJOR dollars into a multi-attraction event that is like... "hyper-themed", comparible to Universal, but we are charging only ONE DOLLAR over the competitions price. We understand and have planned to NOT make profit next year... or maybe the year after. Now, if we do that's GREAT, but we've already worked our business model as if we won't.

Just business. -Tyler

Raycliff Manor
10-16-2008, 02:01 PM
If you can enter the industry in your area providing comparable pricing for a better show, that is AWESOME! If you want to cross-promote with other attractions, however, I wouldn't introduce yoursef as having the best show in the area though. ;)


10-16-2008, 02:21 PM
I opened my haunt last year THREE miles away from the famous "TERROR ON THE FOX" in Green Bay. I dont believe it is hurting us by any means, if any its helping us. People in our area attend 2-3 haunts a year so they hit us both up the same night. The amount of cross promoting we can do is amazing! We also have a haunt 3 miles the opposite direction of us, shawano manor, which also does a fantastic job. Three great haunts within 6 miles of each other.

Raycliff Manor
10-16-2008, 02:26 PM
Sean, I didn't realize you were so close to TOTF, that's awesome! Another benefit of shared peomotions can be shared expense, although this can get tricky, but there is a potential to gain maximum exposure with shared costs and savings for everyone involved! I'm hoping to coordinate something next year to benefit a number of attractions in our area. :-D


10-16-2008, 06:58 PM
My haunt is located around a couple other haunts that have been along a lot longer then mine has and it doesn't bother me. We also do flyer exchanges at our ticket window with a few. They send business our way and we send it back there way.

10-17-2008, 08:31 AM
Thank you all for the comments and advice. I really appreciate it.

10-17-2008, 01:43 PM
This is a good idea. Just look at Taco Bell or a Burger King they try to open near a McDonalds. Now we see grocery stores opening across from other grocery stores or Circuit City opening near Best Buy.

I've even heard like a Circuit City saying they want a Best Buy close builds more synergy.

Now me personally I wouldn't want someone opening across the street no way, and I think it would create some problems, but if I was opening, opening near another haunt or close by would be a good thing I think.

However that doesn't mean that area will support two haunts, and it doesn't mean going in a totally different area wouldn't be better for you...all things to keep in mind.


Kevin Dells
10-17-2008, 06:48 PM

To quick touch base on what Tyler said, it's not that i don't agree im just speculating the fact that if you drop big bucks into a haunt just starting off you may never make back your initial spenditures.

O.k. so three years down the line you finally make some back then what, your now going into your fourth year and youv'e had a haunt the audience has seen 3 years in a row. Take your new found money and start building new haunts, there it goes! And what if you never take off to begin with, what if you never get the attendance for one reason or another,your screwed!

My thought would be build it slowly to your meens, let attendance dictate your spending throughout the years when you see more attendance, spend a little more. And don't overlook year to year expenditures such as advertising and payroll for example.

So my thought on starting out opinionwise is if you do have the mega haunt down the street use it to your advantage. Most haunt owners would be more than happy to help out a smaller haunt or even a haunt of comparible size. We look at our maps and mark locations to all the haunts around us, if three or four great haunts are in a major city then absolutley people will flock to them. If the owners are all good people they could very possibly voucher swap or even set up multi haunt tour package deals to attract out of towners.

My biggest advice is coming in as a smaller haunt owner and a new crew is be a good person and crew to work with. Encourage your staff to behave and not talk crap about neighboring haunts. If anything try and see if the bigger haunt will teach or help your crew and your haunt get off the ground.

These haunts and owners who are oblivious to working with people are just killing themselves.

Perfect Examples

Don't let or encourage your crew to slam the bigger haunt on forums boards or false reveiws trying to gain more bussiness by making them look bad. Thats chopping your foot off! Most patrons who visit haunt reveiw boards can read between the lines and know it's one haunt slamming the other.

We had the sheriff come into our haunt last night looking for one of our actors we haven't seen since last October, seems the good kid had gone bad since season ended. He did the search and disrupted the show but as one of our security was walking the sheriff through he asked him who gave him the info to even look to our haunt to begin with. He showed our security the report and it was made by a disgruntled actor we let go last year thats now working for the cross town haunt!

Things like that are low blows in the industry eyes i would think. The thing is we ALL have around a month to make our money back, when we lose customers because of things read or said thats effecting all the haunts involved. With such a short time to make money how can any haunt have the luxury of losing money?

Start small, learn the craft, start out old school and work your way up and learn along side your staff,but most of all carry good working relations and be bigger then the little haunt with a bunch of loudmouth kids running the show and ruining it at the same time. And yes there are a lot of haunts like this out there, i deal with them everyday!

10-21-2008, 06:08 PM
We had a Haunt open across the streat from us.(ScreamWorks.org)
I was going to see it on opening night , just to see how bad it was.....

CLOSED.... It toke the Fire Mashsal 2 sec to close them down.

In a Warehouse:

1. Black plastic over head....
2. Hay bales in the lobby...

The Fire Marshal must of ROTFL ! (No.. we didn't call them)
Did NOT even make it into the haunt!....Never re-opened!

This year

15 miles from us ...1...2....3....No...only 2. I heard one was shut down.

Are only real Competition is some:
UGLY,No Tooth,Drunk Hippie name Karl Emerson?

P.S. Just Kidding Mr. Fields...
I tell them the Only Other Haunt to see is "Pirates of Emerson" Just 43 miles up hwy 101.
Well'll see ya thurday....NO Poking....;)


10-21-2008, 06:35 PM
Now you say your not too far from Pirates of Emerson, do you notice customers going to both? or choosing one over the other... because of distance...? ...or price, etc? There is two within 15 miles from you, so if one of those was on the top 13 list, do you think it would affect your bottom line at all? Any and all information would be very helpful... Thanks in advance.

10-22-2008, 10:08 AM
Now you say your not too far from Pirates of Emerson, do you notice customers going to both? or choosing one over the other... because of distance...? ...or price, etc? There is two within 15 miles from you, so if one of those was on the top 13 list, do you think it would affect your bottom line at all? Any and all information would be very helpful... Thanks in advance.

From the perspective of a haunted house enthusiast, I love having multiple haunted houses near each other! Though I currently live in Vegas, I grew up in Michigan. Every year we made a two hour drive to visit two major haunts: Erebus (a Haunt World "Top 13"), and Realm Of Darkness (SHOULD be a Haunt World "Top 13"). The best part, from our perspective, was that the attractions were less than five miles apart!! We saw many, many of the same patrons going to both attractions, just like we did. In fact, Erebus started a seasonal newspaper called "Fear Finder", which listed most of the haunts in the greater Detroit area (yes, promoting haunts that aren't theirs). The Fear Finder still appears every year, so it must be good for their "bottom line".

10-22-2008, 12:05 PM
We opened our Haunt last year and we are with-in 15 - 20 minutes of 3 different Haunts. We opened with the theory that if we do things differently than the others (Mainly set the outside atmosphere that they don't) and make sure our show is both frightening and entertaining word of mouth will kick in and people will come.

1st our population in the Metro area is about 500,000 so I think there is plenty of business to go around especially since most chose to attend multiple attractions. With that said what we did seemed to work. Our numbers grew every week and talk began to spread event the radio and TV stations were talking about the new kid in town and we were approached by them asking for interviews. The other Haunts in town of course took notice one came and chatted with me for awhile and the other two sent people through more than once but I can honestly say two out of the three are great and I have no problem believing that they would help us out of a jam if needed because it is good for the industry and multiple attreactions in an area put simply help to build the excitement of the season. Now the third attraction is playing dirty. Last year they had people outside our Haunt yelling that we were only copying them. (We had almost zero similarities) and this year they have ads indirectly attacking us and have even hopped onto our listing here and put negative comments. I wish I knew the effect of what they are doing but hopefully it will only serve to hurt them.

All that to say I think you opening would be a great thing and spur both you and them to become even more creative in your approach. Just make sure you know that type of neighbor you have so you can be prepared if they go negative.

10-22-2008, 04:53 PM
I would compare this to the latest movies.

Ever notice the weekends at certain times of the year when there are multiple blockbusters coming out at the same time? There is quite a competition to be number one. But if you look at the total dollars each one generated, they all did pretty well.

I remember when I was a kid, going to the movies was a pretty big deal and we didn't do it too often. But these days, people will often see all the top movies in the same week. They figure why do I have to pick just one - I have the money and the time so I'm going to see all of them.

10-22-2008, 05:36 PM
First let me thank all of you for giving some great insight and advice on this topic.

It seems from a customer POV two great haunted attractions next to each other would be great. But from an owners point of view it can go either way, depending on how nice the established haunt wants to be to the incoming one. I agree with most of you, if there is a great relationship between these two haunts, and it becomes more of a haunted destination then they will both thrive, along with pushing each other to be more creative.

10-22-2008, 08:14 PM
Bill.. I was kidding... I don't look at "POE "as competition. Karl is tops in my book and so is his haunt. Only 10%-15% of the people I talk to have heard of POE, so I make sure they Know about them.... Because I know they will be back next year.

I think you have it right... Great Haunts stand above the rest and get MAD at the BAD Haunts for souring the customers. My .02

Greg Chrise
10-22-2008, 08:30 PM
All across the country Autozone puts in a signature store and a year later Pepboys pays millions to build one of their store right next to it. Not down the road a bit, literally parking lots touching each other.

They each have their own customer relation. Autozone has lots of air fresheners and the parts are a bit cheaper for the do it yourselfer. Pep boys has 6 times the floor space, every thing is a dollar or more higher and they install soe things in a service bay for the I want it installed customer.

Pepboys advertises lie crazy, Autozone relys on word of mouth and 8 phone lines to field questions. Occasionally one store is out of something and customers make the treck to the competitior instead of going 15 miles to the next group of stores.

Do it yourself stores work well in areas of town where the do it yourselfers live. Not in the high end of town where everyone has dealer warranty cars.

With haunts also comes younger operators with the worry that having another haunt even 5 blocks away is bad. They feel the customers will go to the first one in line travel wise and be done with the haunt season.

What really happens is each haunt finds its own type of customers. One has college age, another families, another the age above college looking for the new haunt. Yet all provide the word of mouth or even the advertising reminder. A billboard for one reminds them to go to the one THEY know about and like.

All haunts have to do their fair share to make the whole season and "develop" the regional market or there is not one. If they can't work together, it is lack of business sense, allowing actors to act like some union or generally not being sociable people. They wn't make it in the long run but, a seasonal business is SO important that everyone gets noticed in a short few weeks rather than customers just sitting on the couch at home weighing the debate.

So which are you? Autozone or Pepboys?

Every field of business like even construction has different companies they call sometimes they need performance art and attention to detail, other times they want it all done in two days no matter how crappy or what has to be cleaned up after this. The contractor making the call gets the money before anyone knows all the defects or things screwed up that are over looked. It takes years to have a customer base catch up with them, yet some customers dictate they want it done once and properly. They want it to last 15 years instead of 3 years.

In Gross the fast messy contractor makes more money and finds more jobs because the cash flow is a bigger volume.

Haunts don't have years to play with competition and philosophies of doing business or spending the time to "sell" that concept, they have a month or 2 good weeks. Only all year long attractions can sell their way of offering entertainment as being unique.