View Full Version : Haunt Income Poll again

10-18-2008, 12:47 PM
Lets try this. An annonymos poll of net income from your haunt. Lets call this net after actual expenses for the year. This profit may not be your take home, but is the actaul availible funds for reinvestment and improvement, donation commitments, and hopefully a little left over for you.

Haunted Illinois
10-18-2008, 01:03 PM
Good luck in getting an answer to this one. A lot of Haunt owners are pretty tight-lipped about that sort of thing.

10-18-2008, 01:04 PM
Its a good poll and I think everyone should vote and vote honestly. We should spread the word far and wide and ask everyone to vote... we should get to understand more about our industry in a fashion where the information is still kept private.

Now, I will tell you yes there is a A LOT of haunts who net more than $250,000.00, A LOT, starting with Universal Studios, Knotts Scary Farm and every single amusement parks in the entire nation. Going back to taxes all of these amusement parks buy equipment from our suppliers, and when you raise their taxes you could hurt their budgets for haunted supplies.

Now onto independent haunted house owners, yes there is A LOT of those who also make more than $250,000.00 net ... SEVERAL!

You might assume I do, Netherworlds does, Headless Horseman and many, many, many more and I'm not saying they do or don't... what I am saying is every single one of these major haunts starting with the first ever Spookyworld, to The Beast in Kansas City to 7 Floors of Hell in Cleveland all started about the same, some idea in your head and grew them into what they are today.

Anyone can achieve these dreams but it takes hard work, a lot of research and for you to set your PRIORITIES which are none of this attack a vendor, and talk about nonsense on a daily basis, but getting out there and learning from those who are willing to share, taking chances, and being aggressive.

Anyone can net over $250,000.00 and when you do you want to keep that money because knowing what it takes to get there, its a lot of hard work!

Lastly, I would estimate that there are at least 75 haunts nationwide that net over $250,000.00... and I say that at least, with as many as 100 to 150.

I could make a list and I would probably be dead on accurate.


10-18-2008, 01:26 PM
Lets look at this from another angle... how many haunted house out there do you think do 25,000 people or more? I would say at the very least 200 maybe 300? If you are getting $20.00 per ticket after factoring everything in from speed passes, or just general admission price you just grossed $500,000.00.

How much are you expenses I mean c'mon. Even if you average 18.00 a ticket or even 15.00 a ticket ($18.00 Gross of $450,000.00) or ($15.00 Gross of $375,000.00). On a gross of $375,000.00 that would leave you $125,000.00 to operate your haunt which is highly possible.

The point is it doesn't take a whole heaping amount of success to reach $250,000.00 net. I think many haunts make over 250k and I think many more will as well maybe this year, maybe next year, and as we all already know you make net 250k and you use a lot of it to open back up the next year.

YOU CAN NOT AFFORD to have 4% of that money given away to Obama. As haunters we know we need every dollar we can get from one year to the next just to get our haunts back open.

Either way I think I've clearly outlined how many haunts and I mean many haunts do and can and will net more than $250k even if we use a lot of it to open the following year. Lets keep our money, and lets support other haunts to get to those figures.

This is my goal!


10-18-2008, 01:45 PM
Yeah, I know this is a long shot for responces. I also thought about a similar one based on attendance. In the end, it serves everyone to get a better understanding on the state of the industry.

Howie Slobber Erlich
10-18-2008, 01:50 PM
Some of us are not doing this to get rich. Some of us still do this because of the love of haunting. My goal has never been to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from my haunt. It's great for you, if that's what your all about. We do not want to get that big. We are happy making under $100,000 profit. We have very loyal customers who look forward to visiting every year. We don't spend thousands on animatronics. We build them ourselves. We don't spend thousands on props. We find things or build them ourselves. It's not that I am not hard working. We work very hard just to put on a great show for our customers and not end up owing people in the end. I think there are too many owners out there that are only in this for the money. It usually shows in the quality of their shows. Anyone can buy a bunch of props and hire people to build elaborate sets. It takes a lot more creativity and hard work to pull off a successful old school haunt like mine. We will never make $250,000 a year, and we are completely fine with that!


10-18-2008, 01:56 PM

We understand that you despise Obama and all he represents. You have made that abundantly clear.

However, what you are forgetting is that many of these haunts borrow much of the money that they are using to operate their haunts and therefore have to pay that money back. Therefore, even if they make lots of money, their profits will be nowhere near what you are you are suggesting.

And I'm very sorry, but you have also made it very clear that you have some favorite haunts and as far as I can tell, those are generally the ones that pay extra for major advertising on your sites. Have you ever thought that the others may want to do that as well but just can't afford it? These haunts won't be paying Obama or anyone else 4% because they will be paying back their loans with interest, probably at much higher rates than 4%.

I'm tired and I need to go to work so that I may continue to support the haunt industry, which I do by investing in it instead of the stock market or bonds or anything else. My greatest hope is for ALL haunts in this industry to be treated equally and fairly. You, of all people, are in a position to make that happen, and I think it would be wonderful if you would invest a tiny bit of your energy toward doing that. I think that would help the industry so much!

10-18-2008, 02:00 PM
The way I figure it the payback of loans for the seasons operating capitol is part of the operating expense and so would not be viewed as net profit by this poll or by the IRS

10-18-2008, 02:06 PM
That's exactly what I'm saying.

10-18-2008, 02:12 PM
Let me clear something up for you once and for all...

My first haunted house we charged $4.00 per person, we put flyers on cars, I dressed up and went to fairs, we waved cars down on the road, we put guys at gas stations, we put out signs, we did all of that stuff. We did around 8,000 people at $4.00 per person. The next year we did the same at $5.00 per person, and still I worked in the haunt, I was one of 15 actors, I still went to all the friday football games passing out flyers. I did all of this for five years.

When I started the Darkness I borrowed what I thought would cost about $75,000.00 to build the first Darkness and I kept having to borrow and borrow and borrow ultimatly $160,000.00 or so... this was unreal to me. All of te investors thought it was over we'd never get that kind of money back.

The city kept doing everything they could to put me through the ringer, from putting in fences around a parking lot to boarding up windows, to painting walls on the exterior to you name it. The city almost didn't let me open on my opening night because heat detectors where one inch off from a blueprint that they had originally approved...

Look man... I've been through it all.

In 1999 Y2K my haunts dropped by 40% in attendance and almost caused me to go bankrupt... don't talk t me about not knowing what other go through because I've been through it all and then some.

I've now been doing this for 24 years...how about you?

I WANTED to make it, and I did. There is no reason to shout out things like me and my buddies who pay for my advertising or suggest I don't know what most people go through. I do!

I am trying to share my experience with others and encourage them to grow.

I'm sorry that some people are just hung up on class warefare, well because one guy is successful and another person isn't something isn't fair. Hey when I was sitting in my Grandma's house with no car, no money, my entire family moved away, with no idea what I was going to do... I did something.


As for this site, I started it for fun, and within recent years I've invested nearly $200,000.00 into making this site the best on the web. Its called INVESTMENT... I invested for the future. There is nothing wrong with that.

I understand there are a lot of jealous people out there, but you either be what you are now, or be what you want to be later... only one person can change someones future, and picking on someone already realizing their dreams shouln't be criticized for it.

As for Obama no I don't trust him, and no he's not an American Hero, and yes he wants to tax and take away peoples success because he's got socialist views. Lets hope others beleive in the American Dream, which is you make your own dream not the Government.


10-18-2008, 02:18 PM
One other thing...

I own my own building and I built onto that building both under LOANS from a bank and I'm still paying off those loans. When I wanted a Bobcat I got a loan. When I needed to rebuild the Darkness in our new building I had to get a loan from a bank. I also from time to time borrow from an equity account I have...I've borrowed $120,000.00 from that several times to make things work. I've gone to people I know for loans many times. I have credit cards and use those sometimes to the max to get my haunt open.

So do you think you are the only one who borrows money? I don't have a money printer in my basement... I have ups and downs like everyone else trust me. I think I know more about this subject than most, because I borrowed for 25 years to make it this far.

So who are you kidding? Everyone has done this everyone...


10-19-2008, 07:47 PM
It's a darn shame that a useful poll has to deteriorate into this. A good discussion on the costly and painful process of developing a successful attraction (or for that matter an unsuccessful one) would be an exciting and informative thread, but the drama is just a waste of valuable information.

Mike Goff
10-19-2008, 09:01 PM
no one should have to justify, apoligize for, or be penalized for success. Successful risk takers, should be admired in a free society. The founders of this great nation laid the groundwork for INDIVIDUAL liberty. Those who want to take it away from others will eventually lose thier own. I have no problem with people who would rather have thier government structure every last detail in thier life, I just wish that they would move to Cuba, instead of trying to reshape America into a socialist country. It doesn't matter that socialism is a failure by its very design. This is a matter of freedom, and it should be vigorously defended.

10-19-2008, 09:21 PM
no one should have to justify, apoligize for, or be penalized for success. Successful risk takers, should be admired in a free society. The founders of this great nation laid the groundwork for INDIVIDUAL liberty. Those who want to take it away from others will eventually lose thier own.

I agree with this part of your statement 100%.

And after that, I just want to say that this thread is supposed to be about haunts letting us know themselves what they make and discussing the process (both positives and negatives) of developing a successful (or unsuccessful) attraction, like what's working and what's not. Please correct me if I'm wrong, rwrussom.

So let's get back to that discussion. Thanks.

10-19-2008, 10:31 PM
I agree. We're doing a home haunt for the first time this year and won't have any profits from it.

10-19-2008, 10:46 PM
CRAP, I should have thought that through and have home haunt coice in the poll.

10-19-2008, 10:55 PM
Don't you think $0-$5000 is good enough? That will just have to include home haunts that don't charge or make profits, other non-profit haunts that aren't charging, charity haunts, and haunts that are netting that much.

10-19-2008, 11:54 PM
Even without ***** this board is still drama ridden.

As for the poll, it's just numbers in the end. No real information will be had. Thread needs better discussion.

10-20-2008, 02:39 PM
Thanks, FearSeeker, that is where this should go.
Experienced haunters comments on the development for there work would be very interesting.
Maybe some day a time line could could be develoed and we can look at the industry in general over time with relation to economics and current events in the country. Certianly an event like 9/11 impacted many, other less obvious items can indicate trends. For instance, when the feeling of financial security in low, people seem to stay closer to home and do family things. Travel and maybe even large assusment park events suffer. On the other hand local events may thrive. A lower cost, safer solution tied to the nesting characteristic that comes out in hard times.

10-20-2008, 02:49 PM
Someone asked isn't $5000.00 enough? Ahhh NO WAY... not after what I went through last night or Saturday for that matter. This isn't fun, this is WORK...this is a LOT OF WORK!

The only fun part of running a big haunt is building it, starting with inspections on it is not fun! Ask anyone who has a line of 2 or 3 thousand or 4 or 5 thousand people in line and ask them how much fun it is to deal with drunks, idiots, or animations you buy breaking every three seconds, or actors who quit or don't show up, or a customer who who's mad because someone got blood on them or whatever.

This isn't fun and no one should do this for less than what its worth.

Its fun to run a small haunt or a home haunt or something just because you want to but running a big haunt or a growing haunt just isn't fun it is WORK HARD WORK and very stressful!


10-20-2008, 03:31 PM
I think the person who asked the question was just asking whether the category of $0 to $5000 was good enough to cover home haunts, charity haunts, non-profit haunts and any other haunts that may not be charging for admission or trying to make money.

I don't think they were trying to imply that $5000 was enough for anyone to be making for an income. I did not read that in their question.

Unfortunately, the category does also cover those haunts that are trying but not making more than $5000, and I'm wondering whether there should also have been a category for less than $0, for those haunts that are actually losing money, because the reality is that this happens too. However, I understand from another thread that polls cannot be edited.

10-22-2008, 12:17 PM
Yes, I agree. Yes, no editing of polls, so matbe next time. I finding the more ineresting story would be how haunts develop. The size, attendance, income, etc from the first pro year to where there are now.

10-30-2008, 08:38 PM
I need to change my original answer up a level:grin:

We have done so well this year, my goal was 300 people a night, we have had 500 to 675 per night and I am hoping tonight really hits hard, I'm thinking 750 to 800.

11-06-2008, 03:47 PM
Now that October has passed, you all may be in a better possition to answer the pole or even better expand on the discussion.

Uptown Haunts
11-06-2008, 09:44 PM
My haunt has been in storage since 2005 thanx to local officials and stubborn landlords blocking me every step of the way so, no haunt income here as of yet. Just money being paid out for the loan, storage and other ongoing expenses that your employees or general public never see. But once we're open, I'm sure the investment can be recouped over a period of a couple seasons depending on various factors. Maybe I'll actually open in 2009 and see a taxable profit by around 2012.

11-07-2008, 04:02 AM
I have already voted on this poll and yes maybe you should start a new one and ask now that the season is over how much did you gross. I know people who grossed close to 2 million dollars, I know Universal grossed over 40 million dollars, I know haunts who grossed like 200,000 last year and grossed over 500,000.00 this year. Don't let anyone fool you there are SEVERAL people making a lot and I mean a lot of money, and yes most are not making a cent, but are those people trying to make money or doing it for fun?

Somewhere along the line when you lose some or have a major accident or something like this happening you ask yourself what am I doing here, how did I get here, do I really want to do this anymore... at that point you quit or you dig in and dig in deep and try to make money.

I love the haunted house industry I love the fact that a bunch of people that no one thinks much of can accomplish so much despite all the hardship, I love standing up to people who think you can't and show them I CAN!!!! That is what is so inspiring about this industry... but the only fun part for me at this point is the creative side of the industry. Taking an idea and making it happen, watching it grow, and seeing the idea become reality for all to appreciate.

Outside of that this is a job with many pitfalls and for those who understand this they succeed and those who don't usually learn the hard way.


11-07-2008, 06:06 PM
I think it's a good idea to start a new poll, and just a suggestion, but perhaps it's time to delete this thread that's mostly off topic or trying to figure out what exactly the poll should be, and the other similar thread/poll that's mostly discussion about politics.

Lord Barnabus
11-07-2008, 08:48 PM
I've been into the haunt industry cause I love doing it. But I also do not like the fact that I make enough to pay the bills (not the props, wall panels, etc). I ran a chaity haunt for three years, than teamed up with someone where we put on a pro haunt for four years. We gained more people each of the three years, than terrible numbers on the fourth. The other guy provided the building and business insurance. He called it quits after four years since he needed the property for his own business. The following year we put a small maze in the upstairs of a bar for their patrons. Last year we put up a large maze at the local community Halloween event. Not even a thank you for all the time put into their event.

A few weeks before Halloween of this year I decided to sell everything. I sold probably 75-percent of my haunted house stuff. Than I donated my time and remainder props to help a local volunteer fire dept do their first year haunt. It went well.....Yet once again, only two people from their whole dept even had the courage to say thank you. I honestly don't think I will help them again next year due to how rude they were to us. We decorated 90-percent of their haunt for them, brought in all of our big items, and provided half the actors for free.

Next year I am trying to get out to see however many haunts we can in nine or ten days. We plan on having a small group of 4-6 people, and travel through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, South Dakota, and I believe there is one other state in our planned route. Than maybe the following year we will reopen a pro haunt. But in the mean time we will still help with some charity events.

Jim Warfield
11-19-2008, 06:05 PM
Open almost every night!
Just like Larry and others have said I love this business because of the incredible creative opportunitys it provides.
My creative opportunitys happen every night people decide to come here.
Which parts of my two and a half hours of my front room routine shall I give them?
Scary? Funny? Historical? Adult? Haunted history , or hysterical history?
How long do I lull them before I make all hell break loose?
Do I keep it serious only to catch them totally off guard with the humor when they least expect it?
And remember, this is still just all in the first room.
Of course all the while I'm thinking and doing such things I am listening to what the customer might be saying about something to give me a heading as to what they seem to enjoy or maybe not enjoy(so I quit doing or saying whatever that was.)
Can I make someone express fear, then a few seconds later make them laugh their butt off? You will never know unless you try.
It's not easy, infact it is an on-going challenge, a very stimulating challenge, one that keeps the brain active .

11-19-2008, 06:38 PM
Larry that was very interesting learning how you started out.
if you dont mind giving out the information.
What was your attendance the first year of The Darkness?

11-22-2008, 06:46 PM
Personally I'd love to see Operating Profit, EBITDA and Net Income numbers from everyone. Feel free to PM me with the Quickbooks, Peachtree or excel files. Actually I could just produce a survey to collect the info so it would not be so invasive.

I'll normalize everyone's accounting records so that the data is comparable and then report back to everyone who contributed with Min, Max, Mean, Median statistics for Revenue, Op Ex, SGA (with a carve out specific to highlight Marketing Spend), EBITDA, Net Income and Debt. I also calculate/tabulate all of the above as a ratio of sq footage, years in business, tickets sold, # of employees, days open, and marketing spend, as well as segment the data based on indoor or trail type event. I'll provide segmented data split between owned real estate and rented as well. In addition, I'll provide a revenue report identifying revenue earned from ticket sales, concessions, sponsorships and merchandise.

I'd also like to show a seasonal outflow/inflow schedule to show the ebb and flow in cash that occurs. I'm sure other interesting relationships in the ratios will emerge as it always does and I'll include those as well.

I don't have an investment in a haunt nor do I run a commercial haunt so it would be very interesting for me. All data would be confidential of course and no names would be identified of course. If you don't contribute, you don't get the full report, but can purchase summary data for $750.00 which would be donated to a charity supporting veterans. You have nothing to lose by sharing your info and everything to gain in terms of benchmarking your financial performance. Some of the statistics may not mean much to your business, but I bet there are more than a couple ratios that would stand out differently for different owners and help you take a new look at your business. If you have been operating a while it may help take a different perspective at your operations, if you are on the newer side, it may help organize and run your business.

Sorry got carried away there but the Chartered Financial Analyst in me pops up from time to time and I am data freak. I won't be holding my breath for the emails :) I started the post tongue in cheek, but as I wrote it, I realized I really would like to do this - it would be an interesting study. In any case, if anyone ever wanted an unbiased, non-conflict of interest, free study - look me up.

For that matter if anyone would like an outside view of their business, look me up. If it makes you feel more confident in my abilities, I'll charge you $15k/month plus expenses or you can talk to me for 30 mins and realize I know what I'm doing and I'll do it for free :)