Hauntworld Magazine is the WORLDS BEST SOURCE for finding information about how to build your own haunted house, advance your haunted house, to learning tricks to detail your haunted house to marketing your haunted house and much more. Hauntworld will teach you how to create your own haunted hayrides, corn mazes, haunted houses, maze design, to everything between! Hauntworld.com is managed by real haunted house owners who own some of the biggest haunted houses in the WORLD and we share our experiences with the haunted community! Hauntworld even creates articles to help home haunters, enthusiasts to those people who want to start a professional attraction!
On the pages of Hauntworld.com you will find the most professional articles on how to build, advance and market your haunted attraction. We strongly encouage you to subscribe to our printed magazine which can be found at either www.HauntedHouseMagazine.com or subscribe at www.HauntedHouseSupplies.com.
If you are looking to find haunted houses by state visit our haunt directory to find over 3,000 haunted houses across the WORLD here... http://www.hauntworld.com/findhauntedhouse.cfm
Hauntworld will add more articles throughout the year so continue to check these pages for updated features on the haunted house industry.
INDUSTRY LINKS: FIND THE BEST WEBSITES TO HELP ADVANCE YOUR HAUNTED ATTRACTION
WWW.HAUNTWORLD.COM Hauntworld.com is the best place to find information about haunted houses, and to locate haunted houses nationwide. If you own a haunted house or Halloween attraction make sure to list your event in their FREE data base. Go to the front page of the website and create an account and list your event.
www.HauntedHouseOnline.com Haunted House Online is one of the biggest websites to find and locate haunted attractions. If you own an attraction you can create a listing for your event. There are over 3000 events listed on this website.
www.HauntedHouseMagazine.com The industries best magazine to learn about how to operate, build and market your haunted attraction. Subscribe today.
www.hauntworld.com/haunted_house_suppliers/index.cfm On this page you can find all haunted vendors who sell animations, special effects, props, monsters and so much more.
www.HalloweenAttractions.com Find all sorts of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and hayrides on the nets biggest directory.
www.HauntedHouseAssociation.org The only professional association for the haunted owner/operator industry.
www.HalloweenProductions.com The worlds biggest company that builds, designs, and consults haunted houses, dark rides and more.
www.BlacklightAttractions.com Builds 3D blacklight attractions such as haunted houses, mini golf, dark rides and more.
www.hauntworld.com/haunted_house_tradeshows.cfm Here you will find all the conventions, tradeshows, seminars, tours and much more for the year.
HOW TO: SCARE ARTICLES
Below find articles on how to scare people more effect with articles from real professionals from around the World supplies by www.HauntedHousemagazine.com
USING LIVE ANIMALS TO SCARE
by Shane Dabbs - Graystone Manor/Disturbia Haunted Houses - Alabama
HOW TO: MARKET AND ADVERTISE YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE
Below find articles on how to market your haunted attraction, learn tips like social media marketing, how to buy radio and tv and even create your own websites, videos and more.
WHAT ARE WE THINKING?
by Larry Kircher - The Darkness, Creepyworld & Lemp Brewery - Missouri
LEARN HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO MARKET YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE
by Chris Stafford - The Asylum/13th Floor - Colorado
HOW TO: DETAIL YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE
Learn tips and tricks to detail your haunted house. Your haunted house needs wow your customers, put them in another reality, if your haunted house doesn't appear like a real haunted mansion or a dungeon or whatever your theme is you won't be successful. Be our guest and view the articles below to learn tips and tricks to detail your haunted house. Visit www.HauntedHouseMagazine.com or www.HauntedHouseSupplies.com to find how to videos and more.
BUILDING THE ULTIMATE FACADE
by Jim Kelly - The Darkness, Creepyworld, Lemp Brewery - Missouri
YOUR ATTRACTIONS: HAUNT QUALITY & FILM QUALITY
by Wes Branton & Ken Decker - CFX Composite Effects
HOW TO: KEEP YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE SAFE AND PASS CODES
Hauntworld will teach you all the safety tips you need to know to keep your haunted house safe! Remember there is NO END TO SAFETY so keep reseaching safety, talk to your local inspectors, fire inspectors and other haunted house owners! Never take your customers safety for granted!!! If you want to submit a safety article on haunted houses or Halloween attractions by all means email us!
Read about how to keep your customers SAFE and download a warning sign you can use on your website!
FIRE MARSHAL FRIENDLY SPECIAL EFFECTS
by Harold "Freddie" Bufford - House Of Shock - Louisiana
HOW TO: CREATE SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OPERATIONS FOR HAUNTED EVENTS
Creating a business plan is essential to the success of any business not just a haunted house or Halloween event. Learn tips about creating a business plan and more.
CREATING AN AWARD WINNING BUSINESS PLAN FOR YOUR OWN HAUNTED HOUSE
by Cydney Neil - Rocky Point Haunted House
POINT OF SALE TICKETING
by Ken Darrigo - Clearcut Operations
POINT OF SALE TICKETING
by Ken Darrigo - Clearcut Operations
HAUNTWORLD.COM IS THE WORLDS LARGEST HAUNTED HOUSE AND HALLOWEEN EVENT DIRECTORY. FIND THE BEST AND SCARIEST HAUNTED HOUSE NEAR YOU CLICK HERE AND FIND HAUNTS BY ZIP CODE, CITY OR STATE. http://www.hauntworld.com/americas_scariest_best_haunted_houses
JOIN THE HAUNTWORLD.COM FACEBOOK PAGE TODAY AND GET UP TO THE MINUTE HAUNTED NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD CLICK HERE TO JOIN http://www.facebook.com/hauntworldscariesthauntedhousesattractions
Haunted Houses have been making America scream for nearly 40 years, and now Haunted Houses have gone global. The haunted house industry is an American export. 100% made in America as haunt vendors design, build and install haunted houses all over the WORLD! Halloween is extremely popular within the US. However, it was not as popular worldwide. Trick-or-treating is an American tradition, and for years it was the primary way most American’s celebrated Halloween, but many things have changed over the last twenty years. Halloween has become the second largest retail holiday grossing over 8 billion dollars. The industry of making people scream is now a WORLD WIDE industry. Today, you can find haunted houses in most countries. People of all nations pay top dollar to enter a haunted house…to be SCARED.
So what makes a haunted house one of the best and scariest in America 2012? There are several things a paying customer might look for in a haunted attraction prior to buying a ticket. There are so many established haunted houses, plus so many more that open new each year, and a lot of over the top (potentially false) advertisements promoting them all in every city across America. At Hauntworld, we suggest attending every haunt possible (of course), but for those of you on a budget, typically you’ll want to steer clear from the brand new haunted houses. New haunts have yet to establish themselves and build up an arsenal of experience to make people scream. Rather, we suggest you visit the established haunted houses, the ones with years of experience, the ones who spend tens of thousands of dollars every year to renovate for each season, and the ones committed to making their haunted houses the best scream factories in America.
We look for many things when evaluating a haunt for our America’s best list. So many haunted attractions are quite different from each other. Many haunted houses like The Beast in Kansas City, Missouri are inside industrial buildings, while others like Headless Horseman in New York are outdoor haunts with massive hayrides, corn mazes and more. How do you compare a screampark haunted attraction and an indoor haunted house? In most cases, the indoor haunted house will have the best attention to detail, sets and special FX. However, the screampark style attractions will offer more variety, longer attractions and typically more bang for the buck.
There are scary haunted houses, and then there are THE SCARIEST haunted houses in America. What’s the difference? Some haunts just want to make you scream, but some haunts go all out with over-the-top efforts trying to be the biggest, the baddest and the scariest haunted houses on the planet. The haunts that have that WOW factor can make their guests scream, PLUS they provide horrific atmosphere creating realism in every scare. They provide a Hollywood movie quality punch to the gut! Who wants to watch horror movies anymore when you can visit a haunted house and be right in the middle of the action? Below is our list of the best haunted attractions in America. These haunts will put you on stage inside a horror movie atmosphere and basically make YOU the scream queen! Before visiting a haunted house, use Hauntworld.com to find the best haunted houses in America, as we boast the largest and most informative database for finding haunted houses. Shop by city, state and zip to find a haunted house near you or around the World.
So which haunted houses are the best and scariest haunted houses in America 2012? Which haunts can make you scream more than any other, more than the best horror movie? Below you’ll read about the longest haunted houses, the oldest haunted houses, and even about the best rides with a Halloween theme? We have it all for you once again in our annual Top 13 best haunted houses in America List. Get ready, turn out the lights, and get ready to scream!...
1. The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, LA www.13thgate.com
The 13th Gate is Louisiana’s Ultimate Haunted House! Journey through 13 very frightening themed indoor & outdoor areas where your worst nightmares come true and anything can happen. Crawl through a burning crematory oven, get lost in dark underground caverns, and find yourself standing on a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes. This 40,000 square foot haunted house is definitely not recommended for the faint of heart!
New for 2012:
Lost Creek Cave: Explore the many dark passages of a highly-detailed snake-infested, anxiety-inducing cave.
New areas in The Swamp include a giant beehive and a monstrous cypress stump. The Keep: The dungeon keep filled with dangerous traps, bottomless pits and a dragon’s lair.
2. Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta, GA www.fearworld.com
Ever known as one of the best haunts in America, Netherworld offers two new haunted themes in 2012. Banshee: Its Scream Means Death! The Massive Bloody Crawling Eye! Crushed by the Primordial Giant! Portraits of the Undying! The Slime Crawler! Mauled by Crows! The Underwater City! The Beast From the Abyss! Mermaids and Tritons! The Formorian Hordes! The Wail of The Banshee! The House of the Dead! The 21 Foot Tall Tree Beast! The Moray Pits! Feel the horrors of a Halloween gone mad as the sunken city rises and Banshees fill the skies! More repulsive monsters, shocking scares and wild special effects than you have ever seen! The HIVE: They Will Make Your Skin Crawl!
New for 2012:
The twisted gore in the Dark Basement of NETHERWORLD grows even more vile with an invasion of giant bugs! Can you face - The Bone Snapping Crimson Hulk! The Colossal Writhing Centipede! Wasp Warriors! The Unstable Cobalt 99 Missile! Cocooned Horrors! Giant Spiders! Live Arthropods! Attacking Maggots! The Hideous Human Blob! More crawling, skittering, bloody insect nightmares than you can imagine!
To read more CLICK HERE or visit website www.fearworld.com
3. Headless Horseman in New York www.headlesshorseman.com
Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses is a force to be FEARED! Two thousand and twelve’s hayride theme is “The Horseman’s Cult”. . The 20th year haunted attraction celebration will also include: The Lunar Motel, Glutton’s Slaughter House, The Root Cellar, Dark Harvest Corn Maze, Nightshade Greenhouse, The Feeding, Dahlia Blood’s Manor, and new for 2012, Dr. Dark’s Black Spider Sideshow. Plus, resurrecting many of the popular monsters that have haunted the grounds throughout the years: Butcher Joe, The Necromancer, The Bogeyman, Dr. Blight, Dr. Dark, Prisoner X, The Tooth fairy, The Collectors, The Hollowmen and of course The Headless Horseman! In addition, there will be a new Magic and Illusions Show, line actors, stilt walkers and stunt performers. With a sizzle reel for a new reality show in the can and the recently established American Made Monster Studios, 2012 is the year to celebrate at “the #1 Haunted Attraction in American” Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses. Visit Headlesshorseman.com today!
4. Cutting Edge Haunted House in Dallas, Texas www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com
Cutting Edge Haunted House was recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the longest haunted house in the WORLD! Cutting Edge is located inside a hauntingly old meat packing plant, the perfect setting for a gruesome haunting. Cutting Edge Haunted House features live sets, animations, and hundreds of live actors inside and outside the building. One of the best features of the attraction is all the real meat packing plant equipment left behind from when the planet closed years ago. Much of the meat packing theme has been incorporated into the setting of this attraction making this haunted house in Dallas Fort Worth Texas one of the most authentic haunted houses ever created. Cutting Edge Haunted House is waiting for you…Will you make it out alive? CLICK HERE to read a complete review of this attraction or visit online at www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com
5. House of Torment in Austin TX www.thehouseoftorment.com
House of Torment is widely considered to be one of the most innovative haunted houses in the country. Take a journey through each of its dynamic and ultra-creative attractions: The Awakening, The Slaugherhouse and Cursed – The Howling. House of Torment brings a boundry breaking, heart stopping, thrilling adventure to customers with aerial stunts, award winning sets, mind boggling illusions, and a horde of meticulously detailed monsters are presented in wonderous environments that range from a post-apocalyptic city to a twisted gothic nightmare. Fall into the depths of the Nightmare Dimensions, brave the Dark Decent, fend off attacking fiends, attempt the Sewer Escape, enter the Undead Station and more! The highly revered House of Torment production team prides themselves on creating new and vivid experiences each year for its avid fan base. To read a detailed review of this haunt CLICK HERE or visit their website www.thehouseoftorment.com
6. Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, MI www.hauntedpontiac.com
Michigan is the haunted attraction capital of the world with more than 70 haunts in a 50 mile radius. Erebus prides itself as one of the most unique haunts in the country by building almost all of their own props in-house. This is not the haunted house you went to as a kid, but the one that makes you scream as an adult. Things will grab you, bite you, and land on top of you. Walk through a swamp. Be placed inside a room, door slammed, and get dumped on by 10,000 balls as you’re buried alive! How long can you hold your breath? Erebus, in Greek Mythology, is the son of Chaos and the brother of Night, this year they are bringing in the "Mother" - Chaos is coming fall 2012. Chaos is unleashing an all-out assault! She'll hit you from every angle with full on fear... and show no mercy. Visit www.hauntedpontiac.com for more haunted house details.
7. The Asylum Haunted House in Denver, CO www.getscared.com
If there is less oxygen, can you scream as loud? Visit The Asylum Haunted House along with 13th Floor Haunted House, Undead Haunted House and ZombieLand Haunted House all conveniently located in Denver, Colorado and you’ll find out. There’s terror in the heart of the Mile High City. These haunted houses offer intense graphic experiences, where attention is paid to every detail ensuring those who visit have a frightening good time. It all begins with The Asylum, set in Gordon Cottingham’s Hospital for the criminally insane. It’s a damp and musty place infested with unimaginable nightmares and coupled with the endless screams of tortured souls. This year guests will be scared out of their minds with an insanely redesigned layout featuring new sets and effects that create a truly mind blowing experience. Then it’s onward to the 13th Floor, where the age-old question is answered…Where is the 13th Floor, and why is it absent in so many buildings? Find out as you board a haunted elevator for a heart-pounding ride to a thrilling adventure on the legendary 13th Floor. Undead Haunted House is Denver’s newest haunt offering an interactive zombie experience, built to scale as an actual farmhouse underseige by the undead. Inside ZombieLand, the city is under quarantine, and there’s NO WAY OUT! These haunting experiences offer the cutting edge of screams! Here you are guaranteed an amazing journey through the most sought after haunted experience in Colorado. To read a detailed article about this attraction, CLICK HERE or visit their website www.getscared.com
8. The Dent Schoolhouse in Cinncinati, OH www.frightsite.com
The Dent Schoolhouse is a haunted attraction that takes place inside an actual historical schoolhouse with a haunting history. Shut down in the 1950's after a murdering Janitor worked and resided in the basement all the while children were missing. Today, movie quality sets and Hollywood animations, combined with this real legend, makes The Dent Schoolhouse a haunted house attraction NOT to miss! New for 2012, the entire 1st floor of the attraction went through a complete renovation. Guests now get to witness the age of the building. Lockers are rusted shut, dry wall is falling apart, and the classrooms are in shambles. Deadly dissections have taken place in the science classroom and the English class has become a make-shift morgue while the bodies in the basement continue to number. Other new additions to the schoolhouse are the renovated automotive classroom with a rabid junkyard dog and two cars from hell, plus a new ending that has the guests mazing through the school's bus parking lot! Also new for 2012 is the re-themed outdoor maze called Detention Hall. A group of thug clowns have taken over the facility and are ready for the last laugh! Both The Dent Schoolhouse and Detention Hall are included with every ticket. Visit www.frightsite.com for more haunted house details.
9. The Darkness Haunted House in St. Louis, MO www.scarefest.com
The Darkness has been rated the best haunted house in the entire WORLD by many publications and haunted house fans nationwide. The Darkness features four attractions inside two floors of fear. First, venture through The Darkness first floor, an outdoor themed haunted adventure full of ancient curses where fear for your life seems all too real. Next, trek upstairs through the graveyard and then enter the mortuary house. Once inside, you’ll find the graveyard bodies are back from the dead and zombies are flocking the mortuary ready to pounce on your flesh at every horrifying turn. Then, enter Terror Visions 3D Haunted House, clearly the World’s premier 3D haunted clown house. The clowns are running amuck and YOU ARE NEXT! Finally, exit through a Monster Museum of life-size Hollywood props and toys. The Darkness has some of THE MOST amazing and creative special FX of any haunted house with custom one-of-a-kind animations, sets, scenes, and tons of flesh eating zombies and monsters. The Darkness is located in downtown St. Louis in the historic Soulard area. Read more about The Darkness Haunted House CLICK HERE or visit www.scarefest.com
10. The Beast & Edge of Hell in Kansas City, MO www.KCBeast.com
The Beast is one of if not the longest running haunted houses in America and is one of the only haunted houses in America that is FIVE STORIES TALL! In Kansas City, they feature not one but two of the best haunted houses including The Beast and Edge of Hell. Both of these haunted attractions are amazing featuring incredible set design, and one of the only haunts featuring live and very real creatures like a 25 foot long Python, Gators and much more. Both attractions feature a 5 story slide from the top floor all the way back down to the ground floor. Both The Beast and Edge of Hell can be ranked as high as the best haunted houses in the country. The combination of the two makes Kansas City a must stop when looking for the scariest haunted houses in America. Read more about these attractions CLICK HERE or visit the websites www.KCBeast.com or www.fullmoonprod.com
12. The Bates Motel in Philadelphia, PA www.thebatesmotel.com
For over 20 years, The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride at Arasapha Farm has been making Philadelphia SCREAM! This event is one of the biggest haunted house events in America featuring amazing props, digital FX, terrifying actors, professional makeup, pyrotechnics and multiple attractions in one location including a massive corn maze, an infamous hayride and a horrific haunted house. The Bates Motel has been featured on multiple television shows and ranked as high as THE BEST haunted house in the nation by multiple media outlets including Hauntworld.com. The Bates Motel dominates the Philadelphia market as well as every surrounding area. People travel from miles away just to attend this haunting event. To learn more about Bates Motel read their featured article CLICK HERE or visit www.thebatesmotel.com
12. 13th Floor Haunted House offering 3 locations: San Antonio, TX, Denver, CO and Phoenix, AZ
www.13thfloorhauntedhouse.com or www.13thfloorsanantonio.com or www.13thflooraz.com
What is the terrible secret hidden within the 13th Floor? Superstition? Conspiracy? Or something much, much worse? As legend has foretold, The 13th Floor Haunted House provides a gut wrenching ride to untold nightmares STRAIGHT DOWN! The 13th Floor Haunted House is a franchise haunted attraction located in multiple locations. These attractions are a true testament to high action, in-your-face premium production value among all haunted houses. Each attraction offers a massive haunted event, one as big as 40,000 square feet and another as high as 3 floors up! Through the wickedness of its massive gothic cemetery and into its horrifically fantastic haunted hotel, 13th Floor customers get to experience a barrage of special effects, animatronic monsters and impeccably detailed sets. Add to that some of the most talented group of performers in the industry, and you’ve got a top notch, first rate haunted house that’s 2nd to none.
To read a detailed review of the San Antonio haunt, CLICK HERE. To read a detailed review of the Phoenix haunt, CLICK HERE.
13. Nightmare on the Bayou in Houston, TX www.nightmareonthebayou.com
Located in the shadow of downtown Houston, TX next to Houston’s oldest graveyard, Nightmare on the Bayou is the name people think of when searching “HAUNTED TEXAS”. Nightmare on the Bayou is entering its 12th year in operation and has grown even bigger, even better, and even scarier with every passing year. Featuring newly designed scenes, Hollywood quality props, professional animatronics and dozens upon dozens of the most well-trained and highly supervised actors, CRAZED ACTORS, whose sole purpose is to scare you to death. Nightmare on the Bayou boasts, “the only haunted house in Houston with REAL ghosts,” and with its location right next to the graveyard…I believe them! Ghost sightings are frequent from both customers and employees alike. Additionally, Nightmare On The Bayou is one of the only haunted houses in America with a WORLD CLASS Halloween retail store on site for your ease and convenience. Learn more about Nightmare On The Bayou Haunted House in Houston, TX by visiting their website www.nightmareonthebayou.com
The List doesn’t stop there we continue on with 18 more through 31 best and scariest haunted houses in America list. We feature 31 of the best scream attractions for 31 nights of Halloween!...
• Field of Screams, PA www.fieldofscreams.com
• Disturbia, Alabama www.disturbiahauntedhouse.com
• Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres, Ohio www.deadacres.com
• Creepyworld Screampark, Missouri www.scarefest.com
• Bennett’s Curse Maryland, www.bennettscurse.com
• Bayville Screampark, New York www.bayvillescreampark.com
• The Haunt House, Dallas Texas www.thehaunthouse.com
• Atrox Factory, Alabama www.atroxfactory.com
• Blood Manor, New York www.bloodmanor.com
• The Haunted Mill Screampark, PA www.thehauntedmill.com
• Burial Chamber, Wisconsin www.burialchamber.com
• Jasons Woods, PA www.jasonswoods.com
• Spooky Ranch at Rockin R Ranch, Ohio www.spookyranch.com
• HorrorFest at Shady Brook Farm, PA www.shadybrookfarm.com
• Trail of Freak Scream Park, Oklahoma www.trailoffear.com
• Haunted Hills Estate, PA www.hauntedhillsestate.com
• Pure Terror, New York www.pureterror.com
• Terror Behind The Walls, PA www.easternstate.org/halloween/
• Haunted Overload, Lee, New Hampshire www.hauntedoverload.com
What are the top FIVE most OUTRAGOUS, EXTREME, OVER THE TOP Haunted Houses in America? These haunted houses take their themes seriously. These haunts are massive. These haunts are in-your-face with extreme actors, props, animations and more. These haunts make grown men run like little girls. There are several reasons why some haunted houses are over-the-top and to some it might be a good thing, while for others, not so good. Either way, our list of the most over-the-top haunted houses is an irrefutable one.
1. Erebus Haunted House in Pontiac, Michigan www.hauntedpontiac.com Erebus has uniquely creative sets, animations and so much more. Erebus will touch you, bite you, grab you, collapse upon you and more. This is an EXTREME haunted house!
2. Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres in Pataskala, Ohio www.deadacres.com This haunted house acts out scenes of gore and graphics. The actors are crazed and much of the attraction is downright disgusting, but for those extreme horror seekers, it’s like heaven! Because of that, they have a unique following like no other.
3. Edge of Hell in Kansas City, Missouri www.edgeofhell.com This attraction features a trip through Hell itself. How could it not be on this list? Plus, Edge of Hell is home to a python named Medusa, the longest snake ever in captivity, according to Guinness World Records 2013.
4. House of Torment (HOT) in Austin, Texas www.houseoftorment.com This attraction features very intense actors with an in-your-face style of making you scream, combined with the highest quality updates and upgrades from year to year and HOT easily makes this list!
5. Haunted Overload in Lee, New Hampshire www.HauntedOverload.com This attraction is way over the top with larger than life monsters and Halloween displays…LITERALLY!
Top Five Longest Running Best and Scariest Haunted Houses in America:
Listed below are FIVE of the longest running haunted house attractions in America. These haunts literally helped to create the haunted house tradition as we know it today across America. The Jaycee organization still has some haunts in operation from the late 70’s, and they too built a tradition, but those haunts in smaller cities don’t create the long running tradition and legacy that the haunts on this list have developed for their cities and for the entire haunted house industry as a whole. Long running haunts have not only withstood the test of time, they’ve built and improved upon their trade making their events 2nd to none. With up 20 to 30 years of experience, FX and more, these haunts are the professionals in scaring! If you want to see how fright is done right, take it from a collection of haunted attractions who combined have been open for over a 100 years!...
1. Edge of Hell Haunted House in Kansas City, MO Open for over 30 years, this attraction is one of the best haunted houses in America and has been in operation since the 1970’s scaring guests. Learn more about Edge of Hell Haunted House in Kansas City MO at www.edgeofhell.com
2. Haunted Schoolhouse & Haunted Laboratory in Akron, Ohio Celebrating 38 and 31 years in operation, these haunted attractions are a true tradition. The Haunted Schoolhouse might be the longest running haunted house in America, and the attraction keeps getting better and better with amazing detail. Learn more at www.hshlab.com
3. The Bates Motel in Lancaster, PA The Bates Motel Is one of the longest running haunted hayrides in America at over 20 plus years of making people scream! This attraction has set a standard for outdoor farms transformed into haunted screamparks. Learn more at www.thebateshotel.com
4. The Darkness in St. Louis, MO is one of the longest running indoor haunted houses in America setting a standard for the haunt industry for 20 years! The Darkness has been featured on nearly every major media outlet including AOL, USA Today and The Today Show, and it has been featured on nationally televised shows like Modern Marvels and America Haunts. Learn more at www.Scarefest.com
5. Headless Horseman in Ulster, NY has been creating nightmares for 20 years. This annual haunted event is also operated on a farm and has helped to establish a standard in haunted house agritainment. With multiple haunted houses and a massive haunted hayride, Headless Horseman is one of the best haunted attractions of all time. www.headlesshorseman.com
Top Ten LONGEST haunted attractions in America:
The haunts on this list are the scariest haunted houses giving you the most SCREAM for your buck. What are the longest haunted houses in America? This collection of haunted houses is so massive you’ll be stuck in complete HORROR for hours! What are the longest, biggest haunted houses in America we have the list for you right here…
1. Creepyworld Haunted ScreamPark in St Louis, Missouri www.scarefest.com Creepyworld is a massive haunted screampark with nine attractions in one location. For one price, Creepyworld includes a zombie paintball hayride, Route 666 Drive Inn movie theater, Twisted Torture 3D haunted house, Hornbuckle’s hogs and cornmaze, Silo-X and more! Creepyworld takes well over an hour to complete.
2. Headless Horseman in New York www.headlesshorseman.com Headless Horseman includes a massive hayride, several haunted houses, gift stores, diners and so much more. This attraction not only takes time to complete, but with all the horrific fun, you’ll want to stay longer and longer with each visit. They know how to pack in the screams AND the Halloween fun, together at one amazing location!
3. Bates Motel in Philadelphia, PA www.thebatesmotel.com The Bates Motel features three attractions including The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride, a massive corn maze and a haunted house where guests fear for their lives. Years ago, Bates Motel was one of the first haunted houses to ever incorporate pyrotechnic FX, and they’ve been pioneering the way for haunted houses and haunted hayrides ever since.
4. Cutting Edge Haunted House in Dallas Texas www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com Cutting Edge once held the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest indoor haunted house in America. This haunted house is located inside a 100,000 square foot old meat packing plant.
5. Erebus Haunted House in Detroit, Michigan www.hauntedpontiac.com This haunted house also held the longest record. In fact, it was the very first haunted house to ever hold the World Record for longest. This haunted house wraps around several floors of an old parking garage with intense features around every turn.
6. Edge of Hell in Kansas City, Missouri www.edgeofhell.com One of the best haunts in America, Edge of Hell sits inside a five story building and their exit is a five story slide straight down. It is believed that Edge of Hell is the origin of that urban legend of the 13-story haunted house. It’s sister haunt, The Beast in Kansas City, Missouri www.kcbeast.com, also sits inside a 5-story building. The producers of these attractions know how to keep the screams coming!
7. The Beast in Kansas City Missouri www.kcbeast.com Scaring for nearly 20 years, this attraction also features a massive haunted hayride, The Den of Darkness haunted house, Frightmare Asylum and of course, Field of Screams Entertainment with a scream shop, food, games, stage and more!
8. Spookywoods in High Point, North Carolina www.spookywoods.com Spookywoods features multiple haunted attractions including a huge corn maze, hayride, haunted houses, and even zip lines, plus pick your own pumpkins and much more.
9. Field of Screams in Mountville, PA www.fieldofscreams.com Scaring for nearly 20 years, this attraction also features a massive haunted hayride, The Den of Darkness haunted house, Frightmare Asylum and of course, Field of Screams Entertainment with a scream shop, food, games, stage and more!
10. Factory of Terror in Canton, Ohio www.fotohio.com Factory of Terror is a 2x Guinness Book of World Record holder longest haunted house in the World. The attraction features four different haunts inside one building of ongoing horrors: Portal to Insanity haunted house, Massacre on Mahoning, Industrial Nightmare haunted house, and Judgement Day in 3D.
Top 13 Best Scenic Haunted Houses in America:
Which are the most detailed haunted houses in America? Which haunts have the most original props, sets, special FX, and animations? Which offer the most realistic atmosphere? Some haunts have the scariest actors, others have the best make-up, some feature the coolest locations, but which haunted houses have THE BEST set design with the most creative artists and production teams? Which create amazing Hollywood level special FX and more? Are you one of those thrill seekers who want to feel like you are dead in the middle of a Hollywood movie? Well, these haunts are the ones for you!...
1. The Darkness in St. Louis, Missouri www.scarefest.com The Darkness is an amazing haunted house with unreal special FX, animations and set design and also include the World’s best 3D haunt.
2. 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, LA www.midnightproduction.com A case can be made that this attraction is in fact the most detailed haunted house in America. The set design is really second to no haunted house in America. Going here is like being in a real movie.
3. Haunted Overload in Lee, New Hampshire www.hauntedoverload.com Haunted Overload is an all outdoor haunted house and if you like Halloween then this attraction will amaze you!!! There might not be a more detailed outdoor haunted house in the nation!
4. Dent School House in Cincinnati, Ohio www.frightsite.com Dent Schoolhouse located inside a real schoolhouse has the look and feel of an old abandoned school house filled with fright!
5. Headless Horseman in New York www.headlesshorseman.com Another mostly outdoor haunted house with the main attraction being a huge haunted hayride. The detail and special fx inside this haunted attraction is beyond belief amazing.
6. The Beast Haunted House in Kansas City, Missouri www.kcbeast.com The Beast is a five story haunted house with amazing detail covered over five stories of fright. One of the coolest scenes is a massive werewolf forest!
7. Terror Behind the Walls in Philadelphia, PA www.easternstate.org/halloween What else can be said a turn of the century prison
8. Edge of Hell in Kansas City, Missouri www.edgeofhell.com One of the best haunts in America, Edge of Hell sits inside a five story building and their exit is a five story slide straight down. It is believed that Edge of Hell is the origin of that urban legend of the 13-story haunted house.
9. The Haunting of Lemp Brewery in St Louis, Missouri www.scarefest.com The Haunting of Lemp Brewery is one of the scariest real haunted locations in the country. You go deep underground inside real European caves and caverns created by Germany brewers back in the 1880’s. The location is unlike any you’ve ever seen before.
10. Dead Acres in Columbus, Ohio www.deadacres.com This attractions is mostly outdoors however it has some of the most detailed sets we’ve ever seen before, with larger than life monsters and over the top set design. Everything looks real including the gory skits the actors perform.
11. Netherworld in Atlanta, GA www.fearworld.com Netherworld spends an entire year decorating their haunted house and they are one of the only haunted houses that had an actual movie shoot inside their attraction. Zombieland!
12. Disturbia in Killian, Alabama www.disturbiahauntedhouse.com This haunted houses features every known prop and animation known to mankind! The owners of this attraction spend more on their haunted house than any other.
13. 13th Floor Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona www.13thflooraz.com Many of the sets and props come from the legendary Rocky Point Haunted House one of the most detail haunts in history. In addition to all the new sets added this is clearly one of the most detailed in America.
Top 5 Scariest REAL haunted houses in America:
Are you looking for a haunt location like no other than follow this list of haunted houses and you’ll find the scariest real haunt locations in America. Beware what you wish for because you just might encounter a real demon, ghost or something supernatural.
1. The Haunting of Lemp Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri www.scarefest.com The haunt industry toured this event during a Halloween show and deemed it the best location they have ever seen for a haunted house. It is deep underground and turn of the century caverns built in the 1880’s. You must take a spiral staircase down deep where no one can hear you scream.
2. Pennhurst Asylum in Philadelphia, PA www.pennhurstasylum.com This attraction is inside a real abandoned asylum filled rotting hallways, and the souls of the forgetting.
3. The Mortuary in New Orleans, LA www.themortuary.net The Mortuary is inside a real turn of the century funeral home with one of the biggest and scariest graveyards in the backyard. IF you’ve ever seen the movie Phantasm this attraction is a LIVE version!
4. Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA www.winchestermysteryhouse.com What better place to operate a haunted house than inside the largest real haunted house ever built! Live the legend and experience the never ending home at Winchester Mystery House.
5. Terror Behind the Walls in Philadelphia, PA www.easternstate.org/halloween/ Again nothing can top a real haunted prison built over a hundred year ago! The place is very very scary!
6. The Haunted Prison Experince at the Ohio State Reformatory www.hauntedx.com This old haunted prison located in Mansfield OH will send chill down the spines of all who enter!
7. USS Nightmare Haunted House in Newport, KY in the Greater Cincinnati OH area www.ussnightmare.com We’ve all heard stories of haunted ships, but this one takes the cake and you’ll know why when you enter USS NIGHTMARE!
8. The Haunted Cave at Lewisburg, Ohio www.hauntedcaveatlewisburg.com Near Dayton OH, this haunted attraction is located inside a real cave 80 feet below ground in a real abandoned mine. Enough said?
9. Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth, TX www.cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com This haunt is located inside a building built 100 years ago, inside a REAL meat packing plant. It’s the perfect place for a good old fashioned haunting!
10. House of Torment Haunted House in Austin, Texas www.thehouseoftorment.com Once running classic horror movies, this old abandoned movie theater has horror secrets that just won’t die!
11.The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati, OH www.frightsite.com The Dent Schoolhouse is a haunted attraction that takes place inside an actual historical schoolhouse with a haunting history from the 1950’s when a murderous janitor took the lives of multiple school children and the hauntings continue today at The Dent Schoolhouse haunted house in Cincinnati.
12. Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern in Chattanooga, TN www.hauntedcavern.com Ruby Falls is a natural wonder featuring an unreal natural cave system, down 26 stories underground, just near the depths of hell.
13. Necropolis 13 Haunted House in Baton Rouge, LA www.necropolis13.com One of the World’s biggest catacomb haunted houses with REAL haunted catacombs and tombs. The spirits of the undead are alive at Necropolis 13.
Top 10 scariest RIDES in America:
Are you looking for America’s SCARIEST Rides? We have experienced all these rides with a Halloween name or theme and have ranked them as the scariest rides in America! Whether it’s a haunted dark ride or a twisting, turning roller coaster or a high end, death-defeating action ride, we’ve ranked them. Join the Hauntworld Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/hauntworldscariesthauntedhousesattractions and debate the list!
1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Universal Islands of Adventure Orlando www.universalorlando.com This ride has it all ghosts, giant spiders, scary animations, all combined in an amazing ride that whips you around and makes you feel like you are really flying on a broomstick with Harry Potter himself!
2. Revenge of the Mummy Ride Universal Studios, Orlando, FL www.UniversalOrlando.com This roller coaster combines cool twists and turns with massive over the top sets, pyrotechnic FX and mummy animations. What more can you ask for?
3. Towers of Terror Disney Land, Los Angeles, CA www.disney.com As huge Disney fans, we believe not much can top Towers of Terror? The façade alone is awesome. Plus, there’s an amazing haunted pre-show, amazing sets, costumed ride operators acting their parts, and let’s not forget ghosts and a falling elevator.
4. X-2 Six Flags Magic Mountain LA, California www.sixflags.com I doubt there is a scarier roller coaster in the world than X-2 it simply takes the cake! Many won’t ride it because it’s just too scary. It’s that intense!
5. Indiana Jones Ride Disney Land LA, CA www.disney.com Take your favorite archeologist and mix that with an ancient tomb filled with spirits, snakes, traps and pyro FX, and you have one scary, action packed ride!
6. The Voyage Roller Coaster Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana www.holidayworld.com This is a wooden roller coaster that I truly believe… if it were 10 feet longer it would kill you! This thrill coaster is without competition in a league of its own, because nothing prepares you for this screaming ride!
7. Dark Castle Williamsburg Busch Gardens www.buschgardens.com Mix a ride with illusions, special FX and a haunted theme and you’ve made our list of the scariest rides in America!
8. Mystery Mine Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN Tennessee www.dollywood.com Nothing can top mixing coaster experience with a haunted house and special FX. This ride has it all to make you scream!
9. Ghostwood Estates Kennywood Amusement Park, Pittsburgh, PA www.kennywood.com In a seemingly quiet town of West Mifflin PA, in a seemingly quiet part of Kennywood Park, ghosts, ghouls, and monsters lurk around every corner. The cool part about this ride is you get to shoot back at these ghosts. This is one hauntingly good ride!
10. Disney’s Haunted Mansion Los Angeles CA www.disney.com We realize this quirky, fun ride isn’t much for making you scream, but how can it not land on a list for scary rides. After all, it’s Disney’s Haunted Mansion! This ride started and kicked off a wave of scary rides, it is the grand daddy of all haunted rides in the WORLD.
I remember when our industry wasn't even an industry, when it was mainly a few small charity haunts that set up in perhaps an old vacant building for a one night or one weekend event. I also remember when marketing was mainly just flyers on car windows.
The first professional haunted house I worked on was back in 1989, and the first time I owned my own haunted house was in 1994. 1994 happens to also be the first year I attended the Transworld Halloween retail show. One of ours sponsors was a small local Halloween retail store, and when they mentioned something about a Halloween show in Chicago, I jumped in my 1985 IROC Z28 with no hotel room and no real idea what the show was about. I just went.
I remember walking through the show with Jim Kelly and being amazed to find a place where we could buy body parts, skulls and some other haunt related props. Looking back, I can honestly say there was really nothing there that we could or would use today to create a great haunted house, but at the time we thought we had found the Holy Grail!
I had some cash on me, and I basically bought everything I could carry out the door, products from Cinema Secrets, Gag Studios and a few others. I'll never forget that. I wish I had a camera, because we loaded that IROC til the seams were bursting. The hatch was open the whole drive home with props sticking out. Jim even had to sit on props. Heck, I had props down near my feet while driving. And in case you didn’t know, it’s about a 4 hour drive back to St. Louis from Chicago.
1994 was a big year for me personally and for our company, Halloween Productions, Inc. We built The Darkness Haunted House and began a journey that has taken us through more twists and turns and ups and downs than I could ever explain in one article.
In 1995, our company created one of the first ever how-to videos called, "How to Create Your Own Haunted House”. We bought a booth at the Halloween show that year and sold several thousands of videos. We sold more than 20,000 copies over the next few years. The next thing I knew, our company was being hired to build attractions for amusement venues like Six Flags, Cedar Point, Madison Square Garden and more.
Our company was also the first to exhibit at Transworld with animations powered by control systems with air pressure. A couple years later, Scarefactory emerged as did an entire fleet of companies building and supplying haunted houses with every sort of prop, animation, effect and more. Each helped our industry become what it is today.
These days, the haunted house industry is frequently featured on national television, radio and newspaper like Fox News, USA TODAY, The Today Show, Good Morning America, MTV and more. In fact, some haunted houses have been the set for a few major motion pictures.
It’s been interesting to watch through the years as haunted houses evolved from black plastic and some bloody walls to today's highly sophisticated attractions that rival even a multi-billion dollar amusement park attraction found in Florida, California and more. I remember being that novice 24-year-old selling our first video at Transworld wondering if people might think “who’s this kid and what does he know”, to today feeling quite old but also feeling good, because I was there from day one and all the way through. And, I’m especially proud to have been instrumental and helped in many of the positive things that have shaped this into a true industry.
Haunted attractions mainly grew in the late 80's and truly became an industry over the last 20 years. How did this happen? What are the events that helped our industry grow into a billion dollar thriving industry? The best way to plan the next decade is to look back on the last three and understand how it started and what shaped it. I present to you the top 13 things that shaped the haunted house industry over the last three decades:
When we look back at the last three decades, there have been many haunts that stand out as best, providing haunted house quality that we aspire to be like or look to for guidance. Among those are Netherworld, 13th Gate, The Darkness, the now closed Rocky Point Haunted House and more. There are many examples of haunts over the last 20 years that have successfully created their own urban legend. Such is the case with Edge of Hell. But a couple haunts REALLY come to mind as two haunts that simply inspired me as well as our entire industry. These haunts really put us on the map, paving the way for haunts to be noticed as amazing attractions. These haunts have since closed, but will always remain forefront in my mind, and they are Terror on Church Street (owned and operated by David Clevenger) and Spookyworld (owned and operated by David Bertolino).
Terror on Church Street was a haunted house in downtown Orlando where adults previously came to party (prior to Disney and Universal building their own adult night life playgrounds). Terror on Church Street was the PREMIER haunt in the country with breathtaking detail, over the top actors and realistic costumes and makeup, but of even greater impact was how it inspired haunted house owners nationwide. In fact, I’m quite certain it was Terror on Church Street that inspired the multi-billion dollar theme parks to build haunted attractions inside their own parks. This haunt was quite simply the perfect template for how to build a professional indoor haunted house. As Universal and Disney built nightlife segments of their own, the nightlife of Church Street Station diminished, and eventually Terror on Church Street sadly closed too. How many “Terror on Somethings” are the names of haunts today? Terror on the Wharf, Terror on the Fox, Terror on the Ridge, Terror on Rural Street, Terror on 23rd, 36th, 20th, 12 and more. Were these names derived from Terror on Church Street? Maybe, maybe not, or maybe not directly, but either way the name certainly set a precedent in our industry.
Spookyworld in my opinion had the biggest impact of all as the owner, David Bertolino, accomplished things that didn't even seem possible at the time. He had lines that stretched for miles. They had all sorts of celebs like Tiny Tim, Bobby Boris Picket, Linda Blair, Elvira, Mickey Rooney, WWF wrestlers, and more. Spookyworld wasn't just a haunted house. Spookyworld was the first ever haunted amusement park equipped with stage shows to entertain people while they waited in line for hours, and it was the first haunted house to create a national spotlight on our industry when Tiny Tim got married on the Jay Leno show LIVE at Spookyworld! Additionally, Spookyworld sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorships and even eventually partnered with the New England Patriots! Spookyworld was the very first haunted house I ever visited outside of St. Louis, and it left a mark on me and everyone who ever attended. From the marketing to the sheer size of the event, it gave me the realization of just HOW BIG a haunt can go. There are NO limits to what can be done if you have the drive and passion to do it. I believe the combination of Terror on Church Street and the national fame of Spookyworld inspired hundreds of attractions to open all around the country including some of the biggest still in operation today!
Contrary to what many thought, Haunted Attraction Magazine was not the first haunt magazine ever created. In fact, the first that I'm aware of was one created by Trisha Drain who at the time worked for Transworld. Transworld had an idea of keeping the haunts in the loop, so they created a pamphlet size magazine which featured articles written by haunt owners. Included in one magazine was an article written by Leonard Pickel. Shortly thereafter, Leonard Pickel and Oliver Holler began Haunted Attraction Magazine (HAM). HAM was a very important piece of our haunted heritage. It was the first organized media publication that had us all realizing, ‘we are part of something NATIONAL'. HAM featured articles about haunted attractions including one that featured Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Later, John Denley began Fright Times Magazine. Then, Jim O'Rear started Underground Entertainment. Finally, Scared Stiff emerged which focused strictly on actors. At one point, all of these magazines coexisted, but as time went by most faded away. With its main fleet of writers being the same group that produced popular haunt videos, Fright Times grew in popularity. Writers like John Denley, Rich Hanf, Larry Kirchner, Kevin McCurdy and more, allowed Fright Times to have a fighting chance, but it too faded away. All the while, Haunted Attraction Magazine continued to produce one magazine after another.
Then, Hauntworld.com announced we would produce a magazine. Hauntworld Magazine launched with a new format, to focus strictly on the business side of haunting appealing only to those who owned and operated haunted houses (or those who aspired to). Hauntworld Magazine went on to claim thousands of subscribers and be featured in thousands of news articles, TV shows, and more. It became the more popular magazine. However, it was always Haunted Attraction Magazine that was really the first media outlet for those who loved haunted houses and Halloween. HAM became a defacto haunted house association in a sense, because anything that was happening in the haunt industry was passed along through the magazine. HAM was also the first to bring buyers and vendors together for the first time creating a spot in our industry’s history that cannot be denied. The magazine sought out relevant advertisers which in and of itself helped create the awareness that we are in fact an industry. Oliver would sell his shares of the magazine to Leonard, and Leonard eventually sold the entire magazine and website to John Kennedy.
Technology has changed the haunted house industry over the years. I can remember the days when audio was only in the form of cassette tapes and you recorded the same thing over and over again. You played it and when it stopped, you’d flip the tape and play it again. Later, we found endless loop tapes. Then came CD's on repeat mode, and today we all use digital audio. Even digital audio has changed. At first digital audio repeaters still needed amps and wires. Then, they came pre-amped, and now you can place your repeater right next to the speaker.
More technology emerged such as video audio repeaters and control systems which allowed haunters to control everything inside their haunted house. Plus, computer animation allowed us to create ghosts, high quality TV commercials and much more. Most all technology we use today has rolled downhill from Universal, Disney or Hollywood movies. As that technology became cheaper to produce, it became affordable for haunted houses. Much of the technology originally developed to create 100 million dollar rides 10 years ago is now affordably priced for haunted house use. Much of the high dollar special effects can be reproduced for pennies on the dollar today. The quality in many haunted houses has caught up to Disney and Universal parks as well as Hollywood movie sets, leaving them always in search for the next big thing. Meanwhile, haunted houses lurk in the shadows waiting for the day the new technologies become available to the mass markets, so we too can capitalize on those new effects. It’s a never ending cycle of possibility!
Technology has changed so much about the haunted house industry. High speed internet, the creation of promotional videos, audio advancements, control systems and more have all advanced our industry. In some ways, haunted houses are even more advanced than many rides you’d find in a major theme park as most of those rides where built in the 30 years ago. Today haunted houses have access to technology which at one time or another seemed impossible. Flame effects, multi-motion animation, digital sound and video, advanced lighting, computer animation and so much more is available now. Even their locations have changed. In days past, haunted houses were typically located inside an old abandoned house. Today many haunts are fabricated inside massive buildings and complexes fully equipped with effects, control rooms and more.
The original haunted houses consisted of had black walls and dark corridors with actors roaming around in bloody t-shirts chasing you with chainsaws. Today’s haunts create new ways to use technology to WOW their customers into believing they’re the victims of a live action Hollywood movie. Are haunted houses still haunted houses or have they developed into live interactive big budget Hollywood movies? Which is better to the paying public?...Watching an explosion on the big screen or FEELING, HEARING and SEEING that same explosion just 15 feet away at a live, interactive attraction? Knowing how hard it is to compete for press and dollars during the HAUNT season, Hollywood seldom opens horror movies in October. Haunted houses have surpassed horror movies in terms of value and experience for the dollar. Horror movies are on a screen, and no matter how many special effects they throw out there, it’s still just a screen. A haunted house has live, in-your-face interaction around every turn.
Technology has transformed what vendors can produce for a haunted attraction owner. Each year we visit the Haunt Show and we wonder, “What crazy prop, effect or animation will someone present this year?” We watch message boards on Hauntworld.com and we see just one more modern marvel after another being created. We see the results on YouTube, at tradeshows/conventions and more. We keep wondering, “Is there a limit to what can be done in a haunted house?” Not as long as technology continues to advance our society. Chainsaws, masks, blood, vampires and ghouls will always have their place in the modern day haunt, but technology has sunk its teeth into this haunt industry bringing limitless possibilities.
The history of tradeshows is a long one, and I'd rather not bore you to death. However, ours have transformed many times over the years, and with each transformation, the haunted house industry benefited. Way back when Transworld first introduced the Halloween and Party Show, it was all retail. There was no haunt section. In fact, the word HAUNT was never spoken and nowhere to be found. But haunters eventually began to come, and like a bad rash, we multiplied and spread until the point of taking over the entire show.
Retailers started to notice just how many of their FORMER haunt owner customers were in attendance as we now bought costumes direct at the show. The retail vendors started to despise the catalog collectors among us. Many of those vendors started pushing Transworld to boot the haunt industry out of the show. In fact, one year Transworld came up with all these new rules for haunt attendees. Well that didn't set well with Hauntworld. After all, the haunt vendors and the retail vendors had to pay the exact same booth price, and no one was restricting the retail vendors’ customers from attending the show or certain parts of the show. But new rules were passed anyway. A feeling of being an outcast, a second class citizen, and not good enough, all rang throughout the industry. Many buyers declared they would boycott the show altogether, which would really only hurt our new and growing industry.
During the first year of the new MHC convention, several vendors and haunt leaders came together for a private meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and it was determined that haunt vendors and buyers alike would stand firm to send a unified message to Transworld that this would NOT FLY. Transworld did drop the new rules but instead utilized stickers and colored wristbands, so retail vendors could easily identify you as a HAUNTER and refuse service. This compromise did not satisfy the retail industry. Nor did it satisfy us, because again their message we heard loud and clear, “we don’t sell to your kind.” With Rubies at the forefront, these issues climaxed until everything came to a head. The retail industry (backed by Rubies) would start a new show in Houston, and the haunt industry would take a course that would forever shape our industry.
Clearly a separation was inevitable, because the haunted house industry could not possibly thrive under the rule of the retailers. Plus, the haunt industry needed its own focus so more potential buyers could be found and more relevant companies could be brought in to sell to us. This was a vision I personally backed. If we could break off from the retail side with a tradeshow promoted just for haunt attractions, many would discover our industry is bigger than ANYONE realized. I was told over and over again, ‘you can't make a show out of that small haunt section at the retail show’. To that I would point out the number of retail exhibitors who DO sell to both sides already. Plus, I would drive home the fact that if companies from IAAPA knew it was an ATTRACTIONS show and not a RETAIL show, they would exhibit. After all, a show for ATTRACTIONS would draw a lot more relevant vendors that haunted houses need.
After Rubies set up a new show in Houston in direct competition of the Transworld show, the writing was on the wall. The division inside the retail industry had created a sinking ship that our haunt industry was still aboard. To avoid going down in the wreckage, we flew into action. With Hauntworld at the forefront, we convinced Transworld to develop and promote a new show strictly focused on the ATTRACTIONS of Halloween. Against their initial judgment, Transworld agreed. And with the right focus and dedicated marketing efforts, Transworld has now realized the true potential of our industry. To Transworld's credit, they risked everything in 2008-2009 to produce our first tradeshow, and today Jenny Thaler works on haunts ALL YEAR LONG. She’s created seminar series, haunt tours, events, and more even outside the March show. I’m sure at first Jenny felt like a victim being dragged to her slaughter, but I believe she’s now proud to have “haunting in her blood”.
The job is not done, but Transworld continues their focused effort towards ever finding new buyers, new vendors, new seminar topics and more. Now that Transworld understands the difference between an attraction and a retail store, the potential is limitless and exciting.
Prior to the age of Photoshop, much of our marketing materials consisted of clip art, typeset flyers or coupons and hand drawn logos. Looking back now, how horrid were the old t-shirts you wore at your attraction? A haunted attraction today that hasn’t created its own unique, digital artwork is like a long lost tribe still living in the middle of the Amazon. I can remember one year going to the Transworld Show and exhibiting were two guys who looked like they just got back from Woodstock selling logos. I remember taking their business card reading Brainstorm Studios, but at the time I just couldn't see the value in spending that kind of money for a logo. Several months later, I called. These guys changed our industry to a degree that I think most of us can't even remember what we had used prior. A first impression is everything and the artwork that Brainstorm Studios created took our industry from the clip art realm into the WORLD of Hollywood style movie posters, artwork, custom designs, and so much more.
I remember some haunts telling me that their Brainstorm Studios artwork was so good that some customers complained of false advertisement. After haunt shoppers saw the artwork and the realistically scary environment Brainstorm created, they attended the haunts, and as customers they expected the attractions to match the level of the logos, posters, etc. only to find that the haunt didn’t deliver and in some cases were still stuck in the 80's. How did this artwork really impact our industry? Complaints from customers about not seeing the logo monster from the artwork in the haunt itself led haunt owners to create ICON characters creating costumes to match their logos. Complaints that the theme of the artwork wasn't actually the design of the haunt itself led haunt owners to more creatively design and develop their haunted house into more elaborate set designs developed around a theme and even a STORYLINE in many cases. Today, haunted house marketing is ramped up from television commercials, YouTube videos and websites to the professional photography taken of our attractions. Everything seems to mimic just how Hollywood would promote a new movie. I know prior to Brainstorm Studios no one put much effort into their image but now they do. In fact, Brainstorm Studios was even hired by Spookyworld to redesign their classic logo. Brainstorm Studios continues to put forth amazing artwork specialized to the haunt industry. Today, there are many designers out there, but it all started with Brainstorm Studios. Every web designer and graphic designer selling to the haunt industry has Brainstorm Studios to thank for creating that initial demand in the industry. As haunt owners, we have Brainstorm Studios to thank for re-creating our haunts’ image and the image of our entire industry and for playing a huge role in the new age of record attendance we now enjoy.
Back in 1994 when I first visited the Transworld Halloween Show, there was only a handful of vendors selling to the haunts: Distortions, Cinema Secrets, Gag Studios, Don Post, Morris Costumes, and a few others, but the biggest was Distortions. Distortions mainly created products for Morris Costumes including masks, body parts and props. Distortions was the only company outside of Cinema Secrets which seemed to focus more on horror related products for haunts. (Back then, Cinema Secrets was mainly a haunted house vendor too, but later transformed into more of a costume vendor.) Distortions never abandoned their haunted house roots, and instead expanded it, took risks, and even perhaps gambled everything on the hopes that more haunts would become buyers at the Transworld Halloween retail show. Distortions created an over-the-top, never-see-before, never-attempted-before animated prop. It was something so expensive they themselves weren’t sure if it would draw a single order. This motorized Distortions prop was called "The Electric Chair" and its price tag was about $4500 which was quite hefty especially in those days. Not only did Distortions write more than one or two orders, but they blew the roof off the building selling HUNDREDS of them. I remember installing an attraction in Denmark and visiting a wax museum while there, and low and behold there was The Electric Chair. Another time I was visiting an attraction in Orlando and BAM another one. It was like every haunt from coast to coast had The Electric Chair. Haunted houses like my own made it the staple exhibit in our queue lines and even invited the media to come out to film the electrocution.
Why is The Electric Chair so significant in our industry’s history? It single-handedly elevated haunted houses to new heights, and it brought the realization that haunted house owners were willing to spend a lot of money on high tech items. The idea that there were so many haunts out there willing to dole out tens of thousands of dollars to buy props, animations, and special effects inspired a revolution of new vendors to our industry. The Distortions Electric Chair basically created the entire haunt vendor industry. The credit truly goes to Distortions for this ONE prop. The year following, our company showed up selling the first air-driven scare products including the first air cannon for under $500 and an Attacking Werewolf which we sold nearly a hundred of. From there, even more companies emerged including Hollywood artists and effects people with all sorts of animations and props. Many haunt owners who had been making props for themselves began buying booths to market their props at the show too. Hence, the haunt vendor industry was born!
May 11, 1984, a fire broke out at Six Flags Great Adventure and killed 8 teenagers forever changing the haunted house industry. In lawsuits filed, it was argued Six Flags should have had sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, and other safety devices, and had these devices been installed, those teenagers could be alive today. The attraction was a Haunted Castle style haunted house constructed originally from four semi-trailers joined together, then later expanded to 17 trailers. It was determined the fire was started by a customer trying to find their way with a cigarette lighter. Fire inspectors testified that they had never inspected the attraction since it had been deemed a temporary event. The castle structure lacked a building permit, sprinkler system, alarms and other items. A fire broke out around 6:35pm and was fanned by outside air conditioners causing it to spread quickly to the many flammable materials and props (including foam) inside the attraction. In the aftermath of the fire, several haunted houses across New Jersey and across the country were closed pending inspections. States across America passed new laws for dark rides and haunted houses including sprinkler systems and other safety features along with the requirements for annual inspections. Safety in haunted houses today can thank the sacrifice of Joseph Beyroutey, Nicola Caiazza, Jose Carrion, Tina Genovese, Christopher Harrison, Eric Rodriguez, Lenny Ruiz, and Samuel Valentin Jr. Hauntworld pays tribute to you.
The next time you start to complain about how tough your inspector is or additional safety requirements needed, remember those eight teenagers who died in 1984. Lives were lost to save countless others. The haunted house industry was barely started in 1984 and if ever a lesson was going to be learned about safety, better for it to happen before haunts became so popular. Hundreds if not thousands could’ve been affected. The haunt industry not only survived but evolved as a result. Since then, there have been no fire deaths inside an indoor haunted house.
Hauntworld.com began in the mid-nineties as an online location where haunters from around the WORLD could come for camaraderie, friendship and fellowship. Through Hauntworld.com’s chat rooms and message boards, haunters could share ideas and help each other find and locate products for upcoming projects. Hauntworld was started by me (aka DRFRIGHTNER) and most importantly my cousin, Danny Bennett (aka FRIGHTMASTER). Danny died a few short years later at the early age of 33 of heart attack. After Danny’s death, I dedicated myself to developing Hauntworld.com into something which would honor his dream. Looking back on the day I bought the URL Hauntworld.com, I can honestly say I never imagined the magnitude and impact it would have on the entire haunted house industry.
Hauntworld.com quickly became a place where thousands of people came to chat, share information and debate topics. Hauntworld.com provided information that haunts used to make their attractions bigger, better and more efficient. Many haunt vendor companies got their start on Hauntworld.com by utilizing the message boards to promote their products and services through uploading pictures of products for sale on the Hauntworld Fright Forum. In fact, many of the conventions, events, and gatherings started with using the forums as a place to find haunters to promote their events. Other popular websites like those promoting podcasts, magazines and more used the forums to find listeners and customers.
Hauntworld.com eventually created a wealth of information for the media and used its position in the industry to launch one effort after another all intended to promote the haunted house industry on a national level in a positive light with one goal in mind ... SPREAD THE FUN OF FEAR!
Hauntworld has also created entire series of videos showcasing haunts from all over the nation. Years ago, many haunts were skeptical about letting other haunt owners view their attraction and potentially steal their secrets, but the greatest of all haunts knew that the sharing of ideas is good not bad for the industry and so Hauntworld showcased every major haunt you could think of. Spookyworld, Terror on Church Street, Rocky Point Haunted House, Lance Pope’s 'Verdun Manor' and more all created videos for the Hauntworld video series. In fact, we showcased over 200 haunted houses over a 10 year period. Helping haunts learn from each other...that was the goal! ??Today Hauntworld.com has continued to promote new events, new tradeshows, new vendors, new haunts and the entire industry as a whole. Many people probably don't realize the impact that Hauntworld has had on this industry or how much helpful information you've picked up and/or shared via Hauntworld.com through the years. For us to produce those first Hauntworld videos really opened the doors to sharing of information which has opened this entire industry wide open. The impact is without question, and the credit goes to you all. The mark was created by YOU the haunts who shared, learned and traded ideas, information, video, photos and more. In essence, Hauntworld.com was the Facebook of haunting long before Facebook ever existed.
Hauntworld.com continues today with its popular magazine, haunt directory, videos and of course the WORLD famous FRIGHT FORUM Message Board. We’re proud to be doing the same thing that Danny Bennett set out to do back in the 90's, to communicate with other haunts! “Danny, if you are looking down…Mission accomplished and THANK YOU! Thank you for the day you walked into my house and showed me that silly website you made called 'Haunted Houses of America', inspiring me to take this journey with you.” Danny deserves ALL the credit for everything and I hope when you are ever in St. Louis just maybe you'll stop by his gravesite which has the inscription 'FRIGHTMASTER'.
Before the internet ever came along, or should I say before high speed internet came along, haunted houses relied strictly on local advertisement, most specifically radio stations. Additionally, all haunts relied heavily on answering phone calls from potential customers needing directions or ticket costs or other information. Today, no phones are needed. Instead, haunted house marketing has shifted from traditional media to more of a web-based program. The internet has changed everything for small business owners because we now can reach out to more customers, not only in our local area, but our entire state and even across America. The internet has created all sorts of media attention for our industry. Anyone can start or create a news website, a blog, a review platform etc., and they are hungry for content. The web has allowed our attractions to find new customers, educate customers, and provide readily available photos and promo videos. We can upload video to sites like YouTube where even more people can find, watch and learn about our attractions. Websites like MySpace, Facebook and even HauntWorld allow you to create pages for your haunt that can be updated daily all year round about your attraction. Additionally, you can create another page to stay in touch with your actors and other staff too. The web has nearly replaced old habits like direct mailings to customers with direct emails to customers. The timeliness of direct emails combined with the cost savings makes this switch a huge plus.
Internet has also helped our industry learn and educate ourselves by visiting other haunts’ websites. Seeing other website layouts, watching their videos, viewing their photos and more is invaluable. Plus, having access to these examples and ideas anytime day or night is even more of a benefit. Internet allows us to communicate on a daily basis through haunt forums like the Hauntworld Fright Forum helping us to share ideas and information. We can find used equipment for sale, learn how to utilize new technology better, and bounce ideas off each other all to better our attractions. The web was and is simply a game changer, and creative people continue to find new ways to use the web to promote their business in ways such as creating app programs and utilizing Twitter to promote on a minute by minute basis.
It’s no mystery why haunted houses over the last 5 years have experienced a massive and somewhat overwhelming boost in ticket sales, attendance and media attention. The internet could be considered the biggest evolution for the haunt industry. It enables customers to rate, review, comment, blog and spread the word about products, services and YES our attractions, good or bad. In days past, disgruntled customers could threaten to tell everyone they know not to patronize a business, and one could assume 10 friends could get that message. With today’s Facebook, Twitter, and more, someone could reach 100’s of friends and wreak havoc on your attraction in seconds. Essentially, today it’s all the more important to make your customers scream with fear. The days of fly-by-night, overhyped attractions is coming to an end. Technology of the web has enabled and empowered everyday people with the power to really sack your attraction if you overhype. Today, we are seeing the bigger haunts get even bigger and the up-and-coming attractions growing faster than they could ever imagine. Why? Because if you build it they will blog about it, they will tweet about it, they will tell their Facebook friends and your legend will grow rapidly!
If you set out to build a good attraction today and if you strive to be the best at what you do, your business will GROW by leaps and bounds. You can tweet that all the way to the bank! Internet has changed everything about the haunt industry from how we operate, build and design to how we market our haunted houses. Websites like Hauntworld.com continue to send tens of thousands of qualified customers to haunts each year, just as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, and so many more. The list is endless. Today a good haunt owner should be spending as much money on his web presence as he does on his haunt. The internet is simply the best tool ever to have helped our small industry grow into a powerhouse of the amusement world.
Back in 2000, I suggested to the then president of IAHA that if any haunted house association was to hang its hat on something, it should be the start of a national public relations program geared towards the promotion of haunted houses everywhere. At the time it seemed haunted houses receive nothing but bad publicity. I pleaded that any negative stereotypes about haunted houses needed to be cleaned up with a national publicity program. No one on the board disagreed with my arguments, but no one wanted to foot the bill for such a program either, nor did anyone really know how to go about putting an idea like this into action, so I decided to run for IAHA presidency myself. Becoming president of IAHA in 2005 drove me into action on this PR program idea. I started planning it and building support from others in our industry. The first thing was finding a public relations company that would tackle the job at a budget the haunters could afford. I found such a company and began to call haunted house owners from across the country who shared my concerns about how the national media doesn't understand our industry or the massive improvements that haunts have underwent over the last several years. The first person to jump on the bandwagon and help support the program was Ben Armstrong of Netherworld, and it spiraled from there. Ben convinced IAHA to donate just under half the money for the program. Several major haunts jumped on board donating money for hiring a national public relations firm. Among the haunt owners involved were Randy Bates, Brett Bertolino, Ed Terebus, Peter Karlowicz, Tony Wohlgemuth and many more. Each haunted house placed their faith in me and Ben to properly manage the national PR program and put the money to good use, and a national public relations program was born.
In some ways this program was the turning point for the haunted house industry, because there was an outright EXPLOSION of media, so much so that two people, three people, ten people could not answer all the media requests for interviews including USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS and more. Speaking of which, the most viewed haunted house video on YOUTUBE is CBS High-Tech Haunted Houses, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig9dhC06nwU, with almost ONE MILLION views! This video came as a result of our national public relations firm pitching CBS and Good Morning America, and later someone thought to upload it to YouTube. What an impact! What a positive message about how far haunts have come!
When pitched the story about haunted houses, there wasn’t a single newspaper, magazine or TV station that turned it down. They all jumped on the bandwagon of educating America about the Haunted House Industry. Next thing we knew, our efforts spiraled into TV shows on Modern Marvels, National Geographic Channel, Travel Channel and Food Network, all wanting to air episodes featuring the haunted house industry. Hauntworld.com was the first website to ever produce a top 13 haunts list, but due to this PR program, suddenly websites across the country wanted to publish one too, because now they know…haunted houses are big news! ??The goal of the national PR PROGRAM was to educate America as a whole that haunted houses have changed and now appeal to adults of ALL ages and that haunts across America are doing amazing things with effects, technology, architecture, set design and more. We drove home the message that Americans who haven’t been to a haunt in several years are missing out and should get in on the SCREAMS. Most would agree the haunted house EXPLOSION started around 2005-2006, and you can credit the first ever national public relations program! Haunted houses became known for something more than fly-by-night mazes which open for Halloween weekend. Now they’re credited as the major amusement attractions they truly are, offering sophisticated entertainment appealing to masses of people. As a result, haunted houses over the last 5 years have seen their attendance climb. Ticket prices were able to increase and ticket sales have soared. This flux has filtered across the entire industry too, because now haunt owners have more money to spend on props, masks, animations and more. Vendors now create bigger props with more technology and on a greater scale. Even a full blown tradeshow specialized for just the haunted house industry was able to emerge and be successful for the first time. In the past, even Transworld doubted whether our HAUNT could support its own show, but today Transworld’s eyes are open to our expanding revenues, expanding attendance and expanding credibility as a legitimate industry.
There was a master plan, and it was explained to everyone industry wide (from vendors to haunts and anyone in between) that this haunted house PR program would benefit all. David Fauchman of ScareFactory agreed and offered to donate funds to the program. As a vendor he understood that if haunted house owners create additional revenue from rapid growth that prosperity would trickle down to the vendors.
I was told by a hundred different people this idea would fail or that it wasn't fair. Many tried to discourage me from doing it at all. Naysayers will always exist no matter what, but after the PR program was over and haunts across the country felt the results, few can deny the enormous impact and benefits of a successful national program like this. Additionally, it should be noted that I actually received a phone call from another industry’s association asking to hire me to help launch a similar PR program for them. It’s obvious the overwhelming success was noticed around the world!
The following year, another public relations program was launched again by Larry Kirchner and Ben Armstrong, and although it was very successful, it was not nearly as successful as the first. Since then, many other groups, associations and more from America Haunts to IAHA all launched their own version of the same, but none even came close to matching the success of the very first one.
It’s because of the effectiveness of the very first program that PR campaigns today have limited success. National media outlets feel they’ve already done that; they’ve already covered the haunted house topic. But that doesn’t change the fact that haunted houses are still feeling the positive benefits through a MUCH higher awareness within both our local media circles and on a national level too but on a lesser degree. Had the first program back in 2005 not been as well received, annual programs would be necessary to continue the message, but the utter saturation of stories over the past couple years has left us in a very fortunate position. We don’t necessarily need to spend those kinds of dollars, not annually anyway. The media is no longer clueless about the advancements in our industry. Haunted house have finally been given the recognition they deserve!
Haunted houses received more attention in the past 3-4 years than in the previous 20 years combined. Now it’s YOUR turn. I implore you. Go out and hire a good PR firm in your market and take the ownership of haunt stories circulating to Good Morning America, Travel Channel, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CBS, FOX and more. Inside that message, showcase YOUR haunt’s successes and turn them into stories about your haunt where it counts most to you…your town, your city and your state as well as nationally! Doing so will not only impact your haunt business, it will positively impact our industry as a whole!
Where did haunted houses start? Who opened the first ever haunted house? How did this industry find its first roots? Some will say it started with ghost shows, but I disagree. The reality is that the haunted house industry got its start as cheap attractions in small family owned and operated amusement parks, amusement piers and such. Way back when, there were no roller coaster or ride companies to buy an attraction from, so many of these amusement piers simply built their own attractions locally and some built haunted houses, haunted dark rides, and haunted funhouses. Typically, these attractions were cheaply created, very dark, with buzzers and loud noises going off around every turn. Some of these older style haunted dark rides still exists today. One example is located in Knoebels Amusement Park called 'The Haunted Mansion' which opened in 1973. This is what is called a 'pretzel dark ride'. While many would call it outdated, cheesy and in desperate need of a modernization, the folks at DAFE (Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts) continue to rate this dark ride as their favorite, because it’s a throwback to the past. There are few examples of these old dark rides, because many have been removed, destroyed or renovated. Disney also built a haunted mansion themed dark ride. After all, a haunted dark ride or funhouse was one of the main attractions in most amusement parks throughout the early years, and they continue to be a staple for many.
Haunted houses are clearly rooted in the older dark rides and funhouses, which inside most amusement parks was either a 'pretzel dark ride' or it was a 'walk thru'. Several years later, charities latched onto the idea building the same or similar attractions in their local towns and cities to raise money for their cause. Back in those days, there were really no means to communicate on a national level for promotion of the idea other than conventions. In 1975, one such convention for the annual Jaycees was held in Miami, and it just might have been the start of the haunted house industry as we know it today. In February of 1975, two men of the local Jaycees chapter in Bloomington, Illinois got together to discuss the creation of a haunted house book. Those men were Jim Gould and Tom Hilligoss. Tom's book was well received by the Jaycees printing over 20,000 copies. From there, he decided to purchase a booth at their national convention setting up a miniature haunted house display. Tom's display went over so well he decided to form the first ever haunted house company called 'The Haunted House Company'.
The Haunted House Company went on to hire a staff and due to continued growth hired even more staff to coordinate all activities of the company. Later, The Haunted House Company went on to introduce a line of custom monster masks from Don Post. They became a hit so much so that they had orders from 700 Jaycee chapters in 40 different states. Hilligoss became the first ever HAUNTED HOUSE EXPERT in America helping the Jaycee organization to set up haunted houses claiming revenues of $500.00 for small markets and up to $50,000.00 for larger markets. The first ever haunted house seminars occurred as Tom began traveling to cities across the country to different chapters offering up to 30 different seminar options and workshops. The Haunted House Company even hired a cinematographer and took the first ever HAUNTED HOUSE TOUR of 35 haunts in Colorado, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and more gathering information and photos for their seminars and presentations.
In 1976, The Haunted House Company expanded to include services to sell four-colored t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, bumper stickers and artwork for billboards, as well as complete lines of costumes, makeup, spiders, sound equipment, lighting equipment, and lighted signs for promotion. Tom's company, books and seminars showed the Jaycees how to build a haunted house from which scenes were best to marketing a haunted house. He even gave them clip art, coupons, tickets and everything between. The Haunted House Company was so successful that Tom made the following claim...If Jaycees continued to increase and improve their involvement in the haunted house program, someday Jaycees would OWN Halloween! His goal was for people to automatically identify with a Jaycee Haunted House when thinking about Halloween. Tom had the foresight and the vision to realize that haunted houses truly could “own” Halloween.
The Haunted House company would go on to introduce the idea of taking Polaroid pictures to increase revenue, and they even coined the phrase, “We'll Scare the Yell Out of You!” The Haunted House Company had everything going their way. They started it all with books, seminars and tours of haunts across the country. They were the first to bring back information from haunts all over the nation. The Haunted House Company even went on to develop a Christmas attraction called 'Santa's Workshop' and much more.
While most Jaycees lacked the entrepreneur haunt spirit needed for success in today’s market, still Tom Hilligoss promoted the opening of haunted houses across the country even way back when. Eventually, young business minded people in the mid 1980’s picked up and started to open haunted houses of their own. They acquired better locations, relied on a paid staff of actors rather than volunteers, purchased tons of radio ads, spent months not days creating their haunts and literally overnight the Jaycees format was on its heels. No longer would radio stations give out free advertisement for the Jaycee cause, not when other haunts would pay for it. Another dagger in the Jaycees plans was the Six Flags fire, because it nearly wiped out the idea finding an old abandoned house for setting up a haunt. Fire departments started inspecting and requiring costly safety features. These new ad and safety costs had most Jaycees abandoning their haunts and looking for new ways to raise money, but some still survive today putting forth a new quality of event to compete against any stiff competition that crept their way, most inside smaller rural areas, and they still scare people every Halloween. One such survivor is the Huntington Indiana Jaycees who put on a quality haunt event year after year known as The Huntington Jaycees Haunted Hotel, www.hauntedhuntington.com.
I believe the number one most important event in the creation of the haunted house industry as we know it started with a haunted house coloring book created by Tom Hilligoss and Jim Gould over a coffee table in Bloomington, Illinois. A plan was laid out to help create an entire industry of fear that did indeed go onto scare the “YELL” out of Americans.
Yes YOU! You played the most important role in bringing the haunt industry full circle, because it was you who risked your life savings taking leaps of faith and probably quit a very valuable, full-time job to work on your haunted house everyday of the every week. You believed in your passion creating an undeniable artistic expression of entertainment which makes people in your town SCREAM with delight. You signed up for the seminars, attended the haunt tours, bought the videos and magazines, shared ideas with other haunters through the Fright Forums, and simply dove in head first. You made the commitment to improve your haunt and to invest amounts of money against the advice of others’ better judgment, but YOU BELIEVED! No matter what drama filled non-sense might have happened within the industry, you still believed in the haunt industry as a whole. You knew its potential. You stood by the right people. You watched it all grow and become a true haunt industry with a clear path for the next generation of our industry.
When the haunt industry was at its lowest, you stood tall and fought through. When your local fire marshal or building inspector told you “no”, you found a way to turn it into a “yes”. When your family or friends expressed skepticism, your determination grew and you showed how wrong they were. You have taken your haunted house from one level to the next new level and beyond. You've invested, upgraded, listened and learned! Without YOU there would be no industry. No matter if you are the smallest haunted house in the country or the largest haunt vendor in the world, no matter if you are a home haunt, a charity haunt or a professional haunt, we all promote Halloween, and we ALL promote haunted houses in a positive light. We promote the idea that being scared can be more fun than anything you’ve ever experienced. Haunted houses are fun, intriguing, exciting, sophisticated and the rush is just as good as anything you might find inside those multi-billion dollar theme parks.
You did it, and without YOU, we wouldn't be here today with our very own tradeshow, plus conventions, national media attention, TV shows, and more. We own a have a business that we enjoy, a business of scaring people. And we continue to build a local tradition that your children's children can carry on for generations to come!
Thank you for believe in every hair brain scheme I ever pitched! Thank you for your support of HauntWorld and HauntWorld.com. Thank you for supporting our very own tradeshow. When so many said we are too small, we all banned together in attendance
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