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Museum Design

Haunting Profitability

I frequently get phone calls from people interested in starting a Haunted House. Sometimes they are Home Haunters who have been told by their friends and neighbors that “Their Yard Haunt is 10 times better than the professional ones in town.” Some of them are kids, (as I surpass 50 years of age, anyone under say 30 is a kid to me), with great enthusiasm, brimming over with ideas on how to scare people, but no clue how to find the money to get their mega-haunt into production or how to push enough people through an attraction to make it profitable. Or in some cases they are business people who happened to drive past a local Haunted Attraction at 9pm on the Saturday before Halloween, counted the number of people in line, multiplied that by the ticket price and the number of days in October and get the brilliant idea that “Haunted Houses are a gold mine!”

Each of these people have the notion that they could make a good living scaring people and only have to work one month a year, “It’s only a Haunted House… how hard could it be?” Unfortunately, these people are on a dangerous path to financial ruin, and too many of them end up doing damage to the Haunting industry along the way. They will mortgage their lives to “get rich” in the Haunted House business and when they fail, (as a majority of all new business do), they fail hard, leaving actors, rent, prop, and advertising bills unpaid, which makes it even harder for other Haunters to get landlords, employees or radio stations to even talk to them. At least the people who call me did do one thing right, they called a consultant! Which I hope will keep them from losing their home, their spouse and their life savings reaching for their dream.

If you are planning to open a Haunted Attraction, then please hire someone who has done it before to help you along the path! Even a poor consultant will save you many times over what his fees are. (Yes, in the pretense of full disclosure I am a consultant, but you don’t have to hire me. Practically everyone in this industry is an expert. Just ask them!) So, when these people call me, I attempt let them down softly and bring them back to reality. Let me hit some of the highlights for you:

  • If Haunting was a get rich quick scheme, or even an easy way to make a living, don’t you think everyone would be doing it?
  • A Haunted House is a year round business that takes enormous amounts of time and effort compared to what you get out of it financially.
  • A Haunted House is a business like any other, and 60 percent of all businesses fail in the first 2 years. If you do not treat your Haunt like a business, it will fail too!
  • A surprising percentage of Haunts in the country, do not “really” make a profit. If the owners paid themselves for their time, paid for their volunteer actors and labor, they would realize they Haunt because they love it, not because it is profitable.
  • Most Haunt owners have non Halloween related day jobs to support them the rest of the year. Sometimes those jobs support their Haunted House as well.

However! It is possible to make a living with a Haunted Attraction, and there are people who are doing just that. READ MORE