Number of Haunted Attractions in America
We estimate there are over 1,200 haunted attractions charging admission fees to their events. We additionally estimate that there are over 300 amusement facilities producing some sort of Halloween or Haunted House event such as an amusement park or family fun center. Lastly there are over 3,000 charity attractions that open for one day on Halloween or one or two weekends in October produced by a local charity group. Our members are without question the best of the best. America Haunts represents the top 1% of haunted houses in size, sales, and screams.
The typical haunted attraction averages around 8,000 paid guests. This figure grossly depends on the market and the size of the attraction. About 80% of the professional attractions in America attendance are less than 10,000 paid guests or more than 7,500 paid guests. Less than 3% of haunted attractions have attendance figures over 35,000 paid guests.
Some attractions mega haunted events attract over 40,000 to 60,000 guests but those numbers are around 1 or 2% of all attractions in America. About 10% of all attractions in America average between 12,000 and 20,000 paid guests.
Frightening Facts About Halloween
- Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the United States.
- Approximately one hundred countries celebrate Halloween.
- Over seven billion dollars is spent yearly on candy, costumes and activities in the United States alone.
- Approximately 90% of all households with children will participate in a Halloween activity. The most common demographics for this season are teens and young adults 18-34.
- Research shows that people enjoy being scared while in a safe environment such as attending a movie, on a thrill ride or at a haunted house, and they are willing to pay for the experience.
Today some haunted houses charge as much as $25.00 while most average around $15.00 per event. Major amusement park haunts charge as much as $65.00 for entry into their events. Over 80% of haunted attractions in America charge less than $15.00 per person, while only 3% charge more than $20.00 per ticket. Roughly 60% of haunted attractions charge less than $13.00 per person.
The Haunted Attraction industry has been featured prominently on the national media scene. Back in the mid 90’s Tiny Tim married on the Tonight Show at a major haunt in Boston called Spookyworld. Over the past few years the haunted house industry has become as good as or better than most Hollywood horror movies and due to this fact the media attention has increased.
Within the past years many major media outlets have featured our members in MAJOR stories such as USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, AOL.com, Time Magazine, Washington Post, Associated Press, NFL Films, Yahoo.com, and many more.
The Travel Channel produced a major television show about haunted attractions and The National Geographic Channel produced a documentary for 2007 entitled “Celebrating Halloween” which featured The Darkness, St. Louis, Missouri.
Haunted Houses are now the most popular way to celebrate Halloween in America and our members are on the top of Halloween enthusiast lists’ and the media has followed. Below you can see our members in major news stories from 2010!
USA Today featured some of our members on the scariest haunted attractions for 2010 list. Link below.
Forbes Magazine listed several of our members on The 10 Wickedest Haunted Houses In America List. Link below.
The Los Angeles Times also grouped some of our members in their “AMERICA’S TOP 13 SCARIEST DESTINATIONS 2010” List. Link Below.
Haunted House Industry Financials
The haunted attraction industry generates between 300 and 500 million dollars in ticket sales. This figure would include most major theme parks that operate a haunted event. The haunted attraction industry would generate roughly 300 million dollars in revenue and the amusement park industry another 150 to 200 million dollars. The industry of haunting supports hundreds of other businesses across America from VENDORS that supply haunted house effects, props, costumes, masks, animations and more. Additionally haunted houses spend tens of millions of dollars on building supplies, advertisement, insurance and much more. We estimate that the haunted house industry solely drive the popularity of Halloween and Halloween retail through the spending of roughly 85 million dollars on advertisement of events.
Haunted House Safety
Haunted Houses and attractions are EXTREMELY safe due to tough safety and fire codes they must all now live by. Most haunted houses inside a building are required to have a sprinkler system, early warning smoke or heat detectors which will alert the fire department, emergency lights, fire proofing of all materials inside the attractions, industrial electric applications, easy access doors throughout the attraction, panic hardware exit doors, multiple fire extinguishers, panic systems, and much more. Most haunts now must also be ADA compliant and have no trap doors or items on the floor that could cause trips and falls. Our members work with local and state officials to make sure that our attractions are up to code and safe for our guests. America Haunts take safety seriously.
Over 80% of all haunted attractions across America are operated by a charity or help to benefit a charity of some kind. The haunted house industry helps to raise tens of millions of dollars for charities nationwide. Many fire departments or church groups, produce haunted attractions nationwide. Haunts have worked with major charities like Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Miracle Network, to everything in between.
In 2010 many of our members teamed up with the TRUTH campaign to help push their message and hosted their street team on-location at their attractions.
Corporate America has embraced the haunted house industry with sponsorships in the tens of millions of dollars. Most major haunted events have major sponsorship deals with major soft dirk labels, energy drink companies, fast food industry, cellular phone companies, and Halloween retail outlets . A major haunted attraction could attract $10,000 to $100,000.00 in sponsorships from major corporations who want to display their brand, product or service to the haunted attraction demographic of 18-34. Haunted Houses have become a very inexpensive way for corporate America to reach the 18-34 demographic, due to the popularity of our industry. Sponsorships for haunted events are on the rise climbing an estimated 8% per year. The high increase is due to the sponsor World recently discovering the haunted industry . The attractions in America Haunts are the ideal attractions for any company looking for sponsorship both big or small. Sponsors would receive maximum exposure to an active buying audience.
The haunted house industry much like other industries has their own tradeshows, experts, consultants, suppliers, magazines, associations, education seminars, gatherings and events. Haunted attraction owners spend annually over 50 million dollars with specific haunted house vendors for supplies like fog machines, to scary animatronic monsters, lighting equipment or masks and costumes to assist them in scaring America. There are some major vendors in the industry who have even supplied haunted houses to the Playboy Mansion, or Universal Studios to Six Flags to even Madison Square Garden. The biggest growth for the vendors to the haunted industry is now overseas, where haunted houses are opening at a record pace.
The fact is that people just love to be scared and the attractions in America Haunts are in the business of scaring and they are by far are the best at it!
The haunted house industry much like other industries has their own tradeshows, experts, consultants, suppliers, magazines, associations, education seminars, gatherings and events. Haunted attraction owners spend annually over 50 million dollars with specific haunted house vendors for supplies like fog machines, to scary animatronic monsters, lighting equipment or masks and costumes to assist them in scaring America. There are some major vendors in the industry who have even supplied haunted houses to the Playboy Mansion, or Universal Studios to Six Flags to even Madison Square Garden. The biggest growth for the vendors to the haunted industry is now overseas, where haunted houses are opening at a record pace. People just love to be scared it’s not just an American thing anymore. Haunted Houses is an American product that is now being exported WORLD WIDE! We estimate that over 25 million dollars worth of haunted house equipment, services and supplies where shipped to other countries mostly in Asia and Europe. Some haunted house vendors have now started supplying Hollywood movies such as ExMortis.com who did all of the effects for Rob Zombies movies: Halloween, Devils Rejects, and House of a 1000 Corpses. Ghost Ride Productions recently sold props to Warner Brothers for a Batman movie, to Universal Studios films. Patrick Magee (Magee FX) did all the special effects on a Lions Gate film entitled ‘Dark Ride’. The list goes on…
The History of Haunted Houses
By: BEKAH McKENDRY
Currently, in the United States alone, there are over 1,200 professional haunted houses, 300 theme parks that operate horror-themed events and over 3,000 charity-run spookshows. But our love of being scared is by no means a recent phenomenon. Haunted attractions have a long history that dates all the way back to our earliest civilizations.
The Egyptians knew well that if you wanted to keep body snatchers away from a pyramid, the best way was to scare the hell out of them. Mazes, moving walls, self-opening doors, traps and the use of snakes and insects were commonplace in preserving treasures and dead royalty. Granted, they weren’t exactly charging admission for these scares, and the public was not lining up to get lost in the snake room, but this is one of the earliest examples of people crafting devices and sets to provoke fear.
The Greeks and Romans also unknowingly seeded the path for haunted attractions. Their folklore is rich with mazes and labyrinths, all filled with monsters. As theater was a vital part of their culture, it stands to reason that these ancients began devising rudimentary special FX to represent monsters and beasts. They also pioneered a number of theatrical devices that would evolve into the spooky elements used in haunts today, including fog, trapdoors, ghostly images and even fake blood and gore. (Fun fact: The ancient Greeks created multiple large-scale special FX contraptions, including the deus ex machina, used to make actors fly, and the ekkyklema, a platform mostly used to reveal dead bodies so the audience could see them.)
The Dark Ages
It’s hard to believe, but this period saw the Christians forwarding the evolution of the haunted house. During this time (around the 1300s through the 1500s), Europe had recently been converted from Celtic and pagan religions to the practice of Christianity, and pageant wagons toured the land performing plays. These were mostly Biblical stories acted out, often including the scarier parts. Though they were intended to frighten folks into staying pious, the attendees enjoyed the scares and gore right along with the morals.
Additionally, this era began the evolution of Halloween as we know it today. Though the holiday was born out of the Celtic and pagan religions, the European masses carried its practices with them as they converted to Christianity. Carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, dressing up in costume and even trick -or-treating were all pagan practices that were carried over. (Fun fact: Originally, people carved turnips to represent sprits and demons on Halloween. It was believed that hanging these carvings outside would protect your home for the night. When the European settlers came to America, they found very few turnips, but discovered that pumpkins grew in abundance and were much easier to carve. Thus, the jack o’ lantern was born.)
Society’s love of horror and the development of special FX continued to grow as theater became increasingly popular. Ghosts, demons, the devil and other monsters made regular appearances in plays, including those of William Shakespeare. (Fun fact: In order to create onstage gore during stabbing scenes, actors used to strap pig’s bladders to their midsections. The opposing actor would stab the bladder and pig blood would pour out, making it look as if the actor was actually bleeding to death.)
People became enthralled with ghosts and the possibility of other realms during this century. Mediums, fortune tellers, spiritualists and conjuring sessions to communicate with the dead became a form of entertainment for the elite, and many clairvoyants became renowned celebrities who were paid top dollar for their services. Magician Harry Houdini set out to disprove the practice, and debunked several famous spiritualists.
The haunt-theme path in the theater continued, including John Pepper’s invention of a setup that, through the use of mirrors, made people appear to be translucent apparitions on stage; this device became known as Pepper’s Ghost. The 1800s also saw the opening of the first wax museum, paving the way for future walk-through attractions that played with the patron’s sense of reality. (Fun fact: That same 1800s obsession with death led Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. First published in 1818, the book sees Frankenstein’s monster brought to life through the real-life practice of galvanism—reanimating the dead with electric shocks.)
The Early 1900s
The beginning of the 20th century saw the height of the traveling carnival, and with it the rise of the freakshow. Patrons would walk through these attractions looking at human deformities and other oddities (many of them fake). Dark rides also became popular amusement attractions; these had patrons sitting on a boat or train and automatically moved through numerous scenes (the best-known variation is probably the Tunnel of Love). As amusement parks and family fun centers sprang up all over the nation, many could not afford a big rollercoaster, so some offered cheap fun-houses and haunted houses to pull in patrons. These were often very dark mazes filled with mirrors and loud buzzers.
Around this time, many of the residential houses built during the early 1800s were becoming worn down and dilapidated. To prevent children from exploring these dangerous buildings, adults would say that ghosts inhabited the neglected homes, further fueling the mystique of haunted dwellings.
The first recorded haunted attraction was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House, which opened in 1915 in the United Kingdom as part of an Edwardian fair. At this time, the Grand Guignol in France was scaring audiences nightly with its graphically staged horror entertainment. (Fun fact: The fake blood of the Grand Guignol was made of soap and bugs! It consisted of equal parts glycerin—clear soap—and carmine, a bright red pigment made by boiling and crushing certain beetles.)
1969 saw the opening of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, featuring a spectral sea captain, a ghostly wedding party, transforming portraits and a headless horseman. Walt Disney did not like the idea of putting an old, decrepit-looking structure in the middle of his park, so he took inspiration from San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House and created a lavish mansion with a pristine exterior. Originally, customers were supposed to walk through the Haunted Mansion, but the park staff had problems maintaining their pace and keeping the line moving steadily, so it became a dark ride in which patrons sat in trains (known as “doom buggies”) that carried them through the haunt. (Fun fact: A haunted house was part of Disney’s plan for the park long before Disneyland was built in 1955. In the original pre-construction artists’ renderings, a rundown mansion and graveyard can be seen overlooking Main Street.)
Many haunt owners and even older generations remember having their first spooky-attraction experience courtesy of the Jaycees charity. Short for the United States Junior Chamber, the Jaycees encouraged its young members to put up haunted houses in abandoned buildings or fields as a way to raise money, and the organization became so well-known for these haunts that in 1975, two men from the Bloomington, Illinois chapter, Jim Gould and Tom Hilligoss, decided to write a book about how to create one, detailing makeup FX, scene ideas and marketing strategies . Over 20,000 copies were printed, and Gould and Hilligoss became the first-ever haunted-house experts. They would go on to form The Haunted House Company, one of the first outfits to sell FX, masks, lighting, costumes and marketing materials all in one place . (Fun fact: The two men also created the first-ever Santa’s Village attraction for Christmas.)
As horror movies grew in popularity during this decade, so did haunted houses; most amusement parks boasted a scary attraction of some sort. In 1984, the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey caught fire, trapping and killing eight patrons. This set off alarm bells across the industry about the importance of safety, choice of building materials and emergency awareness. Haunts were reshaped to preserve the artificial scares but maintain a high level of safety, ensuring that a tragedy like this would never happen again.
The 1990s – Present
Haunts are everywhere, and not just limited to houses; there are haunted hayrides, mazes and scavenger hunts. Most of us have been through multiple attractions, and for many people, this was their first taste of horror. They’ve become so popular that Halloween enthusiasts known as “home haunters” create attractions at home simply for the love of doing it. Haunts are here to stay, and their industry will only continue to evolve and grow into more terrifying directions. Happy haunting