The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

Haunted House Discussion

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
I've had an unscratched itch for a while and thought someone might have experience. Whether you've run a haunted house or just want to chat about it, let's open up discussion.

Here are some questions for anyone who has done it:

1. What was the startup investment like?
2. What do you wish you knew going into it?
3. How did you advertise and what worked?
4. Was it worth your time and were you profitable (within 3 years?)
5. What else?

If you haven't run a haunted house but are curious, what are your thoughts? Would you do it? How would you approach it? How would you stay top-of-mind throughout the year? How would you make it profitable in the off-season?
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Dan_Cardone

Losers make excuses. Winners find solutions.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2019
322
1,011
349
No direct experience but I do know that a group of college guys rents a section of corn field from a famer every year and sets up a "haunted and zombie maze" that everyone seems to love. They do it on Friday and Saturday only, charge $35 per person, and always have long lines. They advertise on social media.

I also know that around here every year old ran down building get rented out and turned into haunted houses. They all seem to make good money.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
No direct experience but I do know that a group of college guys rents a section of corn field from a famer every year and sets up a "haunted and zombie maze" that everyone seems to love. They do it on Friday and Saturday only, charge $35 per person, and always have long lines. They advertise on social media.

I also know that around here every year old ran down building get rented out and turned into haunted houses. They all seem to make good money.
$35 seems kind of steep for a haunted corn maze. Do they offer other stuff after entry? Like vendors or games or anything like that? Most of the haunts around here are between $10 and $20. I can see paying higher prices for things like:

- VIP Head of Line Pass
- Multiple Attractions

Not sure what else. Beyond those I imagine money after entry coming from upsells like t-shirts, concessions and other merch.
 

broswoodwork

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 16, 2015
586
1,605
481
I've had an unscratched itch for a while and thought someone might have experience. Whether you've run a haunted house or just want to chat about it, let's open up discussion.

Here are some questions for anyone who has done it:

1. What was the startup investment like?
2. What do you wish you knew going into it?
3. How did you advertise and what worked?
4. Was it worth your time and were you profitable (within 3 years?)
5. What else?

If you haven't run a haunted house but are curious, what are your thoughts? Would you do it? How would you approach it? How would you stay top-of-mind throughout the year? How would you make it profitable in the off-season?
We had Spooky World around here, at the old Patriots stadium, for a long time. It was like the Disney world of haunted houses. I met the guy who played Jason one year as a kid... :D

I'm not sure what happened to it, but I recall a radio interview with the owner where he said it cost about $1mill/ year to put on.

Edit: looks like they moved up to awesome tax free NH Spooky World | #1 Halloween NH, Haunted House New Hampshire, Haunted Hayride MA| #1 Halloween NH, Haunted House New Hampshire,Spooky World

Gotta do that myself.
 
Last edited:

RazorCut

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
May 3, 2014
1,730
5,773
1,296
England UK
I would have thought the biggest obstacle would be getting ghosts willing to man it. Now there’s an opportunity “rent a ghost”.

Seriously though I take it it’s run on the lines of these locked room experiences? I have no idea or experience of either (only real ghosts).
 

Fox

Legendary Contributor
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 19, 2015
2,090
15,267
3,246
Europe
No direct experience but I do know that a group of college guys rents a section of corn field from a famer every year and sets up a "haunted and zombie maze" that everyone seems to love. They do it on Friday and Saturday only, charge $35 per person, and always have long lines. They advertise on social media.

I also know that around here every year old ran down building get rented out and turned into haunted houses. They all seem to make good money.
I’ve been to one of these in Canada and they were making crazy money. Seemed like quite a similar operation.

They were upselling a lot of stuff also - food, drinks, toys, masks, merch.

As for what the maze contained it was standard enough - a decent maze layout, some hints and clues, and some lockout points through the maze.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
We had Spooky World around here, at the old Patriots stadium, for a long time. It was like the Disney world of haunted houses. I met the guy who played Jason one year as a kid... :D

I'm not sure what happened to it, but I recall a radio interview with the owner where he said it cost about $1mill/ year to put on.
We went to Thrillvania a few years ago. It's run like a theme park with multiple attractions, vendors, street shows. All kinds of cool stuff. Massive crowd and amazing pyrotechnics. Had to cost a lot, and I know it was built over time. They moved the main mansion between multiple locations.



Anyway, they have the following price points:

- General Admission: $32.99
- Speedpass: $52.99
- General Admission Combo: $59.99 (Two House Events)
- Speedpass Combo: $84.99
- Group Rates: $28.04 (15 tickets or more)
- Speedpass Group Rates: $45.04 (15 tickets or more)
 

broswoodwork

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 16, 2015
586
1,605
481
We went to Thrillvania a few years ago. It's run like a theme park with multiple attractions, vendors, street shows. All kinds of cool stuff. Massive crowd and amazing pyrotechnics. Had to cost a lot, and I know it was built over time. They moved the main mansion between multiple locations.

Anyway, they have the following price points:

- General Admission: $32.99
- Speedpass: $52.99
- General Admission Combo: $59.99 (Two House Events)
- Speedpass Combo: $84.99
- Group Rates: $28.04 (15 tickets or more)
- Speedpass Group Rates: $45.04 (15 tickets or more)
It definitely seems to scale, for a pop up style attraction. The people who worked at our local place were so enthused to be there too (pumpkin tattoos and such) that it felt like an instant productocracy experience-wise.
 

Dan_Cardone

Losers make excuses. Winners find solutions.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2019
322
1,011
349
$35 seems kind of steep for a haunted corn maze. Do they offer other stuff after entry? Like vendors or games or anything like that? Most of the haunts around here are between $10 and $20. I can see paying higher prices for things like:

- VIP Head of Line Pass
- Multiple Attractions

Not sure what else. Beyond those I imagine money after entry coming from upsells like t-shirts, concessions and other merch.
Nope. The guys putting it on seem to know nothing about business. Ive offered to consult them and improve how much money they make but was told to F Off.

People pay the price and generally seem to love it though.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
I’ve been to one of these in Canada and they were making crazy money. Seemed like quite a similar operation.

They were upselling a lot of stuff also - food, drinks, toys, masks, merch.

As for what the maze contained it was standard enough - a decent maze layout, some hints and clues, and some lockout points through the maze.
Nope. The guys putting it on seem to know nothing about business. Ive offered to consult them and improve how much money they make but was told to F Off.

People pay the price and generally seem to love it though.
What's the location like? Do they run it somewhere without much else going on or is it near a city?
 

Fox

Legendary Contributor
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 19, 2015
2,090
15,267
3,246
Europe
What's the location like? Do they run it somewhere without much else going on or is it near a city?
Nah it was way out. Like at least 20-30kms. But it had been run successfully for a few years so it had great word of mouth. I’ll try find a link if I can.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

DronePilot

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Nov 19, 2016
123
285
176
19
I have always thought it would be cool to own one.

The haunted corn maze idea would be good if you wanted to start cheap and try it out. Pay the farmer $1000-2000/acre and there’s no way they say no. Google says the average corn maze size is 4-20 acres. I think the lower end of that spectrum would be plenty of space. Parking might be the biggest issue with doing the corn maze.

That size field is pretty small and something of that size can probably easily be found on the outskirts of suburbs and still be close to the city.
 

SeanODG

New Contributor
Sep 6, 2019
3
2
11
I think it's an interesting idea, and of course it could work. If you put the right time into setting it up and getting people to come, then word of mouth should spread quickly if you have a productocracy.

My only caveat here is timing. We're already October 7th, so you have ~3 weeks to get set up before Halloween. All of the best Haunted Houses have a fair amount of design, so making a great product in that short of a time could be a push
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
I have always thought it would be cool to own one.

The haunted corn maze idea would be good if you wanted to start cheap and try it out. Pay the farmer $1000-2000/acre and there’s no way they say no. Google says the average corn maze size is 4-20 acres. I think the lower end of that spectrum would be plenty of space. Parking might be the biggest issue with doing the corn maze.

That size field is pretty small and something of that size can probably easily be found on the outskirts of suburbs and still be close to the city.
There was a corn maze by my house in Missouri. They had the maze in one field and a parking area across the street in another field. Cool thing about fields is they tend to be by more fields haha.

The outdoor spaces make sense for keeping costs down. No need for a building. They often stack the maze with hay as a sort of guide or makeshift walls.

There's one in my hometown that's not maze but it's in the woods. They have a trail and different sets along the path. They also have a concession stand at the entry. One thing I always liked about it was you had to drive about half a mile down a dark gravel road. So there's an element of anticipation while also beginning to escape the "real" as you enter the experience. And that's before you park!

One advantage of the maze is it's a constricted space with a lot of places to hide. In the forest there's more open area. I like smaller spaces for several reasons. Not much time to react if something jumps out, and much easier to control responses. If monster jumps out from the left, then customer jumps to the right. And if a second monster is on the right, then customer jumps right into them for a better scare.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
I think it's an interesting idea, and of course it could work. If you put the right time into setting it up and getting people to come, then word of mouth should spread quickly if you have a productocracy.

My only caveat here is timing. We're already October 7th, so you have ~3 weeks to get set up before Halloween. All of the best Haunted Houses have a fair amount of design, so making a great product in that short of a time could be a push
Well, I'd say this really isn't possible as a last minute thing. It needs to be started probably at least a year in advance. There's a ton of factors to account for:

- Location
- Parking
- City Codes & Ordinances
- Security / EMT
- Insurance
- Prop Acquisition (or building)
- Actors
- Make Up Artists
- Cashiers
- Licenses

TBH There's probably a million other things that I have no idea about that go into this. The Netflix special seems to hint that others start their yearly preparations around 3 months in advance (but they've already been operating for years).
 

DronePilot

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Nov 19, 2016
123
285
176
19
There was a corn maze by my house in Missouri. They had the maze in one field and a parking area across the street in another field. Cool thing about fields is they tend to be by more fields haha.

The outdoor spaces make sense for keeping costs down. No need for a building. They often stack the maze with hay as a sort of guide or makeshift walls.

There's one in my hometown that's not maze but it's in the woods. They have a trail and different sets along the path. They also have a concession stand at the entry. One thing I always liked about it was you had to drive about half a mile down a dark gravel road. So there's an element of anticipation while also beginning to escape the "real" as you enter the experience. And that's before you park!

One advantage of the maze is it's a constricted space with a lot of places to hide. In the forest there's more open area. I like smaller spaces for several reasons. Not much time to react if something jumps out, and much easier to control responses. If monster jumps out from the left, then customer jumps to the right. And if a second monster is on the right, then customer jumps right into them for a better scare.
Right I also like the maze idea. For parking I was just speaking in terms of if someone were to rent from a farmer. A farmer won't be making money off of an empty field unless it is in hay. Parking in another corn or soybean field would be dependent on being able to harvest before you open the maze. Also, corn stalks and soybean stubble are terrible on tires. Owning the land and working with a local farmer somehow would probably be the ideal situation.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
Apparently some haunt owners are opening Escape Rooms to account for the rest of the year while continuing the fun. This could probably work pretty well if you own a building since you probably re-use a lot of your non-horror props like makeshift walls and things.
 

ChrisV

Platinum Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
May 10, 2015
2,439
4,524
1,152
Islands of Calleja
So i just did a little Googling and came up with some cool articles

doesn't say much about the business aspects, but what I would do is google things like "how to build a haunted house," find people on YouTube or wherever that have done it, then reach out to them about the business aspects. I'm sure they'd be willing to share what they've learned.

Edit: @Lex DeVille found this

 
Last edited:

Dan_Cardone

Losers make excuses. Winners find solutions.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2019
322
1,011
349
In some bigger cities i've been there there are "Certified Paranormal Experts" who will walk you around the city, give you some made up ghost stories and 'haunted history' of the places and finish the tour back at a local bar/pub (for which they get paid to end at by the bar). They charge like $10 - $25 per person, and get an own amount from the bar, to do this and from what I can tell they almost always have at least 7+ people.

One more professional group actually takes the participants into a graveyard and does some sort of tarot card reading and "ghost talking" They then hand out "ghost detecting" tools and let people search around. My buddy did it and loved it. He paid $25 and said there were 11 other people. I guess they max out at 12 per group.

Both seems like an easy setup and high profit business.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
So i just did a little Googling and came up with some cool articles

doesn't say much about the business aspects, but what I would do is google things like "how to build a haunted house," find people on YouTube or wherever that have done it, then reach out to them about the business aspects. I'm sure they'd be willing to share what they've learned.

Edit: @Lex DeVille found this

Thanks, I've read the second one but not the first one. I'm taking the "how-to" articles with a grain of salt for now. From what I can tell, several of these are written by consultants who want to make it seem impossible if you don't hire a consultant to help. :D
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
Just bought this book on how to start a haunted house. Strangely...it is written by someone in my hometown, which...strangely...I am moving back to in about a month. Perhaps the stars are aligning.

Apparently my mom's boss runs a haunted house too. Hmm. Guess I'll have to start networking.
 
Last edited:

SeanODG

New Contributor
Sep 6, 2019
3
2
11
Well, I'd say this really isn't possible as a last minute thing. It needs to be started probably at least a year in advance. There's a ton of factors to account for:

- Location
- Parking
- City Codes & Ordinances
- Security / EMT
- Insurance
- Prop Acquisition (or building)
- Actors
- Make Up Artists
- Cashiers
- Licenses

TBH There's probably a million other things that I have no idea about that go into this. The Netflix special seems to hint that others start their yearly preparations around 3 months in advance (but they've already been operating for years).
Think you're right @lex!

That being said, I'd also imagine few people are willing to put in months of effort for a seasonal attraction. They'll talk themselves out of it as a "silly idea"

AKA that sounds like an opportunity ;)
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
Think you're right @lex!

That being said, I'd also imagine few people are willing to put in months of effort for a seasonal attraction. They'll talk themselves out of it as a "silly idea"

AKA that sounds like an opportunity ;)
The tricky part is looking at this as a seasonal attraction in the first place. It seems like people think about haunts and get stuck on the haunt AS the business.

I look at the haunt as more of a culminating event. The business is not the haunt, but the haunt is a big income opportunity.

So the question for me becomes what business could I build that is related to the haunt, and can also sustain itself during ALL seasons and then turn a huge profit in October?

Random thoughts based on the question above:
- The business shouldn't be tied to Halloween
- The business should operate with minimal staff except during haunt season
- The business should generate buzz for the year's haunt throughout the year
- The business should offer non-haunt products online and offline
- The business should probably be involved in the local community

Other random thoughts:
I wonder if the haunted house could be an upsell opportunity? Could I apply guru funnels to this model? Would some people buy a $100 or $1000 ticket to a scarier event after they exit a $20 haunt they enjoyed? Theme parks sell photos and t-shirts after roller coaster rides. Maybe a photo from inside the haunt would be a better upsell.
 

Dan_Cardone

Losers make excuses. Winners find solutions.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2019
322
1,011
349
The tricky part is looking at this as a seasonal attraction in the first place. It seems like people think about haunts and get stuck on the haunt AS the business.

I look at the haunt as more of a culminating event. The business is not the haunt, but the haunt is a big income opportunity.

So the question for me becomes what business could I build that is related to the haunt, and can also sustain itself during ALL seasons and then turn a huge profit in October?

Random thoughts based on the question above:
- The business shouldn't be tied to Halloween
- The business should operate with minimal staff except during haunt season
- The business should generate buzz for the year's haunt throughout the year
- The business should offer non-haunt products online and offline
- The business should probably be involved in the local community

Other random thoughts:
I wonder if the haunted house could be an upsell opportunity? Could I apply guru funnels to this model? Would some people buy a $100 or $1000 ticket to a scarier event after they exit a $20 haunt they enjoyed? Theme parks sell photos and t-shirts after roller coaster rides. Maybe a photo from inside the haunt would be a better upsell.
The first thing that comes to mind is to have a series of mystery events with each one building on top of the other and have the ending take place at the giant haunted event.

The challenge:

A) Tie them together to such a way where these is a cohesive story that would be understood by anyone to attended every event

B) Make them stand alone enough so that just a "casual" would have plenty of fun and understand it enough to enjoy it.

I'm thinking you have a total of four "chapters" that goes throughout the year, one each week, with the first one starting all over again after the fourth week. Wanting to be involved in the next chapter of the bigger story would make people want to keep coming back.

I can see this in my mind but am finding it exceptionally hard to explain.
 
OP
OP
Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

Sweeping Shadows from Dreams
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 14, 2013
2,822
18,216
3,756
Oklahoma
I can see this in my mind but am finding it exceptionally hard to explain.
No worries, it sounds similar to ideas I've been tossing around this morning. Never easy bringing story ideas together (mentally) but they're so worth it.
 

Dan_Cardone

Losers make excuses. Winners find solutions.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2019
322
1,011
349
So to flesh this out a bit more.

Lets say your overall story is "You just got kidnapped by a psycho and now you must escape!"

The first week of the month would be "Chapter One." The would go through a series of escape rooms and deal with whatever scary stuff you come up with.

Throughout this some guide takes them through this scary story and journey.

By the time they escape there should be some sort of cliff hanger. Now they are encouraged to come back to participate in Chapter Two which is always held the second weekend of every month. Then chapter three and four on the third and fourth weekends.

The grand ending would be your halloween event.

I guess I'm saying to design a big horror story and allow people to be the real life characters. Nothing like that (as far as I know) exist but I would do it over and over again!
 

Sander

When in doubt, dare.
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Mar 19, 2014
226
716
295
The tricky part is looking at this as a seasonal attraction in the first place. It seems like people think about haunts and get stuck on the haunt AS the business.

I look at the haunt as more of a culminating event. The business is not the haunt, but the haunt is a big income opportunity.

So the question for me becomes what business could I build that is related to the haunt, and can also sustain itself during ALL seasons and then turn a huge profit in October?

Random thoughts based on the question above:
- The business shouldn't be tied to Halloween
- The business should operate with minimal staff except during haunt season
- The business should generate buzz for the year's haunt throughout the year
- The business should offer non-haunt products online and offline
- The business should probably be involved in the local community

Other random thoughts:
I wonder if the haunted house could be an upsell opportunity? Could I apply guru funnels to this model? Would some people buy a $100 or $1000 ticket to a scarier event after they exit a $20 haunt they enjoyed? Theme parks sell photos and t-shirts after roller coaster rides. Maybe a photo from inside the haunt would be a better upsell.
Or even video upsell of the whole tour
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.


New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Sponsored Offers

Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
-- HALLOWEEN SPECIAL STARTS TODAY! Get any of my courses at Udemy's current best price through Friday! Use code: HALLOWEEN Use any of the links...
Top Bottom