Skeletal scarecrow in a field of corn holding onto a hay bale

What’s It Really Like to Own a Haunted Attraction?

For those of us with a pension for darkness and love of blood and gore, owning a haunted attraction sounds like a literal dream come true. Who doesn’t want to spend their days covered in fake blood and directing zombies where to go, all to the sound of ear-splitting screams? The reality of being a haunt owner isn’t always as glamorous as it may seem Like the vampires that threaten to drain the life out of your guests, it’s a greater time and money suck than it may seem. Don’t let that scare you though – save all the scaries for your guests.

Frightened man in a dark hallway

EXPECTATION: Your nights will be filled with scaring the pants off your guests and eliciting screams of horrified delight.

REALITY: Your weekends will be spent in your office reconciling the books and then mopping up fake blood after hours. 

While your ears will burn with the screams of your guests, you’ll be hearing them through the walls of your office as you spend your time pouring over account statements and doing administrative things instead of prowling around your haunt in full makeup and costume.

Man covered in money riding through a lake

EXPECTATION: You’ll be rolling in all the profits you’ve earned.

REALITY: First, you’ll have to pay your staff and cover all your bills and expenses.

Before you can pay yourself, you’ll have to take care of all your expenses and payroll. However, if any of those costs are ticketing related we may be able to help – give us a call to find out.

Group of zombies bloodied and running towards the screen

EXPECTATION: You’ll finish building the scariest haunt in town and guests will be clamoring to get in.

REALITY: You’ll have to spend time marketing your haunt and encouraging guests to purchase tickets.

You’ve worked your butt off to build the greatest haunt your town has ever seen but the hard work isn’t done – you’ll have to spread the word to attract guests.

Skeleton running to chase down a train

EXPECTATION: All your scare actors and staff will show up when they’re supposed to.

REALITY: You may have to spend a few evenings as the world’s spookiest mummy to cover for your staff.

Haunted attractions are no exception to the issue of employees calling in sick or not showing up. You may have to don makeup and costume to fill in if that’s the case.

Haunt house in the rain

EXPECTATION: The weather won’t be a problem.

REALITY: Poor weather conditions are a given and can be problematic.

Even if your haunted attraction is fully indoors, chances are guests will spend some amount of time outside and poor weather conditions may adversely affect attendance. Not to mention issues it may cause with your haunt operations.

Woman screaming and running away from someone

EXPECTATION: You’ll be able to visit all the other haunts in your area, and even some around the country for “research” purposes.

REALITY: You won’t have enough free time to go anywhere.

As much as we all love to visit new haunts and have our pants scared off, there’s rarely time for anything outside of managing your own haunt during Haunt Season. Forever the haunter, rarely the hauntee. 

Group of monsters standing in line

EXPECTATION: All your guests will show up on time.

REALITY: Most guests show up 5-15 minutes late to their ticket times.

Unless you have strict time policies that are clearly communicated, chances are high that a large portion of your guests will show up several minutes late to their scheduled times. Keep this in mind when determining your haunted attraction’s capacity and schedule.

Man looking confused

EXPECTATION: You won’t deal with any ticketing confusion.

REALITY: Someone will always be confused and have questions to ask about purchasing tickets.

No matter how well you explain your ticketing process, someone will have questions. Luckily, HauntPay clients don’t have to worry about this issue since our support team acts as first responders for your guests’ needs so you don’t have to.

Scary mask

EXPECTATION: Your props and set pieces will last forever.

REALITY: Most props have a 2-year life cycle and then you’ll spend 5 years repairing them because ‘they still work’.

With the daily wear and tear your props and set pieces will go through, you’ll spend a lot of time tinkering with broken hinges and changing out batteries.

Man pushing a wheelbarrow of dirt trips and dumps the dirt on himself

EXPECTATION: You’ll design and build everything yourself.

REALITY: You don’t have the capacity to take that all on alone.

As wonderful as it would be for all haunt owners to fully design and create every part of their haunted attraction, there simply isn’t time for that. In most cases you’ll need to bring in a few other people to help put it all together.

Skeleton laying in bed sleeping

EXPECTATION: You’ll take a few months off when Haunt Season ends.

REALITY: You’ll jump right into planning for next season days after your haunt shuts down, shaking with excitement and ideas.

You should definitely take some time for yourself to rest and recuperate a little after Haunt Season has wrapped up. However, we also know that you’ll be so excited to work on your new ideas that next season is already on your mind.

Skeleton jumping up and down with excitement at their desk

EXPECTATION: You’ll never lose your passion or excitement for Halloween.

REALITY: Halloween is and always will be the best holiday of the year.

The blood, the gore, the zombies, all of it will remain horrifying even if you spend every day wading through fake blood.

The reality of being a haunt owner may not be as glamorous or simple as you initially thought, but at the end of the day you do it because you love it. The feeling you get watching guests go through your attraction and have the fright of their life makes all the late nights worth it. Even when the tricks and the jump scares seem old hat to you, your guests are pleasantly frightened at every turn.