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Posted Date: 03/6/2015

Haunt Insider: Operators Reveal Biz Strategies for Success

Dorothy Creamer, Editor

“You have to do something different every year, that’s the only way you can get customers back. We are always looking at doing different things on the design and theme sides as well as on the operational side to improve sales and drive attendance. Right now we have been interested in making enhancements with props to shock such as air cannons and cylinders – stuff like that.”
Scott Sexton, Owner
Nightmare Dungeon, Greenville, SC

“We are looking into other types of stunt attractions beyond the typical zip line. We are working with pulleys and wires, things to make it look like our actors can do things that normal people can’t do – like jump 50 feet in air and fly over the audience. We’ve also been thinking of investing in air bags instead of air rams. Air bags can move a lot more weight and are more reliable. We plan to use them on elevators that we can put customers into and create the illusion of a crashing elevator. We have a set idea for what we want the haunted house to be and every year work to make it more obvious. We add things all over but overall the most important thing for us is that everything needs to tie into the haunted house and make sense for why it’s there. We want our guests to feel like they are actually in a horror movie.”
Justin Hill, Creative Director
Haunted Hills, Portage, IN

“One of our main focuses is changing out a few scenes in each of our attractions every year. As far as incorporating technology – we aren’t adding too many video effects, but we are incorporating a few because they serve a good purpose here and there. In key places as an entertainment value they work, but overall it’s a challenge to create a large-scale video effect that’s realistic enough without a Disney budget. Small video effects are great, however, and we’re adding them in a few places. We’ve added scenes and made some changes in our hayride and haunted attractions with different designs and themes. We always want to offer a new room or experience for our customers that come every year. We try our best to be creative and customize things – if we buy a prop from a vendor we try to make it our own and not just plop it into place so they haven’t ‘seen it somewhere else.’”
Jim Schopf, Co-Owner
Field of Screams, Lancaster, PA

“In 2013, we changed the rules by making Terror Behind the Walls, darker, bloodier, and more interactive. Last year, we introduced our first ever attraction that was built entirely from the ground up specifically to achieve our new philosophy of creating interactive experiences for our guests – that is, a haunted attraction where guests are incorporated into the show as opposed to simply watching the action take place around them. For 2015, we are going to build on the success of the last two years by building a brand new cutting-edge interactive, immersive haunted attraction for our guests to celebrate our 25th season. Construction has already begun and we expect our new attraction will be unlike anything our guests have ever experienced before at Terror Behind the Walls, or anywhere else for that matter.”
Brett Bertolino, Director of Operations
Terror Behind the Walls/Easte State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA

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