The traditional Halloween Jack-O-Lantern carved for an albino pumpkin with some modern tweaks.
Kathy Mull, Director of Customer Service at Legend Park
This patent is an example of how the industry has evolved to using more realistic makeup and mask for there actors.
The lines at Haunted Attractions grow every year, parralleling the growth of the halloween industry.
This hallway could in fact be in an actual hospital, bank or office building, to make you feel that you are apart of an actual situation. The cheesy and fake days of haunted houses are long gone!
Halloween, the Fastest Growing Holiday in America
How Haunted Houses and Scream Parks, Halloween Parties and Sophisticated Promotions, Have Rocketed the Growth of the Halloween Season.
Americans will spend approximately $8 billion on Halloween this year. That's a growth rate of approximately 6% which makes Halloween the fastest growing holiday in America. The fact is that Halloween has grown about 60% since 2009 compared to Christmas which has grown approximately 14%. That type of growth is unprecedented when it comes to any other holiday.
One of the reasons is that more and more people of different ages are now participating in Halloween. In fact, 2 out of every 3 American adults (nearly 70%) plan to celebrate Halloween in one way or another this year. Oddly enough, even though Halloween is the fastest growing celebrated season (and has been for many years) it is not officially a holiday in the US.
So how are Americans celebrating this rapid growing holiday? Well the largest celebration a couple of decades ago was Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night. Most baby boomers certainly remember how fun it was to costume up and walk the neighborhood, door to door, gathering goodies by simply threatening "trick" or "treat". At the end of our 2 or 3 hour tour we would all come home with a grocery bag filled nearly to the top with apples, popcorn balls, toys and of course tons of assorted candies (I don't think anyone loved Halloween as much as dentists). However, as the population became more concerned about the rumored "crazies" (weirdos handing out poisoned candy, popcorn and fruit), with local government restricting the hours that kids are allowed to Trick-or-Treat (imagine that- government intervention with a family activity) and baby boomers that have become empty nesters, Halloween changed significantly.
2 out of every 3 American adults (nearly 70%) plan to celebrate Halloween in one way or another this year. Oddly enough, even though Halloween is the fastest growing celebrated season, it is not officially a holiday in the US.
So what makes Halloween so popular? What is inspiring this tremendous growth and how are American's celebrating this season that has become more and more important to the economy as well as to the general population? First there are more and more people attending or hosting Halloween parties. Halloween parties have become more elaborate- with more sophisticated costumes, fancy decorations, music, adult beverages and in some cases full blown meals.
An even more significant effect on the growth of the industry are the many haunted houses and scream parks. With more and more people visiting these attractions each year the industry has grown just to keep up with the demanding consumers. The haunted house industry boasts dramatic increases in their business over the last couple of decades. Kathy Mull, Director of Customer Service at Legend Park says that attendance has increased each year since the park first opened. "We have seen more and more people attend the Fear Itself at Legend Park Show every single year. Our growth comes from not only the local area but we are experiencing significant growth from other cities and states well outside our area. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of our customer growth is seeing the number of visitors we have from other countries." According to Mull, Legend Park has had visitors from Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy,as well as many other countries. "A couple of years ago we had a large group visit us from Hong Kong. As we continue to grow and our reputation expands we see more of that international activity. That national and international attention has really helped in making Legend Park one of the most popular haunted houses in America." Mull stated, "Outside of Notre Dame football we are one of the largest fall tourist attractions for Michiana. People travel from all over to see the Fear Itself Show".
That national and international attention has really helped in making Legend Park one of the most popular haunted houses in America
Another local/regional haunted house is Niles Haunted House. Mull says that while the two companies are in the same industry they do not try to compete "against" each other. "Niles and Legend Park both have totally different shows, we have a totally different approach and we even have somewhat of a different audience. The fact is, we actually promote each other's shows because we both believe in what the other is doing. We actually invite the Niles crew to come and see our show each year and they invite the Legend Park staff to see theirs. We have a great relationship with Niles and we absolutely respect and appreciate them."
Competition is excellent for the Halloween industry according to Rob Kocher, publisher of Fright Times Magazine in Philadelphia. "When neighboring haunted houses compete, they spend more money to improve their attractions which in turn draws larger and larger crowds. This inevitably leads to maturity of the industry and of course helps to grow the Halloween season." Mull agrees "We have invested millions of dollars making the Fear Itself at Legend Park show one of the largest Halloween attractions in America. We have also invested in elaborate sets, makeup, actors and special effects. All of this gives Halloween a much, much better image than the black walls and hanging sheets of yesteryear. Furthermore we have worked very, very closely with the state of Indiana to make sure that we have one of the safest facilities in the entire state. That level of sophistication furthers the growth of Halloween as well."
Mull also serves as a director for Studio A Advertising, one of the state's oldest and most recognized advertising companies. She says that Studio A believes that there is more to the Halloween growth phenomenon than just the sophistication of the Haunted House Industry. "You have to remember that this (the haunted house and scream park business) is no longer a ma and pa business. To compete in the haunted house business today you have to invest hundreds of thousands into your attraction, or in a case like Legend Park several million. There is a huge investment in property, facilities, your attraction development, and of course safety programs. And after you make that substantial (initial investment) you need to invest a fair amount of monies to promote your haunt or you will find out just how scary the business can be." Mull added that this is another reason that the industry and the Halloween season is experiencing such dramatic growth. "When neighboring haunted attractions compete they spend more money on promotion- radio, tv, flyers, brochures and of course their social media and web presence. This brings more awareness to their individual attractions but also brings a bigger presence to the industry."
Mull is absolutely on the money when she says that the industry has become more sophisticated; and she hits the pumpkin square between its beady little eyes when she talks about investment. Today there are now no less than 5 "haunt conventions" in the haunted house industry where haunted house owners and operators come together to review and possibly purchase the latest in haunt products including gory props, huge animatronics, special FX, set design, masks, makeup and much more.
Our guests want more than video games or horror movies; they want an all-inclusive, interactive experience. They want a theatrical, in-your-face experience backed up with uber-realistic set design, actors that look so real that no one would believe that they are wearing makeup and a storyline that is so credible that guests feel as though they are part of a living movie."
And consumer's expectations continue to rise according to Doug Edwards Legend Park Property Supervisor. "Our guests have extremely high expectations of the Legend Park Show. Every year we deliver a little more, a little better, yet the next year they demand that level of sophistication, plus. Our guests want more than video games or horror movies; they want an all-inclusive, interactive experience. They want a theatrical, in-your-face experience backed up with uber-realistic set design, actors that look so real that no one would believe that they are wearing makeup and a storyline that is so credible that guests feel as though they are part of a living movie." That demand certainly boosts the interest and inevitably the growth of the Halloween industry and season.
Halloween is budding faster than pumpkins on an October vine. The private parties, the professional haunted houses and scream parks; and the continuing maturity and sophistication of the industry, all meld together to make Halloween the fastest growing holiday in America.
Who are the biggest, the scariest, the most exciting, the most unique... and the Best Haunted Houses in the US?
Also See: Best of the Midwest- ZZZippy's Best Haunted Houses, Amusement Park- Fall Attractions, Best Haunted House Actors and More