The State of the Haunted Attraction Industry

Haunt industry

Being in the haunted industry as a vendor or attraction designer for over 30 years, Angelus Perez has become tired of the homogenization of many haunted attractions in America; after visiting thousands of attractions one seems no different than the other. It doesn’t matter if the attraction is new or it has been around for decades, they all appear basically the same and predictable.

Haunted attractions are a separate species; they are allowed and expected by consumers to be less ‘Hollywood’ and more raw. Because of this, there is an ever increasing need for many attraction owners to get to the next level of fear entertainment. Some are cutting corners when it comes to safety and taking risks in the name of the ultimate scare. This attitude is endangering the lives of the haunt’s actors, staff and customers!

While it’s fine to walk the edge when it comes to haunted attractions, unprofessional techniques and practices that raise safety concerns and put people at risk should not be tolerated and tend toward the dark side of the haunt industry. To get an idea of what I’m referring to, check out the movie, The Houses October Built”; though the story is fictitious, many of the interviews and stories are true. People have died, animals have been tortured, mistreated and left to die, local laws have been broken and environmental issues were created; all for the goal of the next big scare and good old fashioned greed. The atrocities done by some in the haunt industry are shameful; do a simple Google search and you’ll be amazed…

When our new haunted attraction Creeprum opens next year, we will do just the opposite; we will have entertainment with scares while keeping it safe for all! Creeperum will have many of the traditional scares that people love, want and expect, and it will be the job of the creative staff of Creeperum to specifically think outside the box and take artistic risks. Their job is to be part of Creeperum’s think tank and come up with ideas for the future of the haunt industry, while ensuring ethical and professional safety practices. Sadly, many haunted attraction owners do not get this and that is the reason why so many haunted attractions fail within the first two years.

At Your Custom Haunted House, we use a method called back engineering: instead of just jumping into building the physical haunted attraction, we create the attraction 10 years into the future on paper. Much more than a basic business plan, which can be a projection of a few years – or in this case, just a seasonal job, it is a complete diagram of an annual full time tourist attraction. We are attempting to create a permanent, year-round entertainment center for people who ‘love all things Halloween’ and can also be used by professionals: artists, designers, managers, production directors, etc. With the opening of Creeperum, we hope to become a model to other up and coming small businesses in and out of the haunted industry.

Happy Halloween!

Creeperum Update!

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Here’s an update on the status of Creeperum:

Local community development departments, as well as state government programs and offices, (whose job it is to help and fund small companies/businesses like us), have failed in their priorities. Due to this, a proper location was not found in time to open this year.

Everyone is very disappointed, but Creeperum will now focus primarily on aggressively marketing early next year, and perfecting and building new never before seen in CT illusions and props for 2016 will start immediately. Perfecting and building the new maze, ticket booth, & outside façade for 2016 will also start immediately.

The Creeperum website will reflect the new changes & new opening for 2016 soon. By January 2016, the only concern will be to focus on finding the best location for Creeperum as possible.

The silver lining in all this is that we will be able to perfect Creeperum and give a better show & product by next year; no rushing this year!  We will also raise more money through investors to cover all working capital needs.

People have asked if we are sure we can open in 2016; the answer is YES! This is not a hobby, this is a necessary upgrade to our existing  business Your Custom Haunted House. This is merely delayed not defeated!  We have already invested a lot of money, resources, time and equipment, so this is going to happen; on to 2016!

Welcome to Creeperum

 

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Let our sinister collection of creepy, fantastic and horrific oddities from around the world and beyond grab you and drag you into the darkness that is Creeperum, a sideshow haunted attraction that has secrets for both young and old.

It doesn’t take long for emotions to turn from curiosity to fear as you wander in almost total darkness searching for a way out; faint glimpses of light fooling you into believing an exit is near. All you can do is feel your way through one corridor after another while unexpected creatures appear all around you. Yes, there is a new reason to fear the darkness…

The nightmare that is Creeperum will push your senses to their limits this Halloween.

Of course once you leave Creeperum and the fear subsides, the laughs begin as you recover and relive the entertainment in your mind and with your friends; at that point your only desire is to go back and experience the excitement all over again!

This is the story behind Creeperum, Connecticut’s newest haunted attraction produced by Chimera Enterprise LLC, parent company of Your Custom Haunted House. When asked why build in Connecticut, owner Angelus Perez answered “to create permanent new full and part time jobs and to bring badly needed family oriented tourism to the state. The focus is to create a premier year round family entertainment center themed specifically for all those Halloween lovers out there. The Creeperum haunted attraction is just the beginning of the haunt experience that Chimera Enterprise LLC has planned for Connecticut.”

Another benefit of building the attraction in Connecticut is the ability to work with local vendors, artists and business professionals in order to showcase their expertise and as a result, increase business opportunities for all of us. Staying local will also allow us to support local groups and nonprofits by allowing them to use the Creeperum attraction for fundraising events.

We hope to have the Creeperum attraction ready to open for fall 2015 but the process of starting a small business in the state of Connecticut has not been easy! There is a lot of red tape to cut through and it is not business-friendly at all. Between working with city officials to find a proper, safe location and the permit process, the project has been delayed by several months. While these setbacks have been disappointing, the goal of Chimera Enterprise LLC is to bring you a quality haunted attraction that lives up to our high standards which may mean delaying the opening of Creeperum until fall 2016.

With our haunted attraction Creeperum, Chimera Enterprise LLC is committed to providing you with the highest standard of excellence in haunt entertainment; we look forward to scaring you!

It’s aliiiive! Haunted-House Industry Scares Up Big Money

Looks like the haunted industry is not only scaring up big fans, but big profits as well! In this great story from Martha C. White, NBC News contributor (http://nbcnews.to/GDaM9L), she takes a look at the profits the haunt industry is generating and how this once season holiday has turned into a year round money making machine.

Enjoy!

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What used to be a one-day kids’ holiday of candy and homemade costumes has morphed into a seasonlong commercial juggernaut that has growing numbers of adults forking over cash to get scared out of their wits.

Haunted houses, once a homespun hobby for dedicated horror fans that netted maybe a few million dollars a year in sales, has mushroomed into a $300 million industry. Today, there are around 2,500 haunted attractions worldwide, most in the United States, said Patrick Konopelski, president and owner of Shocktoberfest in Sinking Spring, Pa., and president of the Haunted Attraction Association.

“It’s a legitimate industry now,” he said. “Now we’re a season.”

Indeed, Americans plan to spend nearly $7 billion on Halloween this fall. And about 20 percent of the 158 million consumers who plan to celebrate Halloween say they will visit haunted attractions this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween survey.

Chances are they’ll be leaving the kiddies behind. In tandem with the rest of Halloween, haunted houses have grown bigger and more elaborate. Hollywood-style production ramps up the fear factor, and attractions are combining haunted houses with more grown-up activities like rock concerts, mud runs, paintball battles — even a strictly adults-only underwear haunted house tour.

“In the beginning, people would joke about spaghetti for brains and grapes for eyeballs,” said haunted house producer Steve Kopelman. “Now you have animatronics [and] dramatic advances in technology … so you get the realism you couldn’t have until the last decade.”

Kopelman estimated that a big haunted attraction can earn $2 million or $3 million a season. Even smaller ones can make upwards of $50,000.

“Haunted houses seem like the holiday brought to life,” said Joseph Szemiot, a 37-year-old New Jersey resident who said he has traveled as far as Massachusetts to visit a haunted house. “As Halloween becomes more popular and more commercialized, I guess it paid off for them to make the haunted houses better and better.”

An actor portraying a zombie grabs a flag from the belt of someone walking through the Prison of the Dead Escape, part of the Shocktoberfest attraction in Reading, Pa.

Shocktoberfest / AP
An actor portraying a zombie grabs a flag from the belt of someone walking through the Prison of the Dead Escape, part of the Shocktoberfest attraction in Reading, Pa.

The haunted house is “a completely different animal than it used to be,” said Chris Stafford, co-owner of 1331 Entertainment Group, a brand that runs haunted houses in Denver, San Antonio and Phoenix, and just opened a fourth in McAllen, Texas. “It’s a form of live entertainment the same way a play is. The production value is high and the entertainment value is high.”

That’s largely because many movie special effects professionals who lost their jobs to the growing use of computer-generated images have found work at haunted attractions, Kopelman said.

“We create Hollywood-style sets, our makeup crew is all professional makeup artists,” said Michael Jubie, who owns Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, N.Y., with his wife, Nancy. “We have seen a steady increase,” he said. “People that enjoy the Halloween season and the fall season will come out for that entertainment …. Here, they’re part of the movie.”

On the opening night of the Headless Horseman, crowds lined up outside the gates and milled around a cluster of outdoor Halloween-themed gift shops. Visitors posed for pictures in front of the park’s signature ghoul, some startled when the animatronics kicked on and the horse reared as its rider brandished his head.

Repeat visitors Gary Call and Joe Deitrich, both 27, were heckling a friend for “screaming like a little girl” last year.

“How’s it feel to be 30 and scared?” Deitrich asked.

Konopelski said eliciting that reaction is trickier with an older customer base.

“It’s harder and harder to scare mature adults,” he pointed out. Tackling this challenge led him to come up with one of the more chilling — not to mention chilly — tweaks to standard haunted-house fare.

Inspired by the Discovery Channel show “Naked and Afraid,” Shocktoberfest started selling tickets to an adults-only “Naked and Scared Challenge.”

Since launching the website a few weeks ago, “We’ve been inundated with inquiries” and sold upwards of 100 tickets already, Konopelski said. Visitors keep their shoes on, but strip down to their undies for the roughly 15-minute tour. (Originally, the plan was to let visitors go through the tour naked, but local officials shot that down.)

An actor portrays serial killer Dr. Henry Howard Holmes at Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House, at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on Oct. 5, 2012.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP/Getty Images
An actor portrays serial killer Dr. Henry Howard Holmes at Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House, at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on Oct. 5, 2012.

Most haunted houses aren’t asking guests to disrobe, but they are going out of their way to add more bells and whistles.

“Within the last three years, they’ve become aggressive. They’ve become an extreme sport,” said Timothy Haskell, creative director and co-owner of Nightmare, a New York City haunted house. “They’re all mirroring our culture in the same exact way. We all want extreme everything.”

Today’s haunted houses are really more like compounds: Many have multiple sets along with outdoor elements like forests, corn mazes and hayrides. For people who want to break out in a real sweat rather than just a cold one, the opportunities to battle zombies with paintball guns or elude them in obstacle races are proliferating nearly as fast as the mud run fad itself.

Musician and horror moviemaker Rob Zombie is spearheading a mashup of haunted house and rock concert called Great American Nightmare that opens Oct. 10 on the site where the Los Angeles County Fair is held. Lighting and sound alone cost $100,000, Kopelman said.

Haskell estimated he spends between $100,000 and $200,000 every year overhauling his Nightmare attraction. The investment has paid off, especially in an urban setting where space is at a premium.

Adding more gore and ghouls also gives haunted house owners the opportunity to raise ticket prices. “If you’re trying to get a higher ticket price, you have to give the general public more,” Kopelman said. “Initially, a haunted house that was 10 minutes long was just fine.” But visitors today view a haunted house as an evening’s entertainment.

“It’s a social night out,” said Samantha Steinhilber, 23, who came out to the opening night of Headless Horseman with a group including her mom and grandmother. She said she would probably visit another haunted house this fall with friends or family. “I love the whole horror and Halloween type thing,” she said.

Industrywide, ticket prices range from around $15 to $40, depending on the market, Kopelman said. Most of the bigger haunted houses now have a higher-priced “fast lane” option that shortens waiting time, and some have rolled out even more expensive VIP packages that offer shorter waits, private tours and other perks.

“It seems like the price has gone up, but they are giving you more for your money,” said Szemiot, of New Jersey, who estimated that he spends a few hundred dollars a year on haunted house tickets. “This is what I wait for all year long.”

Halloween Horror Nights 2013 Full Reveal for Universal Studios Hollywood

Continuing with our lead  up to Halloween here is another article from insidethemagic.net’s Ricky Brigante which talks about the full reveal of Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights.

This incredible haunted attraction is worth the trip to Disney alone! Enjoy the article below…

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As tickets go on sale for Halloween Horror Nights 2013 at Universal Studios Hollywood, the full details of this year’s event have been revealed including all haunted houses, scare zones, shows, and other special experiences.

The event’s official web site has been updated to include a new VIP experience for 2013 called “The Insidious Experiment,” taking place on the Universal Studios Backlot and based on the movie “Insidious” and upcoming “Insidious: Chapter 2.” VIP guests will be led by a crew from Spectral Sightings, the investigative team featured in the films, to encounter some unusual disturbances.

The rest of the event details are as follows…

Haunted Houses

The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven

In the aftermath of the apocalypse, our world is in a state of decay.

Welcome to The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven, a terrifyingly twisted maze inspired by Season 3 of AMC’s hit series.

Follow in the footsteps of the survivors as you journey through the shadowy confines of the West Georgia Correctional Facility. Seemingly abandoned, this prison has been breached by Walkers with an insatiable hunger for human flesh! Then, if you’re still alive, make your way into the Walker-infested wilderness that surrounds the prison and into the town of Woodbury, where The Governor is hiding a terrible secret.

In a world that belongs to the dead…there is no safe haven


Evil Dead: Book of the Dead

There is a book of unspeakable evil.. an ancient tome of human flesh inked in the blood of the innocent. Its text is the key to unleashing vengeful demons into our world, hell-bent on possessing your very soul!

You’ve come to take shelter in a remote cabin in the woods, but someone has read the words that should never be read aloud from the Book of the Dead. And the demons have been released.

You can try to find a way out, or pray for daylight to save you from the evil that rules the night. But it doesn’t matter. One thing is certain… you’re all going to die tonight.


Insidious: Into the Further

Beyond our world lies The Further, a dark realm occupied by tortured souls of the dead. But one evil soul – a cold-blooded murderer – has escaped into our world.

Uncover the horrifying secret that has haunted the Lambert family as you enter Insidious: Into the Further.

It’s a nightmare journey into the paranormal where the dead crave the one thing they can’t possess… your life!


Black Sabbath: 13-3D

Since the dawn of time, the number 13 has symbolized evil, bad luck, catastrophe, and even death. One band’s music warns of these evils and far, far worse.

Welcome to Black Sabbath: 13-3D, where you’ll begin your descent in a demon-filled cathedral and continue on through graveyards, madhouses, corpse-filled battlefields and a nuclear apocalypse with mutated beasts.

Listen for the sounds of agony with every chord; your pain is music to their ears!


El Cucuy: The Boogeyman

For generations, legends have been told of a shape-shifting monster that kidnaps and devours disobedient children leaving no trace behind. This tale has spawned countless nightmares, but none as gruesome as what you’re about to encounter!

Come face-to-face with El Cucuy: The Boogeyman, a manifestation of fear itself.

Do you remember when you were afraid of the dark… the possibility that some horrible creature may be hiding in your closet or under your bed? People call him the Boogeyman, but in Mexico, he’s known as “El Cucuy.” Some say he’s a shadow, an evil spirit that changes form to become whatever you fear. Some say he’s a hideous monster that lives in the caves.

But it’s all just a myth, right? Or is it?


Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection featuring the Music of Figure

Universal’s infamous legacy of horror is brought to life in a terrifying experience made for the 21st century.

Immerse yourself in a modern horror-inspired soundtrack to your merciless slaughter, courtesy of Figure, and follow the trail of entrails through darkened corridors as you enter a crypt of bloodthirsty creatures.

There’s no escaping the monsters that started it all. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt…for long!


Terror Tram: Invaded by The Walking Dead

The world has become a graveyard where decaying Walkers crave only one thing…to feed! Some survivors have locked themselves in a prison, while a vigilante army remains barricaded and armed to the teeth in the town of Woodbury.

Navigate your way beyond the walls of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, only to find yourself lost in a Walker-infested wilderness as you risk certain death in Terror Tram: Invaded by The Walking Dead. Even if you make it out alive and reach Woodbury, law and order has broken down and the living can be even more dangerous!


Scare Zones

The Walking Dead: Dead on Arrival
The Walking Dead infestation could not be contained and has spread to the Universal Studios Backlot in Hollywood.

For the first time ever, the urban movie sets of the world famous production backlot will be the backdrop for new mazes and scare zones. Imagine making your way on foot through the isolated city streets and alleys of the backlot invaded by The Walking Dead from Season 3 of the hit television series along with a nightmarish landscape of doom inspired by Black Sabbath’s recently released Billboard #1 album, “13.”

Police and law enforcement dispatched to the urban street sets and movie soundstages have been infected. Hordes of hungry “Walkers” are everywhere. They’ve been spotted on fire escapes and alley ways. It’s become an epidemic. Proceed with extreme caution. And stick together.

The Curse of Chucky
Years ago, Charles Lee Ray, “The Lakeshore Strangler,” transferred his soul into a toy doll – becoming the pint-sized, merciless killer known as “Chucky.”

Now, he’s back and he has a personal score to settle. Get ready for a deadly game of hide and seek.

The Purge: Survive the Night
Once a year, there’s a day where law and order become chaos and bloodshed – and murder becomes legal. That day is The Purge and you’re here to try to live through it!

Sadistic masked murderers wielding knives and chainsaws are on the prowl to hunt you down. Can you last ‘til dawn?

Cirque Du Klownz
Bienvenue! Welcome to the elegant streets of Paris, home to the Grand Guignol. Come see the lively clowns perform right before you.

But, beware, they may not be there to entertain you… they may be looking to put you in their next act… the gruesome ending to their horrific show.

Scarecrowz
Scarecrows were once built to ward off crows and evil spirits. Now they welcome them. A new breed is on the loose!

Tremble in terror as colossal, haunted Scarecrowz tower over you, driven to harvest the blood of the innocent to fertilize their land. They’ll take whatever’s left back to their fields, limbs and all. Slaughter is now in season.


Shows & Rides

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
The Wyld Stallyns of time travel, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan, return in an all-new parody show ripped from today’s headlines. Join Bill and Ted as they skewer a who’s who of infamous guest stars in this most excellent musical comedy that you won’t want to miss.

TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D
Fight alongside Optimus and try to survive as you protect the AllSpark from Decepticons over four stories tall. Remember, the future of the human race is counting on you.

Revenge of the Mummy The Ride
Take a ride on the world’s most intense indoor rollercoaster, if you dare. Face the heart-pounding special effects and unexpected twists at every turn as you escape The Mummy’s revenge in life-like horror. Rest assured, this ride will change you…forever!

Jurassic Park — In The Dark
Be stalked like prey as you make your way through the darkness and find yourself amongst prehistoric predators. Keep your eyes peeled for a 50-foot T-rex and a treacherous 84-foot death drop. You’re going to want to hold your friends close for this one.

The Simpsons Ride
Laugh ’til it hurts on The Simpsons RideTM virtual rollercoaster. With a surprise waiting around every turn, you, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie will have to watch out for Sideshow Bob as he tries to take you out for good. Get ready for an unforgettable thrill ride that will leave you in stitches.


Halloween Horror Nights kicks off at Universal Studios Hollywood on September 20, 2013. Tickets along with more information and artwork available on the event’s web site.