Money & Business

The Associations Haunting Houses Around the Country

By / Oct 9, 2018 (Netherworld/Flickr)

Multiple associations help support haunted houses around the country—and the Halloween-themed industry is one that generates a whole lot of revenue.

There are lots of offbeat associations dedicated to specific topics out there, but there’s probably none scarier than those that represent haunted houses.

There are a number, in fact, including America Haunts and the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA), the latter of which has been active in one form or another since 1998.

And these groups, representing professional haunted houses around the country, wouldn’t have it any other way, honestly. According to America Haunts, there are an estimated 1,200 haunted attractions nationwide, with as many as a million people visiting such spooky spots every calendar year.

And the technology used to bring those scares to life is becoming all the more advanced. The group recently noted that many haunted houses rely on the same kinds of tricks that many film or theater productions do, including props, professional actors, and special effects. And some really push the envelope. For example, Netherworld, located outside of Atlanta, relies on high-quality foam and silicone to build its monsters, while San Antonio’s 13th Floor uses animatronics to offer up its scares—and has a website that evokes a Hollywood movie, not a local event. (HAA has a list of its own Top Haunts, many of which also have high production values.)

These projects are built by massive teams of people who use their creative skills, often honed in film, television, or theater, to bring these facilities to life.

What’s driving the higher production values? Easy—the treadmill of technology, which is giving America Haunts member facilities the need to keep pushing things forward.

“Every generation is more technologically sophisticated and advanced than the last,” Netherworld co-owner and America Haunts board member Ben Armstrong said in a news release. “With that, people aren’t easily impressed—yet we scare guests off their feet every season by pushing technological boundaries and creating attractions that put them in the middle of the action. Once guests become part of the show they fight their own human nature to flee in fear, but every night many will still leave the haunts early because the experience is so intense.”

All that work isn’t cheap—haunted houses around the country spend tens of millions of dollars to build these kinds of experiences and advertise them via media outlets—but the rewards are solid. According to America Haunts, the industry generates between $300 million and $500 million per year.

That general interest in haunted houses has led the groups to broaden their missions over time. For example, HAA supports an anti-bullying campaign called Don’t Be a Monster, which puts on school assemblies to educate youths on behavior that may not come dressed up in an elaborate costume, but is nonetheless scary.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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