It's no surprise that Halloween has become one of the most lucrative holidays in the theme park sector of the tourism industry in recent years, but did you know that revenues are rising at a wicked rate?
Theme parks have been capitalizing on these scary attractions in order to off-set the costs of staying open longer after the more popular touristy season is over for a while now. According to an article on blooloop (a website aiming to network museums, aquariums, zoos as well as theme and water parks) from 2015, Knott's Berry Farm was the pioneer of the Halloween craze when they came out with one weekend of fright-fest during their Scary Farm in 1973.
The second company to launch a Halloween extravaganza waited 16 years. It was Six Flags Texas with their Fright Fest. Now, Halloween attractions and events account for 20% of all U.S. theme park attendance and is an integral financial component, according to blooloop.com.
In October 2013, NBC News reported that the haunted house industry rose from a few million dollars per year to a $300 million dollar market (which has grown into a $500 million dollar market as of the Halloween season 2016). According to the same NBC article, Americans were spending $7 billion that season to celebrate Halloween. You read it right... BILLION, and that was back in 2013.
Another article from AOL written days before Halloween in 2014 wrote that Universal Studios Florida's "Halloween Horror Nights" was charging $95.99 per entrance every night they ran the event, which started on Labor Day. The park saw approximately 17,000 patrons during the weekday, and closer to 30,000 on Saturdays near the end of the month. Add on food and refreshments as well as VIP extras and then do the math.
When Universal Studios came out with their fourth quarter earnings for 2014, they reported a 30% increase in sales directly related to their Halloween events.
Last year's (2016) Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween attractions continued a trend that has become nationally popular among haunted houses. They employed producers and directors of horror movies and TV to ramp up the scare quality. And, according to the Chicago Tribune, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California not only extended its Halloween festivities an extra weekend, but build its largest labyrinth maze at 40,000 square feet. They also charged $40 per ticket per night or $200 per night for a ticket that allows guests to by-pass attraction lines.
Each of the articles researched in this blog had two things in common; a wild increase in profitability for Halloween in theme parks across the nation, as well as happy CEOs commenting on this growing trend. One even compared the Halloween market in theme parks to way that McDonalds continued to expand and add popular items to their menus that exponentially increased revenue and pushed them to fast-food stardom.
So what's the take-away for theme park directors, investors and managers? Invest a little in a professional haunted house, attractions, entertainment and/or all of the above and watch a large influx of profitability during the Halloween season. Boo!! Halloween 2017 is less than six months away...