The sluggish economy is still a fright, but thrill seekers are throwing down a lot of bucks at Halloween haunted house attractions this season. Across the country, haunt houses are doing a bang-up business. In Pennsylvania, the haunted house “PennHurst Asylum” reportedly caused a traffic jam when it opened a short while ago.
The number of Americans planning a scary visit to a haunted attraction jumped to 20.8 percent this year –up more than three percent from 2009, according to the National Research Federation.
In a PRNewswire release, Haunted House Association President, Randy Bates, credits aggressive marketing campaigns and bad economic times for the uptick in business : “In addition to this marketing investment, haunted houses traditionally see more visitors in a down economy,” said Bates. “People need to find a release; an unrealistic fantasy place to take their minds away from problems. And that’s precisely what we work so hard all year to provide.” Bates operates a successful Philadelphia haunt called “Bates Motel.” A real-life connection to the classic fright movie, “Psycho”.
Dan McCullough, who runs at least two haunted attractions in Texas, gives props to Tinseltown and game developers: “”Hollywood and video games are helping drive the phenomenon that has spiked interest in the horror genre,” said McCullough. “In turn, the haunts are becoming more Hollywood-like with more spectacular effects with CGI, and creative illusions that create a buzz on social networks and generate more demand.”
Also, haunted house owners from Philly to Atlanta to Kansas City and beyond say website traffic and online ticket sales are higher than ever before. Meanwhile the best is probably yet to come for these attractions. Typically, the busiest time for haunted houses are the days right before Halloween.