Unveiling the Economic Secrets of Running a Haunted House

Author Gertrude Brogi

Posted Feb 10, 2023

Reads 3.5K

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Visiting a haunted house has long been a source of entertainment, but what's it like to own and operate one? Assuming you're visiting a random abandoned mansion, most people don't realize the business behind the haunted house industry. Business haunted house industry publication hauntworld estimates that there are roughly 4,000 paid Halloween attractions across the country pulling in big bucks. Making haunted houses an almost billion-dollar industry in itself. But what does it take to be viable in this business and make your haunted house stand out?

Billy Messina knows all about running a haunted house. He's operated Netherworld, a highly regarded haunted attraction hauntworld rated as the second-scariest attraction in the US, for 20 years in Norcross Georgia. What started as a lemonade stand has turned into an enormous effort to provide an immersive horror experience that brings customers back year after year. To make it work, Messina opens his doors for 10 weeks each year and employs over 200 people to create an unforgettable experience for visitors.

It takes more than just throwing some cobwebs around and screaming "boo" to make a successful haunted house business. Billy Messina may have made it look easy at Netherworld but he understands more than anyone how much hard work goes into making big bucks on Halloween night.

Unlock Your Potential with Commitment and Drive

When Messina teamed up with business partner Ben Armstrong, they opened the first iteration of their now-famous haunted house Netherworld in Atlanta. Previously, Messina worked as a makeup effects artist and special prop maker in the film industry, while Armstrong had experience in TV production. They both shared a common interest - haunted houses. Before opening Netherworld, Messina and Armstrong visited many local haunted houses prior to try to get a feel for the concept and decide which ideas would work best at their own haunt.

Messina and Armstong had fun ideas that set them apart from other haunted houses – they wanted to make sure that customers could enjoy more than just being chased around by monsters. They created unique makeup builds, prop decorate and ground plans that made Netherworld stand out. Armstrong stuck with it even when free time was limited due to his full-time job – he knew he was smarter than most people when it came to haunting and wanted to take a chance on it. Both Messina and Armstrong loved Halloween since childhood, and eventually this passion became the key ingredient that has made Netherworld one of the biggest names in the haunted house industry today.

Nowadays, people from all over flock to buy tickets or speed passes for Netherworld – it pulls an estimated 75000 visitors each year! The commitment and drive of Messina and Armstrong have been invaluable for their success – had they not taken such a wise decision back then, who knows what would have become of their beloved haunt?

Discover a Stellar, Secure Place

The search for a stellar, secure place to host a haunted house can be difficult. It's important to find a location that is easy-to-find and ADA compliant. For the past 21 years, Norcross has been one of the top destinations for haunted house operators looking for a long-term leased space. Depending on the size of your haunted house, you might need 50000 - 100000 square feet with 400 parking spots or more plus room to put sprinklers, if needed. Warehouses and manufacturing plants are often ideal locations because they have multiple levels you’re able to use.

If you’re looking for a short-term lease option, it’s important to find a real estate agent familiar with the area who can help you find quality show space in an area where you won't violate local fire code linear feet requirements. After all, no one wants their haunted house shut down due to overly long corridors! What remains true today as it did 21 years ago is that Norcross offers many options that are safe and accessible while also providing potential customers with an easy-to-find location through terrestrial radio or print advertising when directions couldn't be provided.

Whether it's a short-term or year long lease, finding the right space to host your haunted house may require some research but with patience and paying rent on time you can find the perfect spot that will make your dreams come true!

Ghostly Tales From the Whaley House of San Diego, California

The Whaley House in San Diego, California is a haunted house full of ghostly tales that began when James "Yankee Jim" Robinson was convicted of grand larceny and hanged in 1852. After Anna Whaley built the house on the site of Robinson's death, it became known as one of San Diego's most haunted houses, due to sightings of Yankee Jim's ghost. The haunting intensifies today, with stories from the current owners, Mr and Mrs Whaley, about a young girl walking through walls and their family dog chasing a ghost form around the house. The Whaley House is now listed with the U.S. Commerce Department as a historic landmark and remains one of San Diego's spookiest attractions.

Connect With Your Public Safety Officials

Connecting with the local public safety officials is absolutely paramount when it comes to running a haunted house. Even if you think you know what you're doing, getting advice from experts like your local fire marshal or police force will make sure that your visitors are kept safe and sound.

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Asking Messina, a seasoned vet in the haunted house business, he advised newcomers to always reach out to their local public safety officials. He said that they're supposed to come in and check things out before opening day to ensure that all exit signs are properly lit, the sprinkler system works correctly, and more. Safety is incredibly important when it comes to running a haunted house, not just for legal reasons but also because decent humans should want their visitors to be safe.

No matter how much time, effort, and money have been put into creating an amazing experience for visitors of your haunted house, if there is no open communication between you and your public safety officials then none of those hopes won't matter as much as ensuring everyone's safety. It's incredibly important to make sure you connect with them every year before opening up shop again.

Exploring Dover, Delaware's Majestic Woodburn Mansion

Dover, Delaware is home to the majestic Woodburn Mansion, a Georgian-style home that dates back to 1798. It was a residence for many governors over the years and is still an active site today. Reports of ghostly encounters include objects moving on their own, a woman in white who has appeared floating around the mansion, and even voices speaking in 1985 during Governor Mike Castle's inauguration. Revolutionary soldiers have also been said to haunt the halls of this house. If you're looking for haunted houses, Woodburn Mansion is definitely worth exploring!

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast: Fall River, Massachusetts

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts has gone down in history as one of the most infamous haunted houses. On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found brutally murdered by an ax in their home and their daughter, Lizzie Andrews, stood trial for the gruesome crime. Although she was ultimately acquitted of all charges, the case remains unsolved to this day.

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Visitors to the bed and breakfast can still laugh today as they tour the museum that stages an annual re-enactment of the gory crimes. Aside from its historical value, many claim that the house is also haunted by spirits who creep about at night. Photo courtesy of Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast allows visitors to explore every corner of this eerie place to uncover more clues about one of America's most infamously unsolved murders.

Boost Your Imagination: Crafting the Best Costumes

Creating a successful haunted house requires more than just netherworld makes and dark hallways; it also requires the perfect costumes. An incredible mask, goofy gloves, and an overall spooky get-up helps put your netherworld over the top and keep scaring people all night long.

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For repeat customers, you can switch things up each year by adding new elements people have never seen before. For example, a frightening demon costume with glowing eyes or a monster that appears to rise from the ground are sure to generate plenty of screams. Additionally, keeping some of the same classic costumes but giving them fresh updates can keep things interesting.

Ultimately, crafting the best costumes for your haunted house ultimately comes down to having fun while making sure they are scary enough to leave visitors trembling in their shoes! With a little bit of creativity – and maybe some help from other Halloween enthusiasts – you can create an unforgettable experience that will keep your guests coming back year after year.

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is a sprawling Victorian mansion that was built by the widow of the founder of the Winchester Rifle fortune. Sarah Winchester, the houses owner, believed that she was cursed and set out to make room for the spirits of those killed by her family's rifles. She continued to add rooms, windows and doors for 38 years, until her death in 1922. The house now has an estimated 10000 windows, 2000 doors, 47 fireplaces and 40 staircases with 13 bathrooms. It is considered one of America's most haunted houses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most scariest haunted house?

The most terrifying haunted house experience is said to be McKamey Manor, located in San Diego, California. With a wait-list of over 20,000 people and a reputation for its extreme physical and psychological intensity, it's widely considered the scariest haunted house on earth.

What are the most haunted houses in the United States?

The most haunted houses in the United States include The Whaley House in San Diego, CA, The Lalaurie Mansion in New Orleans, LA, and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. All three are reportedly filled with eerie and hair-raising paranormal activity that will make your skin crawl.

What are the most haunted houses in America?

The most haunted houses in America are the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts, the Amityville Horror House in New York and the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans. Each house has a spine-tingling backstory that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

How to survive in a real haunted house?

Surviving in a real haunted house requires both courage and preparation. Make sure you arm yourself with the right knowledge and equipment to protect you from unseen forces, and stay focused on getting out alive.

Are there really haunted houses?

Yes - there are real haunted houses! Reports of strange and unexplained phenomena from all around the world have documented ghostly occurrences in many homes. If you're brave enough to explore them, you'll be sure to find an eerie tale or two.

Gertrude Brogi

Gertrude Brogi

Writer at CGAA

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Gertrude Brogi is an experienced article author with over 10 years of writing experience. She has a knack for crafting captivating and thought-provoking pieces that leave readers enthralled. Gertrude is passionate about her work and always strives to offer unique perspectives on common topics.

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