Halloween is alive all year long.
Updated: Mar 17, 2019
Halloween comes once a year... for the general public.
For many people it is a never-ending way of life. Halloween has become big business. It has evolved over the years into more than just a children's holiday to go trick or treating, its a fine-tuned machine that lives on the cutting edge of technology and dictates people's fear. There are a few groups of people that live in a constant state of Halloween and horror all year long. Let us take a closer look at these groups.
The Haunted House workers (The Haunters)
This group is comprised of Haunted House owners, managers, and actors. The beginning of Haunted House preparations for the new year actually begins right after the attraction opens for the current season. There are not many Haunted House owners/managers who don't begin thinking about the changes they would make for next season during the current operating year. It's actually quite natural for these thoughts to begin. Many of these thoughts revolve around the design of rooms and the scares within them. You have the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't. On top of the design aspect, you have the operational changes that are observed to make the machine work more efficiently. Sometimes those changes need to be made during that operating year to avoid chaos, but most of the time they get placed into the memory filing cabinet for later use. You generally come off that season with lots of great ideas, enthusiasm, and exhaustion.
Once your season is over you begin the planning for the upcoming year. Are you going to tear out rooms and rework them, or are you going to just add layers to change the room and make the experience different? Marketing is such a major part that should be planned out and needs much attention to detail to ensure your efforts are not wasted. Once all of these questions have been answered then you have to start executing them.
Some Haunted Houses run off-season shows such as Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. Here at Containment, we are running a show during the Atlanta area Spring Break. This is the first time to our knowledge that a Haunted House has been open during this time period. Our show is called "THE ROT", and its story is based upon the last whispers of the paranormal world before they enter their Summer slumber. Off-season shows run for several reasons. The first reason is of course to make money. But there are other benefits that can't be measured. Keeping your brand relevant in the public eye is one of the most beneficial. The Haunted House enthusiasts are what drive these shows. They thrive on having a little bit of Halloween feed to them.
Many Haunted Houses will send people to the Haunted House Attractions Association annual convention in St. Louis called Transworld. There the industry members will have the opportunity to see all the new technology and props being offered to the Haunted Attraction world. It is a grand collection of the industries best and up and coming creative minds. There is a camaraderie among the attendees that stimulates the Haunted House spirit that many people look forward to. For many, it marks the beginning of the new season. Once the show is over and you return home the real work begins.
Build-out is a labor of love but filled with blood sweat and tears. For those with outside attractions, its laboring long hours in the blazing heat through the summer. For others its many hours inside a building not seeing the light of day. You put forth your all building sets and creating scares that you hope the public will love. It's a necessary evil to keep your Haunted House fresh and interesting so people will return.
Haunted House vendors
This group is pretty self-explanatory, but it includes the prop and animation vendors, costume vendors, Haunted House media and marketing groups, website and graphic designers, makeup and mask vendors and others that help the industry.
Generally when the Haunted Houses are open for Halloween is a slow time for vendors. Some will take advantage of traveling around and visiting the different attractions, some are working a Haunted House, and others are just going to rest. But I have not met one prop vendor who is not thinking of the next creative vision to create.
After Halloween, it is time to prepare for Transworld to showcase their new designs. The rush to create samples and build up stock to take with them is on. I am quite sure that many of them thrive off the fumes of latex. Elaborate booths and displays are built that will present their creations to the Haunted House community in ways that entice the buyers to believe they can't be successful without their products. While at the show they will make sales and take orders for the upcoming season. If the setup and tear down of the trade wasn't exhausting enough, the true race beings when they return home to fill all the orders that provide their lively hood.
The marketers, website builders, and graphic designers for the industry begin their adventures around March in preparation to locate new clients and help promote their attraction. Just as the Haunted House must be kept fresh, so does all the marketing collateral. It is sometimes the most overlooked aspect of running a Haunted House, but is definitely one of the most important! You can create the most amazing Halloween experience in the world, but if no one knows it exists all those efforts were in vain.
Haunted House enthusiast
This group is made up of everyone who loves Halloween, Haunted Houses, and all things Horror related. This is a large group of people and is growing steadily.
This is group encompasses a majority of the first two groups. Halloween is a holiday that has a very dedicated, growing, legion of followers. These are people outside of the general public that eat, sleep, and breath everything spooky. They visit several different Haunted Houses throughout the season. They live for the off-season shows to get their horror fix, and even attend horror conventions (i.e. Days of the Dead, and Spooky Empire...) to meet their favorite horror celebrity or buy their next horror-themed shirt or trinket. These are the dark warriors who push through the rest of the holidays throughout the year just waiting for the days when the leaves begin to turn and the weather begins to cool.
Many Halloween enthusiasts have begun elaborately decorating their homes, creating their own localized attraction. Many have learned the art of building and creating props that rival the large Haunted Attractions in quality and effects. With the advancement of technology over the years lowering the cost of what was once high dollar lighting and projection effects, a new market has opened up surrounding video graphics. Homeowners are now able to use near holographic projections to create scenes that once could only be imagined in horror movies or inside the Haunted Mansion at a Disney Park.
Haunted House and Halloween enthusiasts span all demographics. They are fueled by shows such as "The Walking Dead" and "Stranger Things". The horror film industry works feverishly to keep new and creative movies released throughout the year. This group helps drive a huge industry that generates millions of dollars keeping many people employed. And truth be told, the vast majority of the general population belongs to this group.
With every shadow in the dark and bump in the night, fear is instilled in people's minds that drive spirits to keep it alive. There might not be plastic pumpkins in every store, and candy corn on every shelf, but Halloween is alive all year long.