Big theme parks cash in on theme park Halloween craze

Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:00 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Universal Orlando's first foray into Halloween Horror Nights 21 years ago involved one weekend, a single haunted house tucked away in the back of the park by the "Jaws" ride and some people in store-bought masks jumping out of dark corners. What was largely an experiment that first year has evolved into a monster draw for the Orlando theme park.

Read more from AP via CBS News.

Thursday, September 29, 2011 1:32 PM
rollergator's avatar

Does anyone remember us suggesting over a decade ago that regional parks were going to have to become Halloween-focused because there was just too much money being left on the table? Neither do I... ;)

Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:09 PM

My park is starting one this year. While its a late entry in the holiday arms race, its a start.

Friday, September 30, 2011 3:41 AM

I'm heading to HHN at Universal in less than 2 weeks. I can't wait!

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Friday, September 30, 2011 7:18 AM
delan's avatar

Universal just absolutely astounds when it comes to totally transforming the park for Halloween. Busch Gardens are hot on their heels. I was pleasantly surprised last year.

Monday, October 3, 2011 3:51 PM

Are stories like this even news anymore? Everyone pretty much knows that parks are doing Halloween events, unless they live under a rock, and even then most of them know.

Monday, October 3, 2011 4:37 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think the real story is that the events now account for such a huge percentage of attendance and revenue. In some places, it even takes from the summer numbers.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, October 3, 2011 8:36 PM

It is kind of incredible to think that Cedar Point did 3 million+ for decades and this was before they stayed open until the end of October with the park getting the kind of weekends they do now. If the park is doing just around 3 million now WITH HalloWeekends being the success that it is suggests that guests are deciding more and more to delay their annual visit.

"Thank the Phoneticians!"

Monday, October 3, 2011 10:59 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

It could be that, or it could be that the weather in Ohio sucks so bad that no one wants to be out in it.

Seriously, Jeff - I don't think you were supposed to move the Seattle weather with you.

R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 3:57 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Just got back from Halloween Horror Nights and it was awesome. Definitely the best i've been too. I can't wait to go back again in the coming years.

TimChat2 said:
If the park is doing just around 3 million now WITH HalloWeekends being the success that it is suggests that guests are deciding more and more to delay their annual visit.

That's what happened with my wife and I. We wait for our Halloweekends Lighthouse Point trip with our friends rather than deal with the heat of the summer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:21 PM

Sorry to revive a zombie thread, but... The thing that amazes me about Halloween events is they give them away. We just went to Cedar Point for HalloWeekends, and stole a suite in Hotel Breakers with tickets for myself, the wife, and my 3 year old son for the entire weekend for $450. We looked at the same package during the summer, it was well over $1,000. Darien Lake gives away Fright Fest if you buy a season pass for next season. If this is such a huge attendance time of year (which I'll verify, Cedar Point was fairly busy even though it rained all weekend), wouldn't it be prudent to at least keep pricing in line with the summer?

But then again, what do I know?

Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:38 PM

My Platinum Pass for Sea World and Busch Gardens expires on October 27, so I'll be visiting Busch Gardens on October 25 and Sea World on October 27. (On the 26th I'll drive down to Zoomers in Ft. Myers and add their "Cobra" to my list of credits, as well as visit a "Judgement House" at an area Church. After that, it will be 2023 before I purchase another SW/BG Pass, I'll have other parks to chew on until then. :)

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:31 PM

I wonder if the geographical profile of Cedar Point's park-goers changes from the regular season to Halloweekends. That is, is it possible that a significantly higher percentage of visitors come from a farther distance in the summer, compared to the post-Labor Day customer base?

The theory's quite reasonable, as there are vastly more 'vacationers' -- folks and families taking long trips over long distances -- during the summer months than afterward. Once fall hits and school starts up, it would seem to me that the composition of visitors would be much more skewed toward day-trippers, who by definition don't need hotel rooms.

And since turnstile clicks dramatically drop for the two bonus weekends after Labor Day, and then gradually climb to a season-peak level after HW gets going, this would suggest that those summer vacationers are being replaced (and even greatly surpassed in number) by locals and day-trippers going specifically for the haunts.

This would explain why ShaneDenmark got such a steal of a deal. Demand for rooms drops even as gated attendance increases, so an oversupply of beds leads to reduction in price.

Econ 101. ( I didn't sleep through all of it.)

My author website:

Saturday, September 29, 2012 11:53 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm not sure about every property at Cedar Point, but Lighthouse Point is pretty much sold out every weekend in the fall, every year. I think Breakers is close, but maybe Sandcastle is hit or miss.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Sunday, September 30, 2012 12:28 AM

Which doesn't mean that my speculation was incorrect. Lowering price to fill up the rooms, as sounds like they may be doing, is still reflecting of reduced demand.

My author website:

Sunday, September 30, 2012 6:41 PM

It would be interesting to compare the demographics of who is renting rooms before and after Labor Day. I tend to agree with Ensign, that the folks renting may not be coming from distances as great and likely don't include as many families with younger school age children.

It happens in many places. Prices for lodging in Jersey and Delaware shore towns drop majorly after Labor Day, especially during the week. While in the Poconos and New England, prices maintain or even go up as all the leaf-watchers hit the road during September and October.

To paraphrase what you see on here often, if they could get the same price, they'd be charging it already.


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