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Should Haunt be more "Family Friendly?"


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Before Haunt fans come at me with pitchforks and torches, let me explain.

One of the goals of operating any business is to maximize profit while minimizing expenses, as well as selling your product to a wide range of people. Wouldn't making Haunt more family friendly accomplish that?

Currently Haunt is seen as a mature experience that caters to teens and adults, (as well as brave kids.) Most parents take their kids to the Great Pumpkin Fest so their kids don't have to interact with "scary things." That being said, wouldn't it be worth a shot to try and widen that demographic to increase attendance?

How would this be done without ruining the experience for the people who like to be scared? Simple, you alter the experience. Imagine Haunt where parents don't have to worry about the scary roaming monsters. Instead you could have roaming actors that interact with guests in a way that's not meant to terrify them but just spook them. There's the usual spooky music and fog machines, but the scares are.....contained. The scare zones would still exist but they wouldn't be on pathways or high traffic areas so parents can walk around with their kids. The mazes can stay but the scares can be beefed up to compensate for the lack of roaming scare actors. The mazes could be ranked on how scary they are, say 1-5, so if younger kids wanted to experience a haunted house, they'd be able to do it at their own pace.

"But what about the 'no boo' necklaces?" While they do make the park money I feel like its a turn off for people who want warm up to the scares but don't want to spend any extra money just to not be scared. That's money that could be spend on park merch, food, fast lanes, etc.

Basically I'm suggesting an experience that is more inviting to a new audience awhile still catering to those who like the scares.

Am I wrong? Do people understand where I'm coming from? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Why would they nerf Haunt when they can have a family friendly event during the day and do a full turnover at night? There’s a reason why Haunt Saturdays do the numbers they do. They’re essentially two days packed into one. Plus, how many parents will take their toddlers to a late night event? How many teenagers would went to spend their Saturday nights at a family friendly event? By attempting to please everybody you will please nobody. 

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3 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

wouldn't it be worth a shot to try and widen that demographic to increase attendance?

 

 

Is low attendance currently an issue for Haunt???

Not being a smart-ass, honestly wondering as I'm not into Haunt, so have never attended the one at KI, only the ones at CP and Wonderland...

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Having a more family Halloween event during the works out great for kid to scared to goto the haunt. I don’t grandma or grandpa would like seeing the little one scared, but would rather see trick or treating.

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9 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

Imagine Haunt where parents don't have to worry about the scary roaming monsters. Instead you could have roaming actors that interact with guests in a way that's not meant to terrify them but just spook them. There's the usual spooky music and fog machines, but the scares are.....contained. The scare zones would still exist but they wouldn't be on pathways or high traffic areas so parents can walk around with their kids. The mazes can stay but the scares can be beefed up to compensate for the lack of roaming scare actors.

You just described Halloweekends at Cedar Point. For context, Halloweekends Fridays are notoriously dead, and Saturdays are some of the busiest days of the season.

5 hours ago, Honorarius said:

Is low attendance currently an issue for Haunt???

Not being a smart-ass, honestly wondering as I'm not into Haunt, so have never attended the one at KI, only the ones at CP and Wonderland...

Definitely not. Haunt Fridays and Saturdays start busy and only get busier the closer it gets to Halloween.

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When Fearfest became Haunt (circa 2009) I remember there was a push to make Haunt adult. They pulled stupid stuff like making displays that mocked the just buried (murdered) Steve McNair, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett. They had some kind of "Heckle and Howl" thing where a costumed employee with a microphone made fun of and sometimes even sexually harassed park guests. (They actually did a much more subdued and playful version at Winterfest the previous year and it was great). Lastly they had a "Haunt maze" Club Blood which was themed to a club with dancing teenage girls. Not good. 

These weren't just stupid rogues acting on their own, it's what happens when you encourage " pushing the limit" and market yourselves as doing so. 

Today we don't have these problems mostly because the park realized their initial mistake. They learned that Kings Island can have a more mature event but should not progress into an "adult " event. I think they mostly have it right the way they do it now as far as intensity goes. Nice kids event during the day and a scary/intense enough event at night to satisfy the late teen and early to mid 20s target audience. 

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39 minutes ago, KI Guy said:

When Fearfest became Haunt (circa 2009) I remember there was a push to make Haunt adult. They pulled stupid stuff like making displays that mocked the just buried (murdered) Steve McNair, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett. They had some kind of "Heckle and Howl" thing where a costumed employee with a microphone made fun of and sometimes even sexually harassed park guests. (They actually did a much more subdued and playful version at Winterfest the previous year and it was great). Lastly they had a "Haunt maze" Club Blood which was themed to a club with dancing teenage girls. Not good. 

These weren't just stupid rogues acting on their own, it's what happens when you encourage " pushing the limit" and market yourselves as doing so. 

Today we don't have these problems mostly because the park realized their initial mistake. They learned that Kings Island can have a more mature event but should not progress into an "adult " event. I think they mostly have it right the way they do it now as far as intensity goes. Nice kids event during the day and a scary/intense enough event at night to satisfy the late teen and early to mid 20s target audience. 

I remember the Heckle and Howl thing. It seemed like they repurposed the little house used by the Scrooge puppet at Winterfest for many years (I haven't been to recent Winterfests). But the guy wasn't terribly witty and just resorted to crass jokes. It was more funny to see how many people walked away after a particularly bad joke.

The current system seems fine but I do think some younger kids who are tall enough for coasters might enjoy all the night rides they can get during Haunt without dealing with the scary stuff.

Also, is CP really dead on Fridays during Halloweekends? Didn't they just announce that they'll be open all day Fridays and adding Thursday evenings?

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7 minutes ago, DoomPlague said:

Also, is CP really dead on Fridays during Halloweekends? Didn't they just announce that they'll be open all day Fridays and adding Thursday evenings?

Not from my recent experience but I hear it was that way many years ago.  Certainly a poor weather forecast will impact the crowd levels.  Hopefully with the increased compensation the severe staffing issues will be improved as well. 

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As @King Ding Dong pointed out, recent years (and even more so with CP introducing the Gold Pass), even a CP Friday was busy.  With CP adding Thursdays this year, Friday will be even worse.  CP Sundays were slammed in 2019 and 2020 as well, much more so than previous years.

KI Haunt doesn't have a lack of attendance issues.  It draws a different demographic and it fills the park with packed days.  It can draw the largest attendance days of the entire year.

The only reason they would change the Haunt formula would be if they decided the increased security and incidents issues were not worth the money they were making with it and felt they could increase revenue by changing the event to draw in a family demographic.

The Fall Fest last year, while a great family friendly event, gave them the data to know if that event by itself would be sufficient.  I suspect not by itself so that is why Haunt is back.  Now what they will do is try to incorporate as much of the Fall Fest into the daytime to try to encourage the family demo early and then turnover the park for the Haunt crowd.  Then they tap into the family demo during the day and the Haunt demo during the night.

I expect the park to be slammed in the fall.

 

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14 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

That being said, wouldn't it be worth a shot to try and widen that demographic to increase attendance?

 

 

In my experience, the Haunt is always massively crowded (depending on weather)--I doubt if increasing demand is needed. I would like a rating system for the mazes, etc. though

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Yes it should be more attractive to everyone.  Unless they want more of the trouble they had opening weekend.   The crowd is already so questionable they weren’t allowing re entry.   

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It wouldn't be more attractive to everyone though. If I want a young kid friendly Haunt there's still Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World, and of course for the ones that can afford it Disney. Really if they water it down too much, we'd be looking for alternatives like Dent Schoolhouse once dark hit. 

I get it, it's not as fun leaving early with a younger kid, but they have plenty hours for younger kids. 

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I see a change to Haunt coming. After having Fall Fest, I can see them toning down Haunt a little. Maybe balance it out for everyone and not just catering to teens. It's not about attendance, it's about profit. Filling the place with a bunch of teen season pass holders doesn't generate the same income of non passholders and families. 

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I'm going to be frank, the event is geared towards an adult audience, but that doesn't mean kids don't go. I believe the balance Kings Island has is honestly some of the best in the industry, happy haunts during the day, with scary haunts at night. Now with that being said, I have seen a ton of kids go into the houses in years past. Do I personally agree? Not really, but kids do go through the haunts more often than you think. I think, frankly, the park needs to ramp up the horror and seriously step up their quality. It has the capacity to be great, but as of late it feels like a blend of cheaper Spirit Halloween props with Hobby Lobby decorations. (IIRC there was a massive change in leadership a few years past, and ever since it has been going downhill). Oh, and please get rid of the day of the dead props for all of I-Street, just make it halloween based off each area. (i e werewolf in the french area, etc. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like having the times split as a parent. Both of my kids go and get their candies during the day, and being able to stay up late and see all the scary stuff is a special event for them.

 

I will say though, I'd appreciate them throwing slightly more money at the daytime event. It's been on a downward trend since the first year. No more tiny pumpkins, less candy, the "maze" now takes less than a minute of an entirely linear path. 

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