Increase your revenue and guest satisfaction ratings in the lowest months of the year? Halloween events may be the solution for your Theme Park or Water Park.
For many parks around the world, the peak season is the “summer/school holidays” around June, July, and August. Another peak season falls at the end of year season in December and for some countries includes January or February with Lunar New Year. This often leaves a gap in September, October, November where children are back in school and visitation is low for most parks.
Many theme parks in the US have realized this and have been organizing Halloween Events for years.
Asia and the Middle East have been catching up. For Example, in 2014, Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai organized the first Halloween Event in the region. Now almost all major theme & water parks in the UAE are offering Halloween events in some shape or form.
What does the Research say?
Research from IAAPA Benchmark studies in 2019 shows that 63% of theme parks offer Halloween Events. This is only 21% for water parks. 33% of water parks don’t do any seasonal events at all.
This is a huge opportunity to create additional revenue and improve guest satisfaction in some of the slowest months of the year.
10 tips for successful Halloween Events
Here are 10 tips for successfully Introducing Halloween Events:
- Analyze your visitor patterns. Maybe your park is one of the rare ones which hits its peak in October. If not, Halloween might be the perfect event for next years guest experience.
- Don’t be deterred by people saying “Halloween is an American thing, it won’t work here. No other park is doing Halloween”. Use tip #3 and #5.
- Analyze your target market. Who is coming to your park during the month of October and November, locals, regional tourists or international tourists. It’s unlikely people will take their children out of school for a day to attend your event.
- What type of event fits your target market? From Family friendly Trick-or-Treat candy collection, to horrifying haunted houses. You may even decide to mix both, with Family friendly fun during day and a more adult version after sundown.
- Experience successful Halloween events in other parks, countries, or cities. The best way to learn is to see what works in other places. You might even learn a thing or two from parks who are not targeting your same market.
- Use a relevant and unique theme. Don’t create a “Insert-parkname-here, Not So Scary Halloween Party”. Use history, relevant stories, location based legends, culture to create a unique environment to attract guests.
- Calculate your expected ROI. How many visitors do you need to attract to make this event successful? Will you repeat elements for the next year (and is the equipment strong enough to last multiple seasons?) Consider sponsorships or relevant partnerships.
- Calculate your budget and pricing strategy. Determine what the cost will be, temporary or permanent structures, theming level, (outsource) actors, make up, etc.
- Plan and start early! The biggest learning point from Dubai’s first Halloween event in Wild Wadi, was: Start Earlier. To create an impactful custom Haunted House, preparation needs to start after the previous Halloween is finished.
- Ordering custom Halloween props around the globe often can take months and constructing a custom themed Haunted house, might take multiple weeks / months to design.
- A successful event doesn’t necessarily depend on how much you spend on theming. Research shows that the training and creativity the cast / actors put into delivering the Halloween experience is more important than the money spend on props or theming.
- Don’t forget about emergency plans. People might faint, fight or flee during your event. Having a well prepared and practiced Emergency Action Plan is vital.
- Bonus tip: In some countries and cultures people strongly believe in ghosts. Consider a different theme, type of activities or style of event. For example, a more comedy / fantasy style.
- Wild Wadi Dubai 2015. Forbidden Basement.
2015 was the second year of establishing a Halloween Event Tradition. The Management team had been in close contact with some very successful parks that introduced Halloween in their region. (Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Singapore and Ocean Park Halloween Fest)
Having learned from their experience in 2014 and analyzed the ROI, they implemented the following best practices:
- 2 Events offered during Halloween.
- A Children Themed Trick or Treat event starting at 2pm. (Sponsorship with Pepsi)
- A Haunted House with a minimum age restriction of 10 years old.
- Use of an existing location (parking basement), to avoid having to construct a stand-alone structure.
- Re-using of some select props from previous year
- Use of special effects to increase the experience.
- Different music in each room
- Hot / cold effects to increase tension.
- Innovative layout and Back Stage area to allow one actor to cover multiple rooms inside the house.
- Clear rules and regulation about “no touching” policy
- Trans Studio Bandung 2019. Goosebumps 2 Haunted House.
In Collaboration with Sony Pictures, Trans Studio Bandung created a Haunted House experience with the characters from the hit movie “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” based on the movies from R. L. Stine.
- After 3 years of not doing any Halloween events, Trans Studio General Manager decided to create a “fantasy / comic book” style Halloween event to avoid any superstitious beliefs from staff and guests.
- Collaborating with Sony Pictures resulted in a win-win sponsorship situation with exposures for both brands.
- Usage of the characters for this event even included the use of the actual movie prop of “Slappy the Dummy”, during the launch event.
- Creating a “Scary & Fun” environment, where the haunted house brings the movie characters to life and the guest have to defeat them by laughter or solving puzzles.
- The total entry price was raised by 5% on week days and 7.5% on weekends and the access to the haunted house was included in the entry fee for the entire month of October, raising the total revenue compared to the previous year with 11%.
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