Ghost tours are scary big business
Halloween is almost here and the demand for tickets to so-called “dark tourism” events like ghost tours and haunted houses are at their peak. We find out why we love a good scare so much and how that has become big business.
It seems harmless enough. A pleasant Autumn stroll through a quaint neighborhood. You tour guide right there with you conveying meaning and context to the sights you see. But the next thing you know, things take a turn to the dark side with tales of horror and dread!
Wildly popular in October, haunted houses and ghost tours are at their peak of demand across the country right now. Just about everyone from all walks of life loves a good Halloween scare. That demand for scary fun is being met with an ever increasing number of professionally-guided haunted tours across the country.
Big budget productions like Timothy Haskell’s Nightmare Haunted House do a great job of capturing the fright using Hollywood film-grade horror effects and make-up. The chain of “nightmare” haunted houses in various cities nationwide is so popular it sells out weeks in advance. The popularity proves just how much we like a good scare.
But why do we like to be scared?
Annemarie Mannion, of the Chicago Tribune, got an answer to that question from Dr. Ed Slavishak, associate professor of history at Susquehanna University. Slavishak classifies haunted houses and ghost tours as “dark tourism”. Mannion quotes the professor’s opinion about our penchant for scary fun:
It’s a safe form of danger. Visitors experience a mild sense of danger and spookiness.
So we love a good scare when we know it is in a controlled environment like a haunted house. But sometimes, those professional grade “nightmare” haunted houses can be too much for younger children. As an alternative to the haunted house, many families, as well as those who appreciate history, turn to a more subtle and sophisticated scare – ghost tours.
Unlike “nightmare” haunted houses, ghost tours are available all year long, but of course demand for tickets really spikes around Halloween. The increase in attendence makes for highly sought after tickets and guided tour managers find themselves adding two and three extra tours per day.
The Orlando Sentinel estimated that “dark tourism” is worth an estimated $300 million a year to the ghost tours and the cities they operate in.
Those big profits have caught the attention of municipalities in need of new revenue. Some suburbs getting into ‘dark tourism’ business for themselves as a community fundraise. Others contract out the task letting established ghost tour professionals do the heavy lifting. The city need only to have a salacious tale or a gritty murder story to tell in order to make an innocuous city walk “haunted”.
Ghost tours don’t just bring in money for the cities they operate in, they have spurred an entire cottage industry of their own. Business and vendors that cater to ghost tours and haunted city walks include rental companies, restaurants along the tour routes, and specialty theatrical shops. Actors also play their part (pun intended) in the dark tourism economy. The entertainment value of a haunted walking tour is very much dependent on the performance of the guide so it is inherently a good employment opportunity for actors and comedians.
Ghosts with The Most
If you find yourself wanting to go on a ghost tour in your are chances are several are operating tickets being just a mouse click away. Here are our favorite ghost tours that ThunderTix proudly serves as the ticketing software of choice:
Ghost Tour – Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey
Concealed in the shadows of history, hiding among folklore and legend, live tales of ghosts and haunted houses. Passed down from generation to generation, whispered so as not to wake the dead, these tale endure the passage of time — refusing to go quietly into the night. Venture off the beaten path into a world of hidden pasts and dark secrets, of restless spirits and eerie sightings. More information and tickets
Haunted Covington – Covington, Ky
Hear the drama that unfolded in this town that put neighbor against neighbor and the ghosts that haunt the area to this day. See the bloodiest site in the state of Kentucky, and end your walk looking for ghosts inside two haunted mansions. More informations and tickets
Ghost Hearse – St Augustine, FL
Come and join us if your dare for a spine-tingling good time on one of the city’s best. Your St. Augustine ghost tour will begin as you accompany your licensed tour guide for a ride in one of our two vintage funeral hearses. Your adventure traverses down the dark and narrow streets of this ancient city and you will discover why St. Augustine is well known as “America’s most haunted city” where you will discover the ghosts and spirits of a long ago era that continue to haunt the ancient city even now! Our hearse ride is a real ghost tour experience! More information and tickets
Newport is Haunted – Newport, KY
Enjoy a spooky good time as your cloaked guide will lead you by lantern-light, enthralling your group with tales of suicide, murder, and even decapitation. This 90 minute tour encompasses 6 city blocks, exploring the nefarious history of this infamous town. Learn several of Newport’s vicious yet unsolved crimes, and discover the origins of Bobby Mackey’s wicked haunting. More information and tickets
What do you think? Why do we all love a good scare so much? Are ghost tours and haunted sightseeing a good alternative to “nightmare” haunted houses for families with children? Share your own favorite “dark tour” or provide us your feedback in the comments below!
Posted in: Guided Tour Management Software.
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