In case Halloween is under the radar at your attraction, here are some staggering stats from the National Retail Federation. 170 million people will celebrate Halloween this year, according to the group’s annual consumer spending survey. 24% of those plan to “visit a haunted house,” a category which has grown consistently year after year from 14.9% in 2005.
It’s no surprise then that area attractions are looking to capitalize on spending this holiday. Why shouldn’t they? Most Texas attractions can only grow so much in the summer months and are looking for ways in which travelers can enjoy a repeat visit, extend their length of stay or spend additional money.
While Halloween activities are not new, they are growing in popularity and diversity with categories for children and adults. Here are three in San Antonio which are new this year.
Face Your Fears Tour at SeaWorld
This is an add-on to a SeaWorld visit and includes backstage tours of key attractions at the park’s Howl-O-Scream event, front of the line access and reserved seating. When you purchase this tour, you get a daytime look at how the Frightmare Forest is designed and a makeup demonstration with real tips you can try for your own Halloween costume. The Face Your Fears Tour is one of several unique experiences offered by SeaWorld at Halloween.
“Halloween is one of our park’s most celebrated and well-received traditions,” said Brian Carter, director of PR & Digital for SeaWorld San Antonio. “We add new elements to Halloween and our other consumer events as a way to grow the footprint of the event and keep our guests coming back to see something new.”
Terror on the Plaza
In downtown San Antonio, just across from the Alamo, Ripley’s Believe it or Not added Terror on the Plaza during select dates in October.
Dinner and a Ghost Tour
This combines dinner at the Menger Hotel with a local tour by Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours for a special combination attraction in September and October. Details here.
These all address the “ghastly” side of the holiday, which is an expensive investment for smaller attractions. There are many other themes which a destination, hotel, or small attraction can consider to take advantage of the milder temperatures, seasonality and consumer travel habits.
Harvest – Pumpkins and apples are a natural, but special menus and festivals for foodies are on trend.
Photography – While your visitors are munching on seasonal goodies, they might also be taking pictures, as the folks at Tourism Currents point out in their recent newsletter.
Family – Any theme that helps families carve out time together can bring added visitors to your destination.
With the average person spending $79 at Halloween (up from $49 in 2005), it’s a season that attractions need to think about expanding in the future.
Read the National Retail Federations’ complete Halloween Spending Survey results here.
Ed Note: I was given the chance to experience the Face Your Fears Tour at SeaWorld in preparation for this story.