St Patrick’s day is just around the corner and that means some haunts are opening for an extra off-season event. On today’s show Max speaks with Sean Norman from Wells Township Haunted House in brilliant Ohio. Sean is planning a LIGHTS OUT low-capacity event for St. Patrick’s day march 19-20 and tickets are $14.
The Wells Township Haunted House Experience
“We are up to about 17, 18 years, something like that. Our places much different than other places in that we have a guided tour. It’s not a continuous self guided walk for each. Each room has its own individual show. So our tour guides, who are in character, will take you through the house. You stop and watch the show, watch the scene develop, the scare happens, we try to be as creative as we can, and then you’re ushered out of that room into the next room where there’s a completely different show.
If we do 20 rooms, you could almost call it 20 different attractions. Now they’re, one minute shows or two minutes shows, some of them are 10 seconds, and they’re all intertwined with each other. There’s no one overall theme.
Our outside atmosphere is one of the most unique in the industry. It’s a rock concert atmosphere outside, until you come around in front of the house, and then it’s about to be on, and it’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun doing it. It’s very creative. Difficult at times to keep coming up with new innovative designs and scares and features, but we change it up. But 90% of the Wells Township Haunted House gets changed every year.”
How Did Your 2020 Season Go?
“Opening night was difficult, very difficult because it’s opening nights tough to begin with, but this year was with all the things going on we had to slow down the show, we had to slow down the inputs so we could clean and disinfect in between tours. And there were some bugs to get worked out with that. But we had a massive turnout our first weekend, and so we were somewhat prepared for that. We didn’t know what to expect was going to be a huge turnout or a very low turnout. And we had great numbers all season long. Once we got our wheels rolling, it was downhill from there.”
Do You Have Anything Planned for the off-Season?
“St. Patrick’s day has always been a successful weekend for us. It fell on a Friday the 13th, we went viral a few years ago with 30,000 shares in just a few days on one of our posts that we did. So it turned out to be a pretty decent opening force. So we’re going to fire up the engine. We’re going to do a lights out tour in March 19th and 20th of this year.”
Lights Out Tour for St. Patrick's Day, That Sounds Really Creepy. Do the Guests Go in Completely Blind in the Dark, or How Does That Work?
“This is intimate group sizes, which means you go through with those you came, with a maximum of five. We knew that we’d normally do 10 people per tour, for lights out we reduce it to no more than five. And if you, me and our two girlfriends go with us, then it’s us four only. And only one of us get a glow stick. You gotta navigate the entire attraction using nothing but one glow stick that one person gets, not the entire group. And some of our actors that are inside are known to take that glow stick and have their way with.”
“And we’ve got some things in and around the house that if you find them, you get free, maybe you get a free pass for the October show, maybe you get a free t-shirt. There’s all kinds of things going on. The gift shop, we got specials going on in there, the concession standards. It’s all gimmicked up and it’s a good time. It’s everybody’s looking for something to do on that weekend, and we’re trying to provide that to them.”
Can People Get Them Online and at the Door?
“Our online sales are already up and running. You can click our shop now button on Facebook and also get them straight from our website. General admission is always and only $14. We have what we call internet sales. If you buy your ticket in advance, it costs a little bit more, but there’s a separate line for you. So we do, what’s called the token system. Most places you go, you stand in line, you get your ticket, and then you stand in line until they take your ticket. Our place, you go to the ticket booth, you get your wristband, and then you’re free to roam about the country.
You hang out in the yard by the burn barrels, we got live bands, you can go and get a hot dog. You’re not stuck in line. And then we have group numbers that are assigned by wristband. And your group number is called, you simply go to the front of the house. With the online sales, there are set aside group numbers that are specified for the online sales and that’s why they cost more. So there’s less of a wait. And then you have the VIP, that’s also available online and at the door, and you can always upgrade from general admission to VIP.
You pick a time and go in at that time. So if you bought an 8:30 VIP, you show up at eight 30, you go in and you leave, and there’s no wait for the VIP. So, it’s a pretty good system. It works real well. The patrons seem to enjoy it.”
Notes from Philip: First Sean is creating levels of play here. And that’s something that we’ve been talking a lot about recently.
His ticketing system even has a way for walk-ups to not waste time standing in line. Remember that guests won’t want to stand in long lines this season and that you should offer a different experience levels.
Next is the simplicity of this off-season event. Just turn off the lights and reduce the capacity. It’s still a COVID safe event, but the reduced group size and lights out, make the event entirely different.