Haunted Houses a Growing Industry

By: John Tramontana
By: John Tramontana

October is a time for shrills and thrills and Mid-Michigan is no exception.
Haunted Houses are a growing industry with some fear seekers visiting more than one dozen during the season.

Phantasmagoria in Lansing has more than 800,000 square feet of terror but owners say it's not easy keeping up with technology.

"We go to all the haunted house trade shows and try to keep up on the newest innovations and technologies as far as haunt scares go," Jerry Browne said.

Browne also is the company's production manager. It's not his primary job but he's working at it most of the year. The trade shows begin in January and then there's all the preparation. From building sets, to hiring actors, he said it's a fulltime job in itself.

But he believes it's that committment that keeps people coming back for more.

"We look forward to October," said haunted house hopper GIta Mahabir. She and her husband spend over $100 throughout the month on fear entertainment. "It's our favorite month of the year. We do it because it's exciting. It makes you feel like a kid again."

And while most everyone knows it's all pretend, Browne says they're scared anyway.

"You do it in the detail," he added. "You try to bring people into a scene so they really believe that they're walking into a butcher shop where a guy's really about to kill them."

According to USA Today, haunted houses could grow to a $500 million a year industry before the end of the decade.


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