Bad economy doesn't spook Halloween business

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The economy may be scary right now, but it apparently is not frightening people away from haunted houses. The growing popularity of the spooky attractions seems to be a bright spot for entrepreneurs.

"I think they're fun, the thrill, it's exciting," commented Amanda Vest.

She loves haunted houses and Halloween in general. She and her sister even acted in a haunted house once.

"We were a dead student and a dead teacher there," Vest said.

Amanda is one of 161 million people the National Retail Federation (NRF) says will participate in Halloween activities this year. The organization says each person will spend $72.31. That is ten percent more than last year. Some of that will go toward haunted houses, which nearly 30 percent of Americans plan to attend NRF says. That is two percent more than last year.

"Even though we're in a recession you still got to keep some of the traditional things that people do to feel normal," said Ronny Love. "It wouldn't be Halloween without a haunted house."

Love owns The X sports complex in the Fantasy Harbour area of Horry County. This year the complex is hosting the Modern Warfare haunted house, which is based on a popular video game. He said it was so popular the first weekend, the wait was more than an hour long with people willing to pay $15 each.

"Now we have to get more zombies and more guns," Love said.

Chad Rockholt, the operator of the Modern Warfare haunted house, explained people who go through the house get to virtually shoot zombies with electronic guns. Essentially a video game comes to life, and he said people have responded well to the idea.

At Ripley's Haunted Adventure in Myrtle Beach, the manager said they sometimes play off the popularity of recent horror movies. This time of year they see people who try to go to every haunted house around the area..

"I think more and more people are spending money on experiences than they are on actual products," Chad Netherland commented. "We're seeing that as well. They're coming out. They're going through these experiences. They're taking their own photos. They're uploading them to Facebook and these different social media to share their experience."

Vest said the money is worth it, if she finds the right haunted house.

"I guess it all depends on where you go," she said.

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