Events INSIDER 2013 Halloween Awards

After 10 days and 28 attractions, the Halloween Blitz is over. It was exhausting but also exhilarating. We rode 2 ziplines, a ski lift, 4 hay rides, 2 amusement parks, 3 historic villages, several historic homes, 3 plays, a castle, saw fireworks, 4 zombie shoot-em-ups, 2 mall attractions at totally different ends of the spectrum of quality, 3 farms, and 4 haunted corn fields. Wow.

We found that the best Halloween attractions have, in order of priority:

  1. A passion to improve their event from feedback. Regardless of their setting and resources, and regardless of their size, attention to detail was the key factor in the best haunts. Having extra time to polish came from someone’s heart really being in it, and the attraction not being run purely commercially. But you can’t have a team that’s all creative. Without a businessperson on the team, an event cannot be well managed, and passion to improve doesn’t help if you’re struggling just to put your event together, leaving no time for polish.
  2. A theatrical vision for set design and acting. Suspension of disbelief is difficult if your sets aren’t good, and without proper lighting, the special effects get hidden and the monsters are exposed. Startling people isn’t that difficult and does provide a good experience. But if you want people to be talking about your event and return over and over, having some depth is important. And it doesn’t have to be all scare. Some of our favorite attractions gave us quiet time to bond with the night sky.
  3. An outdoor component. It’s inexpensive to set up a woods walk, a hay ride, or a corn field, and creates a fantastic impact to be out in nature under a starry sky. Only the indoor attractions with the very highest production quality can match that.
  4. An area with seating for people to hang out before or after the attractions. Make it more than just an attraction: make it a destination. The more time we can spend with you, the more it’s worth a long commute.
  5. Carnival attractions. It doesn’t have to cost money to bring in vendors, who will generally pay to attend an event with lots of people. So bring them and even set up some inexpensive carnival booths that have interactive games, if you can’t afford the big rides.
  6. Unique effects. The best attractions have put so much thought into their location and impact that they build their own special effects, or at least buy them. We need at least one thing that’s WOW enough to get people talking, and it doesn’t have to cost money. It just needs to be original enough to have impact.
  7. Food available. This transforms an attraction from a destination into a home. Sit and enjoy watching others for a while.

We found groups that made the best of difficult situations, like not having money or being based in a mall. We found groups that did poorly with wonderful situations, such as having a castle or hay ride as their setting, or having tons of brand recognition and money for marketing. Sadly, we found that some of the best groups did not have marketing savvy — not even having photos or video of their experience on their website. Some attractions were hard to find and gave no directions. That’s no way to reach rapid growth.

So here are the Events INSIDER 2013 Halloween Awards. All the nominees are top picks worth seeing!

Best Halloween Attraction in New Hampshire


Winner: Haunted Acres

Did the Most With the Least


Winner: Ghoulie Manor

Best Halloween Attraction close to Boston


Winner: Haunted Cornfield at Connors Farm

Best Halloween Attraction in New England


Winner: The Haunted Graveyard