Why the Dayton Scream Park is expanding while many haunt attractions struggle

Scenes from the Dayton Scream Park.

Combined ShapeCaption
Scenes from the Dayton Scream Park.

While other haunt attractions are struggling to survive in an industry that continues to evolve, the Dayton Scream Park has seen increased foot traffic amid major expansion this year.

The Scream Park on Valley Street has seen a roughly 10 percent increase in attendance this year, said owner Lance Compton. He’s expanded the 22-acre scare center from three attractions to four and has six new structures and 12 new scenes.

“We’re doing that trying to bring in new business, to stay competitive basically,” Compton said. “A lot of the places that are left are growing in numbers, putting more and more attractions at each location because a lot of single-attraction places have gone out of business.”

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Those expansions aren’t cheap, said Gary Burbrink, who has been reviewing up to 100 haunts each year with Jim Massie as Ohio Valley Haunts. The bigger props can cost up to $10,000, he said.

But he also said it hurts business to raise prices to pay for those additional props, with most customers only willing to pay about $20 for several attractions, which is what some are charging for a single attraction.

Those that can surpass those obstacles still have fire codes that grow stricter each year to deal with, Burbrink said.

“It’s a lot different than it used to be, so a lot of the indoor haunts have trouble opening because of that. You have to have a lot of money and fix the haunts up to meet the codes,” he said.

Compton charges $20 for four attractions, and said he intends to “keep prices down and attendance up.”

“As long as our attendance grows, we will grow,” he said.

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He opened the haunt 16 years ago when he was 30, following a long history of loving haunts. He was a family friend of the late Dr. Creep, a horror movie host on local television, and worked at several haunted attractions.

More than 100 actors volunteer every Friday and Saturday, with about half volunteering at least 10 years, Compton said. At the beginning, it was a fundraiser for children’s services where his mom worked. The volunteers wanted to help with that and decided to stick around because it’s fun, he added.

He still offers free admission for any children in Montgomery County children’s services and donates tickets for raffles.

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Steven Edwards, 27, has been volunteering at the Scream Park for 15 years when a friend told him about the cause. His acting as Leather Face from Texas Chainsaw Massacre was granted the award of top actor from Ohio Valley Haunts.

“I wanted to do it because it was my favorite character, and over the years I’ve grown and wanted to make it better like the movie,” Edwards said.

The Dayton Scream Park, which received an overall 8.7 out of 10 rating from Burbrink and Massie, will close for the season after Oct. 27 haunts.

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