Halloween costs are rising. Will that frighten away haunt fans?
Sean Nyberg is a professional investor who has been keeping track of the rising cost of attending Disneyland Resort’s annual Halloween celebration.
The Seattle native posted a chart on Twitter showing that the average ticket price to the event, known as the Oogie Boogie Bash, has jumped 19% since 2019, slightly above the rate of inflation.
“It seems that everything has gotten more expensive,” he said.
But that didn’t keep Nyberg from reserving a pair of $159 tickets to the Halloween event and booking a flight from Seattle with his fiancé to take part in the celebration while staying at the Anaheim resort’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa later this month.
The Disney event is not an exception: The cost of almost everything Halloween-related is on the rise, with Americans spending more on candy, costumes, decorations and tickets to events such as the Oogie Boogie Bash. The average American household is expected to dole out $100 on Halloween this year, up from about $86 in 2019, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
The newest expansion to the Disneyland Resort — Avengers Campus at California Adventure Park — will add an attraction: Marvel superheroes versus villains.
But, like Nyberg, Americans are not spooked by the higher prices. Participation in Halloween-related activities is expected to reach 2019 levels this year, according to the retail industry group. Consider that the Oogie Boogie Bash sold out in three days this year, compared with 140 days in 2019.
Economists and Halloween experts attribute the increasing participation in the autumn spook fest to a combination of factors, including a rebound in activities by Americans who stayed home in recent years because of the pandemic and the continued popularity among young people of attending unique events to post photos and videos on social media sites.
Young adults ages 18 to 24, who stayed away from gatherings such as Halloween parties and haunted houses because of COVID-19, are making up for lost time and treating themselves to more outings this year, said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation.
“Young adults who did not participate in Halloween the way they did before, that is the group that has come back,” she said.
Although the country’s economic future seems uncertain, many middle- and upper-middle-class Americans have built up a stash of savings over the last year or two from stimulus checks and other outside funds and are ready to spend those reserves, said Lee McPheters, an economics professor at Arizona State University.
He pointed to a U.S. Federal Reserve study that shows American households have a record $4.9 trillion in checking, savings and money market accounts.
“People are coming out of their shell, but on top of that they are bringing along very strong purchasing power,” he said. “In spite of inflation, they have a positive attitude about their own situation.”
Participation in Halloween-related activities is expected to reach the highest level in three years, with 69% of Americans surveyed saying they plan to celebrate the holiday this year, up from 65% in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation.
Americans are projected to spend the highest on record — a total of $10.6 billion this year, compared with $10.1 billion in 2021 — on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending on candy per household is expected to reach $29.51 this year, up from $26.03 in 2019, the federation survey said.
Hershey’s — the maker of Reese’s peanut butter cups, Kisses and Twizzlers — increased overall prices 14% in June because of “increased cost pressures across our business,” but a company representative said the price hike did not target seasonal Halloween candy.
For Magic Kingdom patrons, the added food costs come on top of jumps in ticket prices, up as much as 8% last year, and parking, which soared 20%.
The higher costs for Halloween are reflected in the prices for Halloween events in Southern California.
The cheapest tickets for the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure are $129 this year, up from $114 last year, a 13% increase. Parking prices at the resort rose to $30 this year from $25 last year. Ticket prices vary by day, with the highest price — $179 for Halloween night.
The least expensive tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween celebration sell for $59 this year, up from $50 last year, an 18% increase. Parking prices at the park have increased to $30 from $25 last year.
In Long Beach, tickets for the Halloween event that took place at the Queen Mary ocean liner — known as Dark Harbor— sold for as little as $20 a night before the event was canceled due to the pandemic and costly repairs that were needed on the ship. A new Halloween event hosted by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal — dubbed Shaqtoberfest — has taken over adjacent to the Queen Mary this year, with tickets starting at $24.99.
Tickets for Haunt O’ Ween, an immersive family event held in Woodland Hills, range from $36 to $44, depending on the day of the week, up from $30 to $35 last year, an increase of as much as 26%.
The least-expensive tickets for the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride — where guests ride on trailers pulled by tractors past scary costumed actors and frightening scenes in an artificial fog-enshrouded Griffith Park — are $34.99, compared with $29 last year, up 21%.
Christopher Stafford, chief executive and founding partner of Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, which helps produce the Haunted Hayride and Shaqtoberfest, said guests haven’t been complaining to him about the higher prices. Instead, he said, they are happy that the events offer lower-priced tickets on nights when demand is lower, known as dynamic pricing.
“I think people are still excited to go out for Halloween,” he said as he stood among streams of people lining up to walk through haunted mazes and buy snacks at the Haunted Hayride event.
Admission to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights is priced at $72 to $102 a night this year, up from $69 to $99 last year, with parking rates rising to $30 from $28. So far, every night of the event has been sold out, prompting park officials to add an extra day to the event, Wednesday, Oct. 19.
In a statement, Disneyland officials said the high demand for the Oogie Boogie Bash suggests that fans consider the event worth the higher prices.
“Our guests continue to love the value of the event, which sold out 72 hours after general tickets went on sale,” according to the statement.
Justyn Schwoegler, a 20-year-old baker from Long Beach, echoed the sentiment of many Halloween fanatics this year. He has already attended five Halloween events, including Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, and plans to take part in at least eight more this year, including celebrations in Orlando, Fla., and San Diego. He described this as his “per usual” Halloween routine.
“Overall, I do feel as though haunt events progressively have gotten more expensive,” he said. “I feel it’s justified if the quality keeps going up and is up to par. The same goes for any candy, costumes and decorations out there, which I feel have also gone up price-wise.”
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