How to capitalise on the scarrrry reach of Halloween by understanding the rhythm of fear

Halloween has a reach, a fan base and a sense of occasion all of its own. I remember watching ET as a kid in the UK and thinking ‘wow, that’s what trick or treating is’ and now we can’t move for vampires, witches and random teenagers at Halloween.

In this blog, we will share some truly gruesome ideas for you to use during Halloween and explain the peculiar rhythm of fear. Read on, if you dare…

As the popularity of Halloween has increased so have consumer expectations. Having a few lonely pumpkins dotted around simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Guests want the experience to start way before they arrive at an attraction and to stay with them long after they have left.

How can you take the immediacy of Halloween, the thrills, excitement, and immersion and create a full, 360-degree experience for your guests?


Let’s think about enjoyable fear and thrill for a moment. If you’re a baby or a great grandma the pattern it follows is the same:

  • Anticipation or suspense followed by,
  • Immersion or thrill with a final sense of
  • Relief and safety

Play peekaboo with a toddler and you will see this pattern, the anticipation of ‘when is it gonna happen?’ followed by the squeal of delight when the surprise takes place, followed by a giggle as the toddler feels safe and demands more.

In some of the great scary movies, this pattern repeats over and over, building to a final crescendo. Is it really safe to get back in the water?


Shark builds suspense on the beach


Think about all the points of interaction a customer has with your brand or attraction before they even arrive. How can you create a sense of occasion and create anticipation for what will follow when they do get to you?

Here are some ideas to get you started

  1. Website or social media takeover – Halloween-ise your online presence
  2. Trailers of your thrilling events, these can be friendly and fun for the little ones or horror movie style for the grown ups
  3. Up-sell packages – create specials in the food & beverage outlets and add spooky dining packages to tickets for a VIP (or is it RIP?) experience
  4. Use automated marketing to build the suspense, try a countdown, or a slow reveal, or even send out Halloween jokes and fancy dress ideas
  5. Have fun with your staff and get them in the scary spirit – get them to invent Halloween names and avatars for themselves during Halloween, kick it off with a themed staff training experience before the season starts


Clown with purple flare

This is where you get the chance to really interact with your visitors face to face. Don’t forget their experience starts as soon as they drive through the gates. How many ways can you immerse them in your Halloween experience? From staff to merchandise, food & beverage to shows, walk your attraction like a guest and see where you can add the magic.

Why not try these?

  1. Create a wraparound experience – theme the car parks and exits
  2. Extend the day by adding seasonal evening packages
  3. Hit every sense, don’t forget sounds and smells to create real immersion
  4. Add drama to your experience by using experiential technology like AR, VR, or colourful projection mapping
  5. Ensure you have that instagrammable moment – pop-up photo opportunities are a really cost-effective way to make a big impact, and don’t forget your #HalloweenHashtag


Children collect sweets trick or treat

When we come down from the thrill we share that sense of safety and relief – this is a great time to reach out to guests and forge even stronger connections.

Studies show that first and last impressions count, so don’t forget how guests leave you!

Here’s some more ideas:

  1. Survivor badges or certificates – why not hand them out to guests as they leave, or share digital versions to add to their social channels after the event?
  2. Share the top scariest moments with your guests afterwards – or get them to vote
  3. If you have the data you can give them more of what they liked or missed at your attraction – encouraging them to pre-book for next year/season
  4. Capture some video testimonials the moment after they feel the thrills – their excited and energetic films will be great to email out and share on social!
  5. Encourage your guests to share their experience online – promote your hashtag, involve influencers or run a social promotion

If you still need more ghoulishly good help, then speak to Kelly Herrick at Katapult. Or subscribe to the mailout to get tips on how to enhance your Halloween sent straight to your email address. 

About the author: Kelly is the Strategy & Development Director at Katapult – A Creative England Top 50 company, that design themed attractions and experiences that amaze and engage visitors globally. Their work is enjoyed by 50 million visitors, at 81 theme parks, in 18 different countries, every year.


I work on commercial and creative strategies for our clients, all based around amazing guest experience. I help them develop their business & brand potential, engage with their audience and use insights to drive growth. I develop narrative and storytelling to uncover something new, authentic and unique.