October 12, 2005
The Halloween Season

Why is Astroworld staying open through October 30 now that it's announced its closing? Because October is a busy time at theme parks, thanks to a surge in interest for Halloween and haunted houses in recent years.

Not so long ago, Halloween was merely a one-day holiday, observed primarily by kids dressed in fake blood, plastic teeth, ballerina tutus or superhero costumes, who traipsed from door-to-neighborhood door dragging pillowcases full of candy.

Not anymore. Over the past five years or so, the nation's $11 billion amusement park industry has appropriated the holiday as its own, helping transform Halloween into a monthlong celebration.

"If there are still theme parks out there that aren't celebrating it, they need to get their heads examined," said James Zoltak, editor of Amusement Business, a trade publication. "It's a moneymaker, almost universally."

Although the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions keeps no figures, industry experts estimate that millions of people go to Halloween celebrations at parks around the nation, generating tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue for them.


Nationwide, Halloween has grown by leaps and bounds as a holiday, and this year consumers were expected to generate $3.3 billion in Halloween spending, according to the National Retail Federation. Celebrations also have spread abroad to amusement parks in places, such as Mexico and Brazil, without strong Halloween traditions.

"One of the things we know is that this is a worldwide trend. It's not just in the United States," said Beth Robertson, a spokeswoman for the amusement park association.

I think the reason why Halloween has become so popular is that in some ways, it's nature's perfect holiday: It's secular, it doesn't memorialize anything, gifts are not required, and there's no pressure to spend it with family or a date. It's nothing but the fun. As an added bonus for you extroverted types (and you know who you are), it's a rare opportunity to give full flower to your self-expression needs, without the inconvenience of that whole societal-disapproval thing. What more could you want?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 12, 2005 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack

I for one am surprised that the article states that Mexico does not have a strong Halloween tradition. In fact, Mexico's Dia de Los Muertos is a long standing Halloween tradition. More information can be found at: www.holidays.net/halloween/muertos.htm and www.jackolanterns.net/mexicanhalloween.htm .

Posted by: William Hughes on October 12, 2005 8:24 AM