Nightly News   |  October 27, 2013

Inside the boo-ming business of haunted houses

With retailers cashing in big on Halloween sales, NBC’s Joe Fryer takes a look at the booming business of immersive attractions — where scaring customers away pays off.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight as we head for halloween this thursday we thought we'd take you on a house tour -- as in haunted houses . turns out they are big business . a growing industry that plays on our fears and has millions of people willing to pay money to feel scared. our story from nbc's joe fryer. [ screaming ]

>> reporter: this may not sound like a holiday. but these screams signal success for one holiday that's bigger than ever.

>> that's the thing to do on halloween . get scared.

>> things are swinging down at you. the walls are moving.

>> reporter: ben armstrong runs the next time haupted house in atlanta which welcomes 7500 guests a year.

>> it's a date thiegt, family event, something for kids and older people.

>> reporter: the production value is something out of hollywood with sophisticated masks and makeup for the 300 actors hired to haunt the home. more than a thousand of the large scale attractions can be found across the country.

>> reporter: why do people come to haunted houses ?

>> i think people love the adrenaline rush of being scared. halloween is the perfect excuse to live out that fun fantasy.

>> reporter: josh simon used his movie production background to turn an old los angeles theater into the setting based on the movie "the purge".

>> we are trying to make it feel like you are in a horror movie living that out in real life .

>> reporter: the american retail federation expect ps 30 million americans to visit a haunted house . some spend up to $75 to walk alone through the blackout where visitors sign a waiver and are given a safe word to say if they want to leave.

>> people do pay a lot of money. we think they pay because they can be in their own movie.

>> reporter: like christmas, halloween is starting earlier with many fright houses opening in september. a billion dollar industry that's growing at a frightening pace. [ screaming ]

>> reporter: joe fryer, nbc news, los