full moon productions haunted house

How haunted houses helped develop Kansas City's West Bottoms

 Attendees line up for Macabre Cinema in the West Bottoms, run by Full Moon Productions.

Thousands of people flock every Halloween to the West Bottoms' enormous attractions, which are some of the oldest and most successful haunted houses in the country.

Each year, the haunted houses in the West Bottoms open for the season during the months of September and October. Thousands of people flock to these enormous haunted attractions, which are some of the oldest and most successful haunted houses in the country.

But the haunted houses have brought more to the city than just terror. They have played a major role in the revitalization of the area. But as development takes off in the West Bottoms, some wonder whether seasonal entertainment like the haunted houses should be part of the area's future.

Full Moon Productions is a family-run business that owns and operates all four of the haunted houses in the West Bottoms. The company built the first haunted house in 1975 in downtown Kansas City, but in 1987, the area was rezoned and the house was shut down.

Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, the vice president of Full Moon Productions, says that’s when they saw a business opportunity in the West Bottoms.

“When we first opened our business here, people said, 'Oh, you’ll never make it down there.'” Arnett-Bequeaith says. 

The historic West Bottoms

full moon productions haunted house

At the turn of the century, the West Bottoms was an economic hub for the entire region. The low-lying area at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers was home to all the major slaughterhouses and a center for the railroads.

But when a series of flood hit the area, the worst being in 1951, many of the bustling industries packed up and investors steered clear of the disaster-prone neighborhood.

Forty years later, in 1991, the neighborhood was still fairly deserted. Full Moon Productions was drawn to the affordable real estate and the stock of historic architecture.

full moon productions haunted house

"We couldn’t afford to build or create a facade for people to see,” says Arnett-Bequeaith. “So the buildings possessed all the creativity that we were looking for, to give it that awe and that mysterious feeling.”

The only drawback was that for many years the city had stopped deploying basic services, like repairing sidewalks, street sweeping, and sewer maintenance. If Arnett-Bequeaith and her family wanted to have a successful business, they’d have to improve the neighborhood first.

Laying the foundation

Since the haunted houses opened, Full Moon has worked to improve the West Bottoms. Besides removing graffiti and killing weeds on public property, they organize a monthly neighborhood clean up and the West Bottoms security effort. 

Together with other business in the West Bottoms, Full Moon has worked with the city on more substantial renovations. Historic structures like the 12th Street Bridge have been repaired, as well as sewers and streets. 

“If it wasn't for the haunted attractions in the West Bottom,” Amber Arnett-Bequeaith says, “we wouldn’t be having the resurgence that we are today here.”

A neighborhood in transition

full moon productions haunted house

The West Bottoms is in fact experiencing a period of revitalization. New restaurants and galleries have moved into the area. More than 30 antique shops open for a special event the first weekend of every month. Buildings that sat empty for years have been re-purposed as event spaces, artists studios and galleries.  And more residential developments are on the horizon.

The future of seasonal activities in the West Bottoms

Rancher Bill Haw owns a lot of real estate in the area, and is working to redevelop the "Historic Stockyards" section of the West Bottoms into a mixed-use residential neighborhood. He questions whether there will be a place for disruptive, seasonal activities like the haunted houses, or even the yearly rodeo and barbeque extravaganza, the American Royal.

"It's very important to me that we have consistent year-round activity as opposed to seasonal," Haw says.

Even Amber Arnett-Becqueaith of Full Moon Productions says she's not sure all four houses will survive long-term at that location.

"I think that by looking at the history of what the haunted attractions have done for the West Bottoms, it would be very sad to see them go away," Arnett-Becqueaith says.

full moon productions haunted house

full moon productions haunted house

Full Moon Productions

The Beast Haunted House

Established in  1991, The Beast is known throughout the industry for it’s elaborate scenes and attention to detail.  The Beast pioneered the “open format,” where you’re not in a line, you’re wandering through the scenes, never knowing when an actor or activated device will rock into action.

It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to walk through The Beast – IF you don’t get lost in the fog in the werewolf forest, stuck in a maze or pulled through the light in the three story tower.  There werewolf forest is a full ¼ acre in size, the storm scene’s thunder and lightning will make your hair stand on end, the cobblestone streets of Jack the Ripper’s London will seduce you, beware the raging wolf!  And don’t forget the swamp with its blood thirsty alligators.  The exit is a four story slide, it’s straight down and blazing fast.

The Edge of Hell Haunted House

Established in 1975, The Edge of Hell began as Kansas City’s oldest and best haunted house and has molded into a national model for celebrating the Halloween season. 

This converted five story warehouse is the Granddaddy of em’ all, and with good reason.  It offers a 30 minute, quarter mile walk-thru of sensory stimulation.  It’s many scenes are elaborate and detailed and with a cast of over 45 “live” performers including two of the largest Anacondas in North American captivity.  Don’t miss the Purgatory scene, walk across an authentic swinging rope bridge, crawl into the graveyard and run through Dracula’s living room.  Ascend to Heaven where you confront your sins then it’s down the five story slide into the arms of the Devil himself.  Can you make it through hell and back?

The Chambers of Poe Haunted House

Can you face the madness?  Witness the dark writings, tales, and poems come to life in the haunted Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe.  Be a part of your favorite nightmarish tales like the Raven, The House of Usher, Rue Morgue, The Black Cat and more!  Experience the feelings of being buried alive, suffocating, or claustrophobia to the extreme.  Come journey through the imaginative and twisted tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Chambers of Poe has been rumored to be haunted by the building’s former owner who died tragically in 2005 and this season the Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab will come to investigate the many haunting stories.  In addition the Chambers of Poe offers local students the opportunity to experience the many writings of Edgar Allan Poe by actually walking through his stories and participating in a curriculum written by certified teachers.

Macabre Cinema Haunted House

Are you ready to go from the screen to SCREAM?  Welcome to Macabre Cinema, Don’t just watch it, LIVE the action of classic and contemporary horror scenes on your 45 minute – one hour adventure through our haunted 1930’s movie theater.  Macabre Cinema continues the open format of the Beast Haunted House (opened in 1991)through more than 30 dramatic scenes housed throughout the 4 floors and, if you dare, the dungeon.  Lights, Action, SCREAM!

Macabre Cinema has original Hollywood movie sets from the Hellraiser and the Mummy and various props from other contemporary and classic horror favorites.

Kansas City Ghost and Gangster Tours

Come join us as we tour by coach past historic Kansas City landmarks with legendary paranormal activity and infamous mafia mayhem!

Join us and see…

Hotel Savoy, the oldest continuously operated hotel west of the Mississippi, rumored to be haunted by Betsy Ward, an old woman who passed away in room 505 and never moved out.

The location of several bombings in the late 1970’s, attributed to organized crimes struggle for power.

St. Mary’s Church where the ghost of Father Henry David Jardine is said to haunt in an effort to clear his good name after his untimely death was ruled a suicide.

The bullet holes that still remain from the massacre of four law enforcement officers and a fugitive at the Union Station railroad depot in Kansas City, Missouri on the morning of June 17, 1933.

full moon productions haunted house

The Beast The Edge of Hell Full Moon Productions Macabre Cinema Haunted House The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe 1401 West 13th Street 1300 West 12th Street 1401 West 13th Street 1222 West 12th St. 1100 Santa Fe Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City, MO MO MO MO MO 64102 64101 64102 64101 64101

816.842.4280 816.842.4279 816.842.4280 816.471.2250 816.474.3845

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full moon productions haunted house

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Haunted Houses Need to Terrify You More Than Ever This Halloween

Many haunted attractions, typically a financially lucrative business, were devastated by the 2020 season. This year, they’re hoping to rebound through your frights and screams.

full moon productions haunted house

By Eduardo Medina

Greg DeFatta needed the exorcism bed.

So this spring, he maxed out his line of credit at $200,000, bought the bed that shook as if possessed, bought the clown costumes stained with blood and added hundreds of other items to his online cart. Maybe that would draw crowds to his two haunted attractions in San Diego, businesses that have supported his family for more than three decades but that were shut down in 2020 by the pandemic.

“‘Devastating’ is a great word to describe the Halloween season last year,” said Mr. DeFatta, 61, the owner of The Haunted Hotel and The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park. “You know, it was scary, it was horrifying. And if we can just get through this year, we’ll be fine.”

That is the predicament this month for hundreds of haunted houses, a staple of the Halloween season and an attraction that embodies the financial struggles of small businesses across the United States as the economy limps toward recovery.

Consumer spending this Halloween season is expected to reach a record high of $10.1 billion, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation . An estimated 65 percent of Americans intend to celebrate this Halloween, up from 58 percent last year and nearing the 68 percent who said they would celebrate in 2019.

For haunted house owners and workers, the renewed excitement made possible through vaccinations is a hopeful sign that a strong spooky season this month can make up for last year’s lost revenue. Some say business is back to normal, while others have noticed that lines are not as packed as before.

Of those Americans who planned to celebrate Halloween this year, 18 percent said they would do so by visiting a haunted house, down from 22 percent in 2019 , according to the National Retail Federation.

While most larger attractions have been able to reopen this year, some smaller operations that were devastated by the lack of revenue last year weren’t able to.

“We’re trying to bounce back this year,” said Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, the vice president of Full Moon Productions, which operates several haunted houses across the country, including The Edge of Hell, which was founded in 1975 in Kansas City, Mo., and is considered one of the oldest commercial haunted houses.

Mindful of the pandemic, some places are continuing to incorporate masks with their costumes or demanding that workers be vaccinated, Ms. Arnett-Bequeaith said.

“It’s a hard business,” she said. “Scaring people is not easy or cheap.”

Some of the larger haunts, she said, have spent well over a million dollars over the years as they try to keep up with an audience that is no longer content with strobe lights and skeletons.

Now, owners of large haunted attractions are seeking upscale props, such as animatronic demons, movie-like monster makeup and projectors that can display high-resolution zombies — all expensive features that can slim the profit margins or drive up ticket prices.

For those whose haunted houses are their sole source of income, the six-week season is, as ghoulish owners would say, do or die. This year, it’s even more critical.

“It’s a lot of anxiety,” said Michael Jubie, the owner of The Headless Horseman, a haunted house and hayride attraction in Ulster Park, N.Y.

Mr. Jubie said he lost about 75 percent of his income last year because he couldn’t operate at full capacity. The Headless Horseman used to employ 375 people. Now, it’s about 190. “It’ll take 10 years to recoup,” he said.

High lumber prices , product shortages and rising costs of goods are adding extra hurdles to haunted houses this season, owners and workers said.

Tino Pascuzzi, who runs The Sanctuary Haunted Attraction in Oklahoma City, said his decision to close last year was devastating.

“When we close, there’s an entire ecosystem of workers that are affected,” Mr. Pascuzzi said.

The witches, nuns, Freddy Kruegers and demented doctors who terrify visitors are often hopeful actors and theater students from the nearest university. Then there are the security personnel, sanitation crews, marketers and vendors who provide the props.

The haunted attraction industry, with about 1,200 locations that charge admission, generates an estimated $300 million in revenue and spends about $85 million on advertising, according to America Haunts , an organization that collects data for the industry.

“It’s like 20 Broadway shows every night,” said Dwayne Sanburn, the owner of 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, La. Between Covid last year and Hurricane Ida this year, the attraction “really got hit,” he said. But profits this month were up about 20 percent compared with last year, he added.

“I think everyone’s ready for entertainment and ready to go out, and Halloween is perfect for that,” Mr. Sanburn said.

In recent weeks, some smaller haunted houses have also been crawling toward more financially stable ground.

Dan Hopkins, 71, opened the Hollis Haunted Chicken House in Heflin, Ala., about 18 years ago to raise money for the local fire department, the theme being a mutant chicken invasion that a farmer tries to control by enlisting the help of his friends, Jason from the “Friday the 13th” series and Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

In the waiting room are real chickens, a metaphor, Mr. Hopkins said, for what people will become once stepping inside.

“We’re doing just as well as ever,” Mr. Hopkins said, adding that the attraction might net about $100,000 by Halloween.

It was those kinds of results that Mr. DeFatta was hoping for on a recent fall night as he stood outside The Haunted Hotel for its grand opening.

He paced around. He looked at his watch. Only a few hours until the creaky doors opened, and would people show up?

Finally, as the night darkened, the people arrived. More than 1,000, he tallied.

Mr. DeFatta listened to the whirring chain saws, the deep-voiced killers, the piercing screams of green-eyed clowns. He heard the people yell, heard them shout profanities and laugh and thank the heavens it was over.

“It was music to my ears,” he said.

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  • (5.64 mi) SunFlower Park Hotel
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COMMENTS

  1. Full Moon Productions

    Medusa! Medusa, a Reticulated Python owned by Full Moon Productions in Kansas City, Missouri, USA is the longest snake ever in captivity.

  2. Full Moon Ghost Hunt

    Starting this year Full Moon Productions will open their haunted house doors for the Full Moon Ghost Hunt for Paranormal Investigations. So get off the couch and stop watching your favorite ghost hunting TV show. Go on your own Full Moon Ghost Hunt!

  3. Company Overview

    An Industry Leader The Beast , The Edge of Hell , Macabre Cinema, and The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe are owned and operated by Full Moon Productions. Full Moon Productions is one of the countries leading haunted house and entertainment development companies. Full Moon has been a pioneer in haunted house production since it's inception in 1975.

  4. The Beast

    The Beast - Full Moon Productions The Beast Haunted House The Beast Founded in 1991, The Beast is America's largest haunted house. The Beast pioneered the "open format" design, where you're not in a line, you're wandering through the scenes, never knowing when a spook or an activated scene will rock into action.

  5. Haunt Diary: West Bottoms' backbone haunted houses are showing their age

    Like The Beast and Edge of Hell, Macabre Cinema is owned and operated by Full Moon Productions, and partakes of a proud KC haunt tradition, even while this particular installment has only been operating since 2007. It sits in a building that was once occupied by one of Kansas City's most venerable haunt institutions, the Main Street Morgue.

  6. Full Moon Productions

    Full Moon Productions, located in Kansas City, Missouri, owns and operates world-class haunted house attractions since 1975. Helping children and pet charities in the community have been...

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    Starting this year Full Moon Productions will open their haunted house doors for the Full Moon... 1401 W 13th St, Kansas City, MO 64012

  8. How haunted houses helped develop Kansas City's West Bottoms

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  9. Edge of Hell (Kansas City)

    Status. Operating. Website. www .edgeofhell .com. Edge of Hell is an American haunted house attraction located in Kansas City, Missouri. [1] The Edge of Hell was founded in 1975 and is said to be the oldest haunted house in the United States. [2] [3] It is operated by Full Moon Productions, which also operates The Beast and Macabre Cinema.

  10. Full Moon Productions

    Full Moon has been a pioneer in haunted house production in Kansas City since it's inception in 1975. The Beast The Edge of Hell Full Moon Productions Macabre Cinema Haunted House The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe 1401 West 13th Street 1300 West 12th Street 1401 West 13th Street 1222 West 12th St. 1100 Santa Fe ...

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  12. Haunted houses have a long, scream-filled history in KC

    That's where Full Moon Productions this year operates three haunted houses. The two big ones — The Beast and The Edge of Hell — are virtually local institutions.

  13. Fullmoon Productions Haunted House Trailer

    Full Moon Productions presents the Haunted House capitol featuring the BEAST, the EDGE of HELL and MACABRE CINEMA HAUNTED HOUSES.The houses are located in la...

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    "We're trying to bounce back this year," said Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, the vice president of Full Moon Productions, which operates several haunted houses across the country, including The ...

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  20. Press Releases

    Download File booksinthebottoms.pdf Download File weekends_west_bottoms_first_friday_12_15.pdf Download File december_west_bottoms_first_friday_12_15.pdf Download File west_bottoms_first_friday_10_15.pdf Download File Press Releases The Local Show Visits Full Moon!

  21. Press/Awards

    Edge of Hell Haunted House Press and Awards Rated Best in Horror, Scariest, Most Terrifying, Thrillingly Fun Haunted Houses in the U.S. - HauntedHouseRatings.com -- Top 31 Haunted Houses (2009) The actors who haunt the Edge of Hell and the Beast have only one goal; to reduce us to quivering blobs of fear. - Kansas City Preview (October 16 ...

  22. Eksmo Company Profile: Valuation, Funding & Investors

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