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Case Study

Scarefest Scream Park delivers frights, terrors, and delights without the horror of long lines


Scarefest Scream Park


Detroit, Michigan


Amusement park



When the long waits to get into Scarefest Scream Park started making their visitors unhappy, Scarefest turned to Waitwhile’s virtual wait management platform and saw an immediate decrease in wait times and an increase in customer happiness.

When the air gets crisp, the leaves begin to turn and spooky season starts in earnest, haunted house attractions rise from their slumber to give people the heebie-jeebies they crave. For people in the greater Detroit, Michigan area, the preferred halloween experience can be found at Scarefest Scream Park.

Located about 35 miles northeast of downtown Detroit, Scarefest Scream Park has been in operation since 2006. It was created and launched by John Marino, a serial entrepreneur, who took his talent for transforming his own home into a haunted house and made a business out of it. Today, Scarefest operates for approximately two months a year on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in September and October – attracting over 60,000 visitors during its short seasonal lifespan.

The Challenge

With so many visitors and so few days of operation, Scarefest was struggling to manage the terrifyingly long lines for the park’s main attractions that could stretch up to 3 hours during peak times. The waits were the primary complaint of customers who loved the experiences, but didn’t enjoy standing in line for hours outdoors on cold autumn nights.

The park runs like a carnival with a midway offering a number of activities, including bonfires, a beer tent, concession stands, and outdoor movies. But the main attractions consist of four hair-raising features, each more dread-inducing than the last. There’s the family friendly Hayride of Doom, the mid-freak-out-level Forest of Darkness, the Terror Zone Maze, and finally the knee-quaking haunted house: The Castle of the Dead.

Visitors are free to wander the midway for free, but the attractions require tickets. In 2020, recognizing that the long lines were negatively impacting people’s experience, Scarefest Scream Park signed on with Waitwhile.

The Solution

Waitwhile allows people to join a line virtually from their smart device and get notified with a text message when it is their turn to head back. They can get up-to-the-minute wait time estimates and always know how close they are to the front.

Waitwhile was the perfect queue management system for Scarefest. For starters, it allowed visitors to experience the pleasures of the midway while waiting instead of languishing in long lines. Second, instead of forcing customers into lines, visitors were now free to spend money at the beer tent and concession stands, increasing the amount of time customers were engaging with park offerings and thus raising overall revenues by over 50%. Finally, with the pandemic in effect this past year, maintaining safe and effective social distancing was much easier when visitors weren’t being herded into stagnant lines and could instead spread out safely throughout the park.

But the benefits went beyond the customer enjoyment factor. Scarefest now had access to real world data about their visitors’ experience. For instance, before signing up with Waitwhile, Scarefest had to rely on visitor comments on Google and Yelp to understand the customer experience. With Waitwhile, suddenly the park had insight into its own efficiency.

Tracking average wait time data enabled administrators to speed up attractions in real time to reduce wait times. Knowing how long visitors spent in the attractions themselves gave Scarefest the ability to understand its peak operation hours better and inform customers about when attractions are busiest and, conversely, when lines are shortest. Tracking estimated wait times gave the box office insight into when to offer its all inclusive tickets - which give visitors access to every attraction - and when to only offer attraction-specific tickets to reduce overcrowding at select rides.

After seeing the data and learning that people typically came in groups of four, the marketing teams were able to craft and target messaging towards the group experience. The park now also understood how many attractions each visitor actually went through each night which helped them understand demand to better bundle ticket sales. Finally, Waitwhile’s 2-way messaging capabilities gave Scarefest direct access to its visitors and they were able to get direct feedback rather than relying on third-party rating systems like Google and Yelp.

“With Waitwhile, we saw a 179% increase in 5-star reviews YoY.”

Lauren Marino, Scarefest Scream Park

Features used

Virtual Waitlist

Manage lines of guests and resources.

SMS Communication

Keep an open line of communication and update customers on their appointments.


Know when your business is busiest and how much time customers spend where.

The Result

Because people were able to spend their time wandering around the park instead of waiting in line, midway revenue grew by over 50%. And customer satisfaction was the highest ever. A vast majority of people (79%) said they loved the new virtual waitlist system and the park saw a 179% increase in 5-star reviews year-over-year.

“People liked not having to physically wait in line. They liked being able to enjoy the concessions and games and the scary carnival atmosphere with spooky actors running around interacting with people. Basically, with Waitwhile, we were able to make the waiting part of the fun,” says Lauren Marino, the Operations Manager at Scarefest Scream Park who initially reached out to Waitwhile about its services.

The learnings collected from real time data provided by Waitwhile has helped Scarefest prepare for the coming Halloween season with greater clarity than ever before. The park’s operational insights are now scary good.

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