Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses’ Owner, Michael Jubie, Talks Safety and Longevity in the Haunt Biz!

Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

We interview 25 year haunt veteran, Michael Jubie, about his passion for horses and haunting at Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, NY!

Michael Jubie Headless Horseman

Located on a 250 year old farm that sprawls across 65 acres of eerie woods, secluded ponds and spooky orchards in the historic Hudson Valley, NY, Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses is consistently rated one of the Top Haunts in America. This is the same Hudson Valley where early American writer and storyteller, Washington Irving, was so fond of setting his classic ghost stories and local spun tall tales and who birthed an American legend in “The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow”.

Owner/Operator, Michael Jubie, is celebrating 25 consecutive years of success with his massive seasonal attraction that began a quarter century ago with a staff of about 35 and now boasts a crew of over 375 hardcore haunters. “I can tell you that we not only draw from surrounding states, but from states across the entire country and across the entire world,” says Jubie. “We’ve had people from Germany, France and Italy. The Chinese Travel Channel came here and filmed. Before that, the only Chinese guy I ever knew was from the restaurant down the street!”

Long before becoming a professional haunter, Jubie served in the military and spent 25 years in the New York Police Department which not only gave him a greater appreciation for the importance of security than the average haunt owner but also helped build a unique set of skills. “I’ve been a detective in New York and I’ve done a lot of undercover disguise work, so I developed a line of Halloween wigs and mustaches to wear on the job.”

“My wife and I have always owned horses, and we’ve both also always loved Halloween,” says Jubie. ”We started out in the horse & carriage business, so naturally combining those things and living here in the Hudson Valley with the Washington Irving story, it all just seemed to fit.  The great thing about the Headless Horseman is that you’ve got a logo that you don’t even have to put anything else with it and when you show it to people they know exactly what it is.”

Jubie also owns his own security company where he provides experience, equipment and advice to other haunters in the industry. “If I could teach the haunt industry anything, it would be about how important metal detectors and handheld wands are. Metal detectors are more important than any animatronic you could ever buy.”

Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

Jubie’s expansive career experience in law enforcement has made him passionate about creating a safe and fun experience for his guests. “What the haunt industry hasn’t understood is that what happens in California affects me here in New York. We want to provide a safe and secure place to have fun on Halloween night. My attraction has more off duty security and police officers on a typical Friday or Saturday night than most cities in the state of New York.”

Headless Horseman

Jubie also owns American Made Monster Studios where his creative crew builds props and animatronics 365 days a year. “That’s our sister company that we created because we had some very talented artists and we didn’t want to lose them during the off season, so we put them in the basement of our t-shirt factory where they very quickly outgrew that space. So we bought a new, bigger building for them to work in.”

Headless Horseman’s seasonal attractions include a one-mile themed hayride, a corn maze and seven different haunts, but perhaps the most unique aspect of Michael Jubie’s Halloween business is the fact that it also includes four themed gift shops and five themed food service vendors!

“We’ve been trying to educate the industry for years about food and retail,” says Jubie, “and they’re starting to get it.” Jubie got on-the-job food service training while in the Army serving as a Mess Sergeant in charge of preparing three meals a day for 250 soldiers. “The first night we opened our Donut Shop, I had to send a police officer at the end of the night to break up people arguing over the last set of Deadly Donuts!” His donut vendor now has to make a thousand donuts every night before opening just to keep up with demand.

Possibly the first haunt in the industry to implement timed ticketing to control crowd flow, Jubie prides himself on the customer experience. “If you wait in line for an hour at my attraction, you are going to be on my property for at least two and a half hours.”

What advice does Jubie offer someone looking to get into the haunted attraction business? “Save your money and live in the woods,” he jokes. “Seriously, you need a minimum of $2.5 million to start up a proper attraction and that’s not even owning the building. When we started this 25 years ago, I didn’t expect any of this, but nobody goes into business to fail.”

“When a customer goes to a haunted house and it sucks, chances are they aren’t going to go to another haunted house anytime soon.” Jubie truly does seem to believe that all haunted attractions are in business together and that while a rising tide lifts all boats, a weak link in the chain damages the entire fleet. That’s tough love from a guy tough enough to survive and thrive 25 years in the world’s scariest business.

You can experience Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses this fall in Ulster, NY, find out more at HeadlessHorseman.com. Or you can catch them this summer on the Premier Haunted Attractions Tour on June 22-23 where you’ll get a behind the scenes look at Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses and learn about haunting from Jubie and his team. Learn more at PremierHauntTour.com.

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