I Own a Disney Airbnb Inspired “Haunted Mansion”

  • As a child, Jeffrey Schiefelbein loved the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
  • He started a production company, bought a house, and recreated the haunted mansion in every room.
  • Now he rents out his haunted house on Airbnb for $679 a night on weekdays and $779 on weekends.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jeffrey Schiefelbeina Airbnb owner of a Haunted Mansion-themed property called The Ghostly Retreat in Fullerton, California. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I’ve always had a love for Halloween. People ask me how I got into it, and it all goes back to when I was younger and was inspired by the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. I don’t specifically remember going there for the first time, but I do remember that it fascinated me.

As soon as I put it together, I wanted to create ghosts and monsters and all that stuff. I then founded my own production company, Sinister Pointe Productions, doing general production work for all sorts of different things – music videos, TV shows, movies, and amusement parks. I’ve been doing it for 22 years.

Growing up I thought it would be amazing to live in the Haunted Mansion

As I got older, my house was even decorated like the Haunted Mansion. At one point I thought, “I can’t live like this – I’m not The Munsters”, but the thought stuck with me.

A round sitting table in a dimly lit room with spooky artwork on the walls.

The haunted house game room.

Jeffrey Shiefellbein

I thought having an Airbnb would be the perfect opportunity for me to create something I’ve always wanted to create and make it an investment that people could come and enjoy. I found a house in Fullerton near my home and near Disneyland. Took me a long time to find as I wanted to make sure it wasn’t close to neighbors to avoid possible complaints.

It was a dump that needed a lot of work. I used my production skills to start creating my vision. I did the Haunted Mansion ride and started taking thousands of photos to recreate all the elements of the ride. Then I started integrating them into the house.

Haunted Mansion-themed Airbnb.

Jeffrey Schiefelbein

I think if someone had called a production company and contracted out the renovation, it would have cost $1 million. Fortunately, I was able to ask my family to help me. My brother is a general contractor, my cousin is a cabinetmaker and my uncle is an electrician. I still had to pay people to do the work and for the materials, so I would estimate that we invested around $250,000 in the renovation of the house and garden. Then I probably invested another $200,000 in production, like special effects, lighting, sounds, custom wallpaper, and furniture.

All gates are exact replicas of the carousel gates

I used my graphic design skills to recreate all the wallpapers. I used my knowledge of special effects to recreate the changing portraits on the walls – which I’m really proud of. I also love that there’s a motion sensor, so when guests enter the house, Haunted Mansion music starts playing to welcome them.

I have no memory of Haunted Mansion. There are no pictures of Mickey Mouse on the wall. I wanted it to look like the real house – not a house with Haunted Mansion memorabilia.

Haunted Mansion-themed Airbnb.

Jeffrey Schiefelbein

It’s been a year and a half since I posted the house on Airbnb, and it’s been a resounding success. There are over 100 reviews, and they all say something like, “You walk in and your jaw drops. I built it for the fans. For people like me who are obsessed with Disney and the Haunted Mansion. I think you can feel that when you walk in. It’s great to be able to bring that joy to people.

I expected it to work well. I thought if I booked it 50%-60% of the time I could pay all the bills and put some money in my pocket. However, we are typically booked nearly 90% of the time, if not more, each month. We had a few Disney influencers come stay with us when we opened, and it just blew up. Other than that, I don’t do any marketing.

We usually rent it for $679 a night on weekdays.

On weekends it’s $779 per night. A lot of people in my life tell me that I don’t charge enough. When I first launched the Airbnb profile I was charging something like $349 per night and reservations started filling up fast. I had to raise my prices, but if you’re looking for deals you can sometimes book for something like $400 a night.

Haunted Mansion-themed Airbnb.

Jeffrey Schiefelbein

This year, we’re putting together a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay with themed decor complementing the Haunted Mansion design, which will be on display until January 8, so prices will increase by around $100 per month on weekends.

I’m home a few days a week for half an hour doing maintenance and checking things out. We have really amazing housekeepers who go above and beyond to make sure everything is going well, but I like to make sure all the special effects are still working.

Otherwise, it’s very low maintenance, and it’s the first thing I’ve ever done that has provided me with passive income. It gave me the ability to work only on the production tasks I want to work on, and not have to work 24 hours a day. I even plan to open another property in Florida.

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