Haunted house attractions in the pandemic: What you’ll see in 2020


(CNN) — It looks like 2020 has supplied greater than sufficient scares. But for folks nonetheless searching for an additional jolt of worry and adrenalin, it is the time of 12 months for these surprising haunted house attractions.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed a number of long-distance travel, particularly by airplane, these Halloween-themed attractions round the world often draw a extra native crowd. So they should not be damage by folks making extra short-haul journeys this 12 months.

They do face different hurdles, although.

In the carefree nights of 2019, the massive questions on these attractions had been: Which ones are the finest? How scary are they?

In the cautious nights of 2020, we’ve got completely different questions: Are haunted house attractions even opening this 12 months? And if they’re, is it secure to go?

With instances of Covid-19 once more on the rise, medical specialists advise a cautious strategy.

A mixture of openings and closings

The outcomes: Seven are open this 12 months. Three have determined to shutter for 2020. The seven which can be open are:

The Bates Motel is taking reservations in 2020.

Christopher Brielmaier/Rogues Hollow Productions/Bates Entertainment Group

Bates Motel, 1835 Middletown Road, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania 19342; +1 610 459 0647
The Dent Schoolhouse, 5963 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45248; +1 513 445 9767
Erebus, 18 S Perry St.., Pontiac, Michigan 48342; +1 248 332 7884
Haunted Overload, 20 Orchard Way, Lee, New Hampshire 03861; +1 855 504 2868
Netherworld Haunted House, 1313 Netherworld Way, Stone Mountain, Georgia 30087; +1-404-608-2484
Scream Town, 7410 US-212, Chaska, Minnesota 55318; +1 888 317 7308
The 13th Gate: 832 St Philip St, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802; +1 225 389 1313

Citing security issues due to Covid-19, three of 2019’s prime 10 determined to not reopen. They are Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror in Las Vegas, the Haunted Trail of Balboa Park in San Diego and Scared by the Sound (at Playland Park) in Rye, New York.

A longtime Las Vegas favorite, Freaking Bros. Trilogy of Terror decided not to open for the 2020 season.

A longtime Las Vegas favourite, Freaking Bros. Trilogy of Terror determined to not open for the 2020 season.

Edison Graff www.stardustfallout.com

In a message to followers on its web site, Freaking Bros. in Nevada mentioned, “Current regulations will not allow us to present our horror shows with the intensity that we are famous for, nor can we guarantee a way to protect our patrons or our valued employees and volunteers properly during this pandemic.

“After months of deliberation and cautious evaluation, we have regretfully needed to acknowledge that the solely accountable technique to deal with that is to place security first, and shut for the 2020 season.”

The venues that are opening are emphasizing Covid-19 safety.

The 13th Gate is where folks in Louisiana find their thrills.

The 13th Gate is the place people in Louisiana discover their thrills.

13th Gate

For example, the 13th Gate in Louisiana has an entire page devoted to Covid-19 measures. Visitors to amusement parks this past summer will find this all quite familiar.

13th Gate’s measures include mandated masks for guests and actors, virtual queues, reduced capacity, temperature screenings and new setups to maintain social distancing.

An inside look at one attraction

CNN Travel talked with Ben Armstrong, a co-owner of Netherworld near Atlanta, about how the attraction is adapting to the pandemic during its 24th season.

Armstrong said planning for a big Halloween attraction is a year-round endeavor, and they eventually realized the pandemic would not be fading away by the time their operating season arrived in late September.

“We labored at it for months. We needed to give you new methods to current the attractions. It’s been proper all the way down to the wire,” he said. “We weren’t even positive we would be able to open. We did not even know if we should always open, relying on how the disaster was evolving.”

Armstrong said they had to come up with plans to open in a safe manner, and they worked closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health in planning.

A new way of operating

Netherworld, located near Atlanta, has put more emphasis on its outdoor areas for 2020.

Netherworld, situated close to Atlanta, has put extra emphasis on its out of doors areas for 2020.

Courtesy NETHERWORLD Haunted House

Among the measures is working fewer days than traditional.

“We’re taking off Mondays and Tuesday to verify we’re not overstressing our employees and take a while between operations.”

Armstrong said they had to think about both staff and visitors in planning for an opening that would greatly reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“We needed to do a top quality present like we at all times do, however we needed it to be secure. The trick was tips on how to obtain each these targets concurrently,” he said.

“We’ve decreased the quantity of actors in the attraction, and we have radically decreased the quantity of attendees. In addition, we elevated the variety of particular results and animations. We’ve added about 100 on prime of what we already had.”

Armstrong said the ways actors engage with patrons have also changed.

“They do not make the sounds they often make. They use voice amplifiers and recorded sounds. They’ll be silent after they scare you. They use unusual sound units that startle folks. They have props to thrust towards folks. The entire manner they interact you has modified dramatically.”

Actors at Netherworld wear masks, and they’ve set up one-way traffic flow to avoid people backtracking.

“We’ve elevated the dimension of the out of doors halfway. We had been angling towards this anyway, however we made massive adjustments to our bodily campus.”

Caution across the Atlantic, too

Bodmin Jail in the Cornwall region of England is up and running for the 2020 season.

Bodmin Jail in the Cornwall area of England is up and working for the 2020 season.

©Twelve Architects 2020/Bodmin Jail

Some haunted attractions in Europe are additionally opening, retaining a lot of the similar precautions in thoughts.

A favourite in Cornwall, England, is historic Bodmin Jail, which was constructed in 1779 for King George III.
They have an entire page online on what visitors need to do before they arrive and once they arrive to remain Covid-safe. They have a timed entry system. They’ve eliminated interactive elements and set up a one-way traffic flow like Netherworld has done.
Despite the pandemic, the theme park Movie Park Germany is hosting its annual Halloween Horror Festival. Teutonic terrors include a Circus of Freaks and a hostel that’s most unwelcoming. However, this park not too far from the Rhine River in Bottrop has been planning since summer to make sure the scares are safe ones.
Manuel Prossotowicz, the director of marketing and sales at Movie Park Germany, said in an interview with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions that they would build bigger outdoor lines, set up a one-way flow of patrons and cancel pre-shows that tend to congregate people in small spaces.

The great outdoors

The Forge: Lemont Quarries is a park focused on outdoor activities and is in full autumn glory.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries is a park targeted on out of doors actions and is in full autumn glory.

Courtesy The Forge: Lemont Quarries

Some haunted house attractions that already had outdoor components are making expanded use of those areas. For newly opened The Forge: Lemont Quarries, it helped that it was already an outdoors-focused park.

About 22 miles from downtown Chicago, this recreation area full of zip lines, ropes courses, rock climbs and the like opened on July 17 with the pandemic well under way. But because of the spread-out nature of the place and singular nature of the activities, they didn’t have all of the same struggles that theme parks have had.

Co-founder Jeremie Bacon said that helped with opening during the pandemic and planning their main Halloween activity — a laser tag Zombie Apocalypse — as well.

“Aside from the … well being and security benefits of an out of doors venue throughout Covid, The Forge surroundings naturally lends itself to creating a novel Halloween activation expertise,” he said. “We’ve received creepy forests to cover ghouls and goblins and an entire sequence of fascinating out of doors lighting methods … that add to the Halloween vibe.”

He said zombie laser tag battles will “happen in a closely wooded and secluded space of The Forge. … The recreation will include two groups battling tactical laser tag towards one another whereas concurrently heading off flesh consuming zombies.”

Drive-thrus and drive-ins

Actors give a red-lighted haunting efficiency at the drive-in haunted house in Tokyo.

Actors give a red-lighted haunting performance at the drive-in haunted house in Tokyo.

PHILIP FONG/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

Cars and road trips have become resurgent during the pandemic. After all, you can control who is in your vehicle. Operators of Halloween-themed attractions have responded this year with drive-thru and drive-in shows, which allow you to stay out of range of people not in your party

Kowagarasetai, a Japanese haunted house and horror event production company, created a haunted house drive-in located in a covered parking garage in a nondescript building in downtown Tokyo. It gives visitors a 360-degree, front-row experience that simulates being stuck in a car during a zombie outbreak.
The Haunted Road in Orlando lets you enjoy the frights from the safety of your car.

The Haunted Road in Orlando allows you to take pleasure in the frights from the security of your automobile.

Courtesy The Haunted Road

US attractions are becoming a member of the development, together with the Haunted Drive in Houston and the Haunted Road in Orlando, Florida, where guests drive and park their car at each scene.

With any luck, your car won’t get into a fury and go all Christine on you!

But is it safe to attend?

Even with safety measure in place, it’s a legitimate question to ask yourself: Should I visit one of these attractions with the pandemic still going on?

Dr. Shannon Hopson is an endocrinologist in Corvallis, Oregon, and the mother of two boys who love amusement parks. CNN Travel wanted to know what she thought as a professional and as a parent.

“We’ve by no means gone to haunted homes earlier than, however my youngsters are at the age the place they’re beginning to take pleasure in scary issues, they usually have requested about visiting haunted homes this 12 months,” she said. “I advised them no — enclosed areas with tons of people that might or might not be sporting masks simply would not appear secure to me in any respect.”

She’s more open to outdoor attractions than those held inside.

“Any indoor haunted homes seem to be a foul concept, and I’d advocate avoiding them fully. There are some locations which have out of doors variations of haunted homes. Being outdoor, these really feel lots safer to me, although there’s nonetheless the potential for overcrowding.”

If you’re willing to take the chance, though, we wanted to know her advice.

“In addition to limiting any haunted ‘homes’ to only out of doors ones, I’d additionally search for locations that require masks and restrict the quantity of people that can undergo at any given time,” she said.

“It might really feel foolish to put on masks outdoor, however shut contact with somebody in one other celebration who received scared and ended up getting too near you (whereas yelling or laughing) is a really seemingly chance.”

Armstrong of Netherworld makes the case that we still need ways to momentarily get away mentally from what’s been a tough year.

“We’re creating this escape from the actual world — it is a fantasy. I believe folks actually need that type of escape proper now. It’s so vital.”

CNN’s Kaori Enjoji contributed to this story



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