As Halloween approaches, theme parks and haunted houses have been adapting to keep guests and actors safe from COVID-19
Fall-themed events in St. Louis have reimagined the spooky season to incorporate COVID-19 safety regulations. These new protocols come after a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled haunted houses as a “higher-risk” activity for spreading the virus.
Six Flags replaced their annual Fright Fest with a more COVID-friendly spin-off called Hallowfest. Hallowfest features “open-air scare zones” and outdoor activities to promote social distancing. There are no haunted houses this year.
Tristan Tainter, a ride operator at Six Flags, said the theme park is taking guest safety seriously.
“Every hour [ride operators] will sanitize the rides, no matter what,” Tainter said.
Guests at Hallowfest are required to make a reservation before entering the park and must wear a mask. Handwashing and sanitizing stations are available for personal use.
“With COVID going on, [Six Flags] has had fewer guests in the park,” Tainter said. “Especially with Hallowfest, [Six Flags] would have around 20,000 [visitors], now it’s around 12,000.”
The St. Louis ScareFest is a “scream park” that has kept two haunted houses open this season. Both Creepyworld and The Darkness have mandated restrictions to protect clients and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Guests and actors are required to wear a facial covering while visiting the attraction. To prevent customers from entering the haunted house without a mask, the St. Louis ScareFest purchased 20,000 to hand out.
Webster student Brannagan Brouk, who plays Norman Bates in Creepyworld’s haunted hayride, said the theme park has had fewer visitors this year.
“This is my first year [at Creepyworld], but from what I hear, business has been pretty slow,” Brouk said.
Creepyworld, which boasts 13 haunted attractions, is only open on weekends this season. Staff members use the rest of the week as a quarantine period. Additionally, the number of actors were limited to provide guests with the best experience possible.
Creepyworld performers work from designated “scare zones” to lessen actor-to-actor interaction.
“[Haunted houses] are not as scary without creepy costumes,” Brouk said. “[Haunted houses] look better when more characters interact with visitors.”
Customers should stay home if they feel sick. Both Hallowfest and ScareFest have taken preventative actions to avoid potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
Brouk encourages healthy individuals to check out Creepyworld this fall.
“Come by [Creepyworld] and be prepared to scream. [Haunted houses] are safe,” Brouk said.