October typically brings the opening of haunted houses ahead of Halloween, but not all attractions will operate in New England this year due to COVID-19.
Communities considered lower risk by the state were permitted on Monday to transition to Phase 3 of the reopening plan, a move that allows indoor performance venues to open at 50 percent capacity but with no more than 250 people.
Some haunted houses across the region are opening with health and safety measures in place, others have completely overhauled their attractions, and some have completely suspended operations until 2021.
Here are the statuses and details of many of the most popular haunted houses and other spooky attractions around New England. (Know of others? Let us know in the comments below or by e-mailing [email protected].)
What’s open (or opening):
Barrett’s Haunted Mansion in Abington is hosting a “Screens and Screams” event this year instead of its usual haunted house. It is a drive-in experience featuring horror movies and roaming creatures that are “waiting for the right moment to make you scream,” according to the company’s website.
“Safety requirements will still be in place, but with our team and your help, we will continue working hard to keep the Halloween spirit alive,” the company wrote.
The Dark Woods at Trombly Gardens in Milford, N.H., also opens Oct. 9. The interactive haunted walk through the woods requires that guests and employees wear masks, and temperatures checks will be done at the main entrance, according to the attraction’s website. Anyone who doesn’t follow the rules will be asked to leave the property without a refund.
Factory of Terror in Fall River says it will open this week and tickets will be available soon. The attraction’s safety plan includes reduced capacity, timed tickets, mandated masks, social distancing signage, hand sanitizer stations, and increased cleaning procedures.
Fright Kingdom in Nashua, N.H., also opened Oct. 2 with timed ticketing and cashless transactions, mandatory masks, social distancing signage, hand-sanitizer stations, and increased cleaning procedures. Groups experience the attraction with their “family unit” only, and actors perform six feet from guests or wear double personal protective equipment (face masks and shields), according to the company’s website. All guests must take a “health and exposure survey,” have their temperatures taken, and will be dismissed from the property if their temperature is more than 100.4 degrees.
Harvest of Haunts at Charmingfare Fare Farm in Candia, N.H., opening Oct. 17, has “totally changed for 2020” due to COVID-19, according to the farm’s website. The farm is “going back to a simpler time, to where it all began,” bringing guests on a horse-drawn wagon through the woods to a clearing for a campfire ghost story complete with hot chocolate. The farm will require face masks, social distancing, and increased cleaning procedures.
Haunted Overload on DeMeritt Hill Farm in Lee, N.H., opens Oct. 9 with timed tickets online, mandatory masks, hand sanitizer stations, social distancing signage, expanded queue lines, and increased cleaning procedures. Guests will be subject to “random temperature checks” and will be dismissed from the property if the reading is over 100 degrees, according to the company’s website.
Spooky World’s Nightmare New England, which includes four haunted attractions across 80 acres in Litchfield, N.H., opened last month with numerous health and safety measures in place.
“This year, everyone wears a mask,” Spooky World officials wrote on the attraction’s website, referring to the mandated mask policy for guests, employees, and actors.
The attraction is operating at 50 percent capacity, and guests must buy timed tickets online. Visitors must arrive 30 minutes prior to entry time and wait six feet apart in a single queue line.
All attractions have hand-sanitizer stations and are cleaned between each show, and actors must remain six feet away from guests in “scare zones” at all times, according to the company’s website. The hayride has been divided into eight compartments, and hand rails are sanitized after every ride. Guests can also spend time in a food and beer space that has doubled in size this year to allow for social distancing.
“The management staff at Spooky World believes this plan will provide a safe experience for both the actors/employees as well as the patrons,” officials wrote.
Witch’s Woods at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford opened Oct. 2. Guests must buy timed tickets online, parties are limited to 10, and the experience must be completed in 90 minutes, according to the company’s website. Masks are mandatory, visitors must obey directional walkways, and social distancing is required between groups. There will also be hand-sanitizing stations and additional cleaning procedures.
What’s closed this year:
Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., canceled its annual Screeemfest, which features five haunted houses.
“Due to the global pandemic, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to suspend our Screeemfest event this season,” officials wrote on the amusement park’s website. “We will instead use the fall of 2020 to focus on our current daytime operation while continuing projects in preparation for next season.”
Ravenwood Haunted Farm at Chris’s Farm Stand at Silsby Farm in Haverhill, a newcomer to the haunted scene in New England, and Chambers of Terror in Salem have both suspended their haunted attractions this season. The Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn. and Field of Screams in West Greenwich, R.I., are also on pause this year.
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