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

(CNN) — It feels like 2020 has provided more than enough scares. But for people still seeking an extra jolt of fear and adrenalin, it’s the time of year for those shocking haunted house attractions.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed a lot of long-distance travel, especially by plane, these Halloween-themed attractions around the world usually draw a more local crowd. So they shouldn’t be hurt by people making more short-haul trips this year.

They do face other hurdles, though.

In the carefree nights of 2019, the big questions on these attractions were: Which ones are the best? How scary are they?

In the cautious nights of 2020, we have different questions: Are haunted house attractions even opening this year? And if they are, is it safe to go?

With cases of Covid-19 again on the rise, medical experts advise a careful approach.

A mix of openings and closings

The results: Seven are open this year. Three have decided to shutter for 2020. The seven that are open are:

The Bates Motel is taking reservations in 2020.

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 safety concerns because of Covid-19, three of 2019’s top 10 decided not to 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 favorite, Freaking Bros. Trilogy of Terror decided not to open for the 2020 season.

Edison Graff www.stardustfallout.com

In a message to fans on its website, Freaking Bros. in Nevada said, “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 careful assessment, we’ve regretfully had to acknowledge that the only responsible way to handle this is to put safety first, and close 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 where folks in Louisiana find 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

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Strawberry fest’s haunted house to be scary but safe, official says

Like most things in 2020, the Pasadena Strawberry Festival’s haunted house this year will feature some changes.

“It’s going to be a little different from last year because of COVID,” Murline Staley, the Strawberry Festival’s executive director, said of the fest’s third annual spookfest, A Berry Haunted House, which will be at the festival’s central building, 7902 W. Fairmont Parkway.

“We’re definitely taking a COVID action plan and being safe,” she said. “We’re guaranteed to scare the bejeevers out of you, but we’re also going to have fun. We’re going to have the same square footage, but instead of 13 rooms, this year, we’re going to open it up to seven rooms.”


That’s not counting the entrance area where creatures with eight legs could be greeting you. The spooks at A Berry Haunted House haven’t paid their insect extermination bill in recent months; so be forewarned — arachnids will likely be bountiful.

The event will change in one other way. Last year, the event ran Oct. 25-31. This year, the event will be only on Fridays and Saturdays starting Oct. 16 and ending Halloween.

“Tickets for the haunted house, which will be from 7-11 p.m each night it is scheduled, will be offered for sale by calling the festival at 281-991-9500 or by dropping by the festival offices on Fairmont Parkway once the event opens.

Admission is $5.

“We encourage people to call ahead, therefore the tickets will be ready for them and there won’t be long lines,” Staley said.

One thing visitors won’t have to be scared about is the amount of COVID-related safety measures, she said.

The haunted house will be sanitized each night before opening, hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the building and all the curtains that usually separate the scenes will be peeled back to prevent unnecessary touching.

“We’re going to have less actors so each room will have two to three actors. Our volunteers will go through a temperature check and our guests will go through a temperature check,” Staley said.

As for the customers who are ready to brave the spirits, they will be asked to enter only with those in their party and if they prefer, they can be texted while waiting in the car for their turn in line. Face masks and social distancing will be required.

But this is one location where no one should mind wearing a face covering. After all, who wants to be seen screaming in terror when Pennywise the clown shows up at some unexpected moment?

“We’re not going to bunch you up with people they don’t know,” Staley said. “Last year, we had groups of six to eight come through the house. We’re not going to do that now. We’re going to keep it going and flowing.”

All proceeds will go to scholarships for graduating seniors at local high schools.

“Last year, we hit $20,000. I would love to see us duplicate that,” Staley said. “ But we don’t know what to expect because of

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Is the White House haunted? Jenna Bush Hager shares creepy story

The White House has certainly seen its share of residents, but have any of them seen ghosts?

TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager paid a virtual visit to “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on Monday and said there are ghosts in the historic residence.

“True or false: There are ghosts in the White House,” the talk show host asked.

“True!” Jenna replied. “And listen, Kelly, you would’ve liked these ghosts because they were very musical.”

Jenna added that the spirits were “friendly” and “compassionate” to her and twin sister Barbara Bush.

She also shared the creepy story during a conversation on TODAY in 2018 with Hoda Kotb.

Jenna recalled the time she and Barbara may have encountered the undead while living in the White House during their dad’s, former President George W. Bush’s, time in office.

The sisters were in their shared bedroom when Jenna’s phone rang. “It woke us up in the middle of the night,” she explained. “We had a fireplace in our room, and all a sudden we started hearing, like, 1920s piano music as clear as day coming out of the fireplace.”

It was so spooky that Jenna said she jumped in her sister’s bed. “We were both awake!”

Jenna and Barbara Bush (Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images)
Jenna and Barbara Bush (Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images)

To make things even more suspect, it wasn’t a one-time thing. “The next week, we heard the same thing but opera,” she said.

They ended up talking themselves out of the possibility the place was haunted, but a White House staffer made her question it again.

“I said, ‘Buddy, you wouldn’t believe what we heard last night,’ and he goes, ‘Oh, Jenna, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve heard.’”

Ghost stories from the White House are nothing new. Many former presidents and people who have lived there have reported seeing or feeling the presence of President Abraham Lincoln. And Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands apparently even fainted at the “sight” of him.

There have also been reports of ghost sightings for Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Andrew Jackson and even British soldiers walking the hallways. (*Shudder!*)

But Jenna insisted the ghosts she and her sister potentially came in contact with had good intentions. “They were friendly ghosts,” she assured us.

This story was originally published Oct. 15, 2018.

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2020 Long Island Haunted House Guide

LONG ISLAND — The coronavirus is changing everything this year, and Halloween is no exception. Many haunted houses and other events have been canceled this year. However, some events are still going forward.

If you’re looking for a scare this spooky season, Patch has compiled a list of the active haunts on Long Island this year. They are taking appropriate steps to clean facilities, and other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

If your favorite haunt is open this year and not on our list, send an email to [email protected] to get it added.

Bayville Scream Park
8 Bayville Ave., Bayville

The Bayville Scream Park is a Halloween theme park. It features attractions like The Temple of Terror, Uncle Needle’s Funhouse of Fear, Evil in the Woods and more. It has been named the scariest haunted house on Long Island many times. This year, the park will also have Drive-In Horror Movie Experience, which combines a scary movie with a theatrical performance.

Because of the coronavirus, the park is now selling tickets for peak and off-peak nights. Off-peak tickets can be used at any off-peak time, but those purchasing peak tickets have to reserve a date and time slot at purchase. Admission to the park will be limited to prevent crowding. Face masks are mandatory for all guests and staff. There will be enhanced cleaning of facilities, hand sanitizer available, physical distancing and no touching between guests and staff.

Ticket prices vary for peak and off-peak nights and depend on how many attractions you wish to see. Tickets can go from $72.75 to $26.75.

Darkside Haunted House
5184 NY-25A, Wading River

The Darkside Haunted House is Long Island’s premier haunted attraction. Come make your way through the newly expanded haunted village. Then the terror continues as you explore the new, updated haunted house. Come experience the movie-quality sets, the bone-chilling special effects and the heart-pounding scares that make the Darkside Haunted House the place to be.

To ensure safety, all staff will have their temperatures taken every day. Masks are mandatory for guests and staff. There will also be enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas. Tickets will be sold online only and will be collected no-touch through guests’ smart phones. Tickets are only being sold to groups of four to eight people and will be sold for specific time slots.

The nighttime attractions are open on varying days through October. Tickets are $35 Check the website for details.

Chambers of Hell
1745 Express Drive North, Hauppauge

The Chambers of Hell is one of Long Island’s most popular haunted houses. This year, there are three attractions: Funhouse of Fear, Primevil and Redhook Massacre.

Masks must be worn at all times at the haunt. There will be enhanced cleaning and hand sanitizer available, and there will be reduced tickets available to prevent crowding.

The show opens on Sept. 25, and then is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 2 through Nov. 1. It is also open Oct. 12,

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Stream These Spooky Haunted House Movies

Note: Series’ availability on streaming platforms is subject to change, and varies by country. If you’re looking for more streaming recommendations, subscribe to the Times’s Watching newsletter.

The B-movie maestro William Castle lards “House on Haunted Hill” with one high-concept hook after another: A millionaire (Vincent Price) offers a $10,000 prize for anyone who can survive his “haunted house” party, complete with loaded pistols issued to guests in miniature coffins, and a burbling vat of acid on site. Part chiller, part whodunit, the film is like witnessing a deliciously macabre parlor game.

Four people are summoned to a creepy mansion for a paranormal investigation, but the house itself is the star — all creaky floorboards, pulsating walls and a doorknob turning back and forth. The awful 1999 remake turned Hill House into a C.G.I. light show, but Robert Wise’s original, shot in luxuriant black-and-white, burns on a slow wick of shadows and suggestion. There are haunted house movies of greater psychological complexity and invention, but “The Haunting” remains the gold standard.

Fresh from a stay in a mental institution, Jessica (Zohra Lampert) seeks refuge at an old Connecticut farmhouse, which happens to be the site where a woman drowned on her wedding day in 1880. As she, her husband, their friend, and a mysterious drifter settle into the place, the bizarre events that follow — and the sinister whispers and tension between the conspiratorial townspeople (all wearing bandages) and these hippie interlocutors — loosen Jessica’s tenuous grip on her sanity.

“The Belasco House” was named after an unspeakably perverse, six-foot-five millionaire who indulged in every vice imaginable, running the gamut from alcoholism and heroin addiction to incest, necrophilia, bestiality and cannibalism. “Bad vibes” don’t begin to describe the psychic energy on the premises, but four intrepid paranormal investigators poke around anyway, including a half-dazed Roddy McDowall as a man who visited the house before and barely lived to return. The libertine sexuality of early ’70s cinema gives “The Legend of Hell House” a sensual charge, but it’s equally blessed by the dry British humor that undercuts the horror.

Released at a time when “Scream” and its knockoffs were simultaneously deconstructing and reviving the slasher genre, “The Others” moved decisively in the other direction, introducing modern audiences to the classic (and good-for-all-ages) style of classic haunted house movies. Nicole Kidman’s haircut alone is a time machine, as are the atmospheric mysteries shrouding a Victorian home visited by ghosts.

In J.A. Bayona’s gothic Spanish frightfest, a woman and her husband buy the creepy seaside orphanage where she was raised with the intention of turning it into a home for sick children. What follows is a barrage of horror tropes: Children as ghouls in burlap masks, references to fairy tales like “Hansel & Gretel,” Super 8 home movies, the séance of “Poltergeist.” Rooted in the scares is the vulnerability of the young

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Disturbia Haunted House To Reopen Friday Under New Ownership

DOWNERS GROVE, IL — Haunted house lovers in the Downers Grove region, fear not — Disturbia is set to reopen Friday.

The team behind Aurora’s Basement of the Dead, which has been rated the best haunted house in the world by BuzzFeed, is set to bring its brand of “movie-quality” haunts with “grotesque beauty” to the highly popular attraction, owner Jason Seneker told Patch.

Things at Disturbia will also look different from previous years due to safety precautions put in place to keep customers and actors safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Customers must purchase tickets for specific time windows, and everyone is required to wear masks while inside the haunted house. All customers and actors must have their temperatures checked before entering, and actors are screened for any coronavirus-related symptoms.

Capacity and group sizes will be limited this year to follow public health mandates and keep actors and customers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, Seneker said.

That means fewer people can enjoy the haunted house, but the smaller groups have created a more “intimate” scare for customers, Seneker said.

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“It’s almost like people are getting a special show,” Seneker said, adding many could find it scarier this year for that reason. With fewer people in each room, there’s nowhere to hide during the haunts, Seneker said.

Basement of the Dead customers are accustomed to an “in your face, get into your personal space” type of haunt, but this year, actors at both haunted houses will be positioned at a “scary but safe distance,” Seneker said.

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Both haunted houses are “much safer” than large retail stores or other public entertainment options, Seneker said.

“This is a truly safe event,” Seneker said. “We want to do this as safely as possible and make sure everyone has a fun time.”

Unlike the dingy, cramped surroundings on show at the Aurora haunted house, Disturbia has high ceilings and lots of space, allowing the team to create a different style of scare using Gothic castles, forest scenes and much more.

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Basement of the Dead opened last week, and customers have been nothing but full of praise for the safety measures and the quality of the haunts, Seneker said, crediting the actors’ passion and creativity.

With crowds slashed by more than 50 percent due to the coronavirus, Basement of the Dead is opening its doors from Wednesday through Sunday to give more people the chance to make what is an annual pilgrimage for some haunted-house lovers.

Basement of the Dead operates without actors on Wednesdays, presenting an opportunity for those who are not yet comfortable walking through a fully staffed haunted house to see the hard work that is put into the haunts.

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The actorless “Night of Isolation” event also gives customers a better chance to appreciate

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Man killed during argument at haunted house identified as welder from Detroit

PONTIAC, MI – The man who was shot and killed outside the popular Erebus Haunted House in Pontiac was a welder from Detroit.

29-year-old Douglas Reese died early Sunday morning, FOX 2 Detroit reports.

Police are still in looking for the suspect in the incident and have asked for the public’s help. The suspect was described as a man standing 6-foot tall and wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt and jeans, police said. A witness reported a blue sedan fled the scene at a high rate of speed after the shooting.

RELATED: Police seek help finding suspect in homicide outside Michigan haunted house

Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and STAT EMS responded shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 to the popular haunted house, 18 South Perry St., for a reported shooting.

The caller said Reese was laying on the ground in a nearby parking lot, per a statement issued by the sheriff’s office. Witnesses had heard gunfire. Reese was shot in the side, neck and chest.

Reese and his girlfriend were waiting in line to enter the haunted house when a man ahead of them allegedly would not move, police said. Reese and the suspect exchanged words; the suspect thought Reese had cut in line ahead of him. Reese told his girlfriend he was going to his vehicle, police said. The suspect and the victim then went separately to the parking lot. That’s when witnesses heard shots fired.

Reese was transported to McLaren Oakland hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Anyone with information about the fatal shooting is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

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Giant drive-thru haunted house experience opens in Bay Area

Talk about a scary moment.

The Fields family was facing the real possibility of having to cancel its annual Pirates of Emerson Halloween haunt at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, unable make dollars and sense of the reduced capacity and other social distancing restrictions that would need to be in place this year.

“We wouldn’t have been able to put the numbers through to justify opening up,” says Brian Fields, who has helped run this popular haunt with his parents, Patty and Karl, for 29 years.

Instead of throwing in the towel, they decided to do something different — something bold — that would work in this COVID-19 age.

“Being the creative family that we are, my dad Karl, Patty and myself put our heads together and came up with this idea of doing this drive-thru,” Fields says.

So load up the car, remember to buckle in tight and get ready to be scared as the Pirates of Emerson evolves into something new for 2020. This massive drive-thru haunt, which covers nearly 10 acres at the Pleasanton fairgrounds, opens to the public on Oct. 2 and runs Thursday through Sunday through Nov. 1.

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: Brian Fields, vice president of operations for the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park, stands next to a structure he built to be used at the drive-thru haunted house at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: A scary skeleton figure at the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park is photographed at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

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  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: Brian Fields, vice president of operations for the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park, is photographed at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: A scary wild boar lunges out of the wall

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Man killed in dispute over line at Michigan haunted house

PONTIAC, Mich. — A dispute over cutting in line led to a fatal shooting outside a popular haunted house in southeastern Michigan, police said.

Investigators were looking for a suspect Monday after the early Sunday shooting at Erebus in Pontiac. The victim was a 29-year-old man from Detroit.

“The victim and his girlfriend had been waiting in line to enter Erebus Haunted House when a male subject in line ahead of them would not move,” the Oakland County sheriff’s office said.

“The victim and the suspect exchanged words as the suspect thought the victim had cut in line ahead of him,” the sheriff’s office said.

Both men went to their vehicles and shots were heard. The victim was struck in the side, neck and chest, the sheriff’s office said, and a witness reported that a blue sedan fled the scene at high speed.

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Police seek help finding suspect in homicide outside Michigan haunted house

PONTIAC, MI – Police have asked for the public’s help finding a suspect in a fatal shooting that occurred in a parking lot outside the Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac early Sunday morning.

Deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and STAT EMS responded shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 to the popular haunted house, 18 South Perry St., for a shooting report.

The caller said the victim, a 29-year-old Detroit man, was laying on the ground in a nearby parking lot, per a statement issued by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim and his girlfriend had been waiting in line to enter the haunted house when a man in line ahead of them would not move.

Michigan haunted house, ranked No. 1 in the US, opens this week with COVID changes

The victim and the suspect — described as a man standing 6-foot tall and wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt and jeans — exchanged words as the suspect thought the victim had cut in line ahead of him.

The victim told his girlfriend he was going to his vehicle, police said. The suspect and the victim then went separately to the parking lot.

That’s when witnesses told police they heard shots fired. The victim, whose name has not been released, was shot in the side, neck, and chest.

He was transported to McLaren Oakland hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

A witness reported a blue sedan fled the scene at a high rate of speed after the shooting.

Anyone with information about the fatal shooting is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

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