Halloween is just around the corner, and some of metro Phoenix’s most popular haunted houses will serve up scares to the public, albeit with social distancing in mind.
Local attractions Fear Farm, 13th Floor Haunted House, and Mesa’s Scarizona Scaregrounds will be open to the public during this year’s Halloween season. Each will operate with various COVID-19 safety rules to protect their patrons and halt the spread of the virus.
Scarizona Scaregrounds owner Allen Thompson says the restrictions are an absolute must in the pandemic.
“It’s a sign of the times of where we are at right now,” he says. “It might lessen the fun of going to a haunted house a little bit, but it's a necessary thing right now.”
Scarizona Scaregrounds, which opens in late September or early October, will have staff check in patrons at their vehicles and then escort them through the attraction. Group sizes will be kept to six people or less and there will be a 10- to 20-minute gap between parties.
The attraction, which is located on Alma School Road just north of the Loop 202 Red Mountain freeway, will also limit the number of people congregating and waiting in line outside. Thompson says Scarizona’s costumed characters will also stay at least 6 feet away from patrons when jumping out or staging other scare-inducing stunts.
“Most of them will already be wearing masks, so it should be alright,” Thompson jokes.
Fear Farm and 13th Floor Haunted House, the two biggest and most popular Halloween attractions in the Valley, will have similar rules in place when they open to the public on September 18.
According to the websites for both attractions, which are owned by the Denver-based Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, social distancing will be enforced at all times. Face coverings will also be required, patrons must follow markers on the ground, and groups will also be limited in size and spaced out.
“The attractions are linear, and very seldom would you ever come within 6 feet of other patrons. You walk the attraction in a single file line with no wandering," a statement on 13th Floor’s website states. "Stay a minimum of 6 feet away from all other guests, staff, and monsters. If you think we can’t scare you from 6 feet away, just try us."
Owners of Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group declined to speak with Phoenix New Times regarding its safety policies.
AZ Field of Screams in Glendale, a “haunted corn maze” populated with costumed characters, will also reportedly be operating in October. Its owners haven’t stated if they will have any safety regulations.
Meanwhile, several local haunted houses will go dark this year. The Gauntlet, a haunted attraction hosted by Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, won’t be operating. Ditto for Mesa-based attractions Sanctum of Horror and The Crypt/The Vault, both posting on their social media they’re taking the year off.
Sanctum of Horror owner Shawn Kaul stated on the haunt’s Facebook that it wasn’t an easy decision.
“[It’s] something we went back and forth with for a while," Kaul wrote. "In hopes of protecting our team’s health and well-being, protecting our community’s health, protecting ourselves financially, and protecting our reputation as a safe and considerate family-owned business, we have made the tough decision to skip the 2020 season.”
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