The current pandemic has experts figuring out how the world can move on and lower the curve indefinitely. Part of this requires refiguring how offices look, rethinking capacity numbers for restaurants, whether concerts will ever be the same and, now, how people will ever enjoy amusement parks the same way again.
The Global Association for the Attraction Industry (IAAPA) is already thinking ahead to October — not just about whether trick-or-treating can feasibly happen, but also how haunted houses will work.
The Halloween industry is enormous in the U.S. — second only to Christmas in terms of money spent on decorations every year, excluding what’s spent on candy and costumes — and Americans spend between $300 and $500 million each year on haunted house tickets. There are more than 1,200 commercial haunted house attractions nationwide, as well as 3,000 charitable ones and 300 haunted attraction events associated with amusement parks.
The idea of shutting this all down is a major loss of money, so the IAAPA came up with ways for parks, zoos and arcades to keep scaring people amid new social distancing rules.
Andrew Curran, president of Practical Imagination, a scenic design company specializing in haunted house design and fabrication, suggests using more mirrors, plexiglass and sound technology. The days of a guy running at you with a fake chainsaw are absolutely over.
“Because of the nature of what we’re dealing with, we’re giving the actors things to slam and bang from a distance,” Scott Simmons, ScareHouse’s creative developer, added.
Not only is close-contact with actors off the table, but Curran is also advocating to eliminate hospital or doctor-themed spooky rooms, unless they’re extremely exaggerated.
But screaming — or, as Vice dubs it, “recreational screaming” — is posing a greater concern for both haunted houses and theme parks. Guests will start being required to wear masks, but there’s the issue of whether masks will stay on during roller coaster rides. If guests are allowed to remove the masks for rides, what exactly is protecting guests from the health consequences of other people screaming?
Nonetheless, parks are being asked to limit daily visitors and run pre-admission temperature checks, as well as advising people to “refrain from shouting/screaming” while on the rides.
IAAPA further explains the problem with screaming in its newly published document on reopening guidelines for amusement parks: “Face masks/coverings are recommended for riders to reduce the likelihood of
airborne virus droplets transferring from one person to another during the ride.”
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