PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s Friday in the midst of the Halloween season and that means one thing.
Someone is going to get the bejeebers scared out of them!READ MORE: 4-Vehicle Crash Shuts Down Route 28 Southbound
The haunted houses are in full swing but like so many things COVID has changed the landscape of scare.
The haunts say the scarees are coming out in big numbers and at Castle Blood in Monessen, owner Ricky Dick says they have gone to timed tickets.
“You can just come within a 15-minute window and get it, and 60% of our tickets are sold like that now, so there’s no big line and no big crowds,” he explains.
Tyler Kozar at Hundred Acres Manor in Bethel Park says the cast members have taken steps to protect themselves.
“We started out in the summer real early with our staff encouraging everybody to get vaccinated,” Kozar says.
At Castle Blood, Dick says, “90 percent of our cast is double vaccinated and a lot of them already have their booster shots scheduled.”
All the haunts, including Kennywood Nick Paradise, say masks have just become part of the costuming.
“Many of the actors have taken the step of actually stitching a cloth mask inside their costume masks,” Paradise says.
“Our staff within the manor our actors are all masks, our ticket takers are behind Plexiglas, [and] we have hand sanitizer stations on-site,” Kozar says.
They don’t call it hand sanitizer at Castle Blood, Dick says. It’s a special brew.
“We branded them and put pictures on there, ‘Mortal Cootie Goo.’ Because the mortals all have cooties and they bring them into our house full of vampires so we make them wash their hands before they come in, you know,” Dick says with a laugh.
Dick says a lot of the changes may be permanent because he’s seeing fewer illnesses among his cast.READ MORE: Popular Twitter Account Rates KDKA Reporter Jon Delano's Skype Room
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But how do you scare, without getting close?
After all, it’s the scare that brings out the scarees but at Castle Blood, they’ve been forced to rewrite the script a bit.
“It’s got us a lot because we’re a very touchy-feely hall, we want them to do things with the characters, so that’s had to change a lot,” he explained.
Dick says the scares are still there but…“I call them Scooby Doo scares so our scares are like there’s a guy behind the picture in the wall.”
At Hundred Acre Manor, Kozar says their actors are told, “scare from a safe distance that’s for their safety and for patrons safety. So, on that accord, it’s no major change for our actors, because we never let our actors get close to people regardless.”
Paradise says the same is true at Kennywood.
“Actors do try to stay an arm’s length away just for safety purposes, both for themselves and for the guests, and that recommendation remains in place and with our one indoor haunt, we only have one indoor haunt this year, you know, it’s more of a rule,” he says.
Kennywood is not alone, all of the haunts have scaled back elements that forced the scare victims and actors to be too close.
Or as Dick puts it, “it’s not like a person in a Jason mask, sitting there nose to nose screaming at you for three minutes like, like the old days, you know.”
Most of the Haunts have also established ‘no scare’ times when families with kids can come with the lights up and just enjoy the surroundings.
And of course, at Kennywood, the Fright Night is in the middle of the Fall Festival which includes most of the park attractions you expect.MORE NEWS: PTL Links: Dec. 6, 2021
If you want to avoid the biggest crowds the haunts say try Friday or Sunday and they recommend that everyone bring along a mask for the indoor portions of your visit.