2020 has been a scary year, but with Halloween on the horizon, people are looking for fun scares. I spoke with owner James Bernard about the precautions Castle of Chaos has taken to ensure that guests can be spooked in safety:
Q: Hi, James, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about this. It’s hard to know right now what sorts of activities are safe, but I know that you guys take your guests’ safety seriously and have been making changes to deal with COVID. Can you walk me through what you’ve done to prepare this year?
Ya, we’ve made several changes to keep our guests and our actors safe. We did have to cut some of our acting parts, and that broke my heart, but we had to make sure that there aren’t actors and guests together in long hallways and places like that where they can’t distance. We’ve replaced those actors with animatronics and mechanical features–which are still really cool.
We’ve spent thousands of dollars on medical-grade cleaning supplies, and every surface that might be accidentally touched gets cleaned. We’re doing deep cleaning every day. We’ve always had a rule that guests aren’t supposed to touch anything in the haunt, other than curtains or push throughs. We’ve removed all the curtains and push throughs for this year, so it’s a touch-free experience. All our staff will be wearing masks, and we are giving free masks to every guest, included with their ticket. We are also not combining groups, so the group you come with, even if it’s just two people, is the group you’ll be going through with.
For the time being, we’ve stopped doing touch haunts, but when we resume those, our actors will be wearing gloves that they change out between every guest.
Q: What would you say to anyone out there who’s concerned that the extra safety precautions might put a damper on the haunt experience?
Well, there are many things about Castle’s experience that won’t be changing because they were already safe for COVID and more conducive to good scares. We always tell people not to catch up to the group ahead of them. Right now, that’s something that will help keep people safe and distanced, but pre-COVID, we had that guideline so that our actors could really hone in on each customer and create a scare just for them. We’ve always believed in slowing down and personalizing the haunted house experience, and that’s something that won’t be changing.
We’ve redesigned parts of the haunt to be more COVID friendly. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I think that the changes we’ve made will keep people guessing and make for an even scarier experience and even more screams.
Q: So it’s going to be like a normal year but with face masks?
Yes, I’d tell people to treat it like a normal year, people need to get out right now, and this is a safe way to do that.
Q: Are there any requests or tips you’d like to give to folks who are thinking about coming out on how to create a safe and fun environment for everyone?
Many of the rules and guidelines are the same as they’ve always been, like not touching things in the haunt and leaving room between groups. We encourage our guests to follow those guidelines. Of course, people need to wear their masks, and other than that, the only thing we’d like to encourage is for people to buy tickets online. We will be selling tickets at the door, but we’d like to keep that to a minimum for our staff’s safety.
Q: Thanks again, James, for clarifying all of that for us.
With so many businesses being affected by COVID, it’s nice to know that the haunt can still go on and that we can celebrate Halloween safely. If you are thinking of coming out to Castle this year, check out the other interview I did with James about the special events they have going this season to celebrate their 20th anniversary.