Haunted Houses are finding it challenging dealing with social distancing. We've written several times already that it's totally IMPOSSIBLE to social distance at a haunted house. Anyone who owns or operates a haunted attraction knows the customers go in and because they get scared they stop walking, and then the next group runs into them. This will happen every single night no matter how far apart you space out your customers. So what should you do? Really simple, just put the customers in the door and keep them going in, have your actors scare forward. This isn't the year to have talking character actors who slow down customers, just jump scare them forward you can't do anything else. Oh yeah other people write about how you can social distance in a haunt but we all know it isn't going to happen. But wait you say what if you limit how many people can enter, but wouldn't that defeat the purpose of being open? Now you're limiting people so why even open because you will lose money remember your expenses are REAL! Just opening costs you money staffing, marketing, taxes, security, utilities, not to mention rent and or property tax. I'm hoping you have workers compensation and we all know that is really expensive, as is liability insurance. Oh and don't forget once you close for the season you need enough money to pay all the bills until you can open again!
What a mess!
There is only one way to open this year GO WIDE OPEN and hope enough people come to save your business until Halloween 2021. You can't limit customers, because even attempting that isn't going to stop people from banging into other customers. Futhermore some polls show as many as 50% say they won't visit an amusement park this summer. Haunted Houses in my view count as something they probably won't visit so why would you limit anything, it's already going to be limited for you by the customers who don't come. You should sell tickets online yes but don't go online only that would be a tragic mistake, you need a box office for customers who come on the spur of the moment. The old saying is beggers can't be choosers and if attendance is way down you can't be a chooser. Give your customers ALL options of visiting in 2020 but be prepared to whisk them into the attraction! Once you open at 7pm keep people going in, pick up the pace this year, so people aren't waiting around out front of your haunted house. Your actors need to do their best work this year and keep customers screaming forward end of story.
Out front of The Darkness we're going to add washing stations so guests can wash their hands, we'll have masks for those who don't bring them, each night we'll spray disinfectant through out the maze and we're going to make sure our actors work inside scarezones! There is all kinds of little things you can do but when it comes to even the attempt of social distancing inside your haunt that just isn't ever going to happen so SCARE FORWARD!
This brings us to haunted hayrides how do you social distance on a hayride? If you're a big haunted hayride like Headless Horseman it's TOTALLY impossible unless you DOUBLE the number of tractors you're operating which would be out of the question. At Creepyworld our hayride is an upcharge so maybe 50% of the guests ride the hayride anyway so for us this won't be an issue. But again how about those attractions where the hayride is this 20 minute ride thru the woods? Really simple give up the hayride and change your hayride into a haunted walking trail.
With a big giant hayride people have plenty of space to move around, separate and distance themselves. It won't work flawless because you still have people getting scared they will run into other people but this is a smart option. Turn your haunted hayride into a trail is a smart move with some possible drawbacks. Your hayride was never created to have people roam freely around and yes people are going to accidently get off track, off the trail and end up in the woods. You will either need to add more barratries for trouble spots, or add a lot more security or both. Furthermore turning your hayride into a trail might require a lot more actors because now people will walk for long stretches without seeing sets or actors. Adding more actors in the non-scenic spots might be essential to avoid a lot of negative reviews.
Keep in mind one of the most successful haunted houses in the country 'Haunted Overload' could easily be a hayride, but it choose the route of a haunted trail. Haunted Hayrides simply aren't scary because actors can't interact with customers the same way as a haunted trail. A Haunted Trail might have some other upsides other than just being MORE scary such as more affordable to operate. Operating all those tractors is very EXPENSIVE, you need tractor drivers, loaders, and the thru put process is SLOW!
Getting back to how I started this article open up the facet and let the customers in you can do that with a TRAIL but NOT a hayride.
All is NOT lost for you hayrides out there switch to a trail and who knows your customers might enjoy the experience a lot better so much so 2020 might kill off the hayride forever! Who knows.
Good luck in 2020!