DeWine called hayrides and haunted houses problematic and strongly recommended that they be canceled or avoided.
DeWine shared the Halloween guidance on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
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Here is how some local haunted houses are responding to the pandemic
Dent Schoolhouse has been a Greater Cincinnati staple for more than 20 years. It was originally opened by the Boy Scouts as a charity haunt. The story is that a janitor murdered several children in an old schoolhouse. The janitor was never found.
Thousands of people visit each year and co-owner Bud Stross is hoping that this year is no different. However, “obviously, COVID-19 has thrown everyone a curveball here,” he said.
There will be changes, especially because most of Dent Schoolhouse is an indoor haunt. Some portions of the haunt will be closed off this year.
All staff, including monsters, will be wearing masks. Guests will need to wear masks, too. Expect hand sanitizing stations, and guests will need to remain six feet apart. Monsters will also be socially distanced. The haunt will be zero-contact this year, so there will be no screens or claustrophobia bags this fall.
Staff will regularly and thoroughly clean the haunt, Stross said.
Attendance will be 50% less than normal and people are encouraged to buy tickets ahead of time. Stross expects the haunted house will sell out often.
“What’s really changed us is how do you scare someone while still trying to maintain social distance? Because that’s what this is all about, as well,” Stross said.
Monsters will try to integrate their face masks into costumes.
“Obviously, we want to have a place where everyone can celebrate Halloween because this year’s just going to be so bizarre,” Stross said. “Everyone needs a little ray of sunshine and who would’ve thought it would be a haunted house opening?”
Dent Schoolhouse, 5963 Harrison Ave., 45248. Sept. 25-Nov. 4. frightsite.com.
Terror Town opened for the first time in 2019. Thousands of people visited the haunt during its opening month.
“It’s really better described as a haunted festival rather than a haunted house or haunted trail,” said Matthew Hayden, one of the owners of Terror Town. The haunt is on the site of Old West Fest. There are saloons, an outdoor theater with nightly live performances and a variety of haunted trails.
This year, the storyline is about “cults” with a variety of stops. Terror Town is not for kids. “We really want to be terrifying. There are no light-hearted scares,” Hayden said.
The especially brave can get a red bracelet experience, also known as the “touch pass,” which allows the monsters, murderers and creatures to grab and touch guests in the park. This experience has been slightly adjusted due to the pandemic – the staff will not be able to do as much touching.
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“Last year, if you were wearing a red bracelet and you said ‘no,’ they’d drag you in anyway because you can always just take the bracelet off and throw it on the ground. This year, because of COVID, they can’t wrestle with you, so it’s going to be more of a tug on the shirt,” Hayden said.
Masks will still be required and social distancing requirements will be enforced.
“The fact that we’re open air, that we have this huge great space to work with and so many things within it allows us to separate groups and still entertain them,” Hayden said.
All Hallow’s Eve Terror Town, 1449 Greenbush Cobb Road, Williamsburg, 45176. Sept. 4-Oct. 31. allhallowsevellc.com.
Land of Illusion
The Land of Illusion Scream Park opened for the season Sept. 11. Like Terror Town, it could be called more of a haunted festival than a haunted house, due to multiple trails, houses and spaces for scares.
According to their website, Land of Illusion has six haunts this year, live music and a full bar.
The haunt recommends masks but will not require them. Staff will time different groups in order to prevent groups running into each other during attractions, the website states.
Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, 45042. Sept. 11-Nov. 6. landofillusion.com.
This haunt is on the grounds of the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which was canceled this year due to the pandemic. But the haunt plans will go forward.
There are three different scare options. “The main attraction is the Brimstone Haunted Hayride and the hayride is fun for all age groups,” said Cheryl Bucholtz, marketing director. Typically, around 30 people ride at once, but this year, due to the pandemic, 10 or fewer people will ride at one time.
There is also a “Forgotten Forest” trail and an indoor haunt called “Psychosis.” Both will have limited attendance due to social distancing requirements. Masks are required.
Hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the park. Brimstone’s goal this year was to be able to scare guests from a distance. “It’s not less interactive, just done in a very different way this year,” Bucholtz said.