MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Haunted houses are a big part of the Halloween experience and despite the pandemic, one Memphis haunted attraction is preparing to open its doors for frights.
Halloween is still a go according to the Shelby County Health Department, which earlier this month reported there were no current plans to cancel the celebrations or trick-or-treating.
That came before the CDC announced its recommendations to cancel trick-or-treating labeling it as a high-risk activity. A trip to the haunted house was also listed as a high-risk activity.
A marketing manager for Wicked Ways Haunted House said the attraction has spent months making changes to alleviate any risks before it opens.
“Our team has been working on this since March, working on ways to bring the Halloween experience to Memphis," Joseph Blossman said. "We have reconstructed the majority of the haunt to be COVID safe. We removed claustrophobia walls. We removed tight spaces.”
In some rooms, plexiglass was added to separate the actors from the guests.
"We’re changing everything about this year," he said. "We actually are bringing in maybe half as many volunteers as normal. We’re only bringing in our senior volunteers and at all time our actors will be a minimum of six feet apart from you and each other.”
Masks will be required to be worn by everyone. Actors will be wearing the masks under or over their silicone masks. Group sizes will also be kept to six or smaller.
Patrick Goode is one of the senior volunteer actors at Wicked Ways.
“It’s the most fun you can ever have," Goode said. "I love scaring people. I love to see their reaction and as scared as they are inside the haunt, seeing their smile at the end makes it so much worth it."
Goode hopes to deliver the same thrills this year but with the pandemic and safety concerns, he sad he and the other actors have to rethink how their performances inside.
“We’re going to do lots of yelling and lots of directing hand motion acting with our bodies lots of stuff like that," he said. "Not really yelling at people but lifting or elevating our voices just so we can be heard and tell the story we want to tell.”
Blossman said their goal is to still provide a beloved Halloween experience.
“We believe Wicked Ways is a crucial part of Halloween experience in Memphis and without it, I mean this year has been pretty rough and I think hopefully this will be a little light at the end of the tunnel to make things better,” he said.
Wicked Ways opens for the season on Friday night. Details here.
Proceeds from Wicked Ways goes to benefit St. Jude.