Halloween 2020: Here’s how Louisiana haunted houses plan to operate differently this season

Halloween might seem a little scarier than usual this year due to the pandemic, but honestly, what’s spookier than 2020?

Many of New Orleans’ biggest Halloween events have already been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, including Scout Island Scream Park, Voodoo Fest and the downtown Krewe of BOO! parade.

Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  released Halloween guidelines that classify door-to-door trick-or-treating, indoor haunted houses and hayrides with strangers as “higher risk” activities.

Source: The Mortuary Haunted House

Even though City and State COVID-19 guidelines restrict many of our normal activities, Louisiana haunted houses can apply for a special permit through the state fire marshal’s office to operate with strict guidelines.

Camouflaged face masks on monsters, virtual line queues and hand sanitizer stations outside of eerie hallways — these are a few ways Louisiana haunted houses are trying to create a safer space for scares this season.

As the Halloween season quickly approaches, we compiled a list of haunted houses planning to open, along with details about how precautions might impact the spooky experience. We also provide a list of haunted attractions that have announced closings for 2020.

Keep in mind that any business operations during the pandemic remain a fluid situation, so some locations may change details. Check back for updates as we get them.

New Orleans Nightmare

Opening date: Saturday, Sept. 19

In Jefferson Parish, New Orleans Nightmare returns for its third year since taking over the former House of Shock location near the Huey P. Long Bridge in Elmwood. From check-ins to the actual haunted house experience, New Orleans Nightmare says it’s aiming to keep the attraction as contactless as possible.

Source: New Orleans Nightmare

This year, haunted house producers will emphasize private group experiences with a priority on physical distancing.

To abide by COVID-10 regulations, only small groups are allowed to enter at a time. Also, guests will only enter the haunt with people they arrived with that night and not get paired with people from another group. All admission tickets are timed, reservation-based to reduce wait times in line and limit attendance.

Protective face coverings are required for everyone on-site during the entire experience. Even haunted house actors will wear masks underneath theatrical masks and makeup.

Another change this year: Only clear bags and clutches not exceeded 4.5″ x 6.5″ will be allowed to limit touching of personal items during security checks.

For 2020, the haunted house plays up two new attractions. One attraction, Creature Feature, rips classic monsters from horror movies — like vampires, mummies and werewolves — and brings them to life inside an abandoned theater. The second attraction, called Deadly Reflections, is a riff on the Bloody Mary urban legend.

READ MORE: The Mortuary, New Orleans Nightmare ready to scare this Halloween while adapting to pandemic

See full COVID-19 safety and procedures

The Mortuary Haunted Mansion

Opening date: Friday, Oct. 2

This year, the long lines of thrill-seekers clamoring to get spooked at the Mortuary Haunted Mansion will get replaced with a virtual queue.

Utilizing time-based ticketing, guests can select tickets for a specific day and time to help with minimal guest interaction and quick entry. Also, ticket purchases will only be available online. The Mortuary says the change should help reduce on-site wait times and reduce the number of people waiting to enter the haunted house.

Source: The Mortuary

For the 2020 season, haunted house producers will debut a new “Rift War” haunted house experience with extended daytime hours due to COVID-19. The interactive, live-combat theme puts a scary spin on laser tag. Guests will hunt down zombies with a video-game-like, infrared military laser tag riffle through the Mortuary. The premise seems fairly similar to the Zombie Outbreak Battlefield the Mortuary created at Scout Island Scream Park.

The new COVID-19 safety plan also includes regular rounds of sanitization inside and outside of the attraction. Everyone on-site will be required to wear face coverings and sanitize their hands before entering the building. Additionally, guests will enter the haunt with only their immediate group, and six-foot ground markings will help with physical distancing.

READ MORE: The Mortuary, New Orleans Nightmare ready to scare this Halloween while adapting to pandemic

See full COVID-19 safety and procedures

RISE Haunted House

Opening date: Friday, Oct. 2

This new era of social distancing forces RISE Haunted House makes some big changes to its haunted attraction in Tickfaw, La., near Hammond. This year, operators will only open the haunted house, while closing its other two attractions.

While becoming popular over the years, haunted house operators say the new guidelines would impact the overall experience of the two closed attractions, Asylum and Haunted Hayride.

“The Asylum is a very close and personal, ‘in your face’ style of haunt and we feel as though we could not provide the same level of thrill during the era of social distancing. The Hayride is best enjoyed with a large group of visitors traveling through the scenes together and while we could have spaced out guests we feel as though the core of the experience would be lost,” haunted house operators said in a statement on the website.

Photo courtesy: Rise Haunted House

In the haunted house, guests will wander through an endless maze designed as an abandoned bed and breakfast where awakened dead souls lurk around every corner.

Similar to other haunted houses RISE will implement online ticketing and a virtual queue line system to allow for social distancing and manage crowd sizes. Everyone on-site will be required to wear face coverings.

Additionally, guests will have to undergo temperature checks before entry. Guests will enter the haunt with only their immediate group on a timed schedule to allow for proper social distancing. Group sizes will be limited to six as required by state officials.

See full COVID-19 safety and procedures

Ranch of Horror

Opening date: Friday, Oct. 2

Ranch of Horror returns with its thrilling, zombie-themed experiences taking over The Party Barn in Hammond on weekends in October.

The website doesn’t specifically list all of the planned COVID-19 guidelines. However, a spokesperson for Ranch of Horror says a queue system will limit attractions to small groups at a time and cut down on lines this year.

Photo courtesy: Ranch of Horror

The attraction will implement a new reservation system this year. Guests can call to book specific times at 985-687-3899.

Ranch of Horror unleashes four spooky attractions for 2020, including Zombies of the Bayou Haunted Hayride and Zombie Escape live paintball field.

New for 2020 is the House of Dystopia, which features a self-guided tour through a haunted house “filled with scenes from your worse phobias.” An on-site mini-golf course will get transformed in the Halloween spirit for rounds of spooky golf.

Movie nights will also return screening Halloween favorites each Friday and Saturday night in October.

The 13th Gate

Opening date: Friday, Oct. 2

Although this year’s experience will change because of the pandemic, this top-rated haunted attraction in Baton Rouge will bring back its ultra-realistic nightmares.

The 13th Gate will also tap into the trend of virtual queue lines. Upon arrival, each guest will scan their QR code and get assigned a number. They will be notified when to report back to the haunted house and wait in a very small, socially distanced line.

Source: 13th Gate

Capacity will be managed for appropriate social distancing, and guests will only enter the haunted house with their direct group.

At the 13th Gate, only the bravest will find their way through terrifying realms like an abandoned asylum, dark underground tunnels or even finding yourself standing on a rickety bridge overlooking hundreds of live snakes, according to a description on the website.

Returning this year is CarnEvil Haunted Midway, a twisted carnival full of Halloween scares, food and free nightly entertainment from some of Baton Rouge’s cover bands.

See full COVID-19 safety and procedures

Terror on the Coast

Opening date: Friday, Sept. 18

While this haunted house isn’t located in Louisiana, it’s known as “the largest haunted house on the Gulf Coast.” Terror on the Coast dares thrill-seekers to visit the Gulfport, Mississippi attraction for a fearful night of frights.

The attraction boasts 86,000 square feet of scares, thrills and ghoulish Hollywood movie props.

While the website doesn’t explicitly list COVID-19 safety regulations, guests are required to read and sign a waiver on health, safety, liability and COVID-19 before admission.

Source: Gulf Coast Weekend


Haunted attractions closed for 2020

Scout Island Scream Park

New Orleans City Park officials confirmed that Scout Island Scream Park, City Park’s immersive, Halloween festival experience, will not open for 2020. The event is set to return in 2021.

Ghost Manor

Ghost Manor, the popular Magazine Street mansion known for its innovative Halloween displays, announced it will not return for the first time in nine years due to COVID-19. Instead of its typical show, Ghost Manor will decorate the home with a static display. According to a statement posted on Facebook, the creators say it wouldn’t be responsible for them to bring back the crowd-attracting spectacle this year. Located at the corner of Magazine and Second Street, the high-tech display draws crowds each year for its family-friendly, Halloween-inspired show.

Bernie Baxter’s Travelling Sideshow

Bernie Baxter’s Travelling Sideshow, a neighborhood haunted house operating in Algiers, announced it will not open for the 2020 Halloween season. According to a statement posted on Facebook, haunted house operators said they could not determine a safe way to open during the pandemic within City and State guidelines.

Sinister Hallows Haunted House

This Mandeville haunted attraction will not return in 2020. Last year, Sinister Hallows Haunted House replaced its predecessor Shadowlands Haunted House with a new name and restructured management.

Lafitte Haunted House of Horror

A spokesperson for the Lafitte Fire Department confirmed the Lafitte House of Horror will not open this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For years, firefighters spooked folks with their maze of mayhem in Jean Lafitte as a fundraiser.

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