Gruesome ghosts and zombies in some of the region's favorite haunts will be giving guests a good scare this Halloween season, although a few attractions are sitting Halloween out because of the coronavirus — promising to be back next year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently classified indoor haunted houses, where guests might be crowded together and screaming, as a higher risk activity that should be avoided.
But, the haunted attractions that have opened or are about to welcome guests are promising to keep visitors properly distanced and grouped by household. Haunted attractions also say they will enforce wearing masks and increase their cleaning regimes.
One new creative attraction in Denver, the City of the Dead: Drive In Haunted House promises a multimedia show displayed on a 40-foot screen with creatures surrounding the theater to bring the show to life, while keeping guests safe in their cars.
In Colorado Springs the big attractions, Hellscream Haunted House and Haunted Mines, said in a statement the staff has made modifications so they will be "as safe or safer than any other business an individual would commonly visit." The company also took issue with the CDC's recommendation.
"IF haunted attractions continued to operate the same way they have up until 2020 we would find the CDC’s assessment to be fair and accurate. HOWEVER, HellScream LLC and many, many other haunted attractions across the state of Colorado and throughout the United States have taken the CDC’s, WHO’s (World Health Organizations), federal and state regulations with extreme seriousness," the statement said. HellScream staff said they did not have time for an interview Thursday but provided an extensive list of all the precautions the attractions are taking.
HellScream said it has reduced its acting staff to reduce human-to-human exposure. The staff will also stay at least 6-feet away from customers, wear face masks and clean constantly.
Objects customers would have touched have been removed and hand sanitizer will be provided after all handrails.
Other attractions opening in the Denver-metro area list similar safety practices on their websites.
Brittani Allen, co-owner of the Littleton-based Ritual Haunted House, believes Halloween attraction visitors can be kept safe from the virus. For example, Allen had planned to require visitors to stay in their cars until they received a message via text it was their turn to enter. The owners also planned to keep groups from seeing each other on their way through the haunted house for safety and to promote a better experience.
The attraction is taking the year off because the coronavirus interfered with its ability to get a temporary lease in time.
"We just didn’t have the time to find a place, get the licensing and permitting," she said. "I am not going to lie, some tears were shed."
El Paso County Health Department Spokeswoman Michelle Hewitt said haunted houses should be capping the number of people at 175 or 50% capacity with social distancing. She did not offer specific health guidance for haunted attractions.
Denver Public Health has not released it's guidance for Halloween, said Kyle Wagner, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Colorado Springs-area attractions:
HellScream Haunted House opens Friday at 3021 N. Hancock Ave. Haunted Mines opens Saturday at 3910 Palmer Park Blvd. Tickets start at $22.
Scorched Earth Haunted Farm opens Oct. 2 at 8310 Blue Gill Dr. Peyton. Tickets start at $15.
Fright in Falcon announced on Facebook in September it is closed because the operators have retired.
The 13th Floor Haunted House is open on weekends at 3400 E. 52nd Ave. Denver. Tickets start at $27.99.
City of Dead: Drive In Haunted House is open next to the the 13th Floor Haunted House at 3400 E. 52nd Ave. Denver. Tickets start at $39.99 for a car with two passengers.
The Frightmare Compound is open at 10798 Yukon St. Westminster. Tickets start at $29.99.
The Haunted Field of Screams opens Oct. 2 at 10451 McKay Road Thornton. Tickets start at $34.99. The attraction includes multiple haunted houses and a hayride.
Reaper's Hollow at Fright Acres opens Oct. 2 at 11321 Dransfeldt Road Parker. Tickets start at $30.
The Horror Theater Haunted House in Denver is closed for the season. However it will have a free outdoor display on weekends in October at 4505 S. Independence St. Denver.
Elitch Gardens is closed because of the coronavirus and will not hold its annual after dark Fright Fest.
Dead Zone Scream Park and Maze After Dark in Littleton is closed for the season.
The Ritual Haunted House in Littleton is closed for the season.