by Dalila Bevab and Layla Colakovic
Scary things during October include haunted houses, horror movies and black cats. But no one predicted a global pandemic would be thrown into the mix, making this year’s “spooky season” even scarier.
Although this Halloween season likely won’t be as fun due to COVID-19, Bellarmine students can still engage in seasonal activities safely in Louisville, which has a plethora of spooky attractions.
Grim Trails is one of the most popular outdoor haunted houses in the city, and it’s open Fridays from 8:30 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are available at the gate or on the website at https://grimtrails.com. The last day to visit is Oct. 31.
Andrew Coombs, owner of Grim Trails, said the atmosphere is still the same even with COVID-19 rules in place. “We don’t get as close as we used to, but we’ve added several new animatronic characters to reach out to you. It’s exactly the same, if not better, than last year,” he said.
He also said all customers are required to wear masks, and hand sanitizer stations are set up throughout the attraction. Customers can come in together as a group, but the groups must sign a COVID-19 sheet asking for the group members’ temperatures and any present symptoms, he said.
Approximately 450 people may attend the attraction on a Saturday night, but the employees remind people of social distancing rules, Coombs said. He said, “People would bunch up in the spots, so we had to remind them about social distancing when they’re standing in lines.”
Coombs said, “We used to combine several groups of six to 10 people to go through, but now if you come by yourself, you leave by yourself.” This means that sometimes the attraction stays open longer to accommodate letting people through.
The attraction extended the waiting line to 1,700 feet to allow for social distancing, he said.
“Because we have four acres and we aren’t inside a building, we don’t worry about restricting the amount of people, but if the line is too full, we turn people away at the parking lot until the line lessens,” he said. He also said there are fewer people on Friday.
The haunted house has masks for sale for $1 if anyone forgets to bring one, Coombs said.
Actors must wear either a Halloween mask or a disposable one, and some of them wear silicone masks with a regular mask underneath. The actors are also required to undergo temperature checks before entering the attraction, Coombs said.
Grim Trails’ most popular attractions include the Salem witch house, a showcase of possessed witches, and the Goldilocks and the bear characters, who throw each other around, Coombs said.
Junior Joe Coleman went to the American Horrorplex attraction for the first time on Oct. 3, and he said he would recommend it for anyone.
Coleman said there wasn’t as much interaction with the characters as one would expect, but he understands it’s because of COVID-19.
“They made it very apparent that they had social distancing and mask guidelines, and though not everyone followed the mask rules the entire time we were there, the social distancing guidelines were well-maintained,” he said.
He said he thinks it’s safe for students who pay attention to their surroundings, can follow directions and understand the importance of social distancing and wearing masks.
He said, “The student body as a whole has a tendency to do what we want instead of what’s right, but the haunted house workers are respectful and do their jobs, so it’s up to the students to do their part.”
Horrorplex is open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m through Oct. 31. General admission tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the attraction’s official website, https://www.americanhorrorplex.com.
Senior Miranda Smith works at the Haunted Hotel on South Fourth Street and has worked at other haunted houses in the past. She said the COVID guidelines require everyone to wear a mask and the actors aren’t allowed to grab customers.
“It’s harder to scare people when you have to try to remain at a distance from their face and it does make it difficult to make adjustments to scare people due to the guidelines,” she said.
The Haunted Hotel is open 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 8 to 11 p.m. on Sundays. The last day of operation is Nov. 7. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.hauntedhotelky.com.
Louisville and Southern Indiana also have other fall festivities for those who scare easily. Sunny Acres Farm, Mulberry Orchard and Huber’s Orchard and Winery have big pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hayrides.
Student Teagan McMillon picked pumpkins at Huber’s Farm in Borden, Indiana, earlier this month. She said there weren’t any clear guidelines but she wore her mask as a precaution. She also said once patrons were out on the farm, it was easy to socially distance, so masks weren’t necessary.
“I would bring hand sanitizer and most likely use the restroom before you go because they do only have a porta-potty and there is a lot of foot traffic,” she said.
McMillon said there were other activities besides pumpkin picking, including wine tasting, sunflower picking and various foods to purchase.
According to Huber’s website, U-Pick pumpkins are 50 cents per pound at a $5 minimum per pumpkin, and a portion of all sales are donated to the WHAS Crusade for Children. The website does not list any COVID guidelines.
The last day to visit Huber’s pumpkin patch is Oct. 31. The patch is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunny Acres Farm in Jeffersontown is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Its Facebook lists weekend activities such as pumpkin decorating and costume contests. The last day to visit is Nov. 1. and details are available at https://www.facebook.com/SunnyAcresFarm/.
Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville offers corn mazes and weekday wagon rides to the pumpkin patch. Daily operating hours and activities are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mulberryorchard/, but the orchard is typically open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.