Haunted Attraction Allowed to Return for 2020

Malcolm Jacob, Scarlet Staff

Ask anyone these days, and their biggest fear at the moment is probably not the ghosts and monsters that come forth around Halloween. For many, the scariest thing this October is having to balance fun with safety, which has been an ongoing challenge throughout the year.

Fortunately, there are a number of places where you can achieve both of these things. One of these is Factory of Terror, which is dedicated to celebrating “spooky season” in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy.

In the beginning of the month, Governor Charlie Baker announced the progression of the state’s COVID-19 plan. Specifically, the second step in Phase III allowed for indoor entertainment venues to open, with limited capacity. This finally gave Factory of Terror the green light for its Fall River location, though their place in Worcester is unable to operate, due the city’s current risk level.

As with many other establishments (such as grocery stores and restaurants), masks are required for all staff and guests. Their “timed ticketing” system ensures that there is minimal exposure between separate groups, and online ticket purchasing has been made easier to reduce in-person crowds. Hand sanitizer is available in the facility, and advanced cleaning protocols have been added.

Changes are visible not just in the safe operation of the venue, but in the performance itself. To the Factory of Terror team, this situation has been a challenge, but a productive one. They are making the most of it by deviating from their usual strategy and experimenting with things they haven’t even attempted in previous years.

“We have quite a few different types of props and scares that we’ve never used before,” said Nathan Araujo, a manager at Factory of Terror. “So it’s given us the ability to be a little more creative. We probably have just as many, if not more, scares than we had in the past.”

Visitors can expect the same level of fright, though with some modifications. Instead of relying on close-up encounters, the actors use a wider variety of scare tactics to surprise people from a safe distance, including noisemakers and drop panels (even monsters have to practice social distancing in these weird times!). Plexiglass and partitioned walls are incorporated throughout the venue, significantly reducing contact between individuals. Most of the scares now happen from six to ten feet away.

Across the country, haunted attractions are having to adapt and prioritize the safety of everyone involved. Some places are trying new methods such as “drive-thru haunted houses,” while others cannot open at all. Factory of Terror’s Worcester location is one of such places.

“Unfortunately, Worcester is a high-risk community,” Araujo explained. “It has been high-risk for some time. So the whole indoor performance venue opening that Governor Baker provided was clear that only communities that were not high-risk were able to move into that phase… Worcester just wasn’t in that arena.”

With more time and resources needed for monitoring queue lines and ticket booths, it makes sense that they are concentrating on the Fall River location. In addition, the city of Worcester would have needed to be out of the “red category” status for three consecutive weeks, which was an unrealistic goal during the short Halloween season.

Araujo encourages anybody who is interested to visit the website for more information. As well as the written rules, they also have an easy-to-follow YouTube tutorial explaining what should be expected and what needs to be completed beforehand.

“I definitely recommend they go on our website to look at our COVID plan,” he said. “We thought very hard about it. It’s a 31-page plan that we submitted to the city and state with our reopening guidelines. Safety for both our guests as well as our employees is our number-one priority. So if anyone has any interest in learning how we’re doing that, we have the complete plan there.”

To any Clark students that find themselves in the Fall River area, make sure to look into Factory of Terror if this is your type of entertainment. Just remember to fill out the waiver in advance, and to wait in your car until five minutes before your time.

Attractions like this are one of the many ways people are having fun in a safe environment this Halloween. It shows how much is still out there; so, whatever you do between now and the 31st, make sure to find something you enjoy!