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Topeka Haunted Woods makes changes to navigate pandemic Halloween

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 6:16 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The pandemic has thrown a lot of traditional Halloween activities into question. The CDC this week advised against traditional trick or treating, but what about haunted houses?

Organizers of Topeka Haunted Woods said the spirit of Halloween does not have to disappear just because the world is in a pandemic. Instead, they have worked with local health officials to safely bring guests into their spooky experience.

For the last three October’s Forest Park has been home to Topeka Haunted Woods, but in their fourth season they’ve had to make a few changes.

“We are requiring everybody to have their temperature checked before they enter," said Director of Marketing, Shannon Wilson. "We’ll mark out the 6 feet of social distance while people are waiting in line. We’re breaking up groups so that families will be able to enter together, but there will be a 3 minute break, so that there is space between each group.”

The haunting experience is also getting a new look.

Wilson said, “We have spread out the trail this year, it’s a half mile long and we have told all of our volunteers and our actors that they will be wearing masks and they need to follow the 6 feet distancing guidelines when they are scaring people."

A request she said was received well.

“Nobody has really said anything," Wilson continued saying, "They pretty much have stuff on their face anyways when they’re dressed up and ready to go, so I think a lot of them are actually able to use the masks with their costume and it’s still not going to really affect anything.”

The attraction is also known for its popular Zombie Laser Tag. With it being indoors, Wilson said they’ve had to navigate even more safety concerns.

“Five people will only enter laser tag together at a time," she added, "We have 25 laser guns, so in between each session they will be sanitized properly according to CDC guidelines.”

Wilson said all of these little adjustments are worth it, if it helps keep their small business alive.

“We’ve all just been all about making Topeka Haunted Woods what it is and keeping it pretty much the same," she continued saying, "We’ve had a lot of volunteers turning out and helping to make sure that everything can still happen this year, even though COVID is a thing.”

Topeka Haunted Woods opens at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 9th and will run every Friday and Saturday until October 31st.

Forest Park is also holding a Trunk or Treat event for kids from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Halloween.

Volunteers are still needed and if you’re interested, they have meetings on Sunday’s at 4 p.m. at their location on 3158 SE 10th Street.

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