Ghosts and ghouls have returned to Anderson, Indiana, this Halloween season as the Indy Scream Park opened its doors for its 11th year through Nov. 7.
The 120-acre park, which opened in September, contains several different haunted attractions, including a new zombie paintball arena and an outdoor midway for guests to relax, enjoy food and beverages and play carnival games. It is open from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
Jon Pianki, the marketing director for Indy Scream Park, has been with the company for about seven to eight years.
“I always like to tell people that you should plan to spend your entire evening at our park, simply because there's so much to do,” Pianki said.
Along with the new paintball attraction, Indy Scream Park offers scare experiences at each of their attractions, such as the pitch-black backwoods hike where guests are guided by the light of a glow stick.
The park has also implemented new safety plans along with CDC guidelines in order to keep attendees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The park is operating at 50% capacity and requires all guests and staff to wear face masks in the park, including in lines and attractions. Guests and staff must also have their temperature taken before entry. Social distancing will be expected whenever possible and the park has hired extra staff to sanitize high-touch areas, such as bathrooms, which are cleaned after every use. Hand sanitizer is being supplied throughout the park and each attraction is disinfected at the end of the night.
“We also had all of our actors wear masks as well,” Pianki said. “We designed them specifically to look like the characters so when you're in there in the dark and the strobe lights and things like that, you really can't tell that they're not wearing makeup. It looks like it's part of a costume.”
Pianki said the park has been trying its best to enforce the new guidelines.
“One of the big things we ask is for every customer to just take a look around yourself, make sure you're social distancing from people that are in your group,” Pianki said. “It's not always just about your safety, it’s also about the safety of our staff.”
Overall, staff and actors have been supportive of the park's return, Pianki said.
“Everyone on our staff is very happy about it,” Pianki said about the park opening this year. “They're very ecstatic we'll come back.”
Aubrey Stone, attractions director at Indy Scream Park, said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the actors have made adjustments to the way they scare customers, since Indy Scream Park has incorporated interactive elements such as touching in the past.
“It was a little bit of an adjustment up front because I don't know if you've ever heard about us in the past but we've always done interactive attractions for the last couple of years where we've actually used to grab the customers and take them into separate rooms,” Stone said. “But now we don't touch them.”
This change has made scare acting more fun for veteran actors since they have to be more creative to scare customers or convince them to separate their group, Stone said.
Stone said she and the other managers have been checking in on staff to ensure everyone feels safe while at work and rules are being followed. As the attractions director, Stone is constantly walking throughout the park and the attractions to ensure that actors are sticking to their scripts, which is her favorite part of the job.
“Jjust walking through a haunted house all night, even though I've been there forever, is still just constantly entertaining," Stone said.
Holli Wilson, a guest who visited Indy Scream Park for the first time this year, said she had a safe and fun experience with her family.
“I really enjoyed it,” Wilson said. “It was something nice for me to get out of the house and go do.”
Wilson said she felt safe at Indy Scream Park during her visit due to the mask policy. She said she really enjoyed taking pictures with the actors outside of the attractions.
“Being able to get pictures with all the characters that were on the outside by the port-a-potties and all that, and take pictures with them, and they will have fun with family and laughing and getting scared all together,” Wilson said.
Tickets can be purchased online starting at $19.95. Pianki said he recommends that people purchase tickets as early as possible due to reduced crowd capacity at the park this season.