Niles Scream Park prepares for 2020 season with new COVID-19 precautions

NILES — 2020 is about to get even scarier. The temperatures outside will begin to fall, the sun will begin to set sooner, and things that go bump at the Niles Haunted House are ready to serve up screams.

The Niles Scream Park, 855 Mayflower Road, will be opening to the public 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11. The park will be open Fridays and Saturdays in September, and Friday through Sundays in October, with two more dates the first weekend of November.

The park will be doing things a little differently than in years past due to COVID-19. Pete Karlowicz, park owner, reassured patrons the scares will still be there, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 has been lowered as much as possible.

“We are predominantly an outdoor park,” Karlowicz said. “We do have some indoor attractions, but our indoor attractions have outdoor components.”

Karlowicz also estimates he has installed more than 120 hand sanitizing units around the park, including in the attractions for the actors to use.

Inside the park’s gift shop and escape room attraction, which are high touch areas of the park, Karlowicz said the shop will be sprayed with an electrostatic sprayer every 30 minutes, and the escape room will be sprayed between each group.

There is also a Scream Clean Team this year. The team may look like Ghostbusters to park goers looking for a scare, wearing an atomizer pack on their backs as they spray areas rotationally through the park.

Those arriving to the park for a night of scares will have a different experience than in years past.

The park has traditionally been first come, first served, with a long line expected for many after purchasing tickets for attractions. This year, reservations are strongly recommended.

“A ticket reservation guarantees your spot,” Karlowicz said. “If you don’t heed my warning, you may not get in. It depends on if a slot is available.”

Temperatures will be taken, and masks are required for entry, he said.

The actors, even the actors wearing silicone masks, will also be required to wear masks underneath the terrifying one on the exterior. Balaclavas and neck gaiter-style coverings will be worn beneath the masks of actors in costumes.

The park has six ticketed attractions, including the Niles Haunted House, The Field of Screams, Hooded, Dark Terror-tory Haunted Hayride, The Basement and The Cursed Crusade. The attractions are priced per visit, per attraction, and may be bundled. The cost starts at $10 per ticket for certain attractions.

In Hooded, each patron is blindfolded with a hood as they enter the attraction.  Hooded is for patrons 18 years and older, who must sign a waiver, as the actors may touch the patron in the attraction to add to terror.

Karlowicz said each hood is only used once per night, and then they are laundered. Patrons will be required to continue wearing their masks beneath the hoods.

“We have 1,000 hoods,” he said.

Each actor in the park will be stationed near a hand sanitizing station if their scare includes getting close to a patron.

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