Last November, Fear Factory began a major renovation. Back then, owner Rob Dunfield couldn’t have predicted that a few months later COVID-19 would rear its ugly head and put a damper on haunted houses and businesses everywhere.
But Dunfield and his team, including his wife and co-owner Heidi Dunfield, decided that a scary virus wasn’t going to stop them from scaring Salt Lake crowds as they’ve done for the past nine years. They are determined to have a 10th season in 2020 no matter what.
So what does a socially distanced haunted house look like? For one thing, the crowds will be smaller, and Fear Factory will be selling timed tickets. For those who can’t wait to be scared by monsters and ghouls instead of viruses and earthquakes, reserved time tickets can be purchased in advance in half-hour windows. If groups arrive early, they will be asked to wait in their cars, but can get started anytime in their reserved window.
Groups will be kept to family or friends rather than combining with other groups to navigate the haunted house as in years past. Fear Factory will follow all city and county guidelines on social distancing and everything will be clearly marked. There will be extra sanitation stations and extra people to clean the railings and touch-points every 15 minutes. Paths will be clear to walk through without touching anything that might be dangling or protruding.
“It is a big undertaking, but we want to do this,” Dunfield says, “We will keep it safe and we are excited to show off our new features.”
According to Dunfield, the actors and staff can’t wait to get back to their jobs because it’s something they look forward to all year, although things will be a little different this year. Social distancing will be maintained so there will be no “in your face” visceral cares. In their place will be air blasts and other theatrical features to get visitor’s hearts racing. The “Monster Touch” option will not be available this year, and under the scary masks and makeup, the actors will all be wearing personal protective equipment.
Cast and crew had some practice in the spring with Fear Factory’s Half-Way to Halloween Event. Dunfield said that things were even more restrictive when the city was on orange status. Now that it’s at yellow, everything should be easier.
Ticket sales are already going well, and it is best to buy early because once capacity is reached, that window will be closed. About 300 visitors will be allowed per half-hour, which is about half of regular capacity.
Dunfield feels that people are ready to get out and have some fun by doing the normal things they once enjoyed. Haunted houses are supposed to be scary, so don’t be afraid to have fun!
Fear Factory is now open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, moving to all week on October 25.
666 W 800 S, Salt Lake City. fearfactoryslc.com