ANDERSON — Located on more than 20 acres of land in Anderson, actors are training to safely scare guests at Indy Scream Park this Halloween season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest challenge is, when we get busy or it’s a lot of customers coming in and trying to keep that 6-foot distance in some of the areas of the attractions,” Aubrey Stone said.
Stone started working as a scare actor at Indy Scream Park when she was just 15 years old. She grew up right around the corner from the popular Halloween attraction.
Leading up to October, she’s been concerned about whether or not they would get to open.
“I was completely freaked out because this place is like my pride and joy, my baby,” Stone said.
In her eighth-season, Stone is now in charge of all actors and attractions. As the action director, it’s her job to put more than 100 scare actors through training. It’s a process that has looked much different this year due to the pandemic.
“A lot of the seasoned actors who have been here from the past had to get used to changing their rules, changing their scripts,” Stone said.
Some of the changes for actors include not touching guests and wearing a mask at all times.
“It’s definitely just as scary whenever I walk through the attractions and check on them. Half of the time you can’t tell these are masks because they look just like the make-up,” Stone said.
Deputy make-up artist Paityn Beard and her team are taking on the challenge of making actors look just as scary by applying make-up on the upper half of their faces, as the bottom half remains covered by a mask.
“We try to bring stuff down along the line of the masks that way in the dark it blends in,” Beard said. “Walking through and getting to see what we put on people’s faces and getting to see what it looks like when watching the people ahead of us get scared, that’s probably one of the best rewards of the job.”
Indy Scream Park is only operating at 50% capacity in order to keep people spaced out, but on a busy night that means thousands of people will be at the attraction.
To improve safety, lines have been extended and widened to allow for social distancing. Exits from attractions have also been shifted to avoid groups gathering in one place.
“Having fewer people out here on any given night does help with being able to space out," Marketing Director Jon Pianki said. "It makes the lines less long. It makes it an overall more fun experience for our customers."
Picnic tables inside the midway where guests can eat and drink are also separated by at least 6 feet. All guests are required to wear masks when not eating or drinking and get their temperature checked before arriving.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists indoor haunted houses as a high-risk activity, but leaders with Indy Scream Park hope the steps they are taking make people feel safe.
“We need them to self-police themselves and make sure they’re wearing the masks, being safe and keeping others safe around them,” Pianki said.