Drive-thru haunted house provides COVID-safe terror in SF

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) — Halloween is not cancelled in San Francisco as a haunted house has found a new way to frighten its guests.

The attraction has turned into a drive-thru experience so people can stay safe from COVID-19 inside their vehicles.

Don’t step out of the car – you don’t know what’s out there.

There is evil lurking in the shadows at the ‘Pirates of Emerson’ attraction in San Francisco Bay Area.

It’s a Halloween tradition to go looking for terror.

And Pirates of Emerson has a long-established history of providing horror fans with a night of fright.

“My parents and I, we started it in their backyard on Emerson Street 29 years ago. It was a keg and some friends scaring the neighborhood kids and it got bigger and bigger,” says Brian Fields, Co-Founder of Pirates of Emerson.

But this year there is a fear greater than any zombie – the prospect of catching COVID-19.

Visitors to the attraction used to creep through narrow hallways while ghosts and goblins jumped out at close quarters.

Organizers initially thought they would therefore have to cancel the event entirely.

But like other haunted houses across the US, they have given it a coronavirus revamp.

Now the spook show is watched from inside visitors’ vehicles, as they wind their way through a route dotted with ominous shadows and creepy characters.

It means guests can maintain social distancing from the safety of their slow-moving cars.

“We came up with this idea of a drive through and and off we went and here we are. It took about six weeks to put it together and there’s about 20 trailers full of stuff out here,” says Field.

“It takes up about 10 acres and it’s over 20 minute drive, maybe 20-25 minute drive maybe if you take it nice and slow.”

It might be safe from the virus inside the car, but it doesn’t feel safe from the ghouls chasing the vehicles.

Whether it’s a brain-eating zombie or a maniac with a chainsaw, there are plenty of reasons to scream.

And when a crazy clown asks for your ticket, it’s best not to stop and comply.

“It’s a great way to have the Halloween spirit in 2020 when we really need it. And we’re doing it in a way that’s super safe. So I really approve with the drive through idea. Think it’s really cool,” says cast member Shi Tuck.

Entries are spaced out by at least 30 seconds so guests get their own individual experience.

Drivers can tune into a radio signal to provide a spooky soundtrack to listen to while driving through the attraction.

“It was terrifying at parts because, like, they came out where you didn’t expect them to,” says guest Sydney Gilbert as she recovers from her journey of horror.

Pirates of Emerson runs until November 1 and costs $94 per carload.

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