Mesa's Scarizona opens Friday night, with some modifications for safety

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- As if 2020 isn’t scary enough, people across the Valley are still seeking thrills and chills at haunted houses.This comes as the CDC has warned against the attractions.

Part of the fun of haunted houses are the masked ghouls and clowns. But this year you’ll be seeing more than masks on these actors.

Scarizona Operations Manager Allen Thompson isn’t afraid to admit he almost canceled this entire production because of COVID-19. "We spent a lot of time deciding what would be the smartest thing to do, open, not open, obviously,” said Thompson.

But after speaking with their more than 100 employees, including actors, make-up artists, security guards and parking staff, Scarizona season 5 is a go. “They need this money, Christmas money, other things they depend on every year," said Thompson.

This year, the cast and crew will be shifting the focus of the Mesa experience. "Make it more about intimate experience, less volume and less crowds out here,” said Thompson.

Peter Cutler, aka "The Janitor," says the decision to open for the season is the reason he now has a job, after being laid off from a theater company in Ohio. “It’s been difficult. I moved out here to stay with some family members. You look every day you see what you can find,” said Cutler.

“Our actors will be wearing face masks inside their masks so that way, they’re protected, as well as protecting customers coming through,” said Thompson.

They will operate on a reservation-only and timed-based ticketing system for social distancing. “We have staff that will greet people at their cars, check in list, names and time slots,” said Thompson.

That means no lines, and you’ll only go inside with the group you came with. “I don’t really think it will take away from the experience. I like to think it will add to it,” said Cutler.

For those who don’t want to take the risk, They also offer a drive-through-only experience. “You can stay in your car, travel through a show,” said Thompson.

And that is what Doctor Shad Marvasti with the UArizona College of Medicine recommends, instead of visiting an indoor attraction. “Any event you do outdoors, you’re 6 times less likely to get infected or give the infection to someone else. Even if you wear a mask, even if you try to keep distancing,” said Dr. Marvasti.

Scarizona opens Friday October 9 at 7 p.m. Click HERE for more information.


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