Archdale, NC — The arrival of Spookywoods this year was fraught with a series of obstacles that threatened the existence of a viable way forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Friday, however, will mark the 35th unofficial beginning of the haunted attraction season for many aficionados who will make their way out to 1615 Kersey Valley Road to be scared out of their wits. Tony Wohlgemuth, owner of Kersey Valley Attractions, explained on Monday that the path to the finish line was anything but a straight one.

Earlier this year, he spoke with the A-T News about a plan for reopening, which required continuous tweaking throughout the summer in order to be ready for October.

“I was looking for guidance — from the CDC, health department, Department of Health and Human Services — about our outdoor entertainment venues,” Wohlgemuth said. “We started worrying about the fall coming up. What are we going to do about Maize Adventure? What are we going to do about Spookywoods?”

In weighing options for opening fall attractions, Wohlgemuth devised a COVID-19 plan that laid out the steps necessary to take in order to ensure protection and safety for both the venue and its patrons. That plan eventually cleared the way for Spookywoods to open the 2020 season with a Friday debut for no more than 300 people outside their vehicles or 50 in any confined area at one time.

Though he hopes the parameters are relaxed further in Phase 3 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening, possibly as early as this week, Wohlgemuth is preparing to adhere to state guidelines. This is made more plausible by the nature of his venue. As cars fill the parking lot at Kersey Valley, actors responsible for bringing the fright to customers will approach those vehicles.

For as long as visitors stay inside their vehicles, capacity never becomes an issue. When they do make their way out of the cars, Wohlgemuth says his vision for the process involves a consistent movement of people throughout the property that prevents problems from cropping up with too many people in one place at one time.

Mouth and nose coverings are required by all staff and for customers, social distances of 6-8 feet will be adhered to at all times and dedicated staff have been hired for disinfecting duties.

A decreased number of actors this year will be a staple of the plan, which calls for “monsters” to come no closer than within six feet of guests. Management has also committed to canceling all travel since March.