Hollywood Gothique queries All Saints Lunatic Asylum on the subject of reopening after a pandemic, turning the lights out, and the advantages of tinkering with a haunted attraction year-round.
All Saints Lunatic Asylum in Apple Valley has posted its schedule for 2021, starting with Halfway to Halloween: MAYhem at the Asylum this Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29, from 7pm to 10pm both nights. Subsequent dates are on August 13 for Friday the 13th: The Boogeyman, weekends in October for Halloween, and December 3 and 4 for Christmas at the Asylum.
All Saints Lunatic Asylum was one of many haunted houses to go on hiatus during Halloween 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, having previously cancelled dates in March and April. The attraction typically opens for Valentine’s Day and Easter but skipped those days this year; Halfway to Halloween will be their first show in over a year.
The walk-through maze has been revised to meet government safety guidelines, including air filtration. Covid-19 precautions will be in place, including temperature checks, social distancing, and face masks. Failure to comply with guidelines will result in expulsion.
Admission requires advance, timed reservations; no walkups will be allowed. Tickets are $13. In the event of cancellation, money will be refunded within four business days.
All Saints typically adds a seasonal overlay to distinguish their presentations from each other. You can probably guess what famous slasher icon will show up on Friday the 13th; the overlay for Halfway to Halloween is darkness itself – which is to say, this will be a lights-out presentation.
The long drive may seem intimidating for Los Angeles haunt-seekers, but after the several truncated Halloween season last year, the reopening of All Saints Lunatic Asylum is definitely worth the trip.
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: HALFWAY TO HALLOWEEN Q&A
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Did you consider putting on a revised version for Halloween 2020? What strategies were considered?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We did consider it, but because we are professional, we are considered Family Entertainment/Theatre. We were following Federal, State, Local and Industry guidelines because San Bernardino County was in the red tier.
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: What were the legal restrictions regarding your attraction, and what agencies were involved – city, county, state? How big a factor were they in your decision to remain closed?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We had to take the states mandate into account. Our 2020 reopening plan was passed by the Fire Marshall. We fall under several different categories, so our updates were pretty extensive and thorough. Our decision to stay closed was based on the safety of our Patrons and Actors.
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Were there major impediments caused by the pandemic that were specific to your haunt? In other words, if your attraction were different in nature, would there have been a way to open?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: The haunt was ready to open, but our decision was based on the safety of our patrons and actors. In our estimation, there were no conditions that would’ve been 100% safe.
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Did you have to go through an approval process to reopen?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We did, we have been working with local authorities and staying current with Federal, State, County, and industry Guidelines. We have now added Covid-19 safety guidelines to our regular yearly inspections.
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Tell us about the retrofitting for safety (your website mentions air filtration, for example). For instance, were the narrow passages widened?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We have a 34 page reopening plan that covers all the modifications we have done to the haunt; we updated our air filtration system, and run it constantly. We have also temporarily closed off specific area’s that were too narrow or tight. We have included every safety guideline put into place for California, including hand sanitizing stations for patrons and workers, timed ticketing, social distancing, reduced capacity for actors and patrons. We are also conducting thorough wipe down and disinfecting foggers every 20 minutes as well as continuous disinfecting fog running in various areas. Most of our actors are thoroughly vaccinated and have received safety training and are following strict pre- and after-show guidelines. We are also requiring everyone remain masked including patrons and actors. We have a very thorough safety plan in place!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: How much time, money, and work did that involve?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: It was expensive, but the modifications will continue to make the haunt safer for the future as well, and safety has ALWAYS been our #1 concern.
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Did the adjustments to the maze affect the scare strategies at all? Were there instances where the adjustments forced you to rethink something and possibly come up with an even better idea?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We did. We are in the process of some really big changes for the Halloween Season. We had to get creative to provide a safe environment, and actually we are so pleased with the changes we will be keeping them in place. (Yes, we are already planning renovations for 2022!)
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Usually, you non-Halloween events include a seasonal overlay. Halfway to Halloween isn’t seasonal in nature – is that why you went with a lights-out presentation?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: It is. We chose Lights-Out for a couple reasons. One is, everyone loves the Valentines Lights Out experience, so we wanted to create that at least once this year! The other reason is we have been making some major changes we are premiering for the Halloween Season, so by doing lights out we are better able to keep them hidden!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: How will the lights-out version compare to other shows? Why should someone come to “see” this version?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: Lights Out is always so much fun – it’s one of my favorites. I find the Haunt actually pretty spooky in the dark myself, so I know it must be a whole different level if you don’t know your way around like I do!! The only drawback I sometimes hear is from people who realize there is all sorts of fun stuff in there, but they can’t quite see everything and want to come back when the lights are on!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: How have you managed to create and sustain this attraction in Apple Valley? Do you have a local customer based that you can tailor your presentation to?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We do have the absolute best fan base. Many have been coming to see us since we were a home haunt! It’s so much fun, when they come through, to hear the banter they have with our actors characters once they recognize each other! They are so supportive and come out to all our fundraising events and hunt us down at conventions and local events!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: At this point, are you drawing customers from far outside your local area?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We have been drawing customers from all over the country since we were a home haunt. We have regulars that come from Nevada, Arizona, all over California, and even from the Midwest and East Coast. We have had people from as far as Ireland, Switzerland, and Japan that came out to see us!!!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: What would you say is the main appeal of All Saints Lunatic Asylum? What sets it apart from similar attractions?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: We have the advantage of being able to work year round in the Asylum, so we can pay close attention to detail. We work in there all year long making both big and small changes – it’s always different every year. We also work with the community for all sorts of fundraisers and events. But I believe the biggest appeal we have is our actors. We have a fiercely loyal and talented group of people who work with us. It’s a “family” business, many of our actors have been with us since we were a home haunt!
HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: Do you anticipate any possible difficulties regarding customer compliance with your restrictions, such as social distancing and mask-wearing? What plans are in place to deal with situations, if they arise?
ALL SAINTS LUNATIC ASYLUM: Presently, we have timed ticketing, which keeps our numbers regulated so the waiting room is never full. We also have a signed agreement when they book their timeslot, and we will have rules posted as reminders. We will also have 3 licensed security guards on staff, as well as security inside, along with over 40 cameras inside and out. But honestly we have very rarely if ever had any real problems with our patrons following the rules – haunts generally attract the best sort of people! We are all just so excited to finally be able to safely reopen – I honestly believe everyone will be more than happy to follow a few simple guidelines to be able to get a little scare back into our lives!
For ticket information at their official website: allsaintsasylum.com.