Hudson Haunted House in Hudson, Ohio is opening this weekend for “St. Patrick’s Revenge”. Hudson Haunted House is run by the Hudson JCs, who were established in 1972. Alex Austin explains the haunts history, their 2020 pivots, St. Patrick’s revenge, and a few other fantastic engagement ideas.
About Hudson Haunted House
“Our haunt is actually totally nonprofit. Everybody from our actors that you see outside to those running the ticket booth are all from the Hudson Jaycees. We have quite a few student volunteers as well, who are there to get community service hours and learn the ins and outs of the organization. We have been a Chapter since 1972. So, we’re approaching 50 years pretty quickly.”
“We are one of, I believe, three left of Jaycee haunts left in the state of Ohio. We might be one of the oldest haunted houses in the US, that is still functioning and still in full operation.”
How Did Hudson Haunted House Open for the 2020 Season?
“The hard part about being a nonprofit haunt is we have quite a few stipulations. We have to get clearance every weekend to be able to open. So, we had to present the fire department with our plan. And this all happened very fast. We did have to change our set structure a little bit. We typically do three sets a night for our actors, so that people get a break in between. We had to increase those set changes a little bit in time to allow us to do a wipe down of the hallways, and the railings, and the touch points.
We’re fortunate to be built to protect kids, basically. So we have railing up in all rooms. There’s no open floor plan. When you walk through this maze, you’ve got these railings that kind of separate you. We do our best to make them blend and to give some better illusions, but we’re built for safety, which already allowed for that six foot rule to be in place.
We also had to cut back on the amount of actors per room. We tried to basically go to half the amount, which left some rooms that would have been two, maybe three people with one person. That was a little hard for our student volunteers to get used to. But we were fortunate enough to have enough Jaycees around to help buffer and guide us through it.
We also are fortunate to be inside of a park. Our waiting area has enough parking lot space to be able to give eight feet to keep people extra separated. Then we set some different boundaries for our outside actors in terms of the distance you’re allowed, the costuming you’re allowed – things of that nature. We did our best to make sure that all of our outside actors and even inside actors were wearing masks. Our makeup crew did a wonderful job of latexing on masks and building prosthetics around those things. It was a lot of work, but it went very well. We definitely saw more customers this past October than we did the previous.”
At-Home Easter Extravaganza
“Our Jaycee chapter runs our events for the off season. We have an Easter Extravaganza, but instead of doing it in our haunt building, which is what we used to do, we’re making it an at-home Easter egg hunt. You can order your Easter eggs and the Easter bunny brings them and hides them in your front yard.
The morning of Easter, you get to go do your Easter egg hunt in your own house. So, you don’t really have to do this big, get the family out, and go to this place event. And, hopefully, your kid gets enough Easter eggs. You can order 50 Easter eggs for one kid if you really wanted to.
With all of that too, we have a series of COVID precautions. Everybody is masked, wearing gloves to stuff Easter eggs, and everything is individually sanitized.
I know looking forward to Summer, there is a possibility that we will be opening sometime in July for a sneak preview of the haunt for October, but that’s if we can meet our deadlines in time.”
St. Patrick’s Day Event
“We are calling it ‘St. Patrick’s Revenge’, it’s March 19th and 20th. We are open from 7:00 PM until 11. It’s $8 admission for a single ticket. That is a price drop compared to a regular admission, which is $10 or $12. We also offer the family four-pack for $25. So, even if it’s just you and four friends, you can go online, purchase the family four pack, and it’s a little more cost efficient that way. We also run military promotions and things like that too.”
“We’re taking our same sets from October and adding some St. Patrick’s day flare to them. We’re going to have a different kind of makeup style – hopefully some leprechauns in there for those who can be convinced to sit through the process. Definitely some lighting changes, and we are actually having some guest actors as well. I got some feedback from people who work at other haunts that are not going to be open, who are going to come volunteer their time for the weekend.”
“Our ticket booth is open all night long to buy tickets. You can pre purchase your tickets online. We don’t have any kind of waiting queue set up. We are first come, first serve. We don’t have a reach capacity, because as I said, the way our line is set up, we have enough space to space out so many people. That’s where our outside actors keep you entertained outside while you wait to go through.”
Learn More About Hudson Haunted House
“We primarily use Facebook and Instagram for Hudson Haunted House. We have a webpage with lots of FAQs. So if you want a little more detail about our COVID procedures, those are all on our FAQ page on hudsonHauntedHouse.org. If you want to learn about any kind of Jaycee stuff, that is also Facebook and website at HudsonJaycees.org.”
Notes From Philip:
Even though it’s not related to the haunt, an at home Easter egg event is brilliant. Can your haunt do something like that? Maybe have the characters deliver creepy themed eggs. Second, previewing your haunt early in the season is a great way to build up excitement. If you’re looking for some way to reward your super fans or something to build into that VIP package we’ve been mentioning, a haunt preview could be just the thing.