Nightmare on 13th returned this year following a modified showing last Halloween season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
While exploring potential ideas for this year’s haunted attraction, creative director for Nightmare’s haunted house, Jimmy Dilley, traveled to Louisiana and spent a few days researching “dark magic” and meeting locals who practice voodoo.
Dilley’s Louisiana trip resulted in the creation of a new section of the house called “Blackwater,” which presents a mystical version of the southern state. The section contains artificial piers, occult imagery, pirates and a recreation of Louisiana’s scenery.
Attention to detail helps immerse the attendees, Dilley said, which ultimately creates a more memorable experience and greater scares.
“Last year, people loved the [house’s] detail,” he said, “which is why this year when we went into it, we gave it a lot more detail. We spent more time and more resources than ever before to amp up the sets.”
During last year’s event, Nightmare implemented various safety measures as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, such as group spacing, timed-ticketing, mask-wearing and dedicated staff who sanitized commonly touched surfaces.
Two of those measures – group spacing and timed-ticketing – were re-implemented this year for continued safety precautions but also because of customer feedback. According to Dilley, attendees appreciated more space to better take in the elaborate settings and for the actors to fully manifest their characters.
Jodie Larsen – who embodies Lady Blanche, a ghost that greets attendees on their way into and out of the haunted house – said the team is operating in “full force.”
“This year, we’re bouncing back from the pandemic,” Larsen said, “and so, we have more freedom to have more fun. All the things we wanted to do last year; we are finally able to implement them this year to get more colorful with what we do.”
Nightmare’s main attraction contains a total of 13 “themed nightmares,” each encompassing different settings and characters.
“[The actors] stalked you and knew who to pick on,” said attendee Morgan Mortimer. “They made me drop at one point.”
Dilley noted that, as terrifying as the cast may seem, they are happy to be able to engage with attendees in a way that is reminiscent of earlier times.
“Coming out of a year of a pandemic, a lot of people were in their house and didn’t get a chance to get out and have fun,” Dilley said. “Seeing groups of people come through that are able to have a good time – that’s the cherry on top for all of us here.”
Nightmare on 13th will run throughout the entirety of October from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and from 7:30 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Two additional days of operation will be held Nov. 5 and 6.