FALL RIVER — Being a zombie requires a more diverse skill set these days. At least if you want to be employed at the Factory of Terror on Pearl Street in the city’s center.
One second, you’re scaring the bejeepers out of a customer passing through your designated scare area. The next second, you’re getting down and dirty with a spray bottle and paper towels, sanitizing the same area.
Such is life in 2020, where COVID-19 fears seem to be affecting everything and everyone, even those from beyond the grave.
The Factory of Terror opens tonight two weeks later than hoped for. New owner Michael Quill received at about midday on Thursday an email from the city giving him the green light to operate this fall, with, of course, rules and restrictions pertaining to sanitizing, distancing and customer capacity. He estimates FOT will be able to handle about 25 percent of its usual customer load.
Quill, 29, said, he’s thrilled to be operating. The East Providence resident recently bought both the Fall River and Worcester Factory of Terror businesses. The Worcester location will not operate this year, nor will the outdoor Fear Town in Seekonk, which Quill created and owns.
This is the 25th year for the Fall River Factory of Terror.
“We’re excited,” said Quill, who as a child residing on Cape Cod used to visit the Fall River Factory of Terror with his dad “We put together a 30-page safety plan for how we would be able to operate this year and do it safely, given the way the world is.”
Quill said the plan went to the city, to the state for some clarification, and then back to the city. “We knew we would have to keep our guests safe, our staff safe, and still put on a good show with all the new guidelines,” he said. “After we put together the plan, we were pretty confident that we could do all three.”
A silver lining for customers is that there will be no long waiting lines. FOT is using time ticketing, and it’s done exclusively on the business website.
You book your slot (groups go every 15 minutes) and show up at your time. “It’ll be a much different year, but in some ways, it’ll be a better year to come check out a haunted house,” said Quill.
(Special note to “Guardians of the Galaxy” fans. Mike’s father is named Peter Quill, he does answer to the nickname Starlord, and he is expected to be helping out at the Factory of Terror.)
Owner Quill said an economic challenge was investing in COVID-proofing the building while not knowing if Factory of Terror would be able to open. One of the key investments was the installation of plexiglass in a host of windows along the 15-minute tour, allowing the actors to work their scare magic from less than six feet away. The plexiglass was fairly inconspicuous during a brief tour Quill gave this reporter on Friday afternoon and, he said, it will be even less noticeable in the special performance lighting.
In non-plexiglass areas, the FOT staff has some interesting surprises for its guests. “It’s a big challenge trying to scare people from six feet away, but we got creative,” Quill said.
Quill said he will have about 40 workers on staff each night, including some from Fear Town and from the Worcester FOT location.
The Fall River operating nights are Oct. 9-12, 16-18, 22-25, 28-31, and Nov. 1 and 6-7.
Email Greg Sullivan at email@example.com. Follow him @GregSullivanHN.
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