Emily Hildebrand

(Tega Cay, S.C.) – Mr. Putty’s Fun Park in Tega Cay recently opened its first haunted house, which features a cast of Winthrop University students and alumni.

The attraction called the “Frightmare on Dam Road” opened Oct. 2 and organizers say it’s the only haunted house in York County.

The attraction has been open every Friday and Saturday throughout the month, but this week for the Halloween weekend it will be open Thursday through Saturday,  from dusk until the last ticket is sold at 10 p.m.

In typical haunted houses, actors tend to get pretty close to the patrons to get a good scare, but Mr. Putty’s is making sure to play it safe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve designed it in such a way, where each room is socially distanced out from actor to customer,” said Robert Casatelli, the general manager and designer of the haunted house.

“Of course, no one’s going to be touching anybody in here and we ask the same of our participants,” Casatelli said. “Participants are not to touch the actors, just as the actors are not to touch the participants.”

Although masks are not required at the fun park, they are encouraged.

Mr. Putty’s is an “open-air outdoor facility and half of the haunted house is also open air,” said Casatelli.

“As far as the haunted house, the only thing we have as barrier walls is what they call Visqueen, which is a thick black tarp paper. So everything is flowing air through and of course we have fans going to circulate clean air in and bad air out,” he said.

Even though social distancing will be maintained, people can expect to have actors interact with them to get a good scare.

Inside the haunted house, people can also expect, “a lot of cool scenes that are relevant to either current times, or current movies or shows that everyone is definitely familiar with,” Casatelli said.

“There’s eight different scenes plus a couple surprises along the way,” said Kaitlyn Dillard, a Winthrop graduate student and the haunted house coordinator.

“All the scenes are all designed to make you freak out. We have some thriller psychological kind of stuff, as well as some pop scares,” said Dillard.

“The main thing to know coming in, is no matter what type of scare you like, there’s at least one scare for you. Our whole idea is ‘frightmare,’ so you’re supposed to go home and have a nightmare,” she said.

Dillard said she was most excited to see what people had to say when they came out and on the opening night, most said they were not disappointed.

“What was the scariest part,” a woman named Mariah asked her young daughter Athena.

“Them,” Athena said, pointing to the two clowns with chain saws that chased them back to the entrance. Athena said she gave the haunted house a 10 out of 10 on the “scariness scale.”

Ryan D’auria said he was excited to enter the haunted house, even though he hadn’t heard much about it.

“It was entertaining,” he said. “I’ll definitely give them an eight (out of 10). They did a good job on it.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Bishop, another attendee, said she rated the haunted house as a 10.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this scary. I had my doubts at first,” she said.

Overall, most of the reactions on the opening night were positive, much to the delight of Dillard.

She said she is dedicated to the attraction, because she recruited the entire Winthrop-based cast and helped them with things such as character development and makeup.

She said she also really enjoys hearing feedback about the actors.

“Because I get to think, I know this person in that role and they did a great job with that. I’m really proud of them,” said Dillard. “I think that’s what I’m most pumped about.”

While a socially distant haunted house might be a new concept, the “Frightmare on Dam Road” seemed to prove it can work and still be scary.

For more information or to purchase tickets, which cost $15, you can visit their website or their Facebook page.