One Halloween tradition is alive and well, albeit with a technical twist: Instead of a being turned into a haunted house, the Roller Barn in Oak Harbor has been transformed into a “Spooky Museum.”
Pandemic guidelines made it necessary for James Croft and his family to pivot from a traditional haunted house to the Spooky Museum in order to stay open.
Croft said the creepy creation promises all the scares without the human actors and was quite the logistical undertaking to figure out.
“It does take a lot of extra planning because all the scares have to be automated now. Actors play off the fear of the people walking through. This one is completely automated,” Croft said. “It’s a whole different set of ideas to make it happen this way.”
The 2,000 square-foot “museum” has 29 rooms for visitors to explore complete with flashing lights, spooky sounds, startling bursts of air and creatures jumping out from the dark.
Croft said the crew followed all of the public health guidelines for museums, which means that groups are limited to five people, reservations are staggered, no one is allowed to touch the props and once you go in there is only one way out.
Many of the props came from Croft’s friends, Jay and Shaulana Lujan.
The Lujans typically set up a haunted house of their own, but decided to let the Roller Barn use many of their props this year.
“It was a three-week turnaround,” Croft said. “Without them, the time they’ve given us, the props they allowed us to use, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Proceeds will go toward the “Save the Roller Barn” campaign. Croft has been raising money to restore the Roller Barn since he bought it in 2019.
“We were on a really good roll and it completely died off at the beginning of COVID,” he said. He added that he hopes to reopen to rollerskating in December under “roller fitness.”
“I don’t feel like we own the barn, I feel like we’ve got the opportunity to operate it. It’s been here for 108 years now and it’s just a beautiful building. We couldn’t see it go away,” he said.
The Spooky Museum is open to visitors Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 30-31 from 6-10 p.m. There will be two “low scare” matinees missing the startle scares and with limited animatronics on Oct. 24 and 31 from 3 – 5 p.m.