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Immersive drive-through haunted house comes to Long Island's Gateway Playhouse 

Get an exclusive look at Gateway Playhouse's new

Get an exclusive look at Gateway Playhouse's new haunted drive-through experience, which opens on Oct. 2. Credit: Johnny Milano

Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse is not getting spooked this season. Given the pandemic, the Bellport theatrical company is pivoting its traditional Halloween attraction into a safe yet scary experience.

"We will be entertaining people in a different way this year," says managing director Paul Allan. That includes a new drive-through haunt and other outdoor elements. "This is a new concept that opens the doors to do things that we haven’t been able to do before. We are excited to try out these ideas."

Here’s Gateway’s three-part plan to make Long Islanders smile and scream:

"THE FORGOTTEN ROAD"

In lieu of a haunted house, Gateway has gone off the grid to Southaven County Park in Yaphank where horror fans can take a journey deep into the woods in their own car.

"This is a spooky, immersive drive-through Halloween experience," says Allan, who notes timed tickets are sold online only and not at the door. "The intensity will be the same as it’s been [in the walk-through haunted houses]. We are not going to make it any softer."

The story, which is being kept under wraps, will begin with a full narrative through your radio from the moment the lines form as the cars will be ushered in ferry-style.

"In the 1940s, people would listen to their radios and get scared," says Allan. "They were fascinated by these radio dramas. We are going for a certain creepy vibe. There are abandoned campgrounds, old carnival grounds, an old graveyard and existing stories in the area that we are going to be building on. It will be very thorough."

Over 40 live actors will be part of the 30-minute attraction along with a variety of sets all which match the audio narrative.

"There will be dim lights and very specific things that will be showing themselves at the right time as drivers come through," says Allan. "However, the actors will keep their distance. No cars will be touched or scratched."

For those who get too freaked out, there’s a simple solution.

"If people get scared, they can turn down the radio volume and close their eyes — except the driver, of course," says Allan. "It’s not designed to terrify you. But, there will be enough of a scare factor to make it fun."

DRIVE-IN MOVIES

Outdoor throwback movies will also run for 16 nights on Gateway’s property with an early kid-friendly show followed by a late-night horror film.

"There will be something for families and something for hard-core horror fans," says Allan. "Children’s movies like ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ‘Halloweentown’ and ‘Frankenweenie’ are part of the schedule along with adult titles such as ‘Saw,’ ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’"

Each showing holds 50 cars and the theater’s bathrooms, with lines monitored one person at a time, will be available for those wearing masks. However, you'll want to bring your own snacks because no concessions will be sold.

"BRIGAND’S RUN"

Enter this wooden outdoor maze haunted by evil pirates in a disturbing industrial warehouse setting on Gateway’s grounds. The 15-minute attraction will feature a mix of live actors, animatronics and special effects that will keep visitors jumping.

Tickets will be timed in order to avoid crowds. Minimum groups of four who arrive together will enter the haunt as a preestablished unit and tickets must be purchased in advance online.

"We are going to have people wear masks and maybe even gloves to make sure everyone feels safe," says Allan.

There is no midway queuing area this year, but there will be a large tent with hand sanitizer where individual parties can socially distance as they wait to enter.

"Tickets will be broken up into small intervals so we can control who is arriving and how many people are on the property at any given time," says Allan. "This way we know exactly how many people we can get through while keeping proper distance between groups."

In daylight on Saturdays and Sundays, the maze will be transformed into the "Not-So-Scary Halloween Adventure" for little kids featuring friendly Halloween characters like Frankenstein, the Mummy and a witch.

GATEWAY’S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE

WHEN|WHERE Oct. 2-3, 9-11, 15-18, 22-25 and 29-31; Drive-in movies (held at 215 S. Country Rd., Bellport): 7 and 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; “Brigand’s Run” (held at 215 S. Country Road, Bellport) and “The Forgotten Road” (held at 761 Victory Ave., Yaphank): 7-11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7-10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; "Not-So-Scary Halloween Adventure" (held at 215 S. Country Road, Bellport): Saturdays and Sundays (Oct. 17-18, 24-25 and 31 only), noon-4 p.m.

INFO 631-286-1133, fearli.com

ADMISSION Drive-in movies: $40 per car; “Brigand’s Run”: $20 per person (minimum of four per group); “The Forgotten Road”: $40 per car; "Not-So-Scary Halloween Adventure": $10 per person. All tickets must be purchased in advance online.

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