Boo at the Zoo and The Haunted Shack, two popular Northland Halloween attractions, are making adjustments this year because of the pandemic.

The Lake Superior Zoo’s annual fundraising event kicks off Saturday with trick-or-treat stations, zoo animals, costumes and more. It will run for two additional days this year: Oct. 10-11; Oct. 17-18; and Oct. 24-25.

They’re also enlisting two-hour time slots and are limiting capacity to 250 people at a time, in accordance with the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, said Haley Cope, Lake Superior Zoo CEO.

Slots run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members; $12 for nonmembers; free for 2 and younger, and are available at lszooduluth.org/boo-tickets, or by calling 218-730-4500 ext. 200.

Reserve your time and purchase your tickets in advance; they will not be available at the door.

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Walking through the zoo takes 60-90 minutes, so folks are encouraged to come at the beginning of their reserved time to enjoy the zoo at their own pace, Cope said. Face masks are required while inside the buildings, and are strongly encouraged while outside.

Questions about Boo at the Zoo started in August. They did consider canceling this year, Cope said, but they considered the safety precautions and created a pandemic preparedness plan.

“We wanted people to be able to feel some sense of normalcy,” she said.

The Haunted Shack scales back

Destiny Gervais puts makeup on her daughter Aurora, 13, both of Cromwell, before they get an acting lesson at the Haunted Shack in Carlton on Oct. 8, 2019. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)
Destiny Gervais puts makeup on her daughter Aurora, 13, both of Cromwell, before they get an acting lesson at the Haunted Shack in Carlton on Oct. 8, 2019. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)

With the pandemic in mind, Pat Stojevich and his team started modifications on The Haunted Shack in April.

Stojevich and his son, Logan Stojevich, began building animatronics and pneumatic props to reduce the number of actors within Carlton’s Halloween attraction. Their normal 28 is now down to six, Pat Stojevich said.

Any hanging props in the haunted house have been removed. They added holograms and a large screen that will be showing movies outside for people waiting. The costs for updates almost tripled their regular budget.

“Halloween is an important time of year. … This is a scary time, and we all have to be aware of what is going on in this country,” Pat Stojevich said.

The Haunted Shack opens Friday with a COVID-19 screening and temperature check at the door. Face masks are required for participants and staff.

Stojevich added three additional nights to help spread people out, along with adding two more hay wagons and tractors for their haunted hayride and trail features. They also added three separate waiting areas, and groups are limited to six. Crew members will each participate in a nightly screening and temperature check before their shift.

The Haunted Shack runs Oct. 9-10; Oct. 15-18; Oct. 22-25; and Oct. 29-31 at 1781 County Road 1, Carlton. Hours are 7-10 p.m., tickets are $15. Kids/faint of heart day is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 24. More information at hauntedshack.com.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for Halloween activities to lower the risk of infection. They're posted online at cdc.gov.