Social distancing with a “demon” that is pretending to be from the pit of hell isn’t exactly what Bette Midler had in mind when she sang “From a Distance,” but it’s the week of Halloween and here we are.

Although the song references God watching over people from a distance, it might also be the ultimate description on how people can enjoy an in-person fright at Netherworld Haunted House while still trying to prevent themselves from getting COVID-19. The popular Stone Mountain attraction, which has been open weekends this month, opened this week on Tuesday and will be open nightly until Sunday for the Halloween weekend.

It will also be open the weekends of Nov. 6-7 and Nov. 13-14.

“We are genuinely thrilled that the first few weeks of our season have been so well received by haunt fans and fun-seekers alike,” Netherworld co-creator Billy Messina said. “I’m proud of our core staff who have all worked so hard, for so long, to deliver an uncompromising haunted house experience, well adapted to our new normal here in 2020.”

Like so many other places — even if most other places don’t have people running around dressed as monsters — Netherworld is making some changes this year to accommodate guidelines issued to help reduce the community spread of COVID-19.

These steps include: reduced capacity and timed and dated tickets so visitors can practice social distancing while screaming their heads off; requiring all staff and guests to wear masks; conducting contactless temperature screenings for staff and visitors; employing enhanced cleaning procedures; and offering several hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.

“Our guests have embraced the many COVID-19 safety procedures we have in effect and are enjoying the festivities just as much as ever,” Messina said. “While Halloween looks very different this year, we’re really pleased to be able to provide some sense of normalcy and seasonal celebration.”

One thing the pandemic hasn’t changed about Netherworld is that it will still have two haunted houses for visitors to enjoy this year.

One haunted house is Halloween Nightmares and the other is Cyborg Shock.

Halloween Nightmares tells the story of the cursed town of Whyshburg, which is plagued by bat-like creatures that are disguised as “distorted costumed revelers” and who are determined to bring destruction to the town. The only group that can stop them is the Children of Autumn, who are mysterious trick or treaters who have “strange powers,” according to a description from Netherworld.

Areas of this haunted path include the Temple of the Bat God, the Chamber of the Elder Thing ad the Lair of the Ancient Alchemist.

“Our 2020 main attraction will be a terrifying yet nostalgic romp down Halloween Lane, and seriously, during this time when nothing seems normal thanks to COVID-19, who can’t use a little spine-tingling fun these days,” Messina said.

Meanwhile, Cyber Shock is set in a top secret base and involved an “unusual artifact” that takes over the base’s advanced robotics section and creates an army of cybernetic lifeforms that are a fusion of flesh and metal and have advanced weapons.

The cyborgs are heading to the “surface” to subjugate the world, according to Netherworld’s website, Fearworld.com.

Visitors will get access to both haunted houses with their tickets, with the exit from Haunted Halloween leading into Cyborg Shock. Patrons can visit Netherworld’s website to buy their timed entry tickets, which cost $35 for general admission and Speedpass tickets cost $55. Netherworld is located at 1313 Netherworld Way in Stone Mountain, off West Park Place Boulevard and U.S. Highway 78.

Netherworld will be open from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7 p.m. until midnight on Friday and Saturday and 7 until 11 p.m. on Sunday as well as on Nov. 6, 7, 13 and 14.

There will also be an expanded midway area with additional photo op areas for visitors after they exit the haunted houses.

Just don’t expect to hear Bette Midler crooning between the screams.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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