Creepy and kooky, all together spooky at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – Vallejo Times-Herald

Nowhere on the states list of essential workers are zombies named.

No matter. Its Halloween time. And any half-dead, brain-eating semi-human creatures take center-stage as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom tweaks its usually various-stages-of-horror Frightfest to a modified, family-friendly Boo 2020 running Saturday through Nov. 1.

Sure, the popular Frightfest would be a welcome scare tactic for the 21st time. But, pandemic being a pandemic, in a new environment that were in, we had to make some adjustments, said Marc Merino, the theme parks communications manager during Fridays media day walk-through.

Rather than the various categories of horror at the indoor haunted houses on a normal year, Boo 2020 features several photo opportunities with ghoulish characters on Halloween-themed stages, animals, and Halloween-only food. Kids can also get a photo with a non-venomous snake, Merino said, and step on stage in the costume contest.

COVID-19 protocols are in place, he added.

All of our performers are going to be behind a barrier of some sort to maintain social distancing. And its going to be a daytime event so its going to be more of a family-friendly affair as opposed to super-scary, Merino said.

The staging and characters falls on entertainment supervisor Amanda Beckham, in her 13th year at Six Flags.

This year is a little different, she said, with six or so characters utilized as opposed to a couple of hundred that we usually do with Frightfest, said Beckham. We have a lot of our people who are very committed here every year and theyre sad they dont get an opportunity to scare people.

Pre-COVID, there would be a stack of applications to sift through and auditions. This year, however, the park is using six of its current team members as characters. During the unveiling of sorts for the media on Friday, Ramon Higuera and Meganne Watts stood patiently as zombies.

The challenge, said Beckham, is remaking everything and how we do everything from how we schedule people to how we get them in for make-up to how we deal with their breaks and social distancing. They only wear a costume once and we have to wash and sanitize. And our make-up artist has been working a lot of hours creating these masks theyre wearing from scratch.

The entertainment industry things are ever-changing as is but this year more than ever, Beckham said. We kind of just roll with it and everyone has a really good attitude about it. We just work as a team. We get ideas from everyone and just brainstorm together.

The key to being a good zombie?

Everyones character is different and it depends what you bring to it. You have to have fun with it, Beckham said. Some people are a little more serious.

Beckham empathizes with kids who cant trick-or-treat this year, believing it would be terrible if she couldnt go door-to-door when she was a kid.

With trick-or-treating a sketchy deal this year, Merino said Halloween at the park should be an awesome time with kids getting pre-bagged candy.

Near the front entrance, Goldie ODonnell was meticulously etching the Six Flags logo into a 100-pound pumpkin.

ODonnell, part of the parks culinary service department, estimated it would take four hours to finish the project.

It takes practice to be a competent pumpkin etcher, ODonnell said. Lots and lots of practice.

Six Flags re-opened with animals only returning to its roots with the Marine World Experience in July after the initial COVID-19 shut-down in March. Open weekends, guests feedback shows they appreciate a place they can leave their homes for a day and visit thats safe and fun, Merino said.

The challenge is letting everyone were open, first of all, and that were a safe place. Its not a free for all by any means, Merino said, with employees enforcing social distancing.

Weve tried to make it as easy and safe as possible during this uncertain time, Merino said. Guests feedback and response has been that theyre appreciative that were providing a place they can leave their homes for a day and have some fun together. Its allowed us to continue to operate and allowed events like this one.

Guests must make reservations to visit and park attendance will be carefully monitored to avoid overcrowding and ensure safe social distancing. Per state requirements, rides will not be in operation.

For more information, visit

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Creepy and kooky, all together spooky at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - Vallejo Times-Herald

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