There have been many stories about how the pandemic has affected the tourism, food and beverage, and fitness industries. But there’s one especially eerie field that has been overlooked. Obviously, we are talking about the ghost tour sector.
Just like exercise classes and work meetings and Rosh Hashanah dinners, the spooky productions have been forced to go virtual. This Halloween season, thanks to Ghostflix, you can hang at home and livestream a paranormal tour of DC.
The venture was created by Lance Zaal, the entrepreneur behind the ghost-tour group DC Ghosts, which he started in 2015. The Richmond resident now runs the national group US Ghost Adventures, which manages tours in several cities.
When the pandemic hit, the group stopped giving in-person tours. Luckily, they had already developed an app that lets folks do self-guided ghost tours. Still, they took a big financial hit. “Two of the best-performing cities are New York and DC,” says Zaal, “and now those cities are down about 95 percent over last year.”
So Zaal started mulling: How does one best deliver a ghost tour during a pandemic? “I wanted to make sure that whatever we did in response to Covid-19 wasn’t going to be a temporary option,” he says. “I wanted it to be a permanent and long-term part of our offering.”
How does it actually work? A Ghostflix guide will walk viewers through the same tour they’d take IRL, which in DC circles the White House—where Dolley Madison’s ghost supposedly roams Lafayette Square. The upside? You don’t have to walk amongst a group of masked strangers and you can lounge on your couch eating mini Butterfingers.
Customers can also watch a series of pre-recorded tours from various cities if they can’t make the DC livestream, which is happening October 30 at 7 PM. Pre-recorded tours are $13 a person, while the live one is $15 a pop. If you’re really committed to experiencing the supernatural in-person, the group has resumed $5 guided tours with social distancing protocols in place.
Also new this year from Zaal’s ghost squad: An Alexa- and Google Home-compatible app that will tell you ghost stories at request, and Lily, an absolutely terrifying replica of a haunted doll that Zaal calls “a spooky version of Elf on the Shelf.”
Because 2020 wasn’t scary enough.