Roller Barn’s Spooky Museum promises frightful fun
— Created October 7, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Beware! There are startling things happening at the Roller Barn in Oak Harbor this month, as owners of the historic structure stir up some creepy fun at their Spooky Museum.
The museum, a COVID-friendly alternative to the usual Frightville event, promises a scary good time for all who dare to take a tour, which will be offered Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m., beginning Friday, Oct. 16 and running through Halloween night. No-startle matinee tours will be offered from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday Oct. 24 and 31. Reservations/tickets are strongly encouraged and can be made online at spookymuseum.com.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a ban on haunted houses in September, leaving a black hole for some in terms of the usual frightening entertainment offered this time of year. The Roller Barn’s new owner, James Croft, a self-proclaimed lover of all things Halloween and a longtime Frightville volunteer, said he couldn’t bear to let the spirit of the season slip away because of a pandemic.
“The whole thing for me with the barn, it’s never been about us, it’s always been about giving the barn back to the community,” he said. “So, looking at the rules and guidelines for COVID, doing a museum fully follows the guidelines.
“We changed the name from Frightville to Spooky Museum because we wanted it to be different – because it is going to be a different level,” Croft continued. “Frightville is really scary. The Spooky Museum is startling, but it’s not as scary, in a sense. It does have some of the normal props that are bloody and gory and it has a lot of animatronics, which you don’t normally have in Frightville. Frightville’s animatronics are humans – they jump out at you. These animatronics don’t move [out of place], they stay where they’re at or they sway side to side.”
Croft credits family friends, Jay and Shaulana Lujan, with getting all the animatronics in order.
“Animatronics are cool, but I build props that are more on the commercial level, haunted house level, so without them, we couldn’t have done this,” he said.
Can a Spooky Museum measure up to the terrifying scares typically offered up at Frightville? Croft said the creep-o-meter will be fully engaged at the museum, which might even attract more people to the Halloween haunt than the popular Frightville.
“It’s still going to be a fun thing to do on Halloween or building up to Halloween,” he said. “Honestly, it might actually appeal to more people, because there’s so many people that are afraid of haunted houses that might actually attend this because it isn’t.
“You won’t have a clown that will scare you out the door, but he will scare you in the room that you’re in. He’s not going to be following you; if he is, then I think we’d all better run, because something else is happening, then,” Croft chuckled.
While Croft didn’t want to give away too much about what folks will encounter inside the Spooky Museum, he did open up about one of the new items he’s building.
“One thing that I think is going to be fantastic is a big, basically almost life-size Jack-in-the-box, and we all know what happens with a Jack-in-the-box when the music plays,” he said. “That’s startling on its own. So that’s one of the props we’re building. It’s gonna be spooky. Yes, the clown does come out of the box, but he’s not as cute as a regular Jack-in-the-box. He’s spooky.”
Croft is careful to point out the Spooky Museum will follow COVID-19 health guidelines issued for all museums to a T. Tours will start every five minutes, will be limited to five visitors at a time and will last 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon how fast groups move through. Masks are required both during the wait outside and inside the museum. Touching the props will not be allowed.
“Reservations are highly recommended because once we fill all those time slots we can’t add extra people because of COVID restrictions,” Croft explained. “We would have to turn people away. Reservations guarantee a spot. There is a maximum of five people a tour, so people can have a group of five; if they’re short in a group and we have extra people, we will add them. For example if you have a group of three and a couple of two comes in, you’ll go with some people you don’t know, but no tour will ever go above five, so if you bring 10 people, you’re breaking up into two tours.”
The Spooky Museum is NOT recommended for young children or for children or adults who may have nightmares. No-startle matinee tours will be offered from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 34 and 31.
“The normal Spooky Museum isn’t recommended for any kids that have nightmares, or even adults for that matter, because it is still very scary,” Croft said. “You just don’t have the human element of the scare, but there’s definitely a lot. With Frightville, the human scares you so fast through the haunted house you miss most of it. With the Spooky Museum, you’ll be able to take it in and there’s a lot of stuff in there. But it will be scary, I promise you that.”
All proceeds from the museum will benefit Save the Roller Barn. The purchase was made final June 1, but Croft said they came in $25,000 short of the fundraising goal to help with the purchase because COVID struck just as they were to hold their major events. Plans to use the basement for laser tag and an arcade had to be put on hold because of the pandemic, and roller skating is a Phase IV activity under the state’s reopening plan, so there has been no income during the pandemic.
“Your support not only gives you family fun and a spooky evening, but it also helps save the Roller Barn,” said Croft. “It’s an iconic building.”
The building is still being used by the Boys and Girls Club until that organization can move into its new home, which Croft anticipates will be in December.
“Hopefully in January we’ll be able to do fitness on roller skates,” he said. “Again, there will be a lot of limitations with that. But the Boys and Girls Club has priority in the building, so as long as they need it, they can use it. Once they’re in their new building, at that point we’ll be able to open it up.”
Croft hopes the Spooky Museum will help restore a bit of normalcy during uncertain times. He’s got 6,000 square feet of creepy, crawly, frightful fun to help save the spirit of Halloween 2020. “I just hope it gives people some normalcy for Halloween,” he said. “Trick or treating isn’t going to be the same, 90 percent of the events have been canceled, so instead of people just sitting at home Halloween night wondering what to do, hopefully it gives them something. It’s all fun. Halloween is the best.”
at the Roller Barn
98 NE Barron Dr.
6 – 10 p.m.
Fridays & Saturdays
Oct. 16-17, 23-24, 30-31
No-startle Matinee Tours:
3 – 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24 and 31
$7 per person, with reserve tickets
$10 at the door, tours not guaranteed
Reservations HIGHLY recommended
Reserve tickets now online: www.spookymuseum.com