(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — ‘Tis the season for terror and fright — Halloween lurks in the distance, and the staff at Eeriebyss Factory of Terror are nearly ready to dish up a healthy dose of scares.
Eeriebyss Factory of Terror has been at it for nine years, and along for the ride and leading the way have been Autumn and Michael Coverdale, a husband and wife duo that delights in haunting the general public.
“This is my favorite time of year — My name is Autumn, so I’m kind of into fall. In my time off, I sell pumpkins and mums. I really like Halloween,” Autumn Coverdale said.
It’s a family event, with their children helping to make each room of the haunted house as close to perfect as it can get. The Coverdales credit the 75 or so actors who participate in the haunted factory (Autumn said, “Our actors are the most important thing — without our actors, we don’t do the haunt”).
Eeriebyss Factory of Terror is housed in the old Griswold factory at 1053 W. 12th St. in Erie. The facility was built at the turn of the last century to manufacture Griswold cast iron cookware and it was shutdown in 1957. It became an office furniture store for the next several decades. Now it’s home to the Factory of Terror.
“Eeriebyss is in a creepy old building, and that really helps. The history is rich and steeped and literally burned into the floor boards in that building,” Autumn Coverdale said. “It’s naturally creepy, and it’s a great old building to have something like this in.”
The haunted house is scheduled to be open every weekend of October beginning Friday, Sept. 30 and continuing through Oct. 30. It will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Sunday. But there is still work to be done before opening day.
“Right now we’re in the end of setup — we have seven days until opening night. There’s less enjoyment and definitely more frantic and nerves right now,” Autumn Coverdale said. “But I guarantee you at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, I’ll be enjoying myself because by then there’s no turning back. The people are there, things are done, and I can hear the screams in the distance.
“I’ll be in my office and I can see them enjoying it. Right now it’s all nerves — I want to make sure it’s perfect for everyone who comes in.”
That’s a tall order; each night they average between 450 and 750 patrons. At times, Michael Coverdale said, there have been as many as 1,000 people in line. To make sure each of those patrons have a “perfect” experience, the Coverdales take the time to get feedback from people after they walk through the Factory of Terror.
It also means that the haunted house’s two floors with 42 different rooms covering over a half mile have to be meticulously planned.
Classic favorites like the Icon Room, featuring Mike Myers and other Halloween horror movie favorites, and the Clown Room, a crowd favorite, will both be included again. But Eeriebyss Factory of Terror will have new features this year. That includes high-end props purchased and delivered during the offseason.
“The haunts come from every direction. Actors don’t touch our patrons, but parts of the set touch the patrons, and they get lightly sprayed with water. The haunts come from left, right, front, behind, above and below,” Michael Coverdale said. “People have come out and said to me, ‘Oh my God, I haven’t had this much fun since I was a kid.'”
Weather can be iffy in October, but at Eeriebyss, everybody gets to wait undercover. And the walk through the haunted factory never leaves the building. It’s also wheelchair accessible.
“We want to see everybody in Erie this year,” Autumn Coverdale said.