Tokyo (CNN) – We all agree that screaming is a core part of a great haunted house experience.
“With the virus, I knew there was no way we could have a traditional haunted house with all that screaming in a confined space,”
“When I read that the drive-through theaters were making a comeback, it was my ‘aha’ moment.”
In a pitch-black, zombie-infested garage
The haunted house drive-in in a covered parking garage in a nondescript building in downtown Tokyo gives visitors a 360-degree front-row experience simulating getting stuck in a car during a zombie outbreak.
Use your own car for JPY 8,000 ($ 75), or if you’re like many Tokyo residents and don’t own your own, provide a vehicle for JPY 9,000 or $ 85.
Since you are only sitting in the garage, no driver’s license is required.
Visitors turn off the engine and the garage lock closes, immersing the vehicle in complete darkness.
The drivers receive a set of bluetooth speakers and the scary story begins.
“There is a legend around these parts that ghosts attack people. Beep three times if you want to hear more,” says the speaker’s voice in Japanese.
For the next 17 minutes, blood-soaked ghouls and zombies push against the windows and rock the car.
Fear not, somehow you will live through it.
After that, the car is wiped of blood.
Extra blood and cleaning service
As Tokyo battles another wave of Covid-19 infections, the company is taking every precaution to protect both its stakeholders and its customers. Every car is wiped with alcohol to minimize the risk to the ghost actors. Rental cars are lined with plastic that is changed for each customer.
Then the car is wiped of fake blood (and possible viruses from the hands of the ghosts). The website has a small print that says, “We can’t remove every drop of blood. It will be clean enough to drive on the road.”
There’s also an extra bloody package for an additional JPY1,000 ($ 9).
Summer is traditionally the high season for ghost stories in Japan, a popular way to relax on a hot night. Iwana says that scary movies and games have always been a part of his life.
“My parents rented horror films and let me play ‘Biohazard’ (‘Resident Evil 7’) since I was three,” says Iwana.
“To me, ghosts are like Pokémon.”
He dropped out of college six years ago to turn his passion into business, staging haunted houses and creating bespoke thrillers “wherever ask me” – including amusement parks, arcades and private homes.
Kowagarasetai was founded on Halloween Day 2018 and roughly means “The Scaredy Squad” in Japanese.
With all of the self-control that Covid-19 pervades society, he wanted to show that it is okay for people to have fun.
The drive-in haunted house experience started in July as a pure summer attraction. The tickets were sold out the day they went on sale. Now there is a waiting list of more than 1,000 people, says Iwana.
Given its immense popularity, it says they’ll bring it back when the temperatures cool down, as August is too hot to power the haunted drive-thru.