Bennett's Curse, a longtime Baltimore-area haunted house, has recovered from business setbacks that caused it to miss Halloween last year and has found a new home in Baltimore County.
The popular walk-through attraction has moved into the former DSW store at Eastpoint Mall, where actors portray vampires, witches, monsters and other characters in settings such as "underworld" and "inferno 3-D."
Owners Allan C. and Jill A. Bennett had feared their small business was headed for bankruptcy last year after operating at various locations for 15 years. After gearing up in 2016 for a second year in a warehouse on West Ostend Street near M&T Bank Stadium, the haunted house was unable to obtain a city fire permit or open to the public.
The Bennetts said they tried to work with city officials but that the city fire marshal's office refused to consider $40,000 worth of fire prevention improvements the couple invested in lieu of a sprinkler system. The Bennetts' landlord had declined to install a system, which was required for a use and occupancy permit.
"It was a big loss, but we were determined to find another location," Allan Bennett said Saturday. "The folks at Eastpoint Mall were very excited to bring us there."
The owners, who are continuing to look for a permanent location to purchase, began moving and building out the new site over the summer. Bennett said the business has had no income since 2015 and has relied on savings to stay afloat.
The new show, in about half the space as the city warehouse and with fewer large-scale animatronics, is "more actor-driven, more in your face, as opposed to a larger experience," Bennett said. "We took the best scenes and the best scares and the scariest actors and combined them. Everything is about more customer and actor interaction."
The attraction employs 100 actors and relies on the weeks leading up to and just after Halloween for its income. Bennett's Curse is now open Thursdays through Sundays until Nov. 4, as well as Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.
It got its start at Arundel Mills mall and also operated at Blob's Park in Jessup before moving to the city in 2015. The attraction has become nationally known and often appears on national best-of lists for haunted houses.