Union Gap Corn Maze opens next weekend with new COVID-19 protocols
UNION GAP, Wash. — Every fall, people flock to the Union Gap Corn Maze to have an adventure with friends and family, going on hay rides, picking out pumpkins and shooting off apple cannons.
But this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, owner Lewis Gress had to make a few changes in order to open safely.
“Expect things to be a little different,” Gress said. “It’s going to be all the same stuff, just with a little modification to keep people safe.”
Some of those modifications pertain to the layout: expanded fencing to allow for better social distancing, fire pits spaced further apart and the pumpkin-selling display moved to just outside the barn to give people more room inside.
Gress said instead of everyone having to wait in line to get tickets, people can purchase them online — cutting down on lines and wait times. He said the system also helps them keep an eye on their capacity and cut down on crowds.
The venue will still accept cash at the door, but staff encourage visitors to use contactless payment when possible, such as debit, credit and Apple Pay.
Employees cannot come to work sick, must wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently.
“All of the staff is going to be screened and tested every day when they come in, just to make sure we don’t have any issues,” Gress said.
Gress said they’ve increased cleaning protocols and will have staff on hand who are tasked solely with sanitization and making sure everything is clean.
“After customers use a table, the hay ride, our [apple cannons] … it’s cleaned to keep all the public safe,” Gress said.
Visitors must wear face masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands regularly and come healthy; anyone feeling ill is asked to stay home.
The main attraction is a 13-acre corn maze, with corn stalks up to 14 feet tall. Gress said previous visitors have found their way out in as little as 30 minutes or as long as three hours.
For the first week, the corn maze is just a maze; but starting Oct. 9, the Haunted Maze begins.
People can visit the pumpkin patch to pick out their pumpkin or choose from the variety already picked and ready for taking in the barn. Children can slide down a straw pyramid, travel through the kid-size corn maze or go on a hay ride around the property.
“I’m looking forward to just giving the Yakima Valley some fun, safe entertainment,” Gress said. “I think since COVID-19 hit, it’s kind of been starving for that.”
Visitors can reserve private fire pits to hang out at, bringing their own s’mores supplies or buying them from the concession stand. People can also try their hand at the Pumpkin Chucker or the apple cannons to try and hit a target.
Admission is $5 — half-price — on opening weekend, with the following schedule:
- Saturday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Half-price admission is also available on Mondays and Tuesdays, as part of an effort to provide entertainment for kids who are doing remote learning from home.
On Friday, Oct. 8, the Haunted Maze and Friday Night Frights outdoor movies begin, continuing through the end of the month.
More information and a full schedule can be found here.
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