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Making Halloween inclusive: Toronto woman launches accessible haunted house

Dismayed that people with disabilities were being neglected at Halloween, a Toronto woman has launched a fully accessible haunted house.

Robin Frolic, left and Kat Singer with some Halloween props on Thursday. Frolic is putting on Toronto’s first fully accessible haunted house this weekend.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Robin Frolic, left and Kat Singer with some Halloween props on Thursday. Frolic is putting on Toronto’s first fully accessible haunted house this weekend.

Firm in her belief that everyone deserves a good scare, a Toronto woman has launched what’s being dubbed the city's first fully accessible haunted house.

On Saturday, Frolic’s Haunt will provide 500 square feet of frights for kids age six and up near Dufferin Street and Wilson Avenue.

Toronto software developer Robin Frolic said she was always fascinated by Halloween but was dismayed by its lack of inclusiveness.

“I love Halloween, and it’s rotten that so many kids have been left outside for so long,” she said.

“Non-commercial home haunts” are hard to find, Frolic said, while for-profit scare fests are rarely accessible and often just too frightening. Armed with two decades of amateur costume design and prop-making experience, Frolic is aiming to strike a balance between fear and fun.

“We’ve had so much interest, not just from disabled kids but from disabled parents,” she said. “Then we also have a lot of adults with developmental issues who have also shown an interest. There are so many different people, it’s so much more than I was expecting.”

To get Frolic’s Haunt in order, the team has roughly 35 volunteers, including persons with disabilities and high-school kids getting their community-service hours. “Who wouldn’t want to work in a haunted house?” Frolic mused.

The venue is reachable by bus from nearby Wilson Station; However, visits must be booked in advance by visiting frolicshaunt.com, with the location's address revealed upon booking.

Inclusive features include paths and doorways all wider than 36 inches; the absence of strobe lights and fog; wheelchair-friendly turns; touch props for the blind; and even on-site sign-language experts. A “choose your scare” system will let guests decide just how frightened they want to be, with the house actors following specific guidelines.

The event is free, but a donation box will go toward a 2018 renewal.

Frolic hopes to eventually use all 1,800 square feet she has available but said she can’t see herself going into the fright game full-time. Rather, she hopes the initiative will make others take notice.

“I’d love for us to be redundant in a few years because all haunts had become accessible,” she said.

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