The San Francisco Dungeon, the attraction dedicated to the darkest side of Bay Area history, has banned patrons over the age of 60 from its guided Halloween séances, unless they have a note from their attending medical doctor. Dr. Jeff Foster, the Dungeon’s consulting physician, fears the literally ghoulishly interactive experience will be too disturbing for those with a weak heart.
The average adult heart beats between 60 and 90 times per minute, but the immersive attraction could get heart rates racing up to a thumping 200 as the fear factor sets in. Taking advice from medical experts, show managers have opted to err on the side of caution and not allow entry to older patrons, who are more likely to have a higher risk of heart failure.
“A mild adrenaline reaction is healthy, however, as we age we are more likely to develop other medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol,” said Foster. “Therefore, if your resting blood pressure is higher, or your heart is weaker from previous damage, the adrenaline stimulation of a fright may be enough to stimulate a full-blown heart attack or stroke.”
To stave off catastrophic heart events, the entrance to The San Francisco Dungeon’s Halloween séances will be manned by team members trained to spot those at higher risk of heart failure, with a focus on looking out for guests over the age of 60. If over-60s want to attend, they will need to be able to prove they have a healthy heart with a doctor’s letter. They will also need to sign a liability waiver form.