The roster of Halloween-theme pop-up bars on tap for this fall is expanding as more entrepreneurs get into the spooky spirit.
I recently told you about Haunt and the Nightmare Before Tinsel Halloween Pop-up Bar, both of which will keep the boos flowing a block apart in Washington Square West.
Now I’ll tell you of two even more elaborate Halloween themers: Dark Passage and 2nd Sanctuary, both of which are billed as pop-up bars with multisensory experiences attached. (Allow me to point out that veteran Philly bar man and bon vivant Fergus “Fergie” Carey, himself a multisensory experience, is consulting on both.)
Here’s the rundown:
Dark Passage, running Oct. 4 to Nov. 2 at 1004 Buttonwood St. (behind Union Transfer in the Callowhill neighborhood), will be a themed indoor maze with a twist: Guests will start the tour at a bar called the Strange Spirits Lounge and may take their cocktails with them for what is billed as “an infernal take on the afterlife." Organizers say Dark Passage may take 30 minutes to two hours. Sarah Elger, a Penn alum who has designed theme park attractions for Disney and for Universal Creative (including Skull Island: Reign of Kong and Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando), conceived it as part of her Penn master’s of architecture thesis.) She founded her company, Pseudonym Productions, with Ricky Brigante, a veteran of the immersive-entertainment industry.
At 2nd Sanctuary, Brian Sanders and his JUNK troupe are turning a former Victorian-era church at 21st and Christian Streets in Southwest Center City into a venue with assorted ’70s-themed attractions from Oct. 3 to Nov. 3. “The Phantom Portal VR Telecom Tour in the Spectral Garden Chapel” is an experience combining virtual reality, live action, and immersive theater. A second, “Dancing Dead Live,” is a performance telling what is described as the story of an old man dancing with death, watching his friends die, waltzing with a skeleton, and then digging them up. A third, “Zoltan’s Zarkade Escape Room in the Lost Lodge,” is an escape room based on the mystery of “Kid Scout Troop 244,” who disappeared one by one in the fall of 1975. Each of these experiences requires separate tickets. A maze and a costumed zombie disco party are free with a ticket.
Haunt will run from Oct. 3 to Nov. 3 on the second floor of the Pearl Tavern, which itself will be opening soon at 1123 Walnut St., a former Irish Pub location. Owner Townsend “Tod” Wentz, who owns the Spanish destination Oloroso next door, has put this project in the hands of his general manager Alison Hangen, who straddles the local hospitality and artistic communities as founder of Arts in the Industry. In addition to spooky decor and themed cocktails, Hangen is planning a full slate of special-events programming, including movie nights and collabs with beer and spirit brands.
The Nightmare Before Tinsel Halloween Pop-up Bar will open in early October (the 3rd or 4th) at 116 S. 12th St., which for the last two years has been the site of a Christmas-theme pop-up bar called Tinsel. It’s backed by Teddy Sourias, owner of Blume, Tradesman’s, BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn, Uptown Beer Garden, and Finn McCool’s Ale House.