Fall’s Almost Here. Can We Still Go Apple Picking?

Carter Mountain Orchard, in Charlottesville, Va., has implemented a ticket reservation system — guests can choose from three time slots per day. “We absolutely cannot accommodate the same number of people this year that we have in previous years,” said Cynthia Chiles, the owner of the orchard. Visitors can also drive through the 200-acre orchard and purchase ready-picked apples from their cars. Tickets aren’t needed, but ordering in advance is recommended.

The alterations are similar at you-pick pumpkin patches. Though it does not take reservations, Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill, N.Y., in the Hamptons, has added hand-washing stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers across the grounds that include areas for apple picking and a corn maze (admission to attractions from $10; free admission to the pumpkin patch; pumpkins sold by the pound).

At Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins and Corn Maze in Williston, Vt., opening Sept. 19, the spacing between pumpkin rows, like its corn maze aisles, are wider and hand sanitizer is provided upon entrance (corn maze admission, $5).

Many corn mazes this year will have wider paths, and additional passing lanes where maze-goers can distance themselves from others at points where they must decide which way to go; some are reducing the number of those decisions or eliminating dead-end options, according to Brett Herbst, the owner of The MAiZE, a company based in Spanish Fork, Utah, that works with more than 280 farms in North America and Europe in designing and building corn mazes.

“These are about three to four times the size of a Home Depot or Walmart,” Mr. Herbst said, noting mazes run 300,000 to 600,000 square feet. “I don’t know of a business that can social distance better than we can given that we’re outdoors and have such a large footprint.”

Mr. Herbst also operates Cornbelly’s, a corn maze in Lehi, Utah, that has partnered with Disney to theme its 2020 maze after the movie “Toy Story” (admission from $13.95). Both the maze, opening Sept. 25, and the film turn 25 this year.

To comply with pandemic-imposed capacity restrictions, most mazes require timed and ticketed admission this season. Near Fredericksburg, Va., Belvedere Plantation is selling timed tickets to its maze to keep within the state capacity limit of 1,000 people, and has made everything cashless except the animal feed dispensers that still take quarters (admission from $13.95). Its 34 campfire sites are available by reservation for four-hour windows ($75), though most attractions, including a pumpkin patch and hayride, are included with admission.

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