Halloween at the Point, Valleyfair!, Kennywood and Hersheypark

Sunday, January 22, 2012 4:17 PM

I realize these reviews are bit older, but I figured I would post them anyway. I’ve reviewed CP’s Halloweekends and Valleyfair in the past which is why they are so short. I go into more detail on Kennywood, Hersheypark, and Silver Dollar City.

Cedar Point’s Halloweekends 9/24:


I have always enjoyed their Halloweekends, and it seemed like every year this event just got better and better. Until this year that is, they destroyed one of the best haunts this year.


The new Scream Works is just terrible. Most people do not get the theme, and the costumes are just not all that scary looking; not to mention there is way too much light back there. I heard very few screams on the Frontier Trail this year, and it was very disappointing.


Blood on the Bayou was OK, but as much as I hate lines, they really need to pulse people through this attraction. The Conga Line just does not work because the walkway is too narrow and not enough Screamsters were placed in the maze.


Unfortunatly, one of my sister’s friend’s discovered that she was allergic to something on the cornstalks in CornStalkers which made us have to rush through that attraction. That said, Terror Island and Happy Jack were still their excellent selves and I had a great time. It is just for the first year I wish CP would not have changed their Halloweekend Event from last year.


Valleyfair!’s Halloween Haunt: 10/1


I went to this park for the Haunt 2 years ago and remember having a blast. It blew away my expectations for such a small park, and made me decide that I should visit some of the other smaller Cedar Fair parks around the midwest for Halloween to change things up. Worlds of Fun last year was a major disappointment, so this year my brother and I decided to hit up Valleyfair! again.


Thankfully, this park somehow managed again to exceed my expectations. I can not appaud the Valleyfair management and workers enough. You can tell that this park and all of their employees take pride in putting together an amazing Halloween Event. I think the entire night I maybe saw 2-3 screamsters loafing around, far fewer then any park I’ve been to. Everyone was out for a scare, which made every maze enjoyable. The grounds crew had fog machines throughout so that the entire park was covered in a layer of fog, so much so that I think they may have caused Renegade to malfunction at the end of the night (but it was worth it.)


Their new maze this year Camp Wekilou (We-Kill-You) was fantastic. They expanded the parks border into the picnic site on the other side of High Roller, which allowed for a very secluded tree filled location. Inside of the various free standing pavilions they set up an activity shed, bunkroom, showers and dining hall. All of which were full of fog so thick you could barely see 2 feet in front of you. All around fantastic outdoor haunt, right up there with some of CP and KI's best.


However, the highlight of the night for me was the park's performance of Thriller. Twice a night they have an fantastic MJ impersonator (who can moon walk sideways and really moves like MJ) come out in a black cape as the Thriller music starts and right after the lightning crashes reveal’s himself in the red jacket. Halfway through the song (during the Vincent Price rap) 1-2 monsters from all of the parks mazes who have been mingling in the crowd nearby join in and the cast of 15-20 then do the entire dance sequence. At the end of the song the Screamsters then sprint towards the crowd snarling and yelling at the top of their lungs on the way to going back to their respective mazes. We had to see it twice, it was great.


What this park lacks in quantity and production value it makes up with spirit. I will be coming back here again next year, I just had too much fun. Also on a non Halloween note, CF mechanics has done it again; the High Roller this year was running smooth, and fast. I got a load of ejector air on my ride this year that I have never gotten before. As such this ride is jumping up a lot on my wooden coaster list.


Kennywood’s Phantom Fright Nights 10/14


After hearing so many amazing stories of this event I was really excited to finally get to this event, one of the last remaining parks on my Halloween Bucket List (KBF, USF, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom are now the final 4.) Also, all other times I had visited this park it was during the daytime only. Thanks to a backup on I80, and my tradition of always getting lost on the way to Kennywood I unfortunately arrived about an hour late. Before I get into details though, I do have to state this park does a fantastic job of transforming for Halloween. There is not a single white light in sight, every flood, spot and tracing light has been changed to a color, fog is abundant and decorations are everywhere.


Upon entering the gate and seeing a mostly filled Sky Rocket queue line, I realized that if I wanted to do the coasters, Ghostwood Estates, Kangaroo, Disk-O, Baryen Kurve and all the haunts there was only one way I was going to do that this night, and that was to buy the coaster (FOL passes to Exterminator, Sky Rocket and Phantom) and haunt (Pick 4 haunts to cut the line) upgrades. They in total cost $30 and were completely worth it. Having secured FOL passes to the major rides I decided to begin night in the park in the traditional way, and off to my favorite John Miller Coaster in the park I went:


Jack Rabbit (10 min, 5min wait): I ended up getting two rides on this coaster over the course of the night, including my first ever ride in the back seat. For PFN they fill the far tunnel with fog and have a convincing train light effect. Great ride as always, and the best airtime hill ever designed.


After notching a ride under my belt I experienced my first Kennywood scare zone (Clowns) on the way to the Kangaroo (I got two rides on this one too) and quickly learned that Kennywood cannot do scare zones. No hiding places and very bored scare actors, not that I cared because I mainly went through it to get to the best flat ride in the park. Seriously, why are there not modern redesigns of this ride at every park? It was finally time cash in my first FOL pass (and bypass a 1.5 hour wait) and hit a real haunted attraction:


Mortem Manor: This was by far the best haunt at the park. A typical haunted house theme, this one was located in the big indoor cafeteria in the middle of the park. The ghouls inside had some great hiding places and were popping out everywhere. Taking an even further outlook it was probably my second favorite indoor haunt of the year (Happy Jacks by a nose.)


Exiting the Manor, I started walking towards the Thunderbolt. I went through my second scare zone (Wild West) and rode Ghostwood Estates (walk on.) Great Sally Dark Ride, but do they really make you watch the pre show every time? As I exited the Estates I looked down on Noah’s Ark and noticed that it lacked a line for some reason. I quickly headed that way (getting lost for a moment trying to find the start of the line) and walked on to the Haunt without using a FOL pass. I don’t know how it happened, every other time I walked by this haunt it had a sizeable line, but anyways onto the review:


Capt Skully’s Ark: Wow all the reviews about this Halloween redo of the classic ride were completely right. Super dark, super disorientating, and downright amazing. The Manor and this are worth the admission price alone. My only beef was that the flooded room wasn’t operating. I can’t imagine that it would be difficult to fit that effect into a haunt theme; but seeing as this is a local park where guests can experience this ride at other times of the year I understand that not operating it greatly helps with guest flow.


After that, I was getting hungry and was near a certain fry stand. Having my traditional Kennywood dining experience in hand, I feasted as I waited 15 minutes to experience Thunderbolt. No special add ons to the ride here, but still great to ride this thing at night.


After looking at a closed Turtle (unfortunate, but expected) I noticed that it was getting close to my one hour window for my Exterminator FOL pass (10-11) I headed into Gory Park (zombies, mutants.) This was the one scare zone that showed promise, the actors here were clearly engaged and trying to get scares. The area was still a little too lit, but fun. Exterminator had a queue spilling out into the midway, but I got to walk right up the exit ramp and ride the ride (best $30 spent ever!) The Exterminator has all of its lights out for PFN, which was an amazing experience.


Leaving Gory Park I saw a non functioning Whip (again expected but still sad) skipped the long line for the S&S Screaming Swing (been on enough of those this year all ready) and rode my first Baryen Curve (1 cycle wait.) What a great ride, glad Kennywood fixed it up. Then I walked onto and rode on the Disk-O (love those rides.) I then made my way to the raft ride, and bypassed an hour wait to experience:


Voodoo Bayou: Yet another raft ride trough haunt that fails in execution. There was not enough props/fog to hide the actors making this the most disappointing on the night. Although I should stop hoping for a good experience on these. The only one that I’ve been on that lived up to expectations is CornStalkers at CP, and that works because of how narrow they make the maze.


I then walked into Kiddyland to check out the line for Dark Shadows, and it was about 45 minutes. I decided to not get in line as my time to ride Sky Rocket (11-12) had just begun and did not want to chance missing my window. I instead walked over past a closed Auto Race (sorry had to mention the three classic Kennywood rides not open) to experience, without a 30 minute wait:


BioFear (zombie virus): This maze has a lot of upswing. It has the best preshow of any haunt I’ve been in, and has some great animatronics. Unfortunately, there was nowhere for actors to hide, and this seemed to be the most sparsely populated of the mazes. I think if they fix those two deficeciencies in the coming years this maze will become one of Kennywood’s best.


Next up was my trip to Sky Rocket. The queue was still full, but I got to walk on to Row 1. Everything everyone says about this ride is true (amazing 1st half, dull 2nd half) I did enjoy the ride though. Wish I could have ridden it more than once but I did not have the time to ride it considering its long line the entire night, oh well that just means I’ll have another reason to go to Kennywood! Anyways, I now had one last FOL pass for a haunt time to push onto:


Lair of the Vampire: This was clearly an older maze, but very well done. I had some good scares in here, and while there was nothing spectacular about it, it was a good maze. I then re rode the Roo and Disk-O. By this time it was 11:40ish and I needed to wait a bit before my Phantom pass to come up. The park was also really starting to clear out, and seeing as I knew one ride on the Phantom would not be enough I decided to chance it and try the standby line. 20 minutes later, I was in the first row of the back car. When I got back to the station I lucked into a single rider boarding my row, after checking with her if it was alright, I got a second ride, no wait. By then it was midnight so I exited the station and waited in the line of pass holders to get back on. I then got to ride the Phantom again after a 1 train wait. 3 times in 30 minutes, and I only had one thing left to do on my list:


Dark Shadows (5 min): The most imaginative haunt of the night by far. This maze was done in complete darkness, and all the spooks were entirely dressed in black. For the first part of the maze there was no sound. The end contained a long straight hallway with a pulsating heart beat and a red light that would blink. It was very well done, and the only reason that I probably did not like this maze more was my group I was with (teenagers who were above it all and loudly proclaimed this maze to be “lame” at every turn.) By that time it was getting late, and I knew I had a 3 hour drive ahead of me tomorrow, so I hit the Jack Rabbit and got my back seat ride and left the park at 12:30.


Hersheypark in the Dark 10/15


I knew ahead of times that this park had no Haunts, but I went because of two important things: I haven’t ridden Fahrenheit, and I love Hersheypark. This park’s Halloween events are skewed for younger guests. There are multiple trick or treat trails throughout (not surprising seeing that this park is owned by a candy company.) They also have a lot of light up displays of Halloween images (Haunted house, pumpkin patch, etc.) and every ride in the park has been renamed to witty little Halloween Puns. For instance, you don’t get to ride Fahrenheit, Sopordooperlooper, and the Kissing Tower you instead ride FEARenheit, SoporBOOperlooper and Bats on the Belfry. Why did I not live near this park 20 years ago?


Thankfully the crowds were not bad, and most of the rugrats couldn’t ride the rides I wanted to. I started the day with 3 rides on Fahrenheit (fun ride, but well it’s not Maverick or Strom Runner for that matter,) Wild Mouse, my traditional 5 ride marathon (without getting off) on Lightning Racer, and then hit practically every ride in the park I wanted to, in all I ended up doing 30 rides and the weather could not have been better either (high 50s, sunny.) All around fantastic way to end my season, or so I thought. Soon to come my surprise visit to SDC in December.

Last edited by Touchdown, Sunday, January 22, 2012 4:20 PM
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Monday, January 23, 2012 2:27 AM

Touchdown said:
That said, Terror Island and Happy Jack were still their excellent selves and I had a great time.

Glad to hear it. :)

I always enjoy reading other people's haunt experiences. Thanks for posting.

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Monday, January 23, 2012 5:04 AM

Really glad to hear you enjoyed Wekilou. That was my maze! Depending on what time you went through that night, I was either out sliding, or giving the spiel on the bus (I was the only guy who was ever near or in the bus).

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