It’s that time of the year again when everything is pumpkin spice flavored and colored orange and kids start wondering how much candy they’re going to get on Halloween!
Many amusement parks have their own version of trick or treating at the park and Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA has a 3 weekend- long event called Happy Hauntings. It was our first time going at this time of year and Oliver was so excited! Dutch Wonderland is a great amusement park for toddlers up to maybe 10, 12 years old. Definitely more rides that are perfect for the younger set, we love it because Oliver, now 6, can ride almost all the rides even on his own!
Kids are invited to come in costume to play and go trick or treating in the park during this event. In addition to most of their dry rides being open during the event period, the entire park is dressed up in fun, safe, not too scary Halloween decorations. Our favorite decorations were in the small tunnel that the Monorail passes through as it enters over the parking lot area. It was unexpectedly fully decorated complete with Frankenstein, cobwebs and flashing lights!
Of course the highlight during Happy Hauntings is the Trick or Treat Trail. The paths on Exploration Island are decorated for Halloween, even the dinosaurs were dressed up! I wasn’t sure if many kids would be in costume but it was a great turnout, even parents got in on the action, some in pretty extra costumes!! This was great, our son went in a full plushy Pikachu costume, On the path, after receiving a goody bag and a ticket for each adult to exchange for 1 piece of candy (thank you!), kids can go around to each trick or treating station and collect candy. Of course all the attendants were dressed in costume but what we found very amusing was that they also really dressed up the dinosaurs! One station that sticks in my memory was a Star Wars themed station – the attendant was dressed as a Jedi and the dinosaur was Darth Vader! Hilarious!!
They also change up all the ride names during this time to make it extra fun and relevant for Halloween. The Merry Go Round is renamed the Scary Go Round, the monorail, Monster Monorail etc, make sure you pick up a map to find out about all the fun name changes!
I will admit that there was so many more people there than I expected – we went on the first day of Happy Hauntings, I had thought that it would be busier closer to Halloween. The line for most rides was very long causing us to give up on some family favorites like the Turnpike ride. The line for the Trick or Treat trail was also fairly long and slow which made for some pretty antsy kids waiting to get their candy! Luckily the sand dig area was in the middle of the line as it snaked around so there were kids playing there as they waited. The candy, perhaps predictably was all from Hershey being as that was their previous owner and this is Hershey country but they had a pretty good selection, Matt went straight for the Cadbury Eggs.
Across from the Bumper Cars, they have a snack stand with a couple of small wood burners in front where you can make your own smores, what a great outdoors snack for kids! Also on sale for snacks were Auntie Anne pretzels, Kettle Corn, hot chocolate and Churros, perfect for the cooler fall weather! The prices are fairly reasonable considering it is an amusement park. You can also get your hand stamped to return to the park and step out to any of the nearby eateries for a meal to save some extra money.
Lancaster is pretty far from NYC, about 3-3.5 hours drive away. Because of a busy weekend schedule, we decided to do it in one day and return home that night but I would definitely recommend staying at one of the many hotels in the area if you make the trip to Dutch Wonderland. Besides the park there are 2 different shopping outlets there, Tanger and Rockvale, and they have many other attractions in the vicinity such as Kitchen Kettle Village, the Strasburg RR, the Amish Village and tours, the Turkey Hill Experience and many many more. It’s a very family friendly area and your kids will love seeing the Amish driving their horse drawn buggies around town, such a rare curious site for city kids! Dutch Wonderland makes a great addition to a weekend getaway to beautiful Lancaster County, a must go stop if you have little kids!! Hurry and make a trip before the season ends! If you are unable to make it during Happy Hauntings, their Winter Wonderland that begins sometime in November is also worth going to especially since it is right around the time kids will start to get restless from being indoors in the cold!
Disclaimer: we were graciously given free/discounted tickets by Dutch Wonderland to experience this Halloween themed event in exchange for this fair and honest review. If you would like to visit Dutch Wonderland during Happy Hauntings, use this special discount code to get your tickets, but hurry! There are only a couple of weeks left, Happy Hauntings run from October 14-29, on Saturdays, 2-9PM and Sundays, 2-8PM.