By Liz Young
Even though we all know that ghosts and ghouls and the monsters that go bump in the night aren’t actually real (or are they?), there’s just something about a good scare — especially around Halloween — that offers up a fear-induced blast of adrenaline that’s too good to pass up.
And Cedar Point — that amusement park nestled up north by Lake Erie and well-known for its thrills and chills — provides a roller coaster rush adorned in Halloween flair with its haunted HalloWeekends this fall. The event is going on 19 years now, so it might be safe to assume that Cedar Point is becoming well practiced in the art of fright.
HalloWeekends also gives people yet another reason to visit the park, according to Tony Clark, director of communications for Cedar Point. As if the coasters weren’t scary enough.
For Halloween aficionados, it’s a destination well-suited for the season and a must for any Halloween bucket list.
“The entire park is decorated for Halloween … and it just feels different,” Clark said.
That “different” feeling? It could be described as a little creepy when night falls, he admitted. Cedar Point boasts six outdoor scare zones and six indoor haunted houses, and, as dark descends, the park opens its doors — for those who dare enter. There’s a special name for nighttime during HalloWeekends — it’s called “The Haunt.”
And like any good amusement park, Cedar Point does provide a “Fright Guide” for HalloWeekends so guests can easily find all of the attractions scattered throughout the park. Think of it as a wicked treasure map with “X” marking the spot.
There are a few surprises for this year being kept under wraps for now, Clark said. Surprises, naturally, are a big part of the experience, and die-hard Halloween fans would not expect anything less.
“Being scared is fun,” Clark said. “Whether it’s a scary movie or a haunted house, the element of surprise gets your adrenaline pumping and makes for some great moments to share with friends.”
Kayla Parsons, of Delphos, is one such admitted fan of Halloween, scary movies and haunted attractions. She’s been to Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends in past years, with her favorite part what she called the “scare factor.” According to Parsons, the HalloWeekend attractions are spooky, with a touch of eerie.
“My favorite part was being scared,” she said. “I love the adrenaline rush.”
Another adrenaline enthusiast is Jodi Gross, of Lima. Although she has never been to the HalloWeekend events, she is both a fan of Halloween and has been a regular attendee of Cedar Point since she was a child.
“I love the thrill rides. I’m an adrenaline junkie. I like getting scared. It’s a natural drug,” she said. “It makes me feel alive, like all my senses are alive.”
Halloween is a big deal at her house and she said her family likes the holiday as much as she does. There’s one rule, however: no cute costumes.
“We all dress up, and the costumes have to be scary. There are no cheerleaders — zombie cheerleaders, maybe,” she said.
But for those who might prefer a cuter costume, perhaps sans zombie, HalloWeekends does have its not-so-scary attractions. There’s the “Great Pumpkin Fest,” with daytime activities geared toward children, Clark said. Included are the Charlie Brown Craft Zone, Peppermint Patty’s Hay Bale Maze and a chance to trick-or-treat with the rest of the “Peanuts” gang.
The HalloWeekend attractions are “full of fun for everyone,” Clark said. All scary areas are clearly marked so there’s no confusing family-friendly with bloodcurdling terrifying. They go to great lengths to ensure that no unintentional scaring takes place.
Lima resident Karen Raines has made Cedar Point and its roller coasters a tradition for herself and her 8-year-old son, Connor. Like Gross, she’s never made it to HalloWeekends, but it’s definitely on her Halloween to-do list.
Both roller coasters and haunted houses give her a rush, she said.
“I just love being able to scream out loud. I think it’s my stress reliever. I feel so good by the time it ends,” Raines said. “(In haunted houses), a person comes behind you — you know they’re coming, you know they are there … you scream and then you laugh.”
Michelle Tow, also of Lima, has also made amusement parks somewhat of a tradition for her family, and has experienced Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. But while she likes a good haunted house for the scare, she admits to not necessarily being all that into Halloween.
“I like the rides and the family time, and in fall, it’s not quite as hot,” she said.
The scare-themed attractions, however, are pretty realistic, she admitted, and “some people (working them) are good at standing really still.”
Until they jump out at you, of course.
“My son said, ‘Mom, you screamed so loud.’ I screamed my head off. I love to go. I’m like the only 50-year-old lady doing it. We have a blast,” Tow said.
Liz Young is a freelance writer for The Lima News. She is a special education teacher for the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys reading, movies and spending time with family.