Halloween-Themed Events: Gory Goodness or Gone Too Far

Coaster Questions

Zombies Are Taking Over - Riding Apocalypse at Six Flags AmericaIt’s October and amusement parks across the country have been transformed into spooky night time playgrounds. From the Center for Disease Control’s Zombie Preparedness 101 to zombies riding Six Flags America’s Apocalypse earlier this year, it’s clear that we are in the middle of the zombification era. Expect it to continue for a while with the popularity of TV series The Walking Dead and Brad Pitt’s 2013 movie World War Z. I guess ghosts, witches, werewolves and vampires aren’t scary or extreme enough anymore.

Zombies A Good Fit for Theme Parks?

In the past I’ve watched my share of zombie movies. And I’ve put thousands of digital zombies out of their misery over the years playing the Resident Evil video game series. But, for some reason I feel like the undead and their hunger for brains is a bit too much for theme parks. Even though, Halloween-themed events have age restrictions or are labeled “PG-13”, I don’t like typing in my home parks web address and nearly jumping out of my seat as I’m greeted by a zombie girl that looks hungry. I get it. That’s the point. People want to be scared; maybe I’m just getting old. I guess I just see theme parks as being too family-friendly for this kind of horror. In their defense though, they’re probably just trying to keep up with movies and the entertainment of today. I can see both sides.

Anyone Seen the Halloween Haunt TV Commercials?

I’m assuming that Cedar Fair’s using them for the whole chain. I don’t think that they’re typically on TV during the day, but if my daughters saw this, I think they’d want to swear off roller coasters. Or at least going to Carowinds in the evening. Obviously, it’s not aimed at my kids’ demographic, but when I see a Carowinds commercial I usually crank up the volume and get their attention. That’s probably not the best practice in September though!

Warning younger readers and parents. Spookiness ahead.

Too gory or not, Halloween-themed events can be fun for theme park and coaster enthusiasts for a number of reasons:

  • Night rides on roller coasters can be a surprisingly different experience.
  • The park itself can seem to take on a different personality with fog, creepy music, and other effects.
  • Like Halloween for older kids and adults, everyone’s there for the same purpose: to have fun and be scared.
  • Performers roam the park waiting to scare guests that aren’t even in the one of the haunts.
  • The haunts and mazes are the main attraction. It is neat to see a number of new attractions at your park. You never know what they’ll cook up. Or, how much they’ll ramp up the scares.

What’s your take? Do you miss cuddly werewolves and that charming guy with the pointy teeth too? Are these zombie-filled themes parks getting a bit too gory for your tastes (no pun intended)? Will you be going to a Halloween-themed event?Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.


  1. Cedar Fairs park websites would scare the pants off me when I see this zombie girl with devilish eyes and a mouth stitched together. I like Halloween events at parks but this year is definitely the “I Am Legend” Year.

  2. I hadn't seen that commercial and I have to admit that would be scary for young children but it was an awesome halloween commercial. I'm not big on Halloween in particular and I think it is good that most parks have non-halloween events going on during the day time or on certain days. Last year I went to Dorney Park on a Sunday in October during the daytime and there were no Halloween events going on. Plus the park was pretty empty so I only stayed for 4 hours and got a bunch of rides in a short period of time. I will say though these Halloween events at the parks seem to be very popular. I always hear about Busch Gardens being packed on weekends in Oct.

  3. I just went to fright feat on great America these weirdos aren't even scary. I didn't like how they named the rides and areas different from what they are. like American eagle is the black widow. It really isn't good.

  4. Funny that I said: "Do you miss cuddly werewolves and that charming guy with the pointy teeth too?"

    I found them. They're at Cedar Point! http://www.cedarpoint.com/things-to-do/halloweeke

  5. I kind of agree with CC in thinking that they have gone a bit too far. I personally find the zombies disturbing and wish they went back to the cuddly warewolves. However, I love the Halloween events themselves due to less people at the park during the day, the different personality of the park, and special rides. I am going to Magic Mountain in a week and am super excited because they are turing off the track lights for half the coasters at night, running colossus backwards, and Haloween themeing X2.

  6. I never got into the Halloween haunt thing, but I think the escalation is part and parcel of the general expansion of Halloween as a major holiday over the past decade or two. It seems to be taking the old role of Carnival in our society, the crazy day for everyone to cut loose and be someone they're not. It could even be the ultimate brake on the sprawling growth of the Christmas season!

  7. Maybe this is the scareactor in me, but the public wants this stuff. CC, do you think that being a protective father might have influenced your judgment here? When I read this article, it sounded like the dad that will jump the Empire State Building to protect his kids voice.

    • You're probably right Prof. BAM. Although, I think I might be over zombies by now even if I were just a 33 year old single guy and not a Dad. But there's no way to know. I may be more sensitive to this stuff now, but I can also separate adult stuff from kid stuff. I don't look at everything through the eyes of "Is this appropriate for my kids/family?"

      I think I just see theme parks are being too family-oriented to go super gory. Even if it isn't for kids. These are the same businesses even if the calendar reads "October". Good point though. Much of this might be from some underlying "Dadification" that's occurred over the past 5 years.

      • One thing I find interesting about this post and the comments are the fact that you theme/amusement parks are family oriented. No doubt parks are things that families go to for fun and vacations but I feel like over the past couple years of my travels I see almost nothing but teens/college students or folks around my age at the parks I've been to. It could just be the circumstance and the fact that I don't go in the summer time much or just that I'm a coaster geek and don't pay attention to the family aspect. Another thing I think about is Disney. It is basically the definition of a family park especially for little kids. I know all parks have kid sections but it really does seem like much for kids to do at parks. Once again I must say I really haven't searched out the things to do at parks for kids so there could be much more that I just don't know about. Very interesting stuff indeed though. A lot of people I know our age are really into "the walking dead" and zombie stuff. Do you have any plans for next year yet CC?

  8. Sure these haunts aren't geared toward families, but my home park, Dorney, has a day-time event called BooBlast! just for kids. They can go trick or treating, visit snoopy and friends in halloween costumes, and there is even a petting zoo. I think that it is great that Dorney has something for kids in the day and for older people at night. If kids don't want to be scared, then they should leave at 6, when the park gets haunted and come earlier in the day. Personally, I like Haunt events. It is cool to see something different at my home park, and go to different areas of the park in haunted attractions that you would never get to see in the regular season. I like the theming and scary feel. I am a horror movie fan, so it is just natural to go in these spooky things. Roller coasters are still the main attraction though. I love diving into the fog on the first drop of steel force!

  9. Since blood and guts are what some people want, why stick with minimum wage actors and makeup? Footage of real gore and violence would be more popular. War footage from Syria, there's an ample supply every day. Uncensored images from 9/11 (body parts in the street). Traffic accidents. There's a long list of possibilities.

    I'm also not a fan of breathing the fake fog, it seems to be similar to antifreeze in its chemistry. I definitely don't need it for night rides on coasters. September is a better time to ride coasters, few crowds, weather is good, and the dumb zombie nonsense isn't infesting the parks yet.

    • People want FAKE blood and guts. Thankfully we're not at the point where things need to be ramped up to the point that you're talking about. Real things don't evoke a 'good scare', they're disturbing and morbid. For example, I'll never forget some of the images that I saw at the Holocaust Museum. Real does not equal fun and hopefully it never does.

      I agree about September, but if you live in a warm climate like NC the crowds haven't really went away fully yet. You're also right about fake fog. I always noticed that it smells kind of weird.

  10. I find coasters fun – not "scary." Even I-305 and Skyrush were fun, although I didn't go "hands up" on the latter.

    Here on the west coast you can ride (weather permitting) in December, without big crowds although the best coasters in the US are not in California.

    Sorry I don't understand the "scare me more" mindset.

    Some philosophers speculate the human condition is the ever present understanding that we're mortal.

    Given the real violence rampant in our world, marketing fake violence as entertainment is bizarre.

    War is popular for many people, otherwise it would have vanished a long time ago.

    It would be interesting to learn how Halloween got marketed into the billion dollar industry it is today.

    I don't believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone, are guilty of the war. Oh no, the little man is just as guilty, otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.
    — Anne Frank, May 3, 1944

    As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.
    — Oscar Wilde

  11. Sadly, I hate halloween events…. I really don't find them fun. I was at Canobie Lake Park and this freaky bloody clown runs up to me and chases me around the tea party, cannonball, and corkscrew. I was FREAKED. Since then, I've hated halloween. As a kid, halloween isn't fun…. (MOST kids like trick-or-treating. I DON'T.)
    P.S. Read my cyclone at Six Flags New England review… I'm on the last page.

  12. A small horror-themed carnival arrives at my fairground every October. Its mostly flat rides and haunted houses, with loud rock music played in the background. It is a fun event, and is only open to 13-year-olds and up; I’m guessing that the employees don’t want to drag toddlers out of the haunted houses.

  13. Ok, I’m going to say it: I HATE CREEPY SCARY THINGS. Period. Only version of ‘scary’ I want is dangling over Griffon’s drop or something-and honestly, for me ‘scary’ isn’t the right word for that. More like ‘WOW THIS IS COOL!’ for me.
    I want to go to parks to ride rides, not get freaked by some ghost/monster/whatever.
    On another note, go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg during the day in October! The lines will be pretty short most of the day since everybody comes in at 6PM for the scary stuff, especially if it’s drizzly like it was last Sunday!:)

    P.S. This is the same girl that was under the name ‘NewCoasterLover’-I just wanted to use my usual online name instead now.:)


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