Every year we have run into the same problem – trying to find fun Halloween events for our toddler-now-preschooler that are NOT scary. Last weekend we had the chance to check out Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. They advertised a non-spooky, kid-friendly event with themed rides, special entertainment, tasty treats and even a Trick-or-Treat Trail. It’s basically the amusement park that visitors enjoy all summer but with a fall/Halloween twist and some fun extras.
It is important to note – Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland is an afternoon/evening event. It runs from 3-9 PM, weather permitting.
Children are welcome to wear a costume to the park. Our daughter wore her Princess Merida (from BRAVE) dress and I would say that the majority of kids in the park WERE in costumes.
Dutch Wonderland is located right smack on the main highway (Route 30) in Lancaster. It is practically next door to the outlet stores and very easy-to-find. There are dozens of restaurants and travel accomodations within yards of the front doors.
Parking for Happy Hauntings is FREE (big bonus in our eyes). Tickets are $21.99 for ages 3 and up. The 2 and under crowd get in for FREE. Be sure to check their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DutchWonderlandPA) as they are known to offer coupon deals to lower your ticket price.
Our daughter is 4 years old and we felt like this event was a PERFECT fit for her. It gets tiring going to amusement parks with a little child only to find that they are only tall enough for a handful of the rides. Dutch Wonderland was the complete opposite – Lily was tall enough to go on almost every single ride (though some did require an adult to accompany her). The park uses a gemstone color-coded height chart for kids to identify rides that they can go on. Lily was in the “Emerald” height zone.
Happy Hauntings offered 28 themed rides (all are included in with your admission ticket). Lily enjoyed all of the rides that she went on – though a word of caution regarding the “Trick or Treat Turtle Whirl” – that ride is not for the faint of heart. LOL My husband and I were BOTH a little green after joining Lily on that one!!
Food is everywhere at Happy Hauntings. Some concession stands take credit cards and cash – some are cash only. You will find typical amusement park fare, as well as some fall favorites like kettle corn, pumpkin funnel cakes and (AND!!) make-your-own-S’mores. The S’mores were a really cute touch – for a little under $5 you get a S’mores “kit” that contained your graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bar. Cozy chimineas were sitting nearby (manned by park employees) where you could roast your marshmallows.
We visited on a Saturday, but on Sundays from 3-5 pm, kids 12 and under in costume can register for the Costume Contests. There are different categories, prizes and a free treat for all who enter. Judging takes place at 6 pm at Celebration Theater.
BY FAR the absolute COOLEST part of Happy Hauntings (in our opinion) was the Trick-or-Treat Trail. Running along one side of the park, along a meandering stream (with scenic farm in background!) is a path lined with employees handing out FREE CANDY. Kids can walk along the trail (free bags are handed out at the beginning to hold the loot) and there are at least 5 or 6 costumed employees handing out candy. We thought the icing on the cake was when they handed my husband and I each a raffle ticket. These tickets were for the adults – each adult can trade in a ticket for a piece of candy of their choosing. I took note of candy-alternatives at each stop (pencils, stickers, etc) – for kids with allergies or on sugar restriction.
We loved our trip to Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland and our 4 year old has not stopped talking about it. She can’t wait to go back and, honestly, neither can we. We felt like we finally found an amusement park that has so much to offer to the younger crowd – with the added benefit of clean facilities and a scenic location. We also appreciated the staff – all of the employees we encountered were friendly and very helpful.
Disclosure: Our family was provided with complimentary park admission in return for an honest, unbiased review.