The days grow shorter, the corn stalks grow taller. Tickets sales are initiated, mazes are announced. Yes, it’s Halloween time once again, and theme parks come alive with the dead. All fine and well for those old enough to not wet their pants at first fright, but what about the children? If you’re in Southern California, that is probably handily covered by Disneyland. But your humble narrator wanted to see what was offered here by The Bay. So with the aid of photographs from last October, and a check with the park’s themselves regarding any anticipated changes, let’s take a look at what younger gremlins can expect in the parks of Northern California. It should be noted that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk does not do anything specific for Halloween, but the Haunted Castle certainly deserves a ride; the up-charge Fright Walk is currently being refurbished, and will not reopen until 2017.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

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A small hay bale maze was located in Toon Lagoon at 6FDK, with a few trick or treat stations encountered along the way. All of the employees were upbeat, and kids seemed to be having fun.

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Nearby was a photo opportunity for those wanting to see how they would look as a corn dog, though costumes with fried snack motifs aren’t particularly popular in our neighborhood.

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Finally, there is an opportunity for cookie decorating in the same space used for that purpose during Holiday in the Park.

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California’s Great America

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Before yielding to the night time Haunt, CGA hosts the Great Pumpkin Festival in Planet Snoopy with a variety of activities spread throughout the decorated area.

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Obviously there is the obligatory hay bale maze, pretty sure that’s a statuary requirement.

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For any tykes looking to exercise their creativity, there are pumpkins to decorate, plus a quiet spot for coloring. Many young children can lose themselves with crayons for a extended period of time despite the fact that Dad is losing his ever lovin’ mind over paying the cost of park admission so little Polly can spend the afternoon coloring. (New this year will be an actual pumpkin that weighs in at 1,000 pounds. However, the interactive talking pumpkin has rolled into Yesterland.)

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Should those options prove to be overly sedate, how cool is this? That’s right, a foam pit. Now one and all can pretend to be in an overloaded washing machine.

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It’s celebrity trick or treating in Planet, so pack a camera.

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Not all of the Peanuts gang was available due to being needed on stage.

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And every afternoon, the A Listers promenade into Celebration Plaza for a dance party to gently tell the young uns to beat it so the grownups can get their scare on.

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Gilroy Gardens

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As one of the most child friendly spots on Earth, you might think Gilroy Gardens would be an ideal family outing for the season; good thinking. The mood for the Scary Boo Festival begins on the bridge that serves as the park’s Main St, with displays courtesy of local schools, business and non-profit groups.

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Yes, of course.

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The thing is, Gilroy Gardens has the permanent Pinnacles Rock Maze, so they take advantage of that fact. Designated Boo Zones are decorated with a ghoulish style. Sure, it looks like someone was sent to a Halloween superstore with the park credit card and instructed to buy a van load of decorations, but remember the target audience. It’s easier to convince little Rudy that it’s all pretend if the skull includes a loop for wall hanging.

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No butterflies spotted in Monarch gardens, perhaps they were devoured by the giant arachnids.

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My inability to locate the Spooky Zoo was puzzling. Then we looked to the right at the exit; problem solved.

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So something for the little ones at the three Bay Area theme parks. Since Six Flags Discovery Kingdom doesn’t have a hard ticket Halloween event, it may be a good transitional choice so one can get a taste of Fright Fest without paying for the mazes. But for those that need a kinder, more gentle Halloween exposure, more options will be found at either California’s Great America or Gilroy Gardens. And no using the Cruciatus Curse on your little sister, young man!

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Bay Area Park News

There have been some announcements regarding new rides at regional theme parks, including 6FDK and CGA.

Do you have a favorite Bay Area haunted attraction?