While many amusement parks break out the zombies, skeletons and tombstones in the fall, I love that many are also doing more to cater to small children with fun Halloween-themed activities (think pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales).
Over the weekend, my kids and I had the opportunity to check out the first annual Great Pumpkin Fest at Kings Dominion near Richmond, VA. Operating on Saturdays and Sundays through Halloween in the Planet Snoopy section of the park, there was plenty to do, like pumpkin painting, petting baby animals and watching science shows, all with our favorite Peanuts gang characters.
Kings Dominion is part of the Cedar Fair family, so the Great Pumpkin Fest is taking place at several other parks as well, including Cedar Point in Ohio and Valleyfair in Minnesota. Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California is also hosting scare-free weekend celebrations, but as Knott’s Spooky Farm.
Get the kids in the car and head to Kings Dominion for the Great Pumpkin Fest. Not that your kids will need much convincing, but here are 10 great reasons to go this Halloween season. Have fun. 🙂
1. Paint Your Own Pumpkins. Little ones (up to 54” tall) can head to Sally’s Pumpkin Painting Patch to paint their own mini pumpkins (one per child). A quick word to the wise, do this activity last unless you can put your pumpkin in a stroller or want to carry around a wet, freshly painted pumpkin.
2. Cute Baby Animals. Who doesn’t love a petting zoo with baby animals? At Woodstock’s Barnyard Pals, there are bunnies, alpacas, sheep and miniature horses. There was even a blind baby calf the day we went. So adorable. His owner rolled her away in a wagon at the end of the day. I was smitten.
3. Halloween-Themed Rides. I love it when theme parks switch up the names of rides to coincide with the season. There were a few of those at Kings Dominion, including the Great Pumpkin Coaster and Van Pelt Derby, which lets kids ride around a track on miniature tractors.
4. The Hay Maze. Head to Franklin’s Scarecrow Hollow for fun meandering through a maze made out of hay bales. Being 5’ 8” I felt like I had an unfair advantage in this maze given I could see over the hay and knew exactly where to go, but it was just right for my little ones who were under 54” tall.
5. Trick or Treat Prizes. When you pick up your map at the Great Pumpkin Fest headquarters, little ones will also get a plastic treat bag. At each of the 10+ stops kids can pick out a Halloween-themed prizes, like paddleball sets, crayons, notepads and snap bracelets. No candy, just fun toys.
6. Playing in Soapy Foam. This was a first for me, but one of the Great Pumpkin Fest activities was Pigpen’s People Washer, essentially a 20’ x 20’ area of soapy foam. Kids and adults loved this one. Where else can you just run around in soap bubbles as if you’re in a giant bubble bath? Um, nowhere.
7. Costume Parade. If you can stay until 4:45, the kids will love parading in costume with Peanuts characters and getting their groove on at the Peanuts Rockin’ Part Show at the Grand Bandstand. It’s a great way to cap off a day of fun at the Great Pumpkin Fest.
8. Mad Scientists. On Sundays during the Great Pumpkin Fest, the scientists from Mad Science put on a spooky show three times daily. We watched them dissolve a Styrofoam witch’s head with acetone and make pieces of a witch’s cloak disappear in quick burst of flame. It was amazing. I love science. 🙂
9. Shorter Ride Lines. While not Halloween-related, one great reason to the take the kids to the Great Pumpkin Fest, and to Kings Dominion in the fall, is that the lines for rides are shorter than in the summer. Even better, the weather is cooler, which is nice when plans have you outside all day.
10. Character Meet & Greets. Of course, there are character meet and greets every day at Kings Dominion, but now the Peanuts characters are dressed up for the season. We saw Linus dressed up like a scarecrow and Schroeder dressed up like a vampire. They were always roaming, so there were lots of good photo opps.
The Great Pumpkin Fest is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 pm at Kings Dominion. Note that the park opens before noon and closes after 5 pm if you want more time at the park since there’s a lot more to do outside of Planet Snoopy.
Disclaimer: My kids and I received complimentary tickets to check out the Great Pumpkin Fest at Kings Dominion. However, all views expressed here are my own.