Recently my family enjoyed Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA (thanks to US Family Guide). Dutch Wonderland, a kids' amusement park, turns into a fun spook fest select weekends in October.
We had planned to visit during the summer, but a few things interfered with that, including my gall bladder surgery. However, we finally were able to carve out some time to go together as a family (which can be tricky since we only have my son every other weekend and we wanted to include him). It was about a 2 hour drive from my area south of Baltimore.
I don't know about other moms, but I try to arrive as early as possible when it comes to events that have large crowds. Due to some traffic, we didn't get there as early as I wanted. We arrived a little after the park opened at 3:15 and the parking lot was already nearly half full. My advice: if you want a shorter walk with a little one, get there early. Parking is free, so the earlier the better to get a choice parking spot.
Having never been to Dutch Wonderland, I scoped out all the attractions online. My first objective was to visit the Trick-or-Treat Trail, since I figured that would be a popular spot.
The trail is clearly roped off and has festive stations with costumed helpers that aren't too scary (I think it was a good thing it wasn't dark yet so it was less of a scary factor for little miss). This was The Attic Baby's first time trick-or-treating, so she wasn't quite sure of how it worked. She enjoyed walking by herself and trying to say "trick or treat." Kids aren't the only ones who get a treat. Mom and Dad will get a ticket to exchange for a candy too. If your child has any allergies though, you may want to have an alternative for them (particularly peanut allergies). We received different kinds of mini chocolate bars, Kit-Kat, and Reece's Peanut Butter cups.
There are many great fall photo opps along the park trails with hay bales, and pumpkins. And you'll find some-what spooky features along the train ride and monorail.
The monorail had a bit of a line when we arrived, but it went pretty quickly. We only had to wait a few minutes between trains for the 7 minute ride. It's a great way to check out all the rides in the park and plot out your ride "strategy."
Our next priority was a character visit with Duke. We arrived at the Amphitheater about 20 minutes ahead of the Royal Friends Meet and Greet scheduled time. Unfortunately, we were informed that Duke had some costume issues, so we had to go back later.
My hubby and the kids had pizza for dinner. Then we spent quite a bit of time trying to find a place that had something I could eat on my low-fat diet. While there are many places to eat like the Millstream Eatery, I wasn't able to find a place that wasn't really crowded (there was a long line for the restaurant) and had a lot of low-fat options. So I just munched on a few snacks.
We went back to the Amphitheater for the next Meet and Greet and were able to see Duke and the Princess. The Attic baby loved Duke; she kept waving at him and gave him a big kiss when it was her turn on the stage.
My son enjoyed the slide and the sky ride but chose not to go on the roller coaster after eating (probably a wise decision).
Once it got dark, the lines started getting longer and The Attic Baby was getting tired. So we decided to stop by the restrooms before starting the 2 hour drive home. The restrooms were very clean, had designated stalls for little ones, and hands-free soap dispensers, water faucets and paper towels.
Overall, we really enjoyed our first visit to Dutch Wonderland. Happy Hauntings was a lot of fun and a great day trip, but I think we will visit again during the regular season.
The late park hours (they didn't open until 3pm) were a little rough on a young toddler. And the park at night isn't well lit for navigating with a stroller, especially the parking lot. If you have to park way out in the other end of the lot away from the castle, it's a dark walk back to your car. I'd suggest taking glow sticks or a flashlight (we used our cell phone).
Disclosure: As a US Family Guide blogger, I received complimentary tickets for my family. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. For more info. see my disclosure policy