Friday, September 19, 2008

The Halloween Season Is About To Begin

Not for retailers. They started a month ago, around the time of back-to-school specials.

But for us! Since The Boy was two (and a few years before that), we've gone to Knott's "Scary" Farm for Halloween. The Flower has gone since she was five. I'd probably take The Barbarienne this year but I'm afraid she'd hurt the monsters.

The Knott's Halloween Haunt is kind of a Southern California tradition, being the oldest transformation of a park for Halloween in the area. (Disneyland just started theirs recently, on the scale of things.)

There are ten walk-through mazes, and two rides typically get turned into mazes (the mine ride and the log ride, which are relatively slow). Sometimes they also turn the dinosaur ride. On top of that, they have hundreds of monsters trolling the park terrorizing guests.

I knew The Boy would like it early on, though it's not for most toddlers. He's always identified with monsters. The Haunt typically hires some 6 1/2 foot guy to be a yeti. On The Boy's first year, he sees this giant yeti approach him, looked up, and gave him a big hug.

The Flower is less sanguine but, oh, the monsters love her. Last year, a werewolf grilled her for about fifteen minutes about going to grandmother's house and an evil clown tried to take her own. Sometimes she decides she's going to run--which the monsters love--but since she knows not to run away from me, she ends up running in circles with the monster chasing her around and around.

It's actually not tricky taking the kids to an event like this. You just have to watch carefully and not push them past their comfort zone. And, of course, you have to not take the kid who won't enjoy it under any circumstances. If not for The Boy, I doubt The Flower would be so brave. But she knows both that it's made-up and that we'll protect her. Also, she worships him, so she wants to do whatever he does.

Last year, I made the mistake of taking her on the log flume, which is very, very mild but for some reason disturbs The Flower (and did The Boy, too, when he was younger, even as he'd ride a super-violent roller coaster). This year she thought about not coming, but it turned out it was just about getting my assurance she wouldn't have to ride it.

The big trick to doing this, though, is to avoid the crowds. "But, Blake," you say, "amusement parks are always crowded, especially Halloween events."

To which I reply, "That's why you go on the first day. It's September, nobody's thinking about going to a Halloween event. It's also a Thursday, and nobody's thinking about going to a park on a Thursday night."

We do every maze, some of them more than once, and still have time to eat, play a few games, do some shopping--whatever the kids want. Then we crash at the hotel and go home the next morning after breakfast.

And when it's all over, we come home and plan the decorations for the house and the Halloween party.

It's very Norman Rockwell, only with lots of latex and blood.


  1. Great idea about going on the first day, the workers aren't jaded yet. My cousin grew up and joined the circus. Literally he became a carney, you know the guys that beat the crap out of locals who want to vandalize stuff or mess around with the animals. Anyway he told me so pretty wild stories about how people would lose track of their kids. Keep them close.

  2. Yeah, that's another real advantage: Everyone's fresh and the feeling is very laid back.

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  4. The Kroger up the street (where we do all our shopping) really went all-out decorating this year. There are life-size zombie, witch, and mad scientist statues alll over the place. Now I have to bribe my 3-year-old every time I have to run to the store for something. Love Halloween though. I can't wait until he starts enjoying the "scary" stuff.

  5. I've been an influence here, no doubt. I've had some friends with sons the same age or older than The Boy, who got really scared by monsters.

    The Boy's inclination was more to identify with the monsters, so I ran with that.

    There are challenges, of course. In the opening scene of Dungeons and Dragons a dragon gets killed, and he looked up at me, big saucer eyes, and I had to assure him that the dragon was going to be okay....


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