Harvest a Spooky Halloween at Theme Parks in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee

Physician’s Money Digest

Enjoy a frightful change from the same old ghouls and goblins this Halloween. Your kids and teens aren’t the only ones that will enjoy the clever – and safe – “haunting” grounds at regional theme parks. Get twirled and tossed on rides, treated to stage shows, and happily scared. Extra bonuses of fall theme park visits: crisp weather and shorter lines than during the summer.

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, Hersheypark in the Dark

Hersheypark, Pennsylvania

There’s an old-fashioned sweetness to Hersheypark from Chocolate World’s ride. Get a look at the candy factory and real hugs from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and the rest of the characters. During Hersheypark in the Dark, the Halloween celebration, nearly 50 rides remain open. Up the thrills by riding four coasters with no lights. Laff Track, an indoor spinning glow-coaster, remains dark all day while three wooden coasters – Comet, Wildcat and Lightning Racer – go dark for the last hour each day.

Kids under 12 receive trick-or-treat bags to fill on their romps through Treatville. The Screaming Mummies rock band performs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Bring your flashlights for Creatures of the Night, a nocturnal stroll through ZooAmerica, the adjacent North American Wildlife Park with 200 animals, including elk, black bears, mountain lions and gray wolves. Hersheypark in the Dark is open October 14 to 16; 21 to 23; 28 to 30.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virigina, Howl-O-Scream

Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia

Busch Gardens Williamsburg combines rollercoasters and other fun rides with German, French, Italian, and Irish villages. The park’s frightfully fun during Howl-O-Screen when ghouls, goblins, and grotesque creatures roam scare zones and pop out at you in seven haunted houses. At the Catacombs, make your way past skeletons, at Lumberjack dodge madmen wielding chainsaws, and at Scarlett’s Revenge, do battle with a furious demon.

You and your friends can also get locked in a No Escape room where evildoers lurk. If you get out in time, recoup by watching four shows, including Monster Stomp, a rock n’ roll performance, Jack the Ripper, a musical revue, and Starfright Orchestra, a 12-piece swing band that plays spooky hits. For extra fees, you can go behind the scenes at the haunted houses and get to the front of the lines. Howl-O-Scream, which begins at 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October, requires a separate admission ticket.

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration

Dollywood

In the fall, Dollywood delivers a triple crown of delights: brilliant foliage, gospel performances, and an outdoor crafts festival. At the theme park, autumn is more about song and celebration than spooky specials. Spirited voices take over during the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration through October 29. The festival adds banjo makers, potters, wood workers, basket weavers, jewelers, and painters to Dollywood’s daily demonstrations of blacksmithing, hand-blown glass-making, and other mountain heritage arts.

Dollywood also delivers monster rides. Lightning Rod, the park’s newest coaster, delivers 20 seconds of air time as it drops you a stomach-churning 165-feet at speeds up to 73 mph. Wild Eagle, touted as “America’s first wing coaster,” perches 21-stories above the park. Instead of zipping along in a train, the coaster suspends you in cars placed on either side of a middle track. With tots, spend time at Lil’ Loggers’ Landing, a lumberjack themed play area.

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