Can two adults who don’t want to ride rides occupy themselves for a whole afternoon at Valley Fair?
If you’re into the waterpark or floating around the lazy river, then yes! But otherwise, no.
Fifteen years have passed since I’ve been to ValleyFair. It’s been about the same for Jake. We curiously returned as part of my work’s employee appreciation event. It was a laid back type of event where you could simply stop by.
Growing-up, magic was mostly forbidden. Bible magic was OK. Disney magic and Chronicles of Narnia magic was OK, too. But Bed Knobs and Broomsticks magic and Roald Dahl Witches magic was not. Maybe because magic was so forbidden, I have always been obsessed with magic.
Fast forward to the summer after my senior year of high school. Before college freshman orientation, we were all assigned to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s series. I had never read a Harry Potter book and I thought it was the stupidest assignment in the world.
I dutifully bought the book. It was as heavy as a brick and 870 pages long. With a resentful heart, I opened the book and started my summer reading assignment.
I’m just not that into amusement parks. There, I said it. Big crowds exhaust me. Rollercoasters scare me. All of the other rides make me sick. I’m cheap, I like naps, and get claustrophobic.
This month, we met up with a small group of Jake’s friends and visited Universal Studios Orlando. Despite all of these things, I spent an entire day at Universal Studios and I had a good time. If you are like me, you can, too. Here’s are my ten best tips:
I never expected to run through a gauntlet of clowns at Cedar Point.
Imagine my delight when I found that Cedar Point was decked out for Halloween during BloggyCon. Speakers and attendees who booked their rooms at the on-site hotel received free tickets for the entire weekend. We hit the park in the evenings. On Friday night, the park wasn’t very busy and the lines to rides and Halloween attractions were gloriously short.
Not having done any research about the park before arriving, I had no idea that the clowns came out at night. I was so excited to see my friends that I didn’t even notice we had wandered into one of the park’s designated Fright Zones.
We noticed a couple of people dressed up like monsters and clowns and I paid little mind as I told my friend about my dislike of people dressed up in animal costumes. During high school, my folks took us to Disney World and I had this irrational fear that life-sized Tiggers and Snow Whites would chase me around the park. This turned out to be far from the reality. Each costumed character was accompanied by a handler who made sure guests kept an appropriate distance.
As I finished telling Beth my story, I flinched at the sight of a clown. It smelled blood and followed us. Then there were more.
*Cedar Point rules state that their hired monsters can not touch guests & vice-versa. However, they can get in your face.
The more I tried to sandwich myself between my friends and avoid eye contact, the more relentlessly they pursued me. I sprinted through the Fright Zone and hid under a tarp until my friends caught up.
Without intending to, I provided the best entertainment of the night. My friends described how a Walking Dead-like scene unfolded as I ran down the foggy street and caught the attention of more monsters who joined the chase.
We skipped the gory Slaughterhouse, and screamed through the Eternity Infirmary themed like a haunted asylum. Its scares came from loud booms and characters who jumped out from behind corners and asked if we wanted to play.
The next morning, I heard the best news of my life: Park visitors can purchase a “No Boo” necklace to keep the monsters at bay. Finding that necklace became my quest. I gladly forked over $8 from the gift card Cedar Point included in our BloggyCon goody bags.
We entered a Fright Zone on the way to the corn maze and noticed a lot of adults wearing the No Boo necklace. As someone who startles easily, I appreciated being able to still walk through the park with my friends, but have the ability to take a break from the scares when I wanted one.
We encountered a couple of characters who weren’t so crazy about seeing me wear the necklace and they jumped out at me anyway. “But I paid $8 for this!” I protested, waving the glowing pumpkin back in their faces. “Well, you made a bad investment,” one retorted and walked away pouting.
I turned the pumpkin off inside the corn maze.
A walking scarecrow burst out of the corn-stalk wall and taunted us with “oooooos.” We screamed.
All of a sudden the scarecrow made eye contact with me.
“Can I ask you a question?” He asked in a scratchy, ghostly voice.
“No!” I responded.
“Do you speak Mandarin?”
I was taken aback! “No. Why would I speak Mandarin? Do YOU speak Mandarin?”
“Well, no. . . ”
I looked at him incredulously as I tried to keep up with my friends. He was really good at navigating through the maze backwards to talk to us.
“It’s just that we have a lot of people visit from China,” he explained.
“Great. I’m not Chinese!” I replied as I barreled ahead.
An “I’m sooooooorrrry,” echoed through the corn maze.
And all of a sudden I wasn’t scared of the monsters. “He broke character for this?” I shrugged as I found myself nonchalantly shrugging off a man with a chainsaw.
Later that evening I passed my No Boo necklace on to a family with small children. “How cute! Thanks.” they responded. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when it kept the monsters away.
Awkward scarecrow guy aside, I really enjoyed Cedar Point’s Halloweekend features. They’re not all scary. The Halloween decorations inside the hotel and at the park were quirky and intricate from the creepy paintings that lined the Hallways to aliens at the hamburger shop. We watched small children shriek with delight at a big, electronic creature that occasionally woke up from its nap with a roar. Others recommended a dancing skeleton show.
A park director described how this year’s landscaping includes 20,000 pounds of pumpkins and squash, 96,000 stalks of corn, and over 400 actors who play the monsters. Many of the actors are local college students who take pride in creating their own Halloweekend characters. Some had kneepads that allowed them to slide across the walkway and startle us even in a crowded Fright Zone. It’s really quite a production.
The park may be decorated for Halloween during Halloweekends, but the monsters only come out at night. I invited my cousin’s family to use some of my extra tickets during the conference. When I realized that they might not know they were arriving during a Halloweekend, I panicked and double-checked when the scarier activities began. She has young children and I didn’t know if getting chased by clowns be a good or bad surprise. Afterwards, she told me that one of her children was actually really, really excited at the thought of clowns chasing him. So much so, that she promised to take him back on a weekend evening.
If Halloween is not your thing, the rides and food vendors are still open.
Before you go, you should know that lines may be lengthy (like most amusement parks), tall rides close when the weather’s windy, and the food is expensive. No Boo necklaces do cost an extra $8 each: If you have members in your party who do not want to be scared, factor these into your budget or consider visiting during the day.
Snacks like pretzels and french fries ranged between $5-7 dollars, while burgers and hot dog meals cost $12-15. You could save money by packing a cooler of food and taking a meal break at your car. One evening, we enjoyed pizzas at Brick Oven Bistro located about a ten minute drive from the park in Sandusky. They tasted exceptionally good and were reasonably priced. Plus, the clowns can’t chase you there.
Fried eggplant is a good topping choice at Brick Oven Bistro. They also offer reasonably priced drinks and gluten-free crust. Good recommendation from Travel With Sara.
I can see why my parents and grandparents who grew up in Ohio always remembered that amusement park perched on the lake. I just don’t remember them talking about getting chased by monsters at Halloween.
Visit Cedar Point’s website for exact information about ticket prices and hours.