Frightful nights

Adam Griffiths

Ohio amusement parks open gates to deliver thrills, chills

At 315 feet tall, DROP ZONE is the world’s tallest gyro drop. DROP ZONE spins riders on a 30-foot ring of 40 seats that encircles the drop tower to a height of more than 26 stories and then drops guests in a 67-mph free-fall at Paramount’s Kings Island i

Credit: John Proppe

Leaves are changing color. Sweaters are becoming a common sight around campus. People are screaming at the sight of a creature of the dead that pops out of a wall.

October is that time of the year when theme parks like Kings Island and Cedar Point transform into destinations for those looking to get one last weekend of fun and fright out of the increasingly colder autumn days. Both parks are affordable and worth the drive, and they offer a different way to spend a weekend having fun with friends. They provide a little bit of something for everyone, and they are the perfect cure for when fall boredom begins to set in.

Kings Island

Freshman theater major Alex Tepe said Kings Island’s FearFest is definitely a destination for those looking to have fun in the fall.

“It’s really well done,” Tepe said. “They set up haunted trails and change the indoor rides to have different themes.”

FearFest runs from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday nights until Oct. 28.

Haunted mazes, with names like “Massacre Manor” and “The Asylum,” and Fear Zones are sure to rattle participants’ nerves as they wander through a well-planned network of freaks, spooks and surprises.

For those who scare too easily, the park offers alternatives to the Halloween-themed features. Tepe said all of the trademark Kings Island rides are open, with shorter wait lines than during the peak summer season. The park also features multiple options for food, games that have been modified to coordinate with the other events and even small theatrical productions that run all night long.

“It’s not easy to get bored,” Tepe said. “There’s plenty to do.”

Overall, Kings Island’s approach to an alternative early autumn hangout is well worth the $20 admission. All-day Saturday tickets are also available every weekend until Oct. 28 for $10 more, which is definitely an option for those who want to take full advantage of all the regular attractions the park has to offer.

Tepe also said the atmosphere at FearFest is more mature than the typical theme park outing, and it’s only four hours from Kent.

“It’s definitely not family oriented at all,” she said. “It’s somewhere to hang out with friends and definitely something to do on the weekend.”

Cedar Point

In the opposite corner of Ohio, two hours from Kent, the roller coaster capital of the world is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its fall event.

Rated America’s No. 1 seasonal event by Theme Parks Magazine, HalloWeekends are back for the next six weekends. They will run until Oct. 28.

“There’s a ton of things to do,” freshman theater major Cheryl Winslow said. “All the different things at the park have a Halloween theme.”

Cedar Point features two haunted walk-through attractions with distinctive themes: a CarnEvil with hidden ghouls and other creatures of the undead, and a daunting date with magical creatures in Werewolf Canyon.

The park also sets up Fright Zone, which is full of thick fog making it even more ominous, Winslow said.

“You can’t see where you’re going,” she added. “It’s all blocked off, and the people make noise and jump out to scare you.”

New this year is Fear Faire, which is described as “somewhere in the distant past” where “the truly evil is never far away,” according to Cedar Point’s Web site. It is not recommended for those who are scared of the dark.

The park also offers less bloodcurdling activities. Like Kings Island, most of the regular attractions and rides are open with short waits. And while Cedar Point offers more options for families, Winslow said the atmosphere is worth the visit.

“You just do what you want to do,” she said. “There are so many rides and so much to do. It’s really just a good time.”

Admission is $25 for the HalloWeekends activities, which begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Cedar Point also has an all-day pass available for either Saturday or Sunday for $40, and for those interested in checking out the water park, a two-day Ride and Slide pass costs $65.

While HalloWeekends is acclaimed as the best event of its type, this trip requires a whole weekend to experience all that Cedar Point offers. Cedar Point has some of the best roller coasters in the world, and for less than a regular season general admission, visitors have access to all the excitement the park has to offer: thrill rides that are out of this world and equally shocking vampires, werewolves and more that will stay with patrons all season long.

Contact features reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected].