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NJ Family's Guide to Halloween

From the super scary to the not-so-spooky, the Garden State's chock-full of haunted attractions.


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Fun for Lil’ Monsters

Keep the scare factor to a minimum at these awesome spots.

Photo courtesy of Sesame Place
 

There's tons of not-so-frightening fun to be had this month throughout NJ. On October 7, the kids can get decked out in costumes for Whippany Railway Museum's 18th Annual Pumpkin Festival. Walk amongst gourds, scarecrows and corn stalks, shop wares at the Pumpkin Marketplace Crafts Fair, snap pics at the happy haunted house, wow the kids with antique tractors and, most importantly, hop a ride on the Pumpkinliner train for a 30-minute trip on the Whippanong Trail.

Halos for Angels' Fright Factor is back in Florham Park on select dates (Oct. 6-27), which means scavenger hunts, face painting, pumpkin decorating, sweet treats and pizza for the little ones (come back later with older kids for Massive Scare). Clinton’s Red Mill Museum will host a Happy Haunt on October 13, 20 and 27, boasting frightless fun in the form of face painting, costumes and a hayride. There’ll be dark lighting, decorations and special effects to complete the mood. On October 18 and 25, take a lights-on, behind-the-scenes tour to find out how the village gets totally spookified for Halloween.

From October 18-21, hit Tuckerton Seaport’s Haunted Seaport, where the kids can meet pirates and sea captains, take a hayride, look for the Jersey Devil and get elbow-deep in pumpkin slime, crafts, games and more. They can also make their own trick-or-treat bags, color a pumpkin, hit the hay bale maze or join a dance party. It’s a Monster Bash at Historic Smithville in Galloway on October 27. The undead will walk the streets as the kids try zombie archery, hit the makeup station for a ghoulish makeover, join the zombie walk, enter contests and more.

At Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA kids can visit The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, which runs on select dates through October 28 and features mechanical rides, themed shows and a Neighborhood Street Party Halloween Parade where they can learn to do the Jack-O-Lantern Jump. For more amusement park fun, head to Dorney Park in Allentown, PA for The Great Pumpkin Fest before October 28. Fright-free activities include meet-and-greets with Peanuts characters, pumpkin painting, mask making, a petting zoo, tractor stomp, pumpkin patch and hay bale maze. On weekends leading up to Halloween, plan a trip to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, NY for Brick or Treat, which includes a mosaic building activity, a haunted MINILAND takeover, scavenger hunt and photo ops.

 

Just for Daredevils

Gutsy tweens and teens will feel the fear at these seriously scary attractions.

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure Fright Fest
 

There’s no shortage of scary walk-through attractions in the Garden State, but Bane Haunted House is next-level. The Livingston staple is the biggest in the tristate area and has been called one of the scariest in the US. More than 100 actors lurk in the 40,000-square-foot space ready to make your crew scream. Bane also runs two immersive escape rooms year-round (go this month to try your luck with the help of ghouled-out actors!), one virtual reality escape room and zombie laser tag in the off-season (suit up for Bane Purge in November).

Brighton Asylum is also not for the faint of heart. The former Passaic complex was shut down in 1952 after mysterious staff and patient disappearances. Now, risk-takers go for movie-quality jump scares, top-tier special effects and, most importantly, bloodthirsty patients. Frightening new features include The Bleeding Grounds, which takes guests through abandoned staff quarters on the second floor, and Slasher Thursdays, when iconic horror movie bad guys take over. Think you have wits of iron? There’s no better test than Blackout Night (Nov. 3), when you can trek the property in almost total darkness.

Formerly Haunted Scarehouse, 13th Hour Haunted House in Wharton packs two floors with special effects, Hollywood-caliber props and terrifying actors. Your nightmarish journey (and four year-round escape rooms) is rooted in the legend of the Hayden family, who moved to the area in the ’70s and quickly gained a reputation for bizarre behavior and total isolation. After a hurricane tore their farmhouse to the ground, residents were shocked by what they found: rusty cages, bloodstained floors and mysterious drug bottles. Learn more about their secrets in the newest escape room, The Dungeon, where you’ll be led to a cell, blindfolded and locked up with no one to save you.

Creamy Acres Farm’s Night of Terror in Mullica Hill has six attractions including The Slaughter Cave, the dwelling place of a sinister family and The Ride of Terror, a terrifying 25-acre hayride featuring a fire-breathing Headless Horseman and the Angel of Death. Your kids’ fave will be the Haunted Paintball Hayride, where they can test their Fortnite skills by defeating zombies with paintball guns.

The Jersey Shore gets a darker rep come autumn, thanks to venues like the Cornfield of Terror in Egg Harbor City. By day, little pumpkins can hit R and J Farm for hayrides and a corn maze. After dusk, the cornfield’s taken over by creatures that’ll send you running for your life.

Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest in Jackson should be on everyone’s list, thanks to five scare zones, live shows and amusement rides. New this year are three haunted mazes. Try your luck in Fear, designed to play off what terrifies you most, Reflections of the Dead, a funhouse where spirits in mirrors try everything to break free or Hell Fest, which packs a spine-chilling punch thanks to possessed dolls, bloodthirsty creatures and more.

 

Leaf Time for Fall Fun

Nothing says autumn like a visit to the farm.

Photo courtesy of Terhune Orchards
 

It’s not quite fall until you’ve visited a farm for pumpkin picking, cider sampling and a hayride. Hop on a harvest moon hayride on October weekends at Alstede Farms in Chester, then grab a flashlight and hit the corn maze before sipping homemade apple cider and making s’mores by the fire.

Every weekend this month, Terhune Orchards in Princeton hosts Apple Day Harvest Festivals, which have pony and wagon rides, corn and hay bale mazes and farm animals. Kiddos can paint their faces and pumpkins while digging into apple cider and donuts. All month, it’s time for Fall Harvest Weekends at Giamarese Farms in East Brunswick, where you can score a hayride tour, PYO pumpkins and more. On select days and weekends until November 4, Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon will have pig races, the largest corn maze in NJ, an obstacle course, boo barn, duck racing and corn, hay, carnival and pony rides at the annual Great Pumpkin Festival

The South Jersey Pumpkin Show Festival in Woodstown (Oct. 12-14) features a giant pumpkin pyramid, pumpkin weigh, boo barn and amusement rides. Pump the brakes at Rutgers Gardens' Fall Festival in New Brunswick on October 14 for a scavenger hunt, lawn games, farm animals and discussions.

On October 13 and 26, hit Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff for a hayride to the pick-your-own pumpkin patch. While the sun’s out, stop by Sunshine Acres in East Windsor on weekends through October 28 for pumpkin picking, a corn maze and hayrides. Gather gourds, munch caramel apples and snap photos. Don't miss Pumpkin Patch Day at Liberty Hall Museum in Union (Oct. 27), where you can go pumpkin picking, hop on a hayride, try your hand at carving and more. Head to Tranquillity Farms’ Fall Fest in Andover on weekends for pumpkin launchers, corn cannons, bounce pillows, a cow train, petting zoo and three-acre corn maze.

 

Spellbinding Spots

Make believers out of the kiddos at these magical events.

 

Photo courtesy of bergenPAC

On October 6, The Pumpkin Ball in Historic Mount Holly will have trick or treating, live music, a magician and stilt walker, pumpkin decorating, mini horses and more. This precedes the 21-and-over Witches Ball, a brouhaha with live performances, an epic costume contest, a beer garden and voodoo bar, tarot readings, ghost hunting and the Bizarre Bazaar, a market of macabre and mysterious wares.

What better way to get in on the action than suiting up with a spyglass and playing detective? Head to Pier Village in Long Branch for a Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery guided by the Riddlesbrood Players on October 12. Keep an ear out for prizes and clues: you might just get pulled onstage to help sleuth.

For kids who can’t put down that magic kit, Haunted Illusions Live at Englewood's bergenPAC on October 21 is a must. See illusionist David Caserta wow spectators with levitation, vanishing acts and laughs.

Head to Philadelphia's Garden District on October 19-20 with your Harry Potter fans for the Witches & Wizards Festival. Spectate a Quidditch tourney, take on the straw maze, see The Little Circus, watch Mad Science demos and more.

Did you know the creator of The Addams Family is a Westfield native? The town is honoring the all-together ookey Charles Addams with the first annual AddamsFest (Oct. 26-28). The kids can get acquainted with their inner Pugsley or Wednesday in the Addams Family Fun Zone, then gorge on candy at a trunk-or-treat. Writers and horror buffs alike can sit in on lectures and exhibits about Addams’ career, or laugh along at a screening of the original film. Grab a bite at a Westfield resto offering specials during the event. Want to make some romance a la Morticia and Gomez? Dress up for Morticia’s Masquerade Ball at the local James Ward Mansion.

 

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