Now let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, we had just finished sort-of eating our dinner. In the end my daughter ate 1 fry and half of a piece of chicken. “It’s yucky Mommy” was the answer I got to why she didn’t want more. OK, the fries were awful but the chicken was about what you’d expect for such a place. Much better with Barbeque sauce to dip it in.
Our next stop was going to be the riverboat ride, but, well, it was closed. Major disappointment. Second disappointment – the gondola ride had a line that must have been at least an hour long. After standing for ten minutes without having a boat come through to pick up people we left.
There was a tantrum and tears (she had the tantrum, I had the tears) mostly because this ride looked like it would be so neat. It was heading toward dark and they had the canal the boat travels in decorated with music and lights of the creepy kind – I’m sure it would have been the highlight of my night, but I’m not sure we’d have even gotten through the line before we had to leave so we had to skip it.
We decided to hit the Trick-or-Treat Trail just as dusk was falling but in retrospect, you should wait until dark. Picture this, you are in a tropical themed location with palm trees, various beach creatures and a water slide PLUS a make-shift jail, a graveyard and some ghosts. It was cheesy, big time, in the light. Wait until dark when you can almost ignore the beach theme and have some fun.
The Trick-or-Treat Trail is for kids ten and under, one trip per day. You will have your hand stamped to prevent going around twice. Our stamp was candy corn in black ink (which took two days to wear off.) The kids get a free trick or treat bag courtesy of AAA and this was one of the highlights of our trip since the bag had Richard Scary’s Busytown characters on it – big hit in our family. Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm came along on our journey though the not-so-spooky path. And no the kids do not have to have a costume on to participate. We didn’t.
I give Dutch Wonderland a thumbs up for giving each parent a ticket for a piece of candy. Yep, as a person accompanying a child you get to choose one of the stops and get a piece of candy for yourself. Believe me, you’ll need the energy after spending a half hour trying to keep your kids from ducking under the barriers to take a closer look at the no-water water features. Don’t think they can’t get through, they can and they will.
So you go through a path and meet some scary and not-so-scary, happy and not-so-happy people handing out Hershey’s candy. There are ten stops and you get ten different pieces of candy (except we only ended up with 9 some how.) For parents who want to know what your choices are (you only get one you know) here is what my daughter got: Whoppers, fruity Twizzlers, a Hershey bar, a Heath bar, a graham cracker treat, milk duds, Reese’s cup, a Halloween Kit-Kat (it is orange colored white chocolate), and a Reese’s Fast Break bar (I think, it’s the short on in the orange wrapper under the Reeses Cup)
I went for the Kit-Kat not knowing it was orange, wish I had chosen the Heath or the plain old Hershey bar.
Notice something about that candy? Yep, peanuts. Those of you like us who have a little one with allergies need to be aware that unless you steer your child away from the peanut stops – and unlike Hersheypark, Dutch Wonderland doesn’t label the stops with allergens – your child most likely will be given candy with peanuts in it. Be ready to intervene. There are signs posted about Hershey’s allergen policy which has nothing to do with the Trick or Treat Trail, it just discusses the candy in general and says, ”Read the label.” OK, I summarized that down from 3 paragraphs, but it ends the same. Basically Hershey does not provide allergen listings for their products and you have to read the label to get accurate information.
The best part of our Trick-or-Treat Trail adventure was the little girl behind us who tried to feed the giant skull a piece of candy. Hilarious.
We sat and each ate a piece of candy and then went to see Molly’s Wacky Witch’s Brew show. I wish we had skipped it. I did manage to get a wonderful picture of Molly’s dog before the show began, but that was the highlight of the experience. Imagine several hundred people crammed around a stage meant to entertain 50-75? It was crazy. And if I am not mistaken these were the same two performers we saw during the summer in the Thomas the Tank Engine show. They have a lot of talent, but the show is just not entertaining. They need some better writers.
I do give them points for performing Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.” I could not for the life of me imagine why Bunsen and the Burners didn’t do this at Hersheypark, but sadly they did not. That was the last song I heard before my daughter pulled me away to do something else, anything, else. “I don’t like that show” was what she said. So we went to the schoolhouse and wrote with chalk and rang the bell. Hmm… that should tell you how exciting the show was.
Dutch Wonderland really should invest a little more time and money into their shows and on a real stage. Kids love interactive theater and it can be very educational for them, but shows like this make adults cringe and little kids want to watch more TV. No offense to Molly and her dog, they did the best they could. The only other entertainment offered was storytelling with the Princess and we missed that every time it was staged.
In fact we missed the Princess, the Knight and Duke entirely. During summer we saw the Princess and the Knight roaming around and Duke occasionally having his photo taken, but not on this trip. It seemed very odd for them to be missing. Perhaps we just were not in the right place at the right time.
So, I promised I’d share the creepiest thing at Dutch Wonderland with you – and it isn’t the spider on the castle which definitely is right up there for some folks – nope, it is the severed hand. If you are squeamish, or your children are squeamish or you don’t like to answer lots of questions about dismembered body parts then when you see the door below just keep on walking.
This happens to be a wonderful Halloween display, very Martha Stewart-esque, but a little too much for the under 8 crowd. My daughter wanted to know where the rest of the man was that belonged to the hand. The young boy next to her began to cry and said “Scary” and a little girl being held by her mother said, “I don’t feel so good.” (We’re not sure what happened to her, they left pretty quickly.) Mostly the parents’ response was “Wow.” And then they quickly led their children outdoors to the pretzel or to milk Bossie the cow.
I know kids see a lot of gore and guts on TV, but having it a mere two feet away is something a little different. I think school aged children might be OK, but keep the toddlers out. Just too many questions with this one. Like the Church building with the real bible in it, this one just doesn’t work for everyone.
So we ended our night with some kettle corn ($3 for a small bag with a season pass, a fair deal and they now have an ingredient list on it and it is gluten free, yeah!) and some blue cotton candy which we took home to share.
And then we tried to find our car. Ha! In the dark, in a field called a parking lot… I felt lucky I didn’t have a mini-van since most of the vehicles there were mini-vans. At least I only had to check for a red sedan, but it was too dark to tell what color the cars were until you were right next to them.
Three things to consider if you will be leaving Dutch Wonderland after dark and you do not park in the main parking lot:
- Make careful note of where you parked your car – even take a picture with your cell phone.
- Carry a flashlight with you. You will need it. If you forget and you have an android smartphone there is a flashlight ap that works super well (I used it when I remembered I had it). I’m not sure about the other platforms but I’m sure there is one somewhere for you guys.
- As you walk to your car figure out where the exit is. There is really only one way out and depending on how people have parked, it might be a tight squeeze or hard to find in the dark.
So will we do this again? Not on your life. Not even for free with season passes.