Halloween scares abound throughout Williamsburg

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

With its rich history and variety places to go, there’s an abundance of tricks and treats throughout the Williamsburg area as Halloween approaches. For every age and every budget, there’s fun to be had.

“It just adds to what our destination has to offer,” said Bob Harris, vice president of tourism for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance. “We have a lot of things to see and do. It’s a nice offering because you’re getting those millennials and families.”

The likes of Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and other attractions are promising their spookiest Halloween happenings yet.

“I think everyone’s doing a little something around Halloween,” Harris said, pointing to Yankee Candle Factory as an example. “They’re trying to look at how to broaden their appeal.”

Harris added he’s excited to see some of Colonial Williamsburg new offerings, collectively dubbed the Haunting on DOG Street.

“Halloween is now certainly one of the most popular holidays out there,” said Bill Schemerhorn, creative director for Colonial Williamsburg events. “If you know CW at night, it’s scary in itself in its own way. Adding a Halloween theme to it, we wanted to build on that.”

Colonial Williamsburg

The foundation is expanding its Halloween celebration from just a couple of days to more than two weeks. The theme compels guests into a world turned upside down, where King George again reigns supreme and those we consider patriots are instead traitors.

Another attraction, the Trial of the Patriot, puts guests in the role of American patriots on trial for treason under the king’s rule. It’s an immersive experience at the Capitol building that allows participants into areas rarely open to the public.

Colonial Williamsburg complements some of those darker themes with plenty for children to enjoy. Spooky carriage rides will traverse Duke of Gloucester Street, soon to be lined with the haunting glow of jack-o-lanterns. A major trick-or-treat event sees children joining a secret society in which candy helps them defy King George.

The Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk Junior takes a perennial favorite, the foundation’s various ghost tours, and adapts them into something more child-friendly. The new program kicked off Thursday evening with more than 30 children and adults in attendance.

“It’s all of the phantom fun with none of the nightmares,” said Leigh Jameson, creative lead for Colonial Williamsburg’s official ghost walks since 2015.

It’s geared toward children ages 4-12. Still, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as it adapts classic stories to fit the colonial theme, such as the Red Ribbon with its climactic decapitation.

“It’s not pre-school,” Jameson said.

Jamestown Settlement

Another corner of the Historic Triangle is also offering a family-friendly haunting experience. Jamestown Settlement’s Family Frights returns for its fourth year Oct. 20-21.

“We really designed it to be a fun night at the museum for the entire family,” said Homer Lanier, interpretive site manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, adding that it’s a way for the settlement to give back to the community.

It’s a G-rated complement to more intense offerings, such as Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream. New haunted houses within the Jamestown fort feature “Harry Potter” and “The Wizard of Oz” themes.

“They get to see our museum grounds at Jamestown Settlement in a very different setting,” Lanier said, noting that the site is not usually open at night. “We try to do some new things each year.”

Children can trick-or-treat through a sailor’s graveyard, Join Peter Pan and Captain Hook to learn about the settlement’s ships and witness a literal skeleton crew aboard the Discovery. Ghost stories, fortune telling, face painting and the boardwalk Forest of Frights round out the experience.

“From start to finish, it’s nothing but fun, fun, fun,” Lanier said.

Pumpkinville

Toano’s Pumpkinville has been conjuring up fun fall memories for more than two decades. Brothers Barry and Clint Allen launched the event from their family-owned farm in 1995, when it was just a small pumpkin patch and with hayrides.

“It’s quite a bit bigger now than it used to be,” Barry Allen said. “It’s a big value to the community.”

Many of Pumpkinville’s attractions, including its hayride, cornfield maze and variety of games, are free.

“The families can come out and they don’t have to spend a fortune,” Barry Allen said.

The farm also sells pumpkins, flowers, arts and crafts and more. Festive fall decorations help celebrate the season.

“It gets you into the fall spirit,” he said.

In the end, that’s what all these events are all about.

Other options

Busch Gardens

Howl-O-Scream returns for another year of nightly terror geared toward teenagers and adults. A new haunted house, Frostbite, pits guests against a giant in his enchanted, icy castle. A new “Terror-tory,” Axe Alley, unleashes restless Viking spirits out for revenge. These complement the existing slate of haunted houses, themed areas and live shows.

The park’s Oktoberfest features rides, games, prizes, food and drinks and the addition of a new maze.

Williamsburg Regional Library

On Oct. 25, the Ford’s Colony Dance Band will perform a “Happy Halloween Show” full of spooky big-band arrangements. Costumes are encouraged.

The James City County branch is offering pumpkin carving on Oct. 29; it will provide families with a pumpkin and carving tools.

Yankee Candle Factory

The factory’s Halloween Bash on Oct. 21 features a costume contest, snacks, pumpkin painting and more.

Want to go?

The Haunting on Dog Street kicks off Sunday and runs through Oct. 31. For more information, visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/special-events/haunting .

Ghost Walk Junior runs at the Colonial Williamsburg weaver on Duke of Gloucester Street, 6-6:45 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays throughout October, as well as Oct. 30-31. Tickets are $7 and children younger than 6 are free.

Jamestown Settlement’s Fright Nights return Oct. 20-21. Admission is $3 for adults, $7 for children 4-12 and free for those 3 and younger. Tickets are available onsite and at bit.ly/2yej5ad .

Pumpkinville operates 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.

Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream begins at 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, through Oct. 29. Oktoberfest runs 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are available at seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-williamsburg .

The Williamsburg Library’s “Happy Halloween Show” swings at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Williamsburg Regional Library. Free.

The James City County Library pumpkin carving runs 2-3 p.m. Oct. 29. Free. Reservations required by calling 259-7733.

Yankee Candle Factory’s Halloween Bash activities run noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 21. For more information, visit bit.ly/1woGAED .

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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