With the exception of the three Octobers in which I was pregnant or tied down with a new baby, hubs and I have gone to Fright Nights at Playland every year with my brother. This is a fun tradition for us, especially because one of my favourite things in the world is scaring my little bro. (Not that he’d ever admit it!) But this year he was working so on Saturday night we went by ourselves. I missed him, but what a difference it made to go early this year.
In years past, what with coordinating days off and babysitting, we usually ended up going the week before Halloween and standing in line most of the time. With seven haunted houses this year (the most ever), thirteen rides, and over a hundred costumed actors both in the houses and roaming the fairgrounds, we knew it would be almost impossible to see and do everything in one night. This year we tried to be strategic and prioritize what we most wanted to see.
Step one of our plan was to arrive before the park opened. That way we found parking easily ($15) and were through the gates and ready to go once the houses opened at 7:00 pm sharp. Singe the Clown was back as the host of Fright Nights and chatted with the crowd while we waited for the park to open. As soon as the ropes came down, we beelined it for the Keepers Doll Factory like we planned.
The Haunted Houses
Each haunted house has a different theme, but a similar set up. You walk down corridors and through rooms filled with scary scenes. Things hang from the ceiling, live actors lurk among the mannequins, and figures leap out at you when you least expect it. Loud bangs, rattling doors, and jets of air make you shriek.
Keepers Doll Factory
This extra large haunted house is brand new this year. It started with a freaky elevator ride that took us to the top floor of a really creepy doll factory. I find porcelain dolls kind of creepy at the best of times, but here some of the dolls have human parts. This was definitely the scariest one at Fright Nights this year. I hid behind hubs all the way through!
The line for this house moves slower than the other ones, so this is a good house to start at before things get busier.
This fan favourite starts with an outdoor tour through an elaborate haunted graveyard filled with gravestones, skeletons, fog machines, and hydraulic-powered effects before you even get into line.
Next hubs wanted to visit Hollywood Horrors. This house is inspired by the horror movie killers we love to fear! We spotted Dracula, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter, Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, and Billy the Puppet from the Saw movies.
This house brings you face-to-face with common phobias like fear of the dark, closed spaces, thunder, the dentist, heights, germs, spiders (that’s me!), attack dogs, snakes, and being buried alive (including a brief trip in your own coffin). I suggest skipping this one if you are genuinely claustrophobic.
The Haunted Mansion is the permanent haunted house at Playland. According to some sources, the mansion was once the home of Dr. Luther Van Horn and his lovely wife Nora until she died in childbirth. The good doctor, driven mad with grief, somehow managed to open a portal into the afterlife transforming his once lovely home into a house of horror.
We finished with this haunted house inspired by an old-style sanitarium for the criminally insane. Expect to hear the wails of forgotten patients and shock(ing) treatments.
Car-n-evil is the one house we didn’t do this year. The house uses 3D glasses, fluorescent paint, and black light to bring the fear of clowns to life. We’ve gone through it many times in past years, so we decided to skip it and do some rides instead.
Take a Ride!
Admission to Fright Nights includes thirteen rides: Atmosfear, Hellevator, Gladiator, The Corkscrew, Hell’s Gate, Westcoast Wheel, Wooden Roller Coaster, Wave Swinger, Music Express, Pirate Ship, Break Dance, Rock-n-Cars, and Enterprise. Drop Zone and Revelation are also open for an additional charge.
One of the best parts of a visit to Fright Nights is a ride on the Wooden Roller Coaster! What a rush!
Then we took the Hellevator, a 202 foot tall free fall drop ride. It was hubs’ first time so he was kind of nervous, but now he can’t wait to do it again! We also rode the Rock-n-Cars bumper cars and finished off the night holding hands on the Westcoast Wheel (the ferris wheel).
Visit Fright Nights at Playland
There’s more than just the haunted houses and rides though! The Monsters of Schlock comedy duo put on a incredible slapstick stunt show, and the Kinshira Performance Troupe performs impressive street level fire juggling. There’s also a beer garden, though it seems like kind of a waste to spend much time in here.
Definitely go early in the season, and be there right at opening time. This is such a popular attraction that you’ll be standing in lines forever otherwise. If you’re planning on attending closer to Halloween or if you can’t be there right at opening, consider purchasing a Fast Pass which lets you jump the line once at each haunted house (it won’t help with the ride lines, unfortunately).
Dress warmly, and make time to pick up a bag of little donuts. These little donuts fresh out of the deep fryer and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar were just amazing, plus they helped keep my hands warm as the temperature dropped!
Hubs and I had tons of fun! Getting the crap scared out of you is a time-honoured tradition, and Fright Nights does it well. The standout attractions for us were the Keepers Doll Factory, Darkness, and the Wooden Roller Coaster. It’s not a cheap outing, but it’s a lot of fun and I think it’s worth it. Definitely put this on your Halloween list if you’re in the Lower Mainland. We’ll be back next year, hopefully with little brother in tow!
Fright Nights is open on select nights until November 1, 2014. Days and hours of operation vary, so check out the Fright Nights calendar. Due to limited capacity, tickets must be purchased for a specific night. Depending on the night, prices vary from $25-$37, and Fast Passes vary from $55-$79. Buy your tickets online and save $3 on your regular ticket or $6 on your Fast Pass.
Disclosure: I received media tickets for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.