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Toning down the Worlds of Fun Haunt for the tykes

A flying monkey gets the attention of a young boy in the crowd during the parade at the Worlds of Fun Haunt.
A flying monkey gets the attention of a young boy in the crowd during the parade at the Worlds of Fun Haunt. Special to The Star

When Worlds of Fun says it is building a Haunt attraction with something for everyone, they really mean it. I’m a mom of four, from ages 2 to 11. I was worried the Haunt may be a little too scary for my kids. So we hit the midway early and visited Planet Snoopy’s Great Pumpkin Fest celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Great Pumpkin show.

The normally tame midway for the younger kids had its own Halloween flavor — perfect for the 2-year-old and the 4-year-old, but with several rides the bigger kids could also enjoy. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy were all dressed up in costumes — a clown, caped crusader, vampire and witch in fuzzy, huggable costumes.

My 4-year-old loved seeing Snoopy dressed for Halloween. All the kids enjoyed picking out a small pumpkin gourd in Linus’ pumpkin patch to bring home for the mantle. There were crafts and a special Great Pumpkin show, as well as a small hay bale maze for the kids to wander through.

Kids are invited to come in costume, and a few were dressed for the event.

The Worlds of Fun official recommendation for the rest of the Haunt is that goers be at least 14 years old. I sent my own crew home and wandered through with the 15-year-old daughter of my friend. She is a very experienced Worlds of Fun-goer, heading out multiple times a week with her season pass in the summer, but had yet to visit the Haunt.

We both loved the costumes and the makeup on display at the opening parade and Overlord’s Awakening. The quality of these characters is truly first class. While my little ones would have likely been a bit too scared, my 8-year-old and 11-year-old would have really enjoyed this. There were many families lined up to enjoy the awakening with kids in that age range.

The Weed family from St. Joseph brought their kids, ranging in age from 6 to 20. They come often, and their 6-year-old seemed more amused than scared by the mania. “We go together to the haunted houses. We are out here every Saturday,” Adam Weed said.

The Williams family from Kearney brings their three kids, ages 6, 8 and 9, out to the haunted parade every year. Dad loves the scare factor of Haunt, and 9-year-old Brooke was ready to head to one of the inside haunted houses for the first time.

“The parade for us is a family thing. We do it together every year. It’s fun. It’s something different, and it gets better every year,” Craig Williams said.

Ann Williams headed to Planet Snoopy with the younger kids. Many of the park rides are still open during the Haunt. If you are planning to do this with your family, a warning: Planet Snoopy is closed Friday night.

What sets the Worlds of Fun Haunt apart is the variety it provides. There is a scare level for everyone, although that is not abundantly obvious by the exterior of the attraction. My 15-year-old companion and I enjoyed the Carn-evil, which is slightly less scary than most, since it is an open-air area. The evil clowns interact and banter back and forth with guests. It is mostly lighthearted and fun, unless of course clowns terrify you, in which case this may be your scariest spot.

The London Terror, a new interior haunt this year, was extremely well done with a constable warning the ladies to watch out for Jack the Ripper. The sets were great, and the actors were scary and sometimes gross. I found myself laughing and delighted amid the story the creative scene created. I was also impressed by how long the houses were. The skeleton key room (an upcharge) nearby was really fun and required us to find something before we left the room.

Then we got brave and decided to visit the cannibal we’d seen getting made up behind the scenes. I was brave after the first haunted house, thinking, “I can handle this.” Well, I’m a little scared of enclosed spaces. Thus, the Blood Shed left me pretty much running for the exit. So, beware of the Haunt, they will find a way to get to you, and if you want to take the kids, maybe a pretrip through the various venues is a good idea to gauge the scare factor appropriate for your family.

The only drawback to the Haunt seemed to be that those really wonderful makeup jobs were often hidden behind dark shadows, fog and strobe lights. They were hard to see.

This scary place also somehow maintained a friendly atmosphere. They try to thrill you and they look pretty intense, but the main focus is obviously still the fun.

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