My thirteen-year-old daughter and I live next to a cemetery.
She can see it out her bedroom window, which could be frightening for some kids, but Aeris is a Wednesday Addams or Lydia Deetz type of kid. Halloween season is her favorite time of year and we spend October dressing up and visiting as many haunted hot spots as we can find.
Connecticut’s Lake Compounce opened its gates in 1846, making it the oldest amusement park in the United States, and every October it gets a spooky makeover and runs “The Haunted Graveyard”, an interactive walk-through boasting a variety of scary haunts. Note: If you’re local and interested, there is a promo code below!
Sunday night, Aeris and I went and brought along her dad, Christian, big sister, Kiki, and Kiki’s boyfriend. We arrived right at opening, 5 pm, and stayed until 10 so we could go on rides before and after visiting the Haunted Graveyard.
As part of the fun, the whole park is decorated with cobwebs, graves, and monsters, and cast members playing zombies wander the streets. The bar offers smoking drinks and blood red jello shots in syringes for adult guests, and there are sweet treats decorated with spiders, bats, and other creepy creatures available in addition to more common fair foods.
The unseasonable water park is closed off and rides for kids too young to enjoy the Haunted attraction are shut down for the season — but the shuttered rides give the area an abandoned atmosphere which plays into the haunted effect.
I’m a huge fan of amusement parks and thrill rides and I loved riding them in the dark. My companions were slightly less thrill-seeking and no one was willing to try the Phobia Phear Coaster with me (to be fair, it looks terrifying) but our ride on the award-winning Boulder Dash was the highlight of my evening.
Built onto the side of a mountain, the coaster incorporates the natural terrain, which is extra scary after dark! Other rides we most enjoyed as a group were the Bumper Cars, American Flyers, and Revolution. And Ghost Hunt, an interactive ride that lets you rack up points shooting ghosts, was popular with the whole crowd as it fits right into the theme. We encourage everyone to watch the video that plays in the line!
But the Haunted Graveyard is the main event.
The path through is a mile long, twisting around the hillside, in and out of themed sites that include a cathedral, asylum, butcher’s shop, plantation, and graveyard. Christian was especially impressed with the Vampire’s castle and Mayan ziggurat. Kiki appreciated all the effort that goes into creating the atmosphere and particularly liked the room of spiders that had an eerie glow. I liked the outdoor graveyard on a hill, which utilized the real world best and had lots of space to run away. As one creeper told me directly, they can always find the most easily frightened person in a group and in my group it’s me, so I was followed by many spooks! Aeris held my hand through most of the walkthrough, for my protection, and would start up conversations with the monsters, offering compliments and advice.
There are entry times every half hour to ensure crowd control and none of the actors will touch their audience, nor are we permitted to touch them. The walk takes about 45 minutes and is both indoors and outdoors, with exits spaced throughout in case of emergency or a need to leave.
The attraction includes strobe lights, fog machines, and complete darkness at times, and many loud noises, including chainsaws. The frights vary in realism, but it is definitely not for the faint of heart and pitched at teens and adults, not young kids. No photos or videos are allowed in the Haunted Graveyard
Finally, there is a street show, “Thriller”, on a hill by the entrance to the Haunted Graveyard. The show runs twice during the evening, at 6:40 pm and 9:40 pm, and we all recommend it. The show includes a zombie dance-off and Aeris noted they included dances from pop culture current hit, Fortnite, as well as more traditional gems like the Time Warp and of course, Thriller. The show is not long and lots of fun.
If you and your family want to enjoy The Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce you can save on admission by buying your passes online here, or you can enter the promo code : hgblog18.
Disclaimer: The author received admission for herself and her daughter in exchange for this review.