20140914_124055Halloween is fast becoming one of the most celebrated holidays of the year. For those of us who tread lightly on the Halloween front, it can be a scary time, especially when you aren’t prepared. We learned that the hard way on a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We wanted terror-free Halloween travel, but we found something very different.

We arrived at our destination, the Hotel Breakers, a little after dusk. We couldn’t see much of the scenery around us, but the hotel looked pleasant and inviting at first glance. However, we soon found out that this hotel had something other than “pleasant and inviting” in mind for its guests during this time of year. Upon entering, we were greeted by some truly creepy and scary ghouls! Hotel Breakers had gone all out decorating for Cedar Point’s themed “HalloWeekends.”

I had learned of this only a couple nights before we left for our trip through a last-minute email sent to me by the Resort. It never occurred to me to check for this type of holiday haunting when I registered to stay back in early summer.

We aren’t Halloween enthusiasts, but we don’t ignore it altogether. We do allow our kids to dress up and go trick-or-treating. However, we try to stay away from the “scarier” side of the holiday, preferring to spend our time going to “Fall Festivals” and events that feature the beauty of the season with pumpkins, apple treats, colorful trees and mums, bonfires, cake walks, bobbing for apples, hayrides, and such. We usually find these events at local churches and in small towns throughout our region.

We actively ignore the side of Halloween that promotes the dead or “undead”, vampires, witches, demons, devils, mummies, and gory stuff. And we don’t believe in the zombie apocalypse. There are plenty of places to go and experience that stay away from these symbols that we believe represent darkness and evil, things we prefer to keep out of our minds and hearts as much as possible.

Terror-Filled Hotel Hallway

So, imagine my surprise as my 6-year old son and I walked down the long darkened hallway full of hanging portraits of what looked to be normal folks, but actually were holographic images that turned into zombie clowns, ax murderers, and scary witches as we passed by and viewed it from a different angle. Some were truly frightening, even to me. There were also bats hanging from the ceiling and realistic, life-size mannequins with scary faces lining the hallway on either side. There was no way to avoid this hallway. You had to run the gauntlet of this haunting scenario, even with children, to get to the lobby.

20140912_194939Upon entering the lobby, we were greeted by even more of the same macabre atmosphere. Skeletons, witches, and even a casket with a cadaverous hand hanging out of it were part of the atmosphere. My youngest son, shaking and holding onto my hand tightly, asked, “Mom, are scary people going to come scare us in our room at night?” Thankfully, these ghoulish decorations ended in the lobby of the Hotel Breakers and did not follow us on to our room.

Terror at the Amusement Park

We soon found out that HalloWeekends at Cedar Point amusement park is actually a very scary event. Unlike a “not-so-scary” celebration at Disney, Cedar Point goes all out putting the “fright” in the night. We did not experience it ourselves much in the park by avoiding the par after dark, and choosing not to go through the haunted attractions. A HalloWeekends brochure spells out which attractions are “Family Friendly” vs. “Frightfully Scary” (re: “not recommended for young children”).

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As much as my family ended up enjoying Cedar Point and Hotel Breakers, an attraction like HalloWeekends isn’t really our cup of tea. However, Cedar Point most definitely is. We will plan to return again, probably during another time of the year. That’s because the theme park, the roller coaster capital of America, has plenty of the kinds of scares we like–the kind you get from fast coasters and death-defying thrill rides.

Before we plan any Halloween travel with young children in the future, we’ll pay a bit more attention to what will be going on around us. It may be that the scary things we don’t want to experience can be avoided. However, if they can’t, we may need to re-think our plans and travel elsewhere.