Crazed In the Kitchen: Having a Knott's-So-Scary Halloween at Camp Spooky   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Having a Knott's-So-Scary Halloween at Camp Spooky

So, Halloween is here.

Of course, it’s not ACTUALLY here—the day itself is still a few weeks away—but Halloween decorations are everywhere and my kids have taken to wearing their costumes around the house, so in a way every day is Halloween for now.

Last year, we had our first Halloween in our new house. On one of our evening walks, my kids and I discovered a house about a block away that goes all-out with Halloween decorations. I’m talking about a 6-foot spider with light-up eyes on the roof, about 15 life-size scary figures on the lawn, and maybe 30 different strands of Halloween-themed lights strung up on the fence and trees. Every night for weeks my kids and I walked past the “Wicked Witch House,” as they called it, to check on the progress of the decorations.

Like this, only bloodier.
But then one night it all went too far. The vaguely scary vampires and witches had been joined by some horribly gory and bloody baby dolls who were holding equally gory and bloody decapitated heads. I took one look and knew I’d have to choose a new route for our evening walks, at least until Halloween was over. Those babies were just too much for my little guys.

And that aspect of Halloween—the blood and guts and terror—remains a problem to me, as a parent of young children. They love the costumes and the candy, but I feel no need to mess with their already-iffy sleep patterns by introducing nightmare-inducing images of murderous monsters. Please. Less sleep is the LAST thing I need right now.

So I was thrilled to be invited to bring my family to check out Camp Spooky at Knott’s Berry Farm last week. Knott’s has a yearly Halloween celebration called Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt, which is aimed at much-older kids and adults. Camp Spooky (normally “Camp Snoopy”), however, is an area of the park with rides and non-scary Halloween thrills for 3-11 year olds.

And, boy did my boys have a blast at Camp Spooky.

Of course, the first thing they wanted to do was to decorate Halloween cookies at the “Kooky Cookie Painting” area at the Grizzly Lodge. They got comfy at the kid-sized tables and dug into the colored frostings and decorative sprinkles. As a bonus, we were there during “Scary Stories at the Lodge,” which, thankfully, were more silly than scary.

They went for the "Modern Art" look with their cookies.
More decorations = More YUM
Once the boys heard that there was trick or treating throughout Camp Spooky, that was the end of cookie decorating. (Who am I kidding? The cookies were long gone at that point.) The “Spooky Ookie Scavanger Hunt” led them to five different treat stations with five different treats. I appreciated that Knott’s limited the amount of sweets given out through the scavenger hunt (you know, pacing ourselves), and I was thrilled to see this cart with fresh fruit for sale. (OK, we didn’t buy any, but I was glad to know it was an option.)

Many of the kids at Camp Spooky that day were dressed in costumes, and I’m sure many were planning to participate in Snoopy’s Costume Contest and Parade later in the day. My boys ditched their costumes early on and headed straight for the rides—including a toddler-friendly roller coaster. (Um, who knew that a 2.5-year-old who deemed the mall train ride “too scary” would find a roller coaster delightful? And who knew that his 30-something mom would need a good 20 minutes to recover her balance after that same roller coaster ride? Looks like it’s just the mall train for me from now on.) The Ferris Wheel and the The Great Pumpkin Hay Bale Maze were also favorites.

After about 4 straight hours of fun, we had to call it a day and headed for the napmobile, er, car. Parking, unfortunately, was the one part of our day that didn’t bring us joy or candy. The attendants who were directing traffic when we arrived gave us conflicting instructions about where to park, and we ended up walking much farther than we needed to.

But, other than that, it was a great day—perfect for younger kids who aren’t ready for the scary and gory parts of Halloween. If you live in Southern California or plan to visit here in the month of October, you should definitely set aside a day for Knott’s and Camp Spooky. You can find all the details here.

Disclaimer: Yep, Knott’s gave me free tickets to check out Camp Spooky, for which I am truly grateful. But all the opinions above are strictly mine. What can I say? We loved the place. You should definitely go.


  1. I'm totally with ya on the "no scary stuff" halloween. I won't even let my girls dress up in scary costumes. Nothing dark here. We're all about celebrating Harvest time with pumpkin patches, corn mazes, carving pumpkins, candy apples, popcorn balls, scarecrows, Fall leaves, maybe a few ghosts here and there or a black cat. I even have one ceramic witch that I put out this time of year. And of course, the most fun is Trick or Treating.

  2. Rosann--I understand. I was always shocked when I was teaching at some of the gory costumes that elementary school students wore for Halloween. I've been bad about decorating, but we're planning a trip to Target soon to get some fall decorations along with a few non-scary Halloween things. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Looks like loads of fun--I love the cookie art!

  4. We have a wicked witch house in my dad's neighborhood (where the girls go during the workday). Thankfully they limit themselves to the one story tall spider web with spider and a creepy-ish garage door Joker style jack-o-lantern. Oh, and Spider Man on top of the garage. Even better, the day after Halloween, they start gearing up for Christmas. (When I say "better" I mean, Mad is beginning to question our dedication to decorating based on a direct comparison with that house and ours... if she thinks we need more Halloween decorations "Right away!" then I can only imagine how Christmas will go.)

  5. Lol, Shan. Our house looks flat-out naked next to some of the houses on our street. Right now all we've got are two bare pumpkins sitting on our porch. Well, they're not totally bare--they still have price tags on. I keep promising the kids I'll take them to Target for more decorations, but, you know...Target.

  6. I think Halloween must be a little tough for parents because of all the scary things around. I do believe you did the right thing, in just taking another route. So many parents complain, and then want to spoil the rest of the neighborhood's fun. That's wrong. It's the parents responsibility to rather just choose another route. Good for you

  7. That sounds like a lot of fun! We have strict rules at the elementary school where I teach against scary costumes. Some of the older kids get mad about the rule but I think it's a good one but the little kids used to get scared and that wasn't fun for anyone. I think Camp Spooky sounds like a lot of good, not too scary, fun.

  8. What a pity those people took it a step too far. Camp Spooky sounds great though.

  9. Same here, I don't want Halloween to be dark and gory for my son. He's still a baby to me even if he's turning four in November! :)

  10. Even though my kids are older and can probably handle the scary part of Halloween, I still enjoy the kid friendly Halloween stuff. Camp Spooky sounds awesome!

  11. Thanks, everyone! It was a blast, that's for sure. I'll definitely take the kids again next year.

  12. I'm not a big fan of Halloween. The candy/costume part is fine for the kids, but I never participate as an adult. It can get pretty overboard, like your neighbors. I'll be glad for November:)

  13. Oh, I saw this one, I sure did! I saw your comment on my blog and came over to take a look, but I've already been here. :) Now I'm going to go see if your votes for your contest are daily... :)


Comments make me feel special...Don't be shy!